Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Another uneventful week here at the Hess residence, which I guess is not a bad thing these days if you look what's going on in the world with shootings in Colorado and Virginia and an earthquake in India .. so many more lives lost ..
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we are very aware that we are the lucky ones .. so far .. something to be thankful for indeed.

Since work is very quiet at the moment, actually pretty much at a standstill at the moment (blame the economy, the interest rates, the stock-market, the war, the mid-terms), James is spending most of his time studying. That is, if he's not golfing of course ..
The weather is cooperating perfectly by changing out rainy (study) days with quite nice (golf) ones, sort of a fifty-fifty balance at the moment.

When he goes 'brain-dead' we usually go for a little hike/walk somewhere and this Sunday we went back to the golf course to hike the northern part of the two trails.

The trail turned out to be rather difficult to find, we didn't see any signs, but we knew sort of where it should be and when I finally managed to find a map when we got back home (because why would you look at that beforehand .. duh) we pretty much got it right.

The first part skirts a pretty and quiet neighborhood but pretty soon you enter a narrow slice of forest alongside the 2th, 3th and 4th fairways of the golf course.
Some of the maple trees were still in their fall-finery ..


The 5th hole has you hit over the dreaded 'ravine', where many a golf ball has been lost .. yes, some of ours as well ..

Golfers and hikers share a bridge that leads you to the green on the other side .. where James spotted a ball he had to retrieve .. who knows it might have been his ..


From there we entered a different neighborhood, appropriately called 'The Greens', and after following the street all the way to the end we arrived at Schaad Park:

A short, one mile trail, starts here at the play ground and zig-zags up the hill to nice views of the valley:

... and then continues left or right to follow a loop through the trees and around a field.

After this little side-trail we continued our way through the streets of this very pretty neighborhood and ended up on the street, the one with the colorful Pin Oaks, which brings you back to the clubhouse of the golf course.

It was a really nice walk again, except for the bad signage, and we think Chehalem Parks and Recs is doing a great job creating and connecting more and more parks with new trails wherever new housing developments are being build.

The last couple of mornings we woke up to heavy fog, always good for a few nice pictures .. that is if you like fog .. which I do.

'My' birds are eating up a storm at the moment, they might have heard about the weather taking a turn next week with 'possible' snow?!

Better fatten up while you can!

Flying to Europe in 3 (!) weeks has triggered me in going through all our clothes for what to bring or not and if I need to buy anything ... I don't think so ..

While I was at it I filled two garbage bags with clothes (and some sheets/towels) we never wear or use anymore. Off to Goodwill they go!

I've completed my pumpkin-puzzle and am halfway another 'fall'-one, this one's called 'Olde Cape Cod'.
The street vendor on the bottom left there is selling 'New England Codfish Balls':

I googled it and found that they were made with salted cod which could be re-hydrated months after drying, making it a critical source of protein in the days before refrigeration and freezing. In fact, it was so popular in Cape Cod it was sometimes referred to as “Cape Cod Turkey.”
For the balls it was soaked and mixed with a little mashed potato and egg, shaped into ball and fried.  Although not nearly as popular today (nor as cheap), salt cod is apparently still readily available at most New England supermarkets.

I'm not sure about salted fish balls but I can do a slice of cobbler any time:


I made this one with raspberries, blackberries and blueberries from our own garden!

Can you say 'delicious'?

Thursday, November 17, 2022


Not much has happened this week at all .. other than Fall steadily advancing and more and more leaves that are falling ..


We went for a walk around the golf course where the Chehalem Park and Recreation District has created 2 beautiful trails, the Chehalem Glenn Loop (2.23 miles) which loops around the north portion of the golf course, and the Gettman Loop (1.6 miles) which encircles the southern portion.


We went for the latter ...

Portions of this trail are alongside the course, and some duck down into surrounding forest which  transports you from town into fern-covered creek-side trails shaded beneath dense fir trees.

The trail is mostly flat, with some gentle grades. Some portions have chips underfoot and some, in the wooded areas, are dirt floor and fallen pine needles.
Some areas give you a glimpse of the golf course ..


And there are places where you walk alongside a fairway for a little while .. with just enough distance in between to not get hit by a stray ball!


We emerged from the forest and passed some farmland ..

And ended up on the street that bisects the course into the front and back nine ..

I thought these gorgeous trees were maples but at a closer look they turned out to be oaks, Pin Oaks to be precise, which have really stunning fall colors ..

Around the RV it's a coming and going of wildlife at the moment. I've 'lost' several bird species who have moved to 'warmer pastures', as in they moved south for the winter, mostly house- and gold-finches, but have welcomed back the titmice and chickadees and our Downey woodpecker couple.
The last ones have been around all summer I suspect but I had taken the suet-feeders down so I bet we were on their sh*t-list for a while ..

And yes, some of the deer are here quite often as well, munching on the blackberry leaves, and on occasion on my precious strawberry leaves (#@$^!).
Since they weren't producing any fruit anymore I'd taken the netting off, but I guess the leaves are tasty as well .. sigh.

She looks well-fed to me .. I can't see her ribs

It's also that time of the year again .. Sinterklaas has arrived once more!
I watched his arrival (in Holland) at BVN (the Dutch/Belgian television station for us who live abroad) where a special edition of the Sinterklaas Journaal followed his arrival:



I'd managed to find some Windmill cookies at our local Bi-Mart grocery store, a cookie that's eaten traditionally around this time in Holland and instantly transports me back to my childhood and all the excitement of this special season ..

Which brings me to another exciting announcement .. drum-roll please .. we're going to spend the holidays in Holland!
Since work is very slow at the moment and James has to study for his appraisal license and we haven't been back for 1,5 year and spending the holidays in Holland is soooo 'gezellig' and tickets are ridiculously cheap at the moment and we can stay for free in my niece's rental cabin so it won't break the bank ... we decided 'why not'?!

We're leaving on the 13th of December and won't come back until the 10th of January.

Yoohoo! I'm so excited!

Wednesday, November 9, 2022


After a rather wet week and equally cold and damp weekend it finally dried up and we've been enjoying a few beautiful crisp but sunny days.
Temperatures are cool overnight, in the high 30's, with days around 50F, probably a little higher in the sun.
Despite some trees losing their colorful fall leaves already there are still a lot that are hanging in (on) there!

The vineyards are at their peak colors!

These sunny days in the fall promote sugar production, which brings out other pigments in the leaves as the green chlorophyll is decreased.


And the cold air at night closes up the veins of the leaves and traps the sugar, bringing out more colored pigments.
We had two nights close to freezing this week which made for frosty leaves and eaves!


Now the rain had stopped and the fire-ban was lifted (which had stayed in place all the time from July to November), James decided it was a good time to burn the pile that had accumulated over the summer.

Nothing more mesmerizing than a good fire!

Our resident Pocket gopher, who has gone crazy over the last 2 weeks or so, stayed wisely underground for a while ..


Pocket Gophers live in a burrow system that can cover an area that is 200 to 2,000 square feet. The state of our orchard is proof of that!
Feeding burrows are usually 6 to 12 inches below ground, and the nest and food storage chamber can be as deep as 6 feet, depending on soil type. Wow, that's some digging for such a small animal!

After all fire-activity had died down it didn't take long before he came back up to test the air.
Wait for it ... (I'd literary been waiting for 10 minutes before he surfaced)

You can see his small eyes and ears (handy if you live underground) and the highly sensitive facial whiskers that assist with moving about in the dark.
Fun fact: A gopher's lips are also unusually adapted for their lifestyle; they can close them behind their four large incisor teeth to keep dirt out of their mouths when using their teeth for digging.

The orchard is a popular place these days. One sunny afternoon these two deer decided a was a good place to chew their cud and have some r&r:


For some reason I'm actually seeing more wildlife at the moment than I've seen all summer.

On one of my walks last week (note the gorgeous, sunny morning) I came across a small flock of California Quail, a first this year ..


I never got a really good shot, but you 'get the picture'.

American Kestrels are almost always around in our neighborhood.
This is a female on the left, as often seen perching on a telephone wire, and a male on the right, identifiable by his slate-gray wings.

They're fierce little predators, the smallest and most colorful of our raptors. I love to hear their sharp loud, excited calls, usually a series of 3-6 'kee-kee-kee's'

I guess it was a slow week around here, I really don't have much else to talk about.
I putzt around as usual, spinning, knitting, reading, doing some end-of-the-season clean-up work around my raised beds and a little bit of cooking and baking.

These Pumpkin chocolate-chip cookies were really good .. especially with some eggnog ..

T'is the season!