Alive and Well in the Wild West

It has been just over a month since I arrived in Oregon.  Everything is going really well.  I am so glad that I decided to take this huge leap of faith.  I am settled in, and loving it.  The first Monday I was here, I got my license (well, I don’t have it yet – Ohio definitely does that better), registered my car, got a post office box, etc.  It is official.

ImageWhat do you think the GMB could stand for?  Good move, babe?  Or perhaps, Great move…Bend?

Doggie Heaven

Shannon (my dog) is loving life on the ranch.  She has found plenty of things to roll in.  One morning she was focused on a particular spot, so I walked closer.  I found part of a deer leg, with some fur still on it.  She finds lots of bones.  Clearly, the coyotes are getting enough to eat.  Shannon gets to roam off leash all over the ranch.  We built up to that, so that I could make sure she listened.  Mostly she goes right towards the river.  When I let her out, no matter when, the first thing she does is a nose dive onto the grass, and she rolls around on her back.  I have never seen her do this so much.  I attribute it to her happiness.  She loves to swim in the river.  I am so impressed by how well she does for an old girl.  She can go to work with me, which she did twice this week.  I can also work from home, so she loves that, too.  I mean, I think she does.  She doesn’t ever tell me anything.  However, I think her actions speak volumes.  Interesting fact:  Bend has one of the highest per capita dog populations (PUPulations?) anywhere in the world.


Cougars, Coyotes, and Scorpions…OH MY!

Coming from Ohio, I am familiar with deer.  However, I don’t think I have ever seen so many at once.  One morning, I was driving down the road, and there were 30 (maybe more) deer.  As I approached, they were like deer in…well, needless to say they behave the same in Oregon as they do in Ohio.

Speaking of wildlife, the second Saturday I was here, I dozed off for a bit right before sunset.  I was awakened by the hooting of an owl.  I sat straight up, because I thought about the chickens.  I grabbed the flashlight, and ran out of the door to get to the chickens.  I spotted not one, but TWO, great horned owls.  They were hooting back and forth, and I am sure they were talking about the 8 chickens that might be their dinner.  I found several chickens huddled under a tree, so I desperately tried to coax them out from underneath, but they were terrified.  I turned my back and heard the “WHOOSH!” of the owl.  Then I heard the chickens making all sorts of noise.  I escorted them, one by one, to the coop, until finally, all of the chickens were in the coop.  The owls were not having chicken…that night.  I texted one of my former colleagues to see if he would ask Maverick (one of my former students) if owls would eat chickens.  Maverick is a bird expert.  In fact, the first time I meet him he hooted like an owl and made his head move the way a bird would.  He is a character.  Anyway, Maverick happened to be in my friend’s class at that moment, and said that I should protect the chickens, because an owl would most definitely eat the chickens.  Unfortunately, 2 or 3 days later, I found one chicken with its head almost completely severed.  I assume it was an owl, but it could have been a coyote.

The dead chicken was not a pleasant sight, but it wasn’t scary.  Just last week, I was checking the shower as I do every day because my vision is so poor.  I do that because I like to make sure I’m the only one in there.  This day… I was not.  This is what I found.


This is a scorpion.  Not the kind that will kill you.  It will sting and leave a mark for awhile.  I quickly texted Juliana and asked how to “take care of” this unwanted visitor.  She suggested stepping on it – with shoes on, of course.  So, I put a piece of toilet paper down on top of it, and then took my tennis shoe, and squashed it.  Mouse Man (the guy who takes care of pest issues at the ranch) told me that he (the scorpion) was likely looking for a source of food.  It did not move very fast because it was cold.

How Much Wood…

I am still splitting wood.  Lots, and lots, of wood.  Let’s talk more about that…after lots of wood splitting, I have found the technique that works for me.  At first, I started with what I will call the “over the shoulder” technique.  I was positioning the ax over my right shoulder, and then swinging.  The wood that I split (not sure what kind it is – my sources tell me pine) is VERY hard.  I wasn’t having much success with the OTS method, so I moved on to “behind the back.”  This has proven to be much more effective.  I carefully put the ax behind my back and between my shoulders, I put one leg ahead of the other, find the correct distance from the log, and “WHACK!”  Actually, it usually starts as a “THUD!” because the wood is so hard.  Then I reposition, and try again.  Once I get the right angle, I am able to successfully split the wood.  Sometimes, the ax gets stuck in the wood.  When that happens, I cheat.  I lift the whole thing up (the wood with the ax stuck in it), and just pound the &^%$ out of it on the chopping block (Is that really what it is called?  Must be.) until the wood splits.  It is so incredibly satisfying when the wood finally splits.  I find myself saying, “YES!!!” almost every time it happens.  This may wear off when it is 20 degrees.  I will try to stay ahead of it.  Evidence…


She Works Hard For Her Money

Work is going very well.  I am doing something different almost every day.  I work with Juliana (Dr. Panchura) in the Orthodontic office about 4 or 5 days a month.  Recently, I have been working hard to find volunteer opportunities for patients who live in the Warm Springs and Madras areas.  It is very cool to be selling a product (so to speak) that people want to buy.  I made lots of phone calls, and talked to people about their willingness to use volunteers.  Ideally, they will sign up on the website.  In the meantime,  I created a handout for patients who live in those areas.  This is such a great program, and I really enjoy talking to the patients about what they are doing to volunteer in their community.

I have been doing some fun things outside of work as well.  I volunteered for the Bend Film Festival the second weekend in October.  That was very cool.  The first night, I worked the door at a film maker’s party.  I was the one who had to say, “And you are?” Not really, but I had to verify who they were and the name of their film (this is where I saw an actor from the show “Bones” – I was excited!).  The second day I sold tickets and worked as line control at one of the film venues.  That got to be a sticky situation, because it was sold out, and we had to turn people away.  Luckily, I could say, “Well, I’m only a volunteer, but…”  The third day I worked ticket sales at “The Hub.”  I really liked that a lot, because it was where the filmmakers came to chat and kind of check in.

One night, we went to see Greg Brown in Sisters.  I had no idea who he was, but I like music, so I was excited to check it out.  We didn’t have tickets, but were hoping to buy them at the door.  No such luck.  The Belfry was sold out.  So we stood outside with one other guy, and asked people if they had extra tickets.  After about an hour, one person finally had one ticket.  We told the other guy he should take it since he had been standing there longer.  Then another guy walked by.  Julie asked, “Do you have any extra tickets?” In a booming voice, the man replied, “I have a guest list.” It became clear that this was the artist himself.  Whoops!  Fortunately, he asked our names, and put us on his list.  We were able to watch the show after all.  It was great!

Two weeks ago, I drove up to Mount Bachelor to see it up close.  What a beautiful mountain!  It was a great drive.  There are several places to cross country ski all around Mount Bachelor.  I look forward to skiing again.  It has been 13 years!!!

Here are some general scenery pictures…

ImageLast weekend, I went to a Halloween party at a dentist’s office.  There was no laughing gas involved.   I haven’t been to a Halloween party in a long time.  Yes, I dressed up, but I don’t want to offend anyone by revealing my costume.  I will give you a hint…Mary Clare.

A question that I get a lot is, “Do you miss teaching?”  I miss the kids.  It is nice that I get to interact with them at the Orthodontic office.  I keep in touch with my teacher friends, and all I can say is, I am glad I am doing what I am doing.  Like digging potatoes, and talking to a couple of jack asses…


9 thoughts on “Alive and Well in the Wild West

  1. I love your story, you should write a book. I am glad that you are happy, that is so important….it’everything! I miss you, but your story makes you feel close. It sounds like you made a life changing move, and I am so happy for you! Love

  2. Love your update and I’m so glad things are going well and you are vindicated in your decision. But this makes me miss you more! Can’t wait to come visit! Gorgeous scenery.

  3. Mary Clare – I hope you will keep on writing! I have to live vicariously through you since I am buckled down teaching and finishing my dissertation. 🙂 I truly enjoyed reading about your adventure.

  4. MC, glad things are going well. Sounds like a great adventure. Recommend that while splitting wood you keep your feet apart. If you miss the wood you want the axe/maul to hit the ground between your feet not on your front foot. Good luck. Wish I was still young enough to enjoy splitting wood.

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