Western Screech Owl

Didn’t mean to startle you, but don’t worry. He’s about as big as a robin, hunts at night. This image is from Animal Spot, courtesy of Google, and he’s the one we’re hoping will move into the box we hung in one of the oak trees just behind the backyard fence. Here’s how that happened:

That’s Mitch, saving Larry the necessity of working 10 feet above ground with a ladder. Whew!

But now a little quiz: What word describes the relationship between this owl and the oak tree?

Mutualism, Parasitism, Commensalism, or Predation?

The answer is Commensalism (we all knew it wasn’t predation, right?) Commensalism applied here means that the owl derives benefit from the tree, and the tree neither gains from nor is harmed by the owl. Learned a new word!

I found this on a site called Brainly, which is pretty cool when you don’t feel like asking Google every last thing.

A little time off, and we spent a morning at the dentist, got our teeth cleaned, and kept going on to Portland. As this was a Tuesday, we had the good fortune to enjoy Tuesday Tunes at Mirabella’s Bistro, guests of Vik and Gordon that evening. And on to hear a talk by Molly Gloss. I had known Molly years ago and loved the chance to catch up. If you haven’t read her books yet, get going. Start with The Jump Off-Creek and go from there. For some reason I hadn’t read her Dazzle of Day, but when, in her talk, I learned that it was a novel featuring Quakers in space, I sent for the book the morning I got home. From time to time, I talk to my sister Mary, herself a Friend, on the subject of Quaker philosophy and practice. So far she hasn’t kept me up to speed on their activity in space. I will let you know.

You all knew we are going to raise some chicks for our flock. We stopped in at WilCo the next morning to find and purchase a Starter Kit, which would provide some housing, water and feed dispensers, and a stand for a heat lamp. Fortunately we decided to go home and set up before selecting our new little residents.

Fortunately, because the starter kit was pretty lame. We realized that we could use a stock tank for the base instead of the kit, but the only place we could site this great awkward thing was in the garage. So my little car gets bumped outside for the duration.

Larry cobbled together the post, took the heat lamp from the greenhouse, and put the Starter Kit back into the car for its return to WilCo when we picked up the chicks the next day. Here what that looks like:

We’re advised to hold them every day, to establish our ability to hold them when we need to when they are adults. (Just try to catch Gracie. Guess she didn’t get cuddled as a baby.)

These are about a week old, and include two black, one speckled, and one red breed. Sidebar: it was fascinating to watch them as they were put together from differing tanks at WilCo. One immediately began to peck at and chase the others. Guess she’ll be the boss lady. The little Rhode Island Red has apparently been assigned the bottom rung of the ladder, and often goes off and takes naps away from the others. Hmm. A week old and they know to do this! Does it remind you of people, for example?

Last time I mentioned the Corvallis Community Thrift Shop. Yesterday I took some items over and met Bonnie there. She took my stuff, and when I apologized that Great Aunt Clara’s tea pot had not been polished, she laughed and informed me that unpolished silver is now a “thing.” Awesome. Who ever thought of that one? An influencer somewhere on Instagram or X or? Seriously. That’s brilliant. Women everywhere thank you. “Don’t polish that, you’ll ruin it!”

She went on to talk about the carved figure of an Indian that had washed up in the shop. A volunteer at the shop is a member of one of the local Tribes, and she had said that the figure must not be sold. It was highly disrespectful, and it should be burned. Bonnie volunteered to take the thing to her home, from where she’d find someone with a burn pile who could take it on. That’s where we come in. Of late, we have many, many burn piles.

Not up to me to judge what may or not be respectful in this case, but if burning is the appropriate disposition of this guy, we can only oblige. Someone has spent hours carving that head-dress, that sad face, and I wouldn’t suppose it was in order to laugh. Or so I hope. Anyway:


See you next time! 😊 Ha! Wanted to see if my blog would accept emojis. Guess so.


Larry cooks dinner. Gotta love it! This beauty is chicken thighs. Having overnighted in white wine, they were sauteed along with the endive. He added a chopped salad? Oh, maybe I made the chopped salad. Anyway, delicious! I always thought endive was pronounced “en-dive,” right? But learned from one of my more sophisticated friends that it is correctly pronounced “on-deev.” You can decide for yourself . . .

In farm news, the cows are back. Probably at least 50, yearling steers, chewing down the westside pastures up to and around the barn. I’m glad to have them back, but it does give me pause when I want to take my morning walk down the road. They see me coming and rush over to the fence, then start to follow, moo-ing, plainly wanting something from me. Whatever that might be, I don’t have it. Out? They just want out? I do think that, when they see a person, they believe that change is coming. And they are certainly eager for it.

We’re about to make the leap into raising chicks. Gracie-the-chicken has been living alone for several months now, and although she faithfully lays her egg every day, I’m sure she’d like company. She needs her flock. To this end, we need to improve the environment where the birds will be safe. This means tackling the run, which is lumpish, weedy, impossible to mow (must be weed-whacked) and, acutally, ugly.

So Mitch is here today. He wrestled the rototiller around in there yesterday, is raking it into smoothness today, and will help plant lilacs along the west boundary for shade, and then build a cage for the young birds when they’re old enough to be outside but still need protection from Gracie, if she doesn’t get broody and imagine that they’re hers. Could happen, we’re told.

So what have I been doing while Larry is farming, and cooking dinner? I’ve been struggling to dispose, one way or another, of the baggage we’ve been hauling around all these years. Not just from our lives, but those of several generations back:

You know the kind of stuff I mean. The tea and coffee service from Great Aunt Clara. Cut glass pitcher. Sterling silverware. Mom’s diaries. Larry’s and my high-school annuals? All those photos! Twin bed sheets and blankets. A roasting pan for a twenty-pound turkey. Okay, easy. Donate this stuff!

Last night we went to a meeting for One Hundred People Who Care About Corvallis, and heard about the Community Thrift Store. They take everything, and the proceeds go back to the community in the form of grants to various local NGO’s. Open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8 to 6. Yes they’ll take my old Nikon camera. That sweater I knit but haven’t worn since Jenny was a baby.

Jenny successfully divested her family’s dining-room set, a grand piano(!) and other treasures, with the help of on-line markets when they moved to their new house. Even got a little cash for it. Maybe a little easier when you live in a huge city, but maybe that’s just an excuse.

And now it gets a little harder: What about my MFA thesis? “Who are these minor characters and what are they doing in my novel?” The vase etched with Larry’s name, presented on retirement from Columbia Management Company. The framed illustrations I did for the children’s book which never got published? The children’s stories I wrote but never submitted. Don’t think the Community Thrift Store is the answer here. But still. Throw them away?

I don’t know why my mom hung onto her diaries. Sister Martha keeps a daily journal of her every day’s life. Don’t know what Mary is up to, but she has a lot to write about, if she isn’t. And isn’t this blog a kind of diary? Hmm. I guess so. But. Ha! “But” means I’m about to argue my own position. See, I mean to entertain you with this record of old people who take up farming. I don’t think Mom had that in mind. Nor does Martha. But, if I don’t get around to tossing my MFA thesis, kids, just do it.

Changing the subject: About the new truck? We’d said we wanted Grandson Will to be in charge of naming the vehicle, and he obliged with the name Bob Junior. We’ve shortened it to L’il Bob, which sounds more down country. Larry says it isn’t a farm truck because it isn’t dented, rusted, dirty, but it’s getting a farm-truck name anyway.

Tonight we had the pleasure of Face Timing with David and Caroline. They’re in Wanaka, New Zealand, it being Friday afternoon where they’re living, Thursday evening here. We get used to it. Caroline is still recovering from a ferocious bout with Covid, but is up and around a bit. We had a long discussion about their plans, which more or less boil down to “we don’t know.” Apparently they can live in both NZ and the US alternately, so long as they don’t trigger some clock ticking with regard to which state gets to tax them.

Tomorrow, I plan to start a knitting project — a sweater for a baby boy. I love this! I love to knit, especially things tiny enough to be completed within the space of, say, a couple of good novels I’ll listen to on Audible while I work. This is for the expected grandchild of one of Allison’s great friends. No, you don’t know her and neither do I, and it doesn’t matter. I wonder. Maybe someday, in some future, a woman somewhere will be wondering if she should just keep this cute little blue sweater or take it to a neighborhood thrift shop. I hope so!