“Oh my gosh! Larry! Come quick!”


“I don’t know. A really big cat, and it has a long tail. Just walking along behind the fence.” But Larry can’t come quick, and by the time he stumps into the dining room, I’ve become impatient and opened the door to the porch. The animal startles, stares, and bounds away. Larry can just see his head as he disappears into the weeds.

“Looks like a feral cat.”

“No, it’s bigger than that. What does a cougar look like?”

“Jane.” He knows I like a good story, but he isn’t willing to go so far as cougar. “I don’t know. It was probably just a cat.”

So he doesn’t believe me. My bad. I shouldn’t have opened the door. But I know what I saw. “You do know because I just told you.”

Ha. Won that argument.

And while I can’t really ID a cougar, I am pretty confident of my skills in the kitchen. Example:

Right. You can probably tell that the first shot was an apple pie that stayed in the oven too long, but you might need help recognizing an angel food cake in the second. Doesn’t work without a tube pan.

Maybe it was just a cat.

And Kelly, I’m glad you’re not piggy-backing on my Hulu account!

Larry and I had an executive meeting to plot preparations for fall. 1.) Pull out the wire mesh around the orchard trees, fertilize, determine how to deal with the chickens digging around the tree roots. 2.) Build shelves in the new shed. 3.) Clean and organize the old shed. 4.) Move the picnic table down to the barn. 5.) Move tender plants into the greenhouse. Most of these chores demand a two-legged man, so we’re working on that, too.

We’re asked to decide what to do about the newly prepared pastures. Plant something now to look better, which will be sprayed next spring before planting with fescue? Just leave the dirt fallow, do nothing, and spray whatever comes up next spring before planting with fescue?

Why not plant some nitrogen-fixing legume, then till it in? I ask. Don’t spray! We need advice, but Jarod, of F&W says this question is above his pay grade. We remembered Donna Schmidt, Benton County, recommending the Institute of Applied Ecology. Sounds pretty fancy, and right here in Corvallis! I phoned them, got connected with the director, who has expressed interest in seeing what we’re up to, and will come out here next Tuesday to have a look and make suggestions. This is good!

And here’s what’s fun: Over the weekend, Amy and Mike came to town to visit Amy’s sister, Marjorie, and Ted. They had expressed interest in collecting some of our oak firewood to take back to their home in the mountains near Prineville. They’re pretty amazing. Just back from a long trip across country, camping out every night on the way. They heat their home with just a wood stove. They eat, Mike tells us, only meat that they harvest. “harvest!” That’s a word.

“Do you hunt with bow or rifle?” I ask.

“Yes,” he says.

I have a photo, but it wouldn’t be fair — you’ll just have to imagine the glorious push-broom mustache and the laughing eyes behind it.

Someone mentioned the big cat I’d seen earlier that day. Amy, who reminds me of my own sister, Mary, asked a couple of questions about it/him, and pronounced cougar. Yes! She explained that a 2 year old male would be looking for his own territory in this season. Neither Larry nor I doubt her authority.

They loaded the trailer and as they were leaving, Mike produced a package of two frozen elk steaks for us. Like New York strip, he said, and proceeded to tell us how to cook them. We must use a tenderizer gadget, he insisted, and be sure to under-cook them. In a cast iron skillet or on the fire. Well. Wow.

And speaking of sisters, Happy Birthday, Martha! A day late, but she’ll forgive me, I think, because I gave her a present: A jigsaw puzzle featuring insects arranged artistically. Yep. Good old Dad.

See you in October!