First day of summer

Typical Portland June summer morning started with overcast sky, followed by sun eventually as the clouds burned off. I’ve been pushing pretty hard on the conditioning and am now feeling somewhat sore and tired–too early to see much in the way of results weight-wise, but definitely starting to feel a difference in how I move and how the body holds itself.

Not so good news on the job front–got a call from the last interview place that the position had been put on hold, so no job there. Then got a letter from another place that I hadn’t been picked for an interview. Sigh. Figures. Still, I got some writing words in today–just some tweaking of the next Netwalk: Foundations posting, nothing big, but OTOH, I needed a break today.

So I picked up and went to the barn to ride my bad mood away. Fourth ride this week, and Miss Mocha chuckled at me when I came in the door. She’d managed to give herself an owie, probably playing with her grain bucket. Or something. Near as we can figure, she must have been the one that put her big salt block in the grain bucket–apparently she’s been playing with her bucket and knocking it off of the wall, and before G threw the salt block into her hay feeder, she’d been countering all efforts to put it to the side and had planted it in the middle of her stall. It’s a 50 lb salt block and she likes to roll it around her stall. It’s not too far of a stretch to imagine her somehow getting the block into the bucket, then rolling block and bucket around the stall. Silly horse. Smart horse.

Unlike some horses, Miss M doesn’t exactly cater to my moods. If she’s in a witchy mood herself, well, the fireworks can be entertaining. Not bucking but just a bit of “Oh? You want sensitive? I’LL SHOW YOU SENSITIVE!” and then responding to every weight shift. But if I’m in a down mood, there’s no guarantee that she’ll be cooperative. Sometimes she is, sometimes she isn’t. Today, she was, and we had a nice schooling. At one point when doing counter-canter figure 8s, she missed a cue and swapped to be on the lead, but she swapped back readily and I made sure my seatbone was better weighted the next go-round and she held it.

In any case, nice schooling, and then I came home to Do Stuff. Showered after a late lunch, and was combing my hair outside on the back deck, when the neighbor kicked up the bird who’s been making a very odd chirping call around the neighborhood for the past couple of months. I’d been thinking it might have been some variety of parrot, but what I saw fly up in the tree looked like a dove. She called over to ask me what it was, and we couldn’t see it. Then I thought I saw it fly down into the dusty area their hens had scratched up next to their house, so I went to check it out.

This is what I saw:






Juvenile female ruffed grouse. I didn’t ID her right away because, of course, bird books don’t have juvenile female pix. But I had to wonder as she was pretty tame, as long as I spoke to her in a calm voice, though the call threw me off. I’m used to adult ruffies scolding me as I scramble around the brush trying to shoot them, not juvenile flocking calls. Still, I’ve been able to kick up a ruffie in the brush while carrying my rifle on a short stalk looking for deer, gone back to the rig, grabbed the shotgun, and found the same ruffie on the same log squawking at my invasion of his space. Boom. I had to wonder–was she a domesticated chick or a ruffie? The quail I see around the barn are much more skittish, as are blue grouse. Ruffies, though…they’re fools. Fortunately, they also reproduce pretty readily.

Anyway, when DH got home, we went back to look, and found the male on our side of the fence. Recognized his little crest for certain, positive ID as ruffed grouse, from size and plumage, both were half-grown juveniles. I was still hearing their occasional calls until about half an hour ago, along with other, adult grouse talk. Still not sure if they’re escapees (it is possible to buy ruffie chicks) or else migrated over from the Springwater Corridor. I know I’ve occasionally seen Chinese ring-necked pheasants in this neighborhood (nothing wakes you up quite like looking the window and going “Huh? WhAAAAT? Pheasant? HERE?”), but it’s really interesting now to see ruffies.

After taking grouse pix, I staked the Blue Lake beans, as they’re now trying to climb sunflowers, weeds, the lawn….brought out the old cross-country skis that you can’t get boots for any more and set them up. The nasturtiums are exploding, we have more Gravensteins than I thought we did, and one blueberry bush is loaded. One tomato has set on and the others are blooming.

Guess it’s summer. And this summer, I plan to ride, and write, and study.

Sounds like a plan to me.

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