My Messy Corner Of The Yard

Back Yard, Natural Garden, Eugene, Oregon,






    Welcome to my corner of the yard.  Yes, it's a sloppy mess, and most of it is an ongoing experiment in what might possibly grow in a small plot that formerly was almost barren: full of dog-dug holes and mostly bare dirt except for a few scattered clumps of thirsty, unhappy bunch-grass.

Most of the decaying and slowly disintegrating cedar fence wasn't visible, having been overgrown with blackberry brambles, which were at least a cheerful shade of green most of the year, and provided lots of really tasty berries.

Back Yard, Natural Garden, Eugene, Oregon, Summer
Blackberry Bramble, With Bees
Unfortunately, over time the brambles turned into an impenetrable jungle of dead brown stalks, full of giant vicious deadly thorns, and bearing little fruit.  We put up with the unsightly bramble for awhile, due to the shelter it provided for the many migratory birds that would stop over in the spring and fall; wild honeybees also had their hives within the blackberry thicket, and it was a secluded location for a dragonfly to rest as its wings dried after emerging from a chrysalis.

Back Yard, Natural Garden, Eugene, Oregon, Winter
Varied Thrush In Late Autumn
Back Yard, Natural Garden, Eugene, Oregon, Summer, Blackberry Thicket
Dragonfly In Bramble
Finally, though, it was time for something new.  After a couple weekends of bloody combat - did I mention the giant deadly thorns? - the bramble was gone, leaving behind an ugly old fence and a lot of totally bare ground.  Through whatever mechanism they have, blackberries are able to out-compete most all other plants, and the earth underneath them is sterile, with nothing else growing, not even one stalk of grass.  A blank canvas for, whatever.  Winter was coming, which here in Western Oregon means a freaking ton of rain, and rather than have a big muddy mess, I spread a layer of bark mulch out on the bare area, and let it sit until the following spring.

I should say something here about the "lawn" in the back yard.  Even though it was mostly bare dirt to begin with, it does rain a lot here, and eventually various things started growing - five or six varieties of grass, two of clover, and much more besides.  With only periodic cutting back, some additional watering, and letting the grass naturally go to seed before mowing, after six years we had a "salad mix" lawn, soft enough to walk barefoot in.

By springtime, a few new seedlings were popping up through the bark mulch where the bramble used to be, and it was time to plant.  A neighbor had a large plot of yellow iris, and she generously let me dig up a few, and I transplanted about a dozen clumps of that bulby stuff alongside the fence.  There were also two big white daisies that needed moving out of the sweet-pea patch in another part of our yard, since it grows really fast and tends to take over whatever space it's in.  Divided up into eight smaller bunches, I put the daisies randomly around the clumps of iris, along with some artichokes, native wild camas, and blue iris, and let them all fight it out between themselves.

Back Yard, Natural Garden, Eugene, Oregon, Summer, Daisy
White Daisies
Back Yard, Natural Garden, Eugene, Oregon, Summer
Yellow Iris
For the first year, everyone got along okay, but now it's apparent that artichokes can't compete with irises and daisies, and eventually there won't be anything left here but the ultimate winners at plant warfare, the yellow irises.  Amazingly, these irises can even out-compete the blackberries.  The blue iris and camas don't do well either, and this fall, after the daisies are done blooming, I'll move things around, again.

Back Yard, Natural Garden, Eugene, Oregon, Summer
Blue Iris
Back Yard, Natural Garden, Eugene, Oregon, Spring, Japan Maple
Back Yard, Natural Garden, Eugene, Oregon, Spring
Wild Camas
The tree on the right side of the picture at the very top of this post is an Autumn Blaze Maple and seven years ago it was just a 5 1/2 foot potted plant; now it's over 20 feet tall, and still growing fast.  A small Japanese Maple lives in the pot that the large maple used to be in; it was just a small seedling four years ago, and maybe next year it will be ready to put in the ground somewhere.

Back Yard, Natural Garden, Eugene, Oregon, Summer, Japan
Japanese Maple And Stone Lantern
Back Yard, Natural Garden, Eugene, Oregon, Summer
Back Yard, Natural Garden, Eugene, Oregon, Fall
Two Red Maples

Now, it's summer again, and there's a whole lot of new blackberries coming over the fence from the neighbor's, and soon there will be sweet berries galore hanging down into our yard.  And since they're rooted next door, all the pies and cobblers and dishes of ice cream with berries on top will come with no hassle having to maintain the bramble on this side.  And that, is a sweet deal.

Back Yard, Natural Garden, Eugene, Oregon, Summer
June's Home Made Berry Pie
And just so you know, blackberries are considered a noxious invasive weed here in Oregon, and in this town they're technically illegal to have growing in your yard, although I don't think anyone gets arrested for having them, unlike, let's say, something like smoke-weed.

Recently, I've moved the blue iris, and let the grass take over their space, and a couple of lawn mowings have made this area look a bit more civilized, but not much.  It's still a disorderly green mess, and it's not for public show.  On balmy summer evenings it's a pleasant place to sit in the old cushioned double swing seat and read a good book until the light fades, listening to amorous crickets, while the swallows overhead, swifting back and forth in pursuit of their insect suppers, will all go to their sleeping spots, their places gradually taken in the sky by small bats that have similar culinary tastes.  Sometimes I wish we had fireflies here, but you can't have everything.

Some of the photos above were taken by June of the blog Under The Plum Blossom Tree, with either a Lumix ZS-25 or a Lumix TZ-3.  She also made the very tasty berry pie.  Click or tap on any picture to see a larger image. 

Wednesday Bach Blogging: Portland Baroque Orchestra, Goldberg Variations


    Something quite unique from a really good local Oregon band: a radio performance by the Portland Baroque Orchestra, playing Johann Sebastian Bach's Goldberg Variations, BWV 988.  The orchestral transcription for this keyboard work is by Dmitry Sitkovetsky.

Wednesday Bach Blogging: J. S. Bach Pop


    During the 1960s and '70s there were a few tunes on the pop music charts that were either influenced or inspired by, or had melodies directly provided by Johann Sebastian Bach.  Above are The Toys, singing A Lover's Concerto, which was a hit single during 1965.  Note the giant Bach head - very strange.

In 1967, Procol Harum hit the big time with A Whiter Shade Of Pale:


It's a reflection upon the times, that such an unexpected combination of soulful vocal emoting, image laden poetry, and baroque riffing could have been so popular then.  It would probably be impossible for a new song like this to get any attention in today's intensely conservative pop music scene, where the same musical forms have been recycled for decades now.

Jethro Tull originally recorded Bouree in 1969; here they are with a more recent on-stage version:


Ian Anderson's telling of how J. S. Bach and guitarist Martin Barre were "drinking buddies" sets up the scene perfectly for a very inventive re-working of Bouree.

Simon And Garfunkel, in a 1981 concert performance of Paul Simon's American Tune (1973):


Truly something for the ages - a well-modulated, perfect rendition of a masterful example of songwriting craft at its finest, with a bit of inspiration from J. S. Bach.

One Night In Estes Park, Colorado, 1983

T-Bone Thomas, Beaver, Gaslight Pub, Estes Park, Colorado, 1983, Music, One Night In Estes Park Colorado 1983

    The above photo, a scan of a pre-digital era film print, was found on the 'web.  While it's uncertain who took this picture, I do know who these people are, what they're doing, and where they're doing it.  From left to right:

• Tom "T-Bone Thomas" Jerkins.  Chicago blues man extraordinaire - a great singer, blues harp player, and effortlessly fluid guitarist with his own unique style; T-Bone lived what he loved, talked the talk, and played all the right notes.  Possibly the single most masterful player I've ever had the honor of knowing and working with.

• Your humble servant, the author of this blog.  Back when this photo was taken, I played a bit of guitar, and also sang a few songs.

• Charles "The Beaver" Cavanaugh.  Entrepreneur, dealer in antiquities both old and new, music producer and promoter, general man about town.  Flamboyant, visionary, a real take charge and make things happen kind of guy.  Note The Beaver's $100 bottle of champagne on the table - that's almost 500 of today's dollars.

• Fabrice "Fab" Dolegowski.  Genius photographer, dedicated family man and father, a solid, sensitive, and reliable bassist and mandolin player, babe magnet, and overall nice guy.  No party was complete without Fab.  A true old-world style gentleman, the only person I ever knew who was born in Paris and then moved to Colorado.

• Clark Hardin.  Second generation Bakersfield musician, a top notch player from a place where all the players are born talented, and only get better as they grow up.  A drummer who never played a beat out of place, a remarkable guitarist, and naturally gifted singer, especially of vocal harmony.  It was always a pleasure to stack vocals with Clark, since his parts were always right on.

If memory serves, this photo was taken at the Gaslight Pub, in Estes Park, Colorado, some time in 1983, maybe February or March.  Most likely, a musical gig of some sort, with T-Bone, Fab, Clark, and I part of the band, and The Beav there to lend his support.

Looking back, I feel blessed, and lucky too, to have been part of a musical scene in Colorado alongside such an array of talent.  And it wasn't just these players - there were many many other equally brilliant guys, and ladies too, who anyone would have been proud to have shared a stage, studio, or jam room with.  To any of them who may be reading this, let me say: thank you, for all those good times.

To see a larger image of the above photo, click or tap on it.

Sunset At Harris Beach

Oregon, Coast, Pacific Ocean, Sundown, Dusk, Summer, Travel, Lumix ZS-25




    Sunset over the Pacific Ocean, at Harris Beach State Park, near Brookings, Oregon.

Oregon, Coast, Pacific Ocean, Sundown, Dusk, Summer, Travel, Lumix ZS-25
Oregon, Coast, Pacific Ocean, Sundown, Dusk, Summer, Travel, Lumix ZS-25
Oregon, Coast, Pacific Ocean, Sundown, Dusk, Summer, Travel, Lumix ZS-25
Oregon, Coast, Pacific Ocean, Sundown, Dusk, Summer, Travel, Lumix ZS-25
Oregon, Coast, Pacific Ocean, Sundown, Dusk, Summer, Travel, Lumix ZS-25
Oregon, Coast, Pacific Ocean, Sundown, Dusk, Summer, Travel, Lumix ZS-25
Oregon, Coast, Pacific Ocean, Sundown, Dusk, Summer, Travel, Lumix ZS-25

All photos taken with a Lumix ZS25 compact pocket camera.  Click or tap on any picture above to see larger images.

Wednesday Bach Blogging: Leo Kottke - Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring



    Leo Kottke's 1969 recording of Johann Sebastian Bach's Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring, from his album 6- and 12-String Guitar.  At the time, this was a revolutionary, possibly even subversive rendition of this Bach piece; unlike all earlier versions, which were straight transcriptions, Kottke played a re-imagined adaptation.  It had already been accepted that jazz musicians could perform standard popular songs in whatever stylistic manner that suited them; in this case, though, this was Bach, not a pop tune, and it wasn't done as jazz or swing, but in Leo Kottke's own unique guitar style.

Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring is the commonly used title for the last, Chorale, movement of J.S. Bach's cantata Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, (Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life); BWV 147.

Next, here's another interesting version of this piece, as performed by Heaven And Earth - Stuart Smith on electric guitar; Ricky Phillips, bass; Ray Rodriguez, keys; and Richie Onori, drums:


In some ways, this rock quartet performance is more faithful to Bach's original composition than is Kottke's.  Except maybe for the drums.  And the Stratocaster and Marshall amplifier stack.  And the electric bass and synthesizer, and it's really really fast.  And the screaming lead vocals.  Oh wait - there are no vocals.  Anyway, except for all the differences, it's the same.  But different.

Unlike most composers of orchestral music, Bach had been for some years an organist, and playing the incredibly loud and intense church pipe organs would have given him an appreciation for the loud and intense and rhythmic, and it is entirely probable that he would approve of this performance of his music.

To get a good idea of what the original cantata Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben sounded like, here is a recent concert performance by Concentus Musicus Wien, along with the Arnold Schoenberg Choir.  The Conductor is Nikolaus Harnoncourt; the Chorus Master is Erwin Ortner.  Note that Mr. Harnoncourt truly enjoys what he does for a living - he sings along with the choir while he conducts the musical ensemble!


Windy Day Coast Trip

Pacific Ocean, Lane County, Florence, Two Boys On Beach,

    We took a trip out to the coast on a blustery day in late March.  On the way there, we drove over a couple of old covered bridges, one of which led us down a seldom traveled narrow unpaved road that went along the Siuslaw River for a few miles.  Eventually we got to a beach south of Florence, Oregon, and had some fun, even though it was windy.  Went back to the beach town, ate some fish and chips, and came home.  It was a good day.

Covered Bridge, Lane County, Oregon, Covered Bridge, Coast Range
Between Veneta And Florence, Oregon, Lane County, Coast Range
Oregon, Lane County, Logs, Logging, Forest, Coast Range
Covered Bridge, Lane County, Oregon, Coast Range
Covered Bridge, Lane County, Oregon, Coast Range
Isuzu Oasis, Oregon, Lane County, Old Stagecoach Road, Oregon
Oregon, Lane County, Rain Forest, Coast Range, Trees, Forest
Oregon, Lane County, Siuslaw River, Coast Range, Old Stagecoach Road
Oregon, Coast Range, Lane County, Old Stagecoach Road
Oregon, Lane County, Coast Range, Old Stagecoach Road, Siuslaw River
Oregon, Lane County, Coast Range, Siuslaw River
Lane County, Coast, Pacific Ocean, Coast Range, Oregon Dunes
Florence, Oregon, Lane County, Pacific Ocean, Coast
Oregon, Lane County, Sand, Beach, Pacific Ocean, Coast, Florence
Pacific Ocean, Lane County, Tayo Anderson, Mason King, coast
Oregon Dunes, Lane County, Florence, Coast, Pacific Ocean
Oregon Dunes, South Jetty, Coast, Pacific Ocean
Oregon Dunes, Lane County, Beach Grass, South Jetty
Lane County, South Jetty, Beach, Pacific Ocean
Oregon Dunes, Lane County, South Jetty, Pacific Ocean, Coast
Oregon Dunes, Lane County, South Jetty, Pacific Ocean, Coast
Oregon Dunes, Lane County, South Jetty, Pacific Ocean, Coast
Oregon, Lane County, Oregon Dunes, South Jetty, Pacific Ocean, Coast, Florence
Oregon, Lane County, Oregon Dunes, Pacific Ocean, Coast, Florence
Oregon, Lane County, Oregon Dunes, Pacific Ocean, Coast, Florence,
           
Photos taken with a Lumix TZ-3 and a Canon Elph SD550.  Click or tap on any picture above to see larger images.

Wildflowers In The City

Forget Me Not, Myosotis Sylvatica, flowers growing crack in concrete sidewalk

    On a city sidewalk, growing out of a crack next to the gutter, one small wildflower plant.  Tiny delicate blue blooms, each less than 6 mm - most likely a Forget Me Not (Myosotis sylvatica).  Forget Me Not - what a perfect name.  How could I ever forget you?  Even after you are gone, I will always remember you: you're beautiful, and brave, and unique, winsomely petite, have a lovely face, and you're blue.

Forget Me Not, Myosotis Sylvatica, flowers growing crack in concrete sidewalk

Another reminder that no matter where you are, it's spring.  And no matter who or what you are, it's time to blossom, time to grow.

Forget Me Not, Myosotis Sylvatica, flowers growing crack in concrete sidewalk