The Great Amphibian Relocation Project of 2013

by Steve, July 13th, 2013

Westside TrailJust steps from our door, three new segments of the Westside Regional Trail are nearing completion. The project will join existing trails to form a six mile bike and pedestrian corridor from the north side of Tigard through the Tualatin Hills Nature Park in Beaverton. Eventually the trail will continue north and south connecting western Portland metro area communities between the Tualatin River and the Willamette River.

No sense of impending doomThe new segments of the trail cross some difficult terrain, including steep hillsides with switchbacks and bridges over wetlands. Construction began in the summer of 2012, but was suspended for the wet season. At the approach to a new bridge, a large puddle formed over the winter, and in the spring we noticed tadpoles. The doomed breeding ground
By summer, the construction crews returned with their heavy machines and piles of gravel. The tadpoles had turned into Pacific Chorus Frogs, but they weren’t ready to leave their birthplace on their own. We also discovered immature salamanders, still with gills.

Since it was clear their world would soon be buried under tons of gravel and pavement, son Z and I embarked on an emergency relocation project. Still with gillsThree evenings in a row, we took nets and plastic containers to their little pond and caught as many as we could. We walked them to another wetland and set them free. We got 19 in all; 12 frogs and 7 salamanders. We think we got most of the frogs, but the salamanders were really hard to catch. On the third night, we were assisted by daughter E and Grandma L.

When we came back from a short trip to Iowa, we found that crews had resumed work on the approach to the bridge, destroying the little world as we expected. Some of the puddle remained, so we hope any remaining salamanders and frogs were able to flee.

Waiting for relocation
Arriving at their new home


by Steve, March 10th, 2013


I can’t remember not being interested in nature. When I was younger I loved hikes in the Iowa woods. At a teen I was drawn to the challenge and thrill of the high ground, be it Colorado fourteeners, then as an adult, glaciated Cascade volcanic peaks. I was always trying to get to the highest ridge or butte around, just for the view, if nothing else.

But now I find myself drawn to the lowlands in between the peaks and ridges, where the water drains and pools and the wildlife gathers. There’s just a lot more going on down there.

This wetland is on Johnson Creek, the stream that drains the north side of Cooper Mountain on it’s way to merging with Beaverton Creek near the Tualatin Hills Nature Park. Beaverton Creek flows west into Rock Creek, which feeds our valley’s namesake, the Tualatin River.

Autumn in Oregon

by Steve, November 4th, 2012

I think I still owe a Tualatin River Diaries entry for our last 2 days of paddling this year. That will have to wait. Meanwhile here are some Autumn nature pics from Z and Steve’s Church of Nature (meets every weekend at a green space near us).

Yesterday, we went to “Newt Day” at Tualatin Hills Nature park. (Sun rise is from earlier this week.)
Autumn Sunrise on Mt. Hood
Rough Skinned Newt
Forest Pimeval
Snake on fall leaf litter
Teeny-tiny slug
Fibonacci forest tunnel
Red tree

Los Lobos groovin on the grass

by Steve, August 12th, 2012

Los Lobos!
Los Lobos closed their high energy free concert with an encore mashup of La Bamba/Good Lovin.
Rainbow crowd
A great crowd turned out on a beautiful summer evening.
Date nite
Nancy’s favoritist band ever! As a non-rock fan, I give them huge respect for being a great, straight-up hardworking rock band but so much more.

As a Latin music fan I was happy to hear some Spanish songs. Only two cumbia numbers all night (but the yuppies in the mosh pit “don’t know how to cumbia” remarked the Chicanos behind us).

Also, I never knew what deadheads these guys are. “Are there any hippies here?” they asked by way of introducing the Grateful Dead’s West LA Fadeaway (75% of the yuppies raised their hands). Then Cesar Rosas riffed on the opening bars of Truckin’ while musing, “How come nobody does Truckin? It’s such a great song.” David Hidalgo said “There’s no such thing as a bad Grateful Dead song!”

Great show and great logistics by the best park and rec district I’ve ever known (well, South Suburban may be better, since they’ve got four sheets of ice).

Why Beaverton should support BSD

by Steve, May 16th, 2012

With the independent Beaverton School District facing cuts of 344 teachers and five school days, budget committee member Susan Greenberg suggested asking the City of Beaverton to help out.

It’s a tough time to be asking for money from anybody, but here’s why Beaverton should say yes.

Beaverton’s recently approved urban renewal district will siphon $150 million (plus interest) of property tax revenue away from schools, county services, parks and public safety. About 40% of that –$60 million — would otherwise go to education, but will instead go to benefit businesses in the downtown core of Beaverton.

(Through a complex quirk in Oregon’s broken school funding system, property tax revenue collected on behalf of local school districts is remitted to the state’s central education fund, then doled back to local districts on a per-student basis. This was the logic the school district used when approving the UR district; most of the revenue loss is spread out across the entire state. But this doesn’t change the fact that the city of Beaverton is diverting some $60 million of Oregon education money for the benefit of a small number of business owners.)

The city of Portland has used and abused urban renewal extensively over many years, but they have also helped out the school districts in Portland from time to time. Most recently, Portland struck a deal to pump some $5 million into Portland Public Schools to stave off cuts there.

Beaverton School District is facing much deeper cuts than Portland because they’ve used reserves to stave them off longer. Obviously the city of Beaverton isn’t going to pony up $37 million. But they could at least offer something — anything — to help lessen the blow to our children. Beaverton schools are, after all, the main reason families move to Beaverton (and not, say, Portland proper, or Gresham). They’re not moving here for the “downtown core,” I can assure you of that, and a $150 million facelift there isn’t going to change that.

So how about it, Denny Doyle and crew? A little help?

Mother’s Day Menus

by Steve, May 13th, 2012
Photo by Jonathon Moreau

Brunch: Ricotta, lemon and poppy seed pancakes. Dinner: “all appetizers,” per the Nancy’s request. Warm potato salad with radishes, parsley and green onions from the garden, roasted asparagus from the farmer’s market, hummus, and carrot sticks.

The pancake recipe is a special one from Betsy Devine, via my girlfriend Marfa. These are our “special occasion” pancakes, and they’re worth the little bit of extra effort (separating and whipping egg whites, etc.).


Quick hummus

I whipped up a batch of hummus using a can of garbanzo beans and the juice from the lemon whose zest I stole for the pancakes. I used to be uptight about cooking from cans, but when you’re in a hurry (and don’t have any beans in the freezer, or don’t have time to thaw them), why not?


    one can garbanzo beans
    1/2 cup tahini
    3 or 4 cloves garlic
    Juice of two lemons
    a couple glugs of olive oil
    salt to taste
    dash of cumin
    pinch of oregano
    paprika to garnish


Dump everything except the paprika into the blender and blend till smooth. Serve garnished with a puddle of olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika. Great for dipping veggies, bread or crackers. (And complete protein — legume + grain!)


Warm potato salad

The potato salad I winged with what we had on hand and in the garden and a sack of new potatoes from the pantry.


    3 lbs. baby red potatoes, quartered
    1 small bunch radishes, chopped
    3 scallions, sliced< 1 handful parsley, chopped 1 stalk celery, chopped 1 tsp. Mustard seeds 1/4 cup olive oil 1/4 cup rice vinegar Salt and pepper to taste


Boil potatoes until they are al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain and let cool a bit. Put potatoes in a large bowl and pour oil and vinegar over them, then mix with salt, pepper and mustard seeds. Add radishes, parsley, celery and scallions. Serve warm; refrigerate leftovers.


Roasted asparagus

Nancy got us started on roasting asparagus years ago, and it’s pretty much the only way we do it now. It’s super easy, and super tasty.


    1 bunch slender asparagus (I don’t like it bigger than a pencil)
    Olive oil
    Balsamic vinegar
    Coarse salt


Preheat oven to 425 (or convection oven to 400). Snap ends off asparagus, and arrange in a single layer on a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt. Roast until the tips are starting to caramelize, turning once or twice. Serve immediately, or put them in the fridge and serve chilled later.


With special thanks to the lovely farmers at Beaverton Farmer’s Market, which just opened yesterday, and, most of all, with great appreciation to a great mom and a real artist.

Happy Mother’s Day!

by Steve, May 13th, 2012

The mom of the house requested a morning walk, and off we went to see if the ducklings had hatched. They had!
Mothers' Day Ducklings
The bull frogs were out, too, making our backyard Chorus Frogs seem tiny by comparison.
Bull Frog
Bull Frog
The beavers, they have been busy.
Beaver Stump
Busy Beavers
They keep this up, we’re going to have to rename Nutriaville to “Beaverville” or “Beaverton” or something.

The roses never stop blooming around here.
Mothers' Day Rose
And the poppies are in full bloom.
Mothers' Day Poppy
Happy Mother’s Day to all!

My evening commute

by Steve, November 2nd, 2011

My commute this morning

by Steve, November 1st, 2011

YES for Beaverton Schools

by Steve, October 26th, 2011

Just so nobody’s confused (!) I support Beaverton School District’s local option levy on the ballot as measure 34-193.

I’ve written at great length about Oregon’s inadequate and unstable school funding, and urged our old district, Portland Public Schools, to turn to local funding. They renewed their local option levy at a higher rate. Now it’s Beaverton’s turn.

If you are in BSD, please vote yes on 34-193.

For the children.

(And the local, professional, living-wage, full-benefits jobs, and the economic development inherent in funding quality education.)