Continue Garden Work
Friday 1 December 2023

The trees are so grey now.

trees on the hill in the distance

Clouds and a bright spot where the sun is

Good Morning My Dear!

Eastern Fox Squirrel standing on a wood fence post

And Good Morning, My Other Dear!

Eastern Fox Squrrel standing on the leaf pile

And then I noticed that the gate I was going into the Community Garden, didn't have a lock. What the heck?? And the tool shed was missing it's lock as well.

Well. This is not cool. I assume they are maybe replacing the locks, or changing the codes? But they have never just removed locks before, so that's weird. And I'm really NOT COMFORTABLE about this.

But I have work that must be done. So I get to it! I haul eight wheelbarrows of leaves today... and I'm really close to being done!

Garden plot mostly covered with leaves

On the walk home, I'm happy to see Henrietta. He's focused on the hunt!

Great Blue Heron standing in water

Crow standing on a street sign that say *Amazon Creek*

Today in the Rain
Saturday 2 December 2023

It's pouring down rain this morning, so I'm going to keep my walk in the neighborhood.

Trees on the hill

How cute... there are a couple of female Teals hanging out with some Mallards. The size difference!

Mallards and a Green Wing Teal paddling on the water

I just keep walking. In the downtown area, the creek is contained in a canal.

Fern under a pipe where water is coming out

As I walk out to Ei St, there happens to be a break in traffic, so I go on across! I've never walked out here before, and it's good to see some new things.

It's a much richer neighborhood, the houses are bigger and they are further apart with bigger yards.

I walk thru Washington Park... no nature, but there's a baseball field, basketball court, playground and stuff. I don't bother to take any photos... it's still pouring down rain, I'm soaked and when I turned around, I started walking into the breeze. The wet clothes are uncomfortable and I'm a little bit chilly.

But at the other end of the park... oh my gosh, they have a little community center!

There's a big indoor meeting space, with natural light coming thru a wall of French doors. And a fire place with a colourful rug and comfortable chairs around makes it look so cozy! A kitchen and public restrooms.

It looks so nice, and dang I am jealous! *laughs*

Autumn and winter bare trees with trees on the hill in the distance

Rain, Rain, Rain
Sunday 3 December 2023

Yep, it's pouring down rain again...

Squirrel standing on the side of a tree trunk

The creek is getting towards full, and the trees along the bank are under water!

Creek next to the bike path

Here comes Angle!

Female Mallard paddling on the water

Here's her more familiar side with her hurt wing.

Female Mallard on the water behind some grass

I walk past the Community Garden... and now even the back gates are missing the locks!

Community Garden gate, missing a lock

ARG! This is so frustrating. Who is running this stupid show?? I can't believe Becca would be so negligent.

Well. There's nothing I can do about this ridiculous situation, so I walk on.

And the funny ducks at the next bridge, cheer me up...

Flooded bike path with ducks paddling

The bike path is flooded, the creek is supposed to stay on the left side of that railing! And it amuses me greatly that the ducks are paddling over the bike path!

Mallards standing under a railing

Covid Vax!
Monday 4 December 2023

No mass vax drive-thrus this year, to get vaccinated for covid, and it's no longer a free shot. That's a bummer. But I made an appointment, online, at a pharmacy in a nearby grocery store, and I'm walking there this morning. I'm grateful that it's not raining!

Oh my gosh! It's Knotty!

Great Blue Heron standing in water

It's been over a month since I've seen her! And of course, she shows up today when I can't spend much time. foo.

It's great to see you, Knotty! But I gotta run!

Great Blue Heron standing in water behind stick

And then the sun comes out and I see a bit of blue sky. Oh, the trees are shining in the sun and being all beautiful!

autumn trees with fir trees on the hill in the background

And then, under the bridge... it's no longer flooded, but the silt left behind is soft and has evidence of all who have walked by!

Animal prints in the mud

That's a raccoon! And a dog. And duck footprints at the bottom! How cool is that?

But I mustn't get distracted! I've got an appointment!

Oh beautiful TNR kitty! No more distractions!

Long haired cat sitting in the leaves

I turned off the bike path and went into the grocery store a few minutes early for my appointment. I stood near the Vaccination Check In sign for a few. They weren't busy, and I waited long enough to get annoyed. I could have spent more time with Knotty, dang it!

The doctor finally got to me and I told her my appt time and literally only had to say my name and confirm my health plan. Just like the drive-thru vax clinics, I didn't have to show my ID or my insurance card or anything!

But then I had to wait some more for her to set up all my shots... I was also getting a flu shot and I was way, way overdue for a tetanus shot!

I wandered over to the nearby stationery section and looked at greeting cards... they have some of the Papyrus line, which have beautiful artwork! That made me happy. And then I sat down and waited and wished I had something interesting to do besides fiddling with the camera.

Finally, I was called up with my last name... I could tell she didn't want to attempt my first name! Haha! It's a doozy, and while most people pronounce it approximately correctly the first time, I understand why you'd want to avoid it! :)

I went back to a TINY little sheltered area in front of the door to the pharmacy. She sat me down, we chatted for a second while she got organized with her cotton balls and bandaids. I asked if I'd have to wait the 15mins and she said that wasn't a requirement anymore.

I got my shots and my bandaids and my information sheets, and I was out after about 25 minutes, total. Not too bad, but def could have been streamlined a little better.

I got back on the bike path for more walking, and soon passed a couple who had been in the pharmacy line. I made pleasantries at them and they agreed it was a beautiful day.

Perhaps a little too beautiful? It's so warm, this one woke up from her winter hibernation! That can't be good!

Caterpillar walking across dead leaves on the ground

But at least I didn't need to rescue her from the path... I hope she finds a good place to sleep some more.

And then on the walk home, oh wow! It's the Wood Duck couple who have tried to raise a family here at the creek, the last couple of springs.

a pair of Wood Ducks behind several Mallards sitting on the bank of the creek

They lost their babies to H5N1, and I'm surprised to see them again. In general, birds find a new place after a nest failure... Trying to escape sad memories, you know.

Wood Ducks sitting on the bank of the creek

They are so beautiful, and I just love them. I've gotten to see lots of good wildlife people today!

Finishing Up at the Garden
Tuesday 5 December 2023

Well, my arms are a bit sore from all the vaccinations I got yesterday. And I'm maybe a little bit tired, as well.

But it's a dry day, so I've got to work at the garden. In a week, I'll be traveling to see family for the holidays and I don't want to leave this for the last minute!

Clouds in the sky above winter bare trees

I heard this one begging like a baby, as I was pulling a wheelbarrow out of the shed. She was too far away, but she was easy to spot: her bright red self in the mossy tree stood out like a beacon!

Red Shoulder Hawk standing in a mossy tree

Okay. Here I am in the back corner of the garden plot... Jerkface is on the left, and you can see how far away that landscaping fabric is. Jerkface.

garden plot

I'm ripping up the bit of grass there, and then I will put down a deep layer of leaves. It won't kill the grass, and I can't imagine that Jerkface will ever get a clue. But doesn't that look much nicer!

garden plot

And I'm done!

The bits of green that aren't covered by leafy mulch are cover crop... some Fava and some Dead Nettle. There are also a couple of Elephant Garlics volunteers!

I'm really kind of exhausted, as I head home. Side effect of all those shots yesterday. Def taking a nap this afternoon!

More Rain
Wednesday 6 December 2023

Dark and dreary today, and it rained and sprinkled the entire morning.

Here's a different view of the hill I usually photograph...

Safe Spot Community

Safe Spot Community

There are 18 pallet houses here... Conestoga Huts are 6x10 on the inside, have a bed and an electric plug-in but no water.

The community area includes port-a-potties, hand washing station, shower station, and a kitchen.

I'm not taking very many photos today because of the rain, but this flock of Rock Doves delights me.

Rock Doves walking on the ground

Look at how individual they all are!

Two Rock Doves walking on the ground

And they are so focused on the ground. What are they even looking at??!

Rock Dove looking at the ground

I don't know, but I suppose they are finding good things to eat.

Yep... Rain.
Thursday 7 December 2023

Enough rain to flood the bike path under the bridges again.

flooded bike path

Happy I get to see Angle, tho!

a pair of Mallards, standing on the bank of the creek

Hidden Trail
Friday 8 December 2023

Okay! The clouds are starting to break up as I head out this morning! That's a nice change!

Trees and fog on the hill

Christmas blow up decorations

Christmas blow up decorations, Penguins and a Narwhale

Wild Turkeys standing on the roof of a house

Wild Turkeys walking in a yard

Western Grey Squirrel, sitting on a wood fence, eating something held in his hands

small waterfall around mossy logs and rocks

Small Waterfall next to a paved path

And here I am at the top, in the Acorn Woodpeckers' territory.

Acorn Woodpecker standing on a mossy branch

And yet again, they are too far away for decent photos. SIGHS!

Acorn Woodpecker standing at the top of a snag

Oh well. It's fun just to spend time with them.

Walk at the River
Saturday 9 December 2023

Aw, really? That's not nice.

Rental bikes in a rack and rental eScooters that have been pushed over

Looking upriver

Yay, spillover!

Spillover from the river into the ponds

It starts sprinkling... and then some tiny hails come down as well. ack!

Golden Crown Sparrow standing on the ground

Ha. That one white goose who always hangs out with her Canada Goose friends!

Geese paddling on the water

I'm not going to get any decent photos today with the weather being what it is. So I try for something artsy!

Silhouette of a American Robin in an Alder tree

Spotted Towhee

Looking across the river

Mile 2 marker

Oregon Grape


Pied Bill Grebe, diving into the water

Sunday 10 December 2023

Hill Trees

I was going to the garden today to pick up the hand hoe.

I've worked hard to winterize the garden plot... there's a couple areas of cover crop, the rest is covered with a thick layer of leaves.

I was going to make sure everything was perfect for the inspection that happens a couple days after we fly outta here on Tuesday...

But, all the gates suddenly have locks on them, and my code isn't working!

ARG! I walk home and complain bitterly. Because I had a plan for today, to bring home the stupid hand hoe, and I was thwarted!

It turns out that SOMEONE didn't send me the email with the new code. (That SOMEONE is Partner, who is usually very good about sending me the emails.) *laughs*

oh well. I guess I'll try again tomorrow.

A Day of Birds!!
Monday 11 December 2023

Northern Flicker standing on a mossy tree branch

Anna Hummingbird standing on the tip of a twig

oh, delight! There's some Robins munching on this big, beautiful Pyracantha bush!!

American Robin standing in a Pyracantha bush with many berries

Blurry American Robin eating a Pyracantha berry

Two American Robins standing in a Pyracantha bush with many berries

American Robin standing on a Pyracantha twig

Hermit Thrush standing on a metal fence

And, today I have the new code to get past the Community Garden gates! I've grabbed the Hand Hoe to take home, and I'm happy with the state of the garden plot!

Garden plot covered with leaves

And on the way home... oh cool! A Common Merganser! I don't think I've ever seen one at the creek before!

Common Merganser paddling on the water

And then I realized I should be paying attention to who he's hanging out with!! Haha! It's Angle!!

Female Mallard standing on the bank, Male Common Merganser paddling in the water nearby

Female Mallard standing on the bank with twigs and dead leaves

I'm so glad I got to see her, one last time before the trip tomorrow!

Tuesday 12 December 2023

I am flying to Colorado today, with Partner, to visit my family.

I gotta say... I hate flying. Airports give me anxiety and I get motion sick on airplanes. It's just terrible all around.

But I get to see my parents and my brother at the end of it. :)

We arrived in the morning, and got to my parents house, and just lazed for the rest of the day.

Monopoly Deal, card game

It was so nice to sit at the kitchen table and watch Mom make Gingerbread Cookies! *laughs*

And my brother brought a new game, Monopoly Deals. It's a card game and it's really fun!

Wednesday 13 December 2023

oh my gosh. It is just so nice to lounge around and hang out with my family at my parents house! So relaxing and good!

My brother and I went for a short walk in the neighborhood. My parents live on the front range of the Rocky Mountains, it's dry and grassy with few trees. Very different from home in Oregon.

And there are bunnies!

Wild Cottontail sitting in the grass

Partner had slept all day yesterday, after we arrived. So I was happy that he was able to join us for his first game of Monopoly Deals. We had played several games yesterday, and it's such a fun game! But this round was really dragging on, for whatever reason.

Partner got frustrated and suddenly Rage Quit and went back to bed. We kept playing without him... I paid his rent, and I was going to play his hand when the round got to his turn.

But when I looked at his hand of cards, and the properties he already had down... I realized that if I flipped a wild property, Partner actually had three sets complete! He had WON!!! Haha. I went and told him but he stayed in bed.

Phase 10, card game

Phase10 is also a fun game we played today. It's more fun when I happen to win! *laughs* I'm usually extremely unlucky when it comes to card games. So it's pretty exciting when I do get to win! :)

Shooting Stars!
Thursday 14 December 2023

Today my parents had some stuff to do in town. And my brother had forgotten a couple things at his house and I wanted to check out his neighborhood. And my parents' cleaning service was working and we needed to stay out of her way!

So we piled into the car.

I had been to my brother's house before, but had never gotten to walk around. The weather is decent today, not too cold and not too windy! So I was excited because he's got a nearby bike path just like I do...

Dead end road and a walking bridge

This neighborhood street dead-ends at the creek, and a walking bridge takes you over to the bike path!

I was amazed because it looks a lot like my bike path at home!

Bike path next to a creek in a neighborhood

Except this is a much more narrow green and blue space, going thru the neighborhoods. The bike path here is maybe 5 or 6feet wide, whereas mine at home is 8 or 10feet wide.

Creek with trees and a bike path with people walking

We also walked thru the city park that backs up to the creek. There's a baseball field and some pickle ball courts and some playground equipment. And a small utility building with this Amazing mural on the side of it!!

Fox and Hare mural on the side of a building

Isn't that brilliant! I love it!

In the evening, after dinner, Mom went out to the mail box to check for packages. The Amazon delivery guys have been stuffing packages into the mailbox, illegally, instead of bringing them up to the porch. It's annoying. And yeah, illegal.

She came back and told us she had seen a Shooting Star!

Wow! I want to see a shooting star! She told us where it was, and I got bundled up and went out to look for some meteors!

But, dang it's cold. I look around at the sky, but after about five minutes I have to go back inside to warm up.

I keep trying, but don't see any shooting stars.

After the parents go to bed, I get the Emily Laptop out and look to see what's going on in the sky...

It's the Geminid meteor shower... today and yesterday are the peak viewing nights with 150 meteors per hour. And it turns out, the Gemini Constellation, where many of the meteors are coming from, is on the opposite side of the sky! It was just a happy happenstance that Mom had seen a shooting star in the west!

So I put my coat on again and went out on the back porch. I didn't see anything and after about five minutes I came back in to warm up again.

But now I've convinced my brother to be excited as well... and we both go out for the next attempt.

Yay! A Shooting Star! It's long! Not just a little flash! and then Another one, in the same area! Wow! So Cool!

We both saw some smaller ones as well, mostly out of the corners of our eyes.

What a great day! To see Shooting Stars! Awesome!

Birds and the Barn Star
Friday 15 December 2023

My Dad keeps some bird feeders in their back yard, and I was taking some photos today.

Altho our homes in Oregon and Colorado are split by the Rocky Mountains, our Northern Flickers are the same: Red Shafted!

Female Northern Flicker at a suet bird feeder

They also have Oregon Juncos in Colorado. But one bird that is different... Blue Jays! We don't have any in Oregon.

Blue Jay eating at a bird feeder

Blue Jay

Another bird in Colorado that we don't see in Oregon is Magpies. I never get to take good photos of the Magpies, tho. I don't know anything about their personality or anything, so I'm not sure what it would take to get a portrait of one of them.

The parents have a lit star on the top of their barn, as a Christmas decoration. But the lights on one of the arms of the star have gone out... I said it has Starfish Wasting Disease!

This is vaguely funny for an inanimate object... but in real life, this is a horrifying disease that has killed almost all of the precious Sunflower Sea Stars. The die-off started in the Pacific in 2013, populations crashed by 99.2% and they still don't know the cause or treatment of the disease.


Wikipedia, Sea Star Wasting Disease

Nat Park Service, Southwest Alaska, Sea Star Wasting Disease

Anyway. Dad wanted to bring the star down and replace the ribbon lights on it. My brother said he is scared of heights, but I'm not, so I volunteered to help!

Barn with a star at the top

Yep, I climbed up there! and We got it done! I should have taken a photo of the fixed, lit star at night... but nope, I didn't.

Unknown dried up wildflowers

Later in the afternoon we went for a walk in the sun.

Goats on wood play structures

Rock Doves standing on a power line

Mom and brother and I played a game of Blokus. I enjoyed it, a fun game with tetris type bits that you have to place on the board. Brother won, of course.

A completed game of Blokus on the table

In the evening, we went to my Dad's favorite brewery, City Star. That was fun! Mom and I had Fizzes, these Passion Fruit thingees. And we chatted and people watched, it was a fun night!

And then we went to a nearby restaurant for dinner. For some reason, me being a vegan was a huge production! *laughs* The servers had this conference to figure out what I could eat, even tho they had the Impossible Burger on their menu. It turns out, their specialty made burger buns are not vegan so that was kind of a bummer. But I'm really grateful that they were able to accommodate me. And hopefully the next vegan who walks in will get smoother service!

Raptor Center!
Saturday 16 December 2023

Today the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program in Fort Collins is having an open house!

Outside the building, they have a Bald Eagle mascot dressed up and dancing around! haha!

And inside the building we are greeted by the smallest of their raptor ambassadors, an Eastern Screech Owl!

The links go to each of the ambassador's personal pages at the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program website. You can learn about what brought them into the program! For instance, this Screech Owl had a broken jaw which now makes it hard for him to eat.

Eastern Screech Owl standing on someones arm

A terrible photo... but the cuteness!

None of the photos today are any good. The light was just really bad in their building. That's okay, it's fun to meet all the bird ambassadors, anyway!

I asked about his name, and they have a whole speech! Rebekah said they were changing their policy about names... Formerly, they didn't name the raptors because they are wild animals.

But they've recently decided to name them after all, because it creates a connection and fosters empathy.

Personally, yeah, you know I give names to the wild lives!

But I can respect what they were trying to do by not naming anyone. I do wonder how they refer to everyone when the public isn't around, tho. For instance, they've got two Eastern Screech Owls and a Western, who are all ambassadors, not to mention three Red Tail Hawks. They must have some kind of identification, beyond their species, to figure out who's who!

Eastern Screech Owl standing on someones arm

And then we get to meet the biggest raptor... a Golden Eagle.

Golden Eagle standing on someones arm

He was happily ripping flesh off the spine of a bunny. eh. Carnivores.

This is a Northern Goshawk. He is almost completely blind, but very sweet and gentle.

Northern Goshawk

This taxidermied Prairie Dog amused me with her Holiday Bow.

Taxidermy Prairie Dog with a Christmas ribbon bow

They did have a sign that said No animals were killed or harmed for the purpose of creating these specimens... That's good to know... tho they do kill a lot of mice and bunnies and whoever to feed the raptors.

There's also a sign reminding people that it's illegal for regular people to possess feathers, bones, eggs, nests and the bodies (living or dead) of these protected species.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act covers ALL native North American birds. It's illegal to keep even a sparrow's feather! The Rocky Mountain Raptor Program has state and federal permits, which allow them to keep the birds and bird parts.

Like this owl skeleton. Wow, that eye socket is just crazy!

Owl Skeleton inside a glass case

I think the next hawk is this Red Tail Hawk, who had West Nile Virus and was treated and survived encephalitis (brain swelling) that left her with neurological deficits.

Red Tail Hawk, jessed and standing on someones arm

Red Tail Hawk, close up of her face

And finally, we've got this Swainson Hawk who is blind in his right eye.

Swainson Hawk

I was so excited to see these Hawks, and Eagle and Owl, and learn about them and hear their stories. And then I went and spent some money at their gift shop. I got a tee-shirt with Kestrels, since I get to see Kestrels at home, now and then. I also bought a couple notecards that I'll keep for the art! A Turkey Vulture photo and an illustrated Silby card of Owls of the western US.

And now that I'm looking at their online shop... oh my gosh, I kind of want the Dodo! *laughs* And the Turkey Vulture. And. Well. They've got a lot of fun stuffies!!

Anyway. We headed back home to my parent's house, and Dad got to work with the fire pit!

We had a lovely time out there, gathered round the fire and drinking hot mulled wine, a gift brought by the lovely Amber.

CamelUp board game

In the evening we pulled out the new Camels game again. This board game is a bit complicated and the first time we tried to play, Dad was grumpy about it, for whatever reason. That's fine. We are humans and we have emotions. We are allowed to be grumpy! And he apologized.

The game this evening went much more smoothly, now that we are figuring it out. And it's interesting, once you get the hang of it! Mom won with the most money, and I lost pitifully.

Sunday Cookie Decorating!
Sunday 17 December 2023

Church this morning and then some football on the tv, to be ignored by most of the house. Brother and I wrapped our Christmas presents and then Mom was working on more cookies!

We had fun decorating the sugar cookies!

decorated sugar cookies cut into shapes!

Never mind the box of Triscuits... they're vegan and pretty tasty, but now we have cookies to munch on!

And the newspaper puzzles are a morning tradition, at the parents house!

We played Can't Stop, it's a dice game with a board and I enjoy it. But the race was between Dad and Brother, and Brother won. And I lost miserably, of course.

Coup card game

Then we tried out a first game of Coup. It is very complicated and the language around challenges and blocks definitely needs improvement. And then the game ended abruptly when Brother just paid to outright murder me! That was lame, and no one wanted to play again.

Later in the evening we played some City Guesser. Last year we played the heck out of this game, and it was really fun.

This time around, there were some very boring walks along the way and it was def not as fun. Oh well!

Day of Chores and Games
Monday 18 December 2023

Tomorrow we are heading to Iowa, so I need to do a load of laundry and re-pack my bags. Dad is getting stuff done as well, organizing the pickup.

Dad, Bro and I play a game of Monopoly Deals... Dad gets all the good cards, Bro and I lay down a couple of things which quickly get stolen.

In the afternoon, Bro and I decide to see how fast we can walk the 2mile loop to the back of the subdivision. We walked at 17.38 minutes per mile... I'm not sure if that average includes me stopping for photos! *laughs*

European Starlings...

Starlings in a tree

And Eurasian Collared Doves...

Eurasian Collarded Dove standing on a branch, surrounded by twigs

Ha, there's more than just invasive species here! But the Robins and far off Magpies were not sitting for their portraits today!

The same curious goat as the other day... I wonder if this is the leader!

Black, white and red goat standing on the roof of a play structure

The other goats are relaxing and enjoying the day!

Goats lying on playground equipment

Partner came down as we were thinking about playing a game of Hand and Foot. That's a tough game with five players, so we switched to Group and Run. That ended up being a very slow game, anyway... but Partner eventually won!

Dinner was fridge wipe out! And when we were all done with our last minute chores for tomorrows car trip, Brother started up a movie. Oblivion, 2013. It was pretty good, but had some major plot issues.

Road Trip
Tuesday 19 December 2023

The sunrise in Colorado.


And then we jumped in the truck and drove to Iowa!

It's a hefty 10 hour drive. I love road trips, even when I don't get to drive!

It is a long day, tho.

We were going to be staying at Mom's brother's house, and as we drove past Dad's brother's house, Dad laid on the horn!

Gah! The people in the back seat had no idea what was going on, especially since the horn was on for practically 30 seconds or more. I thought the check engine light had suddenly gotten a lot worse! haha!

And the truck that was in front of us... way, _way_ out in front of us, didn't know what was going on either!! They pulled over and were probably confused for hours. I wonder what story they will tell about that incident!! *laughs*

We arrived and got settled, and then Uncle and Aunt kept chatting and chatting even tho all I wanted to do was go to bed! They are def night people and of course excited to see us. But that was pretty funny!

Wednesday 20 December 2023

I slept in and then it became a day of games!

Unknown houseplant

We pulled out the Camel game, and my brother won.

And then a game of 65, Aunt thrashed us all.

After dinner we set up a partners game of Hand And Foot, women against men. Sadly, the men killed us in that game.

A couple games of Wits and Wagers. Mom won the first and Partner won the second.

Apples To Apples was incredible... Mom guessed correctly every single round, until one or two at the end.

And then a ten card Golf game. We play a few different varieties of Golf card games, and I'm always getting them mixed up. This one, Brother came in first with -75. I was in second but I trailed far behind with -39...

There were a couple other negative scores, but a few people had really bad positive scores. It's a fun game, but when you get the luck and finish the rounds quickly, you can really exacerbate other people's bad luck!

Out for a Walk
Thursday 21 December 2023

Uncle and Aunt live right on the edge of town, and it's a pleasant, short walk to downtown. Nobody wanted to walk with me, and I'm happy to go out alone. It's good to get some exercise!

I LOVE their black squirrels!!

Black squirrel standing on the grass

This is a colour variation in their Eastern Grey Squirrels. Very cute!

I go across the main road that goes thru town and find the library.

Public Library building

Yep, I go in and check it out! It seems pretty cozy. There's a fireplace to gather at and nice places to read by the big windows.

Couches and potted plants next to big windows

I continue thru the neighborhoods. Yay Art!

Art, dog statue made of colourful metal pieces

I go across a few blocks to make a loop and come back thru the Square. My great aunt worked in the courthouse, when I was a kid and so I've been inside a few times. I didn't feel like going past the construction, so I didn't go in today.

Courthouse with a clock tower

A squirrel who looks more familiar... Eastern Fox Squirrels are the invasive species we've got, back in Oregon!

Eastern Fox Squirrel standing on a concrete wall

A Little Free Library outside a church. And yep, a hefty section inside the box was taken up with religious tracks. Ha.

Little Library outside a church

Back at the house, I watched the end of a Camel game. Mom was kicking butt, and she won!

I joined in for a men against women game of Hand And Foot. The men came in really strong and after the first round they were beating the women by 2000 points! But the women made a come back and we caught up... we had done so well, our scores were almost even, the men were ahead by just five points!

The pendulum swung back to the men for the third round and they were ahead by 3000 points. The fourth round is the last one, and we women started out great! But then the men put their 150 down and built canastas quickly. Dad went out to finish the game and unfortunately we didn't even need to count for the final score because the men were still over 2000 points ahead.

We are tidying up a little after the game...

And Brother found Dad's Foot on the window sill! He had set it out of the way, and then forgot to play it!


Bahaha! We decided to call it an even game, instead!

Uncle and Aunt have an excellent game room in their basement. A foosball and a pool table.

My brother is an expert at the foosball. My dad and I ganged up against him, and we lost miserably! And then later in the evening he thrashed my uncle at a couple games!

We played some pool as well. I happened to get paired up with Aunt, and it was good! I'm terrible, tho I can occasionally make a good shot. But Aunt is brilliant. She's by far the best player in the house! So we won a few games against everyone! Yay!

Games All Day
Friday 22 December 2023

A panopoly of games today!

Monopoly Deals and another attempt at Coup.
Sixty-Five and the dice game Qwixx.

We pull out Wits and Wagers and that was a fun game... Brother and I were winning, but then Dad bet all he had on William Shakespeare for the last question! Brother had 19, I had 17 and Dad had a crazy 40 for the win!

The game Blank Slate was out and we dug into it for a pseudo game, asking the questions but not keeping score or anything.

After dinner we played Blank Slate again, keeping score this time. Brother won, then Mom won.

We also played more Wits and Wagers and Brother knew the last question, and bet it all and won! FYI, in the traditional Monopoly game, you start out with 1500$. *laughs* Something I will probably never care about! ;)

In the evening, I realize I've got some kind of disease. My throat is sore and I've sneezed more than normal and I'm a little stuffy. Arg. This is annoying, I don't want to be sick!

A Change of Place
Saturday 23 December 2023

Hibiscus bloom

I get up in the morning and am nominally sick, so I just get on with the day. We play a couple games in the morning and then after lunch we pack up our stuff into the pickup and drive down the road to my other uncle's house.

I start sneezing.

Another Aunt, Cousin and Child come over for a visit. The child has a couple games that are fun to play even tho she's little. Moving the little metal ball around the obstacles is on the frustrating side. But the Whack A Mole is fun... I win a few games before I retreat down to the basement so that I can not sniffle at everyone for a while.

I come back later to play a game of 65... different rules at this house and extra wild cards. Aunt is always very lucky at this game and she easily won. But as we were finishing up the last round, she pointed out that I was using the wild cards wrong. haha! No wonder I'm losing so terribly!

Or maybe I'm just sick! I go to bed early, only to lay there and sneeze and cough for most of the night.

Christmas Eve
Sunday 24 December 2023

Partner, Brother and I decide to skip morning church... we are all sick and Partner just stays in bed.

Brother isn't too bad off, tho he's been ill for a couple days. He thinks we caught the germs at last week's church service. Super Spreader

*laughs* At least we know it's just a cold, and a mild one at that, because Partner and I had gotten both the flu shot and covid vax a couple weeks ago... those immunizations are at full immunizing capacity right now!

I try to be social, but my face keeps exploding. Gah, so annoying.

Brother is feeling better and decides to go with Parents to see the children's Christmas Play at the local church in the evening. I am sad that I'm missing out, and demand he report back to me if anything interesting happens!

And this evening is our traditional Christmas celebration. We go back over to Mom's Brother's house, have a fantastic dinner. And then we open packages.

I have been trying to get these people to scale back on this Christmas Present Thing for years! *laughs* I don't buy anyone any presents, anymore. For me, the stress outweighs the enjoyment.

But you can't stop these crazy people. *Affectionate Eye Roll*

And then we played some more games... We tried to play a weirdly modified partners game of Hand And Foot, because we had seven players. Uncle flip-flopped between the Mens side and the Womens side, and it started out well. But then the Men+Uncle could not get their canastas down in the third round and Uncle ended up with negative 10,000. Bahaha!

It was a fun evening, good family time. And I was happy that my face didn't explode too much.

Christmas Day
Monday 25 December 2023

Christmas Day is traditionally a lazy day for us! It's nice to relax after the crazy fun we have on Christmas Eve.

I coughed most all night, so the sleep wasn't great. I'm stuffed up and sniffly, have a sinus headache and still with the cough and sneezes. It's annoying, but I'm not too bad off.

There's always birds to be watched at Uncle's house... Here's a fun woodpecker. She's an eastern bird, not to be seen in Colorado or Oregon. Red Belly Woodpecker!

Red Belly Woodpecker standing on the truck of a tree

For the most part, it's too dark and dreary for taking photos of birds out the window. Oh well. It's nice to see them flitting about all the bird feeders in the back yard, anyway.

With my cold, I do wander down to the basement for a good chunk of the day, to suffer in peace.

In the evening, more family shows up, both Aunts this time with parts of their families. After dinner we play some games

With so much of the family around, Nerts is definitely going to come up. This is a ... very physical card game. *laughs* I don't play, and some of the guys hate to play. And yet they always end up playing a couple rounds!

Playing field of a game of Nerts

We also played a fun game of Natalia's Golf and a good game of 65.

Again, just good family time!

Last Crazy Day in Iowa
Tuesday 26 December 2023


Dusting of snow in the back yard

Just a dusting, but still coming down! Some Christmas Snow! So that's nice, except we are driving back to Colorado tomorrow, so it needs to clear up quickly!!

The Aunts and fams arrive again for lunch. Someone had brought a jar of Green Olives stuffed with Lemons. Whoa! It was good... in a very strong way. You could not avoid making a lemon face! *laughs*

We played a big game of 10 card Flipper Golf and just hung out for a while.

We were supposed to go back to the other Uncle's in the afternoon, but they never texted to say everyone had arrived. We waited and waited and finally Brother got a text...

It turns out they were trying to text the landline, back in Colorado, instead of anyone's phone!! Haha! I guess that tells you a little about our relationship with technology!

Anyway. We went and most all the cousins were there with all their kids and everything was crazy. We had Traditional Christmas Part 2, with the dinner and the presents again. Like I said, you can't stop these people with their craziness about the gift giving.

We hung out for a while but Dad and I left early. Dad was starting to get sick as well, and I was just tired of my constant cough. Plus, Partner had stayed in bed, again, and I wanted to check on him.

Dad went to bed, and I watched the game of Hand And Foot that the Aunts and Uncle were playing. Yet again, the men were winning by so much, they didn't even play the last hand. Ha. It seems to be a theme!

Partner got up so he could prepare for tomorrow's drive. Mom and Brother got a ride back and we sat around for a little while before getting to bed.

Travel Day
Wednesday 27 December 2023

There is still a good bit of snow on the ground...

Trees and ground covered in snow

But the roads are okay! We are doing our 10 hour drive from Iowa, back to Colorado.

Dad overslept but says the sleep did him good and he's feeling okay even tho he's caught our germs. We were on the road just a couple minutes after our planned time.

There were some snow flurries that worried me, for a few hours around lunch time. The road got wet but no problems. And eventually we were in Colorado and the clouds broke and it was dry and much warmer!

We traditionally get pizza when we return home to Mom and Dad's house. But the closest pizza place was out of a lot of veggies! haha! No black olives or mushrooms for my vegan pizza. And no green peppers for the other pizzas. It was so pathetic! and after complaining about it for a long time, they finally gave us a decent discount on the price.

More Christmas Time
Thursday 28 December 2023

I coughed all thru the night, which was a bummer for my sleep. But at least I don't feel too terrible.

We take it easy today. And the highlight of the day is our own personal Christmas time.

Decorated Christmas tree with wrapped gifts underneath

I am excited about this little microscope that Mom and Dad got for me... it's going to be so fun! But I don't pull it out of it's packaging right away like I want to because we'll be traveling again tomorrow.

And my brother got the Good Omens dvds for me, and I'm def looking forward to watching that and all the extras!

There were gifts galore, and we had a great time!

Getting Home
Friday 29 December 2023

I am not looking forward to the plane ride home... the altitude will take my little cold and turn my sinuses and ears into a living hell. But, that's not until this afternoon, and there's stuff to be done before then.

I get up and take the sheets off the bed. And I start getting luggage organized.

Downstairs, it's a normal morning, people gathered around the kitchen table. Reading the newspaper, reading on laptop, doing crossword puzzles.

When I get the Emily Laptop out to read my own newspaper...

Where's the Damn Paper? Eugene Weekly is fighting to come back after a massive financial blow

oh jeez! The Eugene Weekly is our alternate paper, it goes out once a week and the print edition is free, paid for with advertising. Their bookkeeper had been siphoning off thousands and thousands of dollars, for years.

And they had to lay off everyone, right before Christmas. UGH!

So that's a bummer. But again, stuff to be done!

Brother and I load up with cookies to take home with us, leaving a couple of each kind for Mom and Dad to eat. I get back to the luggage, trying to fit as many of the Christmas presents in as I can, along with the cookies!

I've stolen all of Dad's photos, off his camera... thinking it would be nice to print up a couple to mail back to them. And we work on our new calendars, writing in the family birthdays and anniversaries.

Eventually, it's time to go to the airport. And eventually, it's time to get on the plane. And eventually, we get home. And eventually, get to bed.

Awesome trip. But it's good to be home!

Garden Score!
Saturday 30 December 2023

Home Again!

And the squirrel outside the door is surprised to see me...

Squirrel standing on the sidewalk, dropping her peanut

It's misting and sprinkling this morning, but no wind and nice and warm at 48° (9°C)... perfect Oregon weather!

But why is the wet prairie pond so small? Has it not been raining here?

small puddle of water under some trees in a grassy area

The birds can't believe I'm home, either!

Dark Eye Junco standing on a twig

I decide to stop in at the Community Garden. And oh my gosh! Look!

Picnic table with garden items on and around it

They must have cleared out some abandoned garden plots! Everything left at the table is free for anyone to pick up and use! I grab a handful of wood stakes, the instant I lay eyes on them... wood stakes are always so useful to have around! (Not just for murdering vampires!!)

I drop them off in my garden plot and come back for a closer look. There's some large tomato cages, nice! And I also get the smaller of the two trellises. They both just fold out in an upside-down V and the green one is about 3 feet tall... I think some Lemon Cucumbers would be happy to grow on it!

Garden plot with trellis and tomato cages

It would be nice to have the big trellis as well... It's two stock panels are 4x6 feet. It would be so nice to have something sturdy for the wax beans to grow on!

But, after I take a few black bricks... yeah, I feel like I'm being selfish. Taking all the good stuff without giving anyone else a chance. heh. So I leave the big trellis where it is. Maybe I'll come back next week, and if it's still here, I'll grab it!

Scrub Jay standing on a wood fence

It's good to be home!

Stewart Pond
Sunday 31 December 2023

Two Squirrels standing on the steps

Happy to see that Stewart Pond Park has some decent ponds!

pond with trees in the background

The far away ducks today are Green Wing Teals.

Oh, yay! The Kestrel is still hanging out here!! I'm so glad, I hope I get to see more of her!

American Kestrel standing on a twig

Once I get to the little forest, there are the usual mix of little birds and robins chatting amongst themselves. But this Flicker is the only one who lets me take his picture.

Northern Flicker standing on the trunk of a tree

*laughs* My Tripping Hazard marker is still here!

Path thru the forest

Good thing, too. With all the muddy places, this trail could def use some maintenance.

Singularly unconcerned about the state of the trail...

Squirrel sitting up on a branch

Henrietta! But, gah, seriously?

Great Blue Heron standing on trash in the creek

And some ducks!

a pair of Hooded Mergansers, paddling on the water with some Mallards