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home : columns April 26, 2017


Watching over us and our homes
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is a state agency designed to help keep our planet Earth - and us - healthy. Currently, DEQ is encouraging Oregonians throughout the state to take part in a nationwide effort on Saturday, April 29 to collect unused, unwanted or expired medications so they can be disposed of properly.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Red-Teaming the climate question
Recently, thousands of people, and even a few penguins, peacefully turned out to protest against the politicization of science. The protestors insist that policy making in government circles should be evidence-based, and that heavyweight decisions on issues such as climate change should be made by reference to scientific fact, rather than deep state politics. On the surface, that's hard to argue with.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
The riots that brought us home to Sisters
Marilyn and I will sit down with our daughter Ceili this week and watch the History Channel's "The L.A. Riots: 25 Years Later," and the National Geographic "L.A. Burning." The history has profound resonance for her, though she doesn't really know it yet.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Minimize your cat's shedding
Are you finding cat fur on your clothes, furniture, and even floating in the air?

Finding Kitty's hair on almost everything in sight is a fact of life for a cat pet parent. Kitty is not intentionally trying to drive you crazy, it's just a side effect of her natural shedding process.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017
All politics is local
I have been thinking of Tip O'Neill's book and his famous saying that all politics is local. The point has been driven home by watching the anger and outrage present at U.S. Representative Greg Walden's town hall meetings.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Eagles really can get around
Ray Spencer, a old galloot like me who works out of San Diego, California, loves to collect photos of birds. He sent me a photo of a baldy in one of his daily postings that about knocked my socks off. Not only is it a great image of a sub-adult bald eagle flying overhead, but the two orange patagial wing tags (with the number 41 printed on them) are really visible.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Private Tarbox
Here on the Figure 8, our humble rancho in the ponderosas, we have inadvertently created an interpretive center. That it also happens to be housed in the entryway "half-bath" is merely a side-note. It is, in my humblest estimation, everything that a museum hosted in a water closet should be.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
An unexpected encounter
The last thing the staff and customers of Lowe's in Bend expected to see last week was a lone common poorwill (a bird very closely related to a nighthawk) standing in the middle of the garden center.
Friday, April 14, 2017
Going solo
One of the more reliable signs of spring is the return of the redwinged blackbirds. No matter what the calendar says, it's only when I see them down in the meadow below our place, the males singing on a fenceline, or ganging up on ravens to chase them off the nesting territory, that I'm ready to call it spring and actually believe it. Redwings are a migratory bird, and can travel up to 800 miles from their summer homes to winter in better climes.

Lucky bastards.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Owls, owls and more owls
There've been some interesting phone calls arriving on both my home and travelin' phones that are giving me cause to suspect the alien barred owl population (from the eastern USA and Canada) may be on the rise, and people are confusing them with our native great gray owls.
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Flammulated owls really get around
My old pal from Sisters Country Conrad Weiler and his dear wife, Joan, hit me with a wonderful surprise a week or so back. They sent me an email from Panama.

There's ol' Conrad, standing in the bow of a ship carrying him and his lovely wife through the Mira Florues Lock, just before they went on a tour of the Gamboa National Forest.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Owning it all
I'm not a builder. I have no professional training of any kind, though as a kid I helped my step-dad build a gigantic barn. I was mostly useful as an extra hand to drive nails, fetch this tool or that, or to hold the end of a tape measure. As I got older my pursuits went in different directions, but he went on to build several more barns, always by himself, for the horses and cows and sheep, each one of them a kind of old-timey masterpiece of creativity, architectural beauty, and rock-solid strength.
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
The Deep State of the Figure 8
Much of last week was dedicated to moving manure.

I should be more precise: it was dedicated to breaking up fields of ice-manure, 8 or 10 inches deep, by hand with a pick, then coming along behind with the tractor to pick up the mess and move it away from the barn. It was a lot of hands-on work, as you might imagine and, eventually covered from head to toe in it, I could hear my granddad reminding me from beyond the grave: "Nothing to worry about, kid, it's just grass and water."

True enough.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017
A loon for legumes
This year I intend to garden - or farm, as I prefer to think of it - as if our lives depend on it.
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
The New Silk Roads
Last summer, while lounging around the Munich Airport waiting for a flight to Reykjavik, I bought a book: "The Silk Roads: A New History of the World," by Peter Frankopan.
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
The Emperor has no books
Multiple news outlets have reported that President Donald Trump does not read books. If these reports can be believed, which is a large-style "if" these days, His Excellency eschews the written word altogether, preferring, one supposes, the background noise of flattering network coverage and the occasional furtive glance at his "so-elegant" self in a gilded mirror.
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Slush
This morning I woke up at 4 a.m. This is earlier than usual but I was prompted by the insistent wet-nose poking of our oldest dog, Buddy, who is nearly blind, mostly deaf, and recovering from a nearly fatal injury to his elbow that was probably my fault.
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Sisters Airport goes way back...
There's been a lot of talk about the Sisters Airport over the last few months, which got me to thinking that perhaps a lot of people don't know much about the history of the operation.
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Under the Volcano
Yesterday, encouraged by the bluest skies, I bravely opened the door to our shop. Our shop, where I like to futz and putter and try to make things, or fix things, or think about things, had become a desultory crypt of neglect.
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Watching for tagged raptors
The photo accompanying this column was taken near Sawyer Park in Bend. The tags made the hawk (a juvenile red-tail) stand out like a sore thumb, even to someone who really isn't interested in birds. It caught the eye of bird photographer Chas Savage. He knew it was important for him to capture an image of it. Afterwards, he went to the Banding Lab website, reported his sighting and discovered it was tagged at the Portland Airport just a couple of weeks earlier.
Tuesday, February 14, 2017














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