Record Warm Spring: Gambled it’ll hold and began veggie starts VERY early

Bloged in garden,General Home Life by mark Monday May 23, 2016

Just for the record……..it’s been obvious this must be the warmest spring on record here….. the yard’s weeds / grass has been growing so fast it’s kept someone busy here with the trimmer/mower…..I’ve bagged so much grass, I’m running out of places to dump and compost it……….

It meant one OTHER thing too: The Vegetable Garden space was physically ‘dry’ enough to actually plant. In 20 years, we learned however, that there is OFTEN a dry spell early in May, so you plant. And then the rain returns for a month, and your plants ROT…..a 2nd planting isn’t fun! That being said………… our grower, Mr. Stucki at Millenium Farms was pushing us to plant….sending all this “El Nino” history and we weren’t paying much attention UNTIL……… he said he was finishing selling his vegetable starts 2 weeks earlier than normal…..and if we wanted some………….oh oh……..

SO……….this garden has been 2/3 planted since May 10.

On May 3, we planted a giant tomato plant we’d luckily found at the annual Master Gardener’s Plant Sale in Canby, yep, the King of Cherry Tomatoes: a Sungold Variety….it was too big to even put a kozy Coat around it….but we gambled anyway…..along with all the deck starts for Rodger, and just the FUN DAY that this LARGEST of NW Plant Sales can be……… THIS plant, now 20 days later is taking off (smile)….but was already pretty big on day 1, eh?

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***this plant now is over the top of the cage!!!! smile.

Yes, on May 10th we took off for Millenium Farms where we chatted with Michael and Missy for over an hour, and HAD to simply get all the plants bought and get home…..(they are terrific people)….. So on May 11th, evening, the garden space had a NEW look:

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Whew. was I exhausted. By now, R has 2/3 of his deck pots planted. THEN? Of COURSE! The weather collapsed….rain/damp/gray/humidity, all the “rotting” effects of a rain forest were in the garden, and I took desperate measures in a grand experiment…..clear bags over the tomatoes:

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Those bags have been on/off those plants 3 times depending on the weather, and I DO think it’s helped…..they are coming out of there today permanently. Must get a pic of how wonderfully everything looks out there.

WHAT AN EARLY START! Whew. NOW, must get going……we almost lost Mr. Mac to a Bacterial Infection…..got too sick so quick, we didn’t get him in soon enough to start the anti-biotic. So, after a struggle for 2 weeks forcing down medicine, helping him along, cleaning up the messes, he’s on the way back, and now…I take him down for a swim! Yea!

Let’s see if I post an update soon………….. hm.

feb thru april 2016

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Monday May 23, 2016

wow. seems this blog world is coming to a tortured ending, eh? I know it’s decision time before I reserve some more BLUE HOST server space in October whether to back it up and save the data, or………pay again and what? NO posts? I”m now 69. Not sure any one would be looking the old guy’s thoughts…….. the benefit I see is the “record” I have of past years work in this yard and gardening updates…….. Oh well……… I must think about this. SIGH. So few people are still recording posts about their lives. A little slice of lives I rather enjoy reading……..it sure works to keep a friendship fresh when those people may live 2,000 miles away. sigh again.

one very interesting park note I love is seeing the coyotes regularly….there’s a small pack of 3 (I think it’s 3)…living below our house….they may appear anywhere along this bluff…..come along to see if any bird or squirrel has passed under the feeders, then head out toward NW Skyline to cross and head downhill from there. SAT NOTE: The 3-legged member of this 3-some seems to have disappeared over the winter. Sigh again:
coyote path

nov dec 2015 then into jan feb 2016

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Friday January 22, 2016

WOW. This ain’t much of a diary is it……seems I’d best start thinking of a way to capture the years of data and get it stored on a device here at home….. blogging used to keep some fun memories alive, and now it seems so few folks are still at it. sigh.

Nov 3. Last post. A fall walk into the park with a camera and a dog. a season’s changing…… and I had a feeling it would be a quiet winter for us.

The 2014 Winter……was a month spent between Nov and Christmas awaiting updates on Rodger’s dad who had finally fallen ill and been placed into hospital……he finally passed on Christmas Eve. We got the call during our neighborhood gathering here at the house…not too pleasant. So, Rodger spent Christmas week there in the bay area sorting all things out, preparing for disposition of remains, a small service, etc etc. NOT pleasant. That explains how December was a very quiet, uneventful holiday time for us.

THIS year? We BOTH came down with some kind of cold virus that kept us pretty low….extreme coughing, and misc cold symptoms….that went on 4-5 weeks….Mark recovered first, but the holiday season was NOT fun………for 2015.

That’s TWO years in a row………… I think we need a healing vacation, you know, like a month in some fabulous place to be treated like royalty. Hm……

Did ANY Things get done? Nothing much to even note: cleaned the chimney, made some soup for my cousin recovering from arthritis surgery, and on and on….that kind of thing.

We did visit new acquaintances in Vancouver Jeni & Will Brown….R had met at a Deadhead weekend….talk about nice people. Wil. has a nice fishing boat….takes some of his customers out for salmon runs on the Columbia….they had a completely separate freezer FOR fresh caught, wild, filleted salmon….and sent us home with 4 packs. About once a week: foil wrapped salmon dressed in a bit of onion, lemon, garlic….roasted in an oven. YUM.

I shouldn’t forget about my baking class. Neighbor Melanie T. who teaches baking at a local Community College, gave me a 3-day class (sure, not all day)…..on making sourdough…..and since that time to this, and I know for a while into the future, I will continue to enjoy a vastly improved bread to what I’d been making for a long time…. the curing and retarding of growth into a 3-day period vastly improves flavor and texture. Yum.

For about the 3rd time since we moved here, we ran into another Tugboat Cooking crew (3 this time) ….who end up pushing barges up the Columbia to the Eastern side of the state….shifts last about 7 days…and these guys clean/prep/cook all the meals the crew gets….it’s always the 5-6 carts of “everything” that astounds you on first look….and yes, the store opens a private cashier line for them.

At least we enjoyed a quiet 2-man Thanksgiving Dinner together…..spending the day prepping and cooking the meal to “our standards” (grandma turkey dinner) and watching some football. It was a perfect quiet day for us and for remembering our families, not too many of whom are left.

I finally got to meet the one niece, daughter of my sister who passed away from cancer years ago when her 3 little girls were small…..pre school age. They grew up without her, had a couple of step-moms, none of whom were memorable, and via the FB and a visit now and then, I’ve been thrilled to become friends of theirs……this is one BIG JEWEL of 2014-2015…………and I SO hope I get to continue seeing them now and then. They’re all in California………… maybe an excuse to travel?

The Christmas 2015? Just two of us again…..making our Christmas dinner, a few football games, and this time, cocktails! We HAD put up a tree, things looked beautiful……it wasn’t a bad time………..

A dear friend I knew in Utah …..almost 35 years ago….who I’d only been “hearing about” since then came to Portland right after Christmas…..once again, my little person was astounded to see that thing they preach blossom as truth again: REAL friendships don’t end….and when they’re renewed, it only takes minutes to be right back where you were….that was this visit….we didn’t stop talking for 3 days….David may buy a 2nd home here, so I’m only hoping we meet again soon.

**HE did come back just a couple weeks ago….spending some time with other folks he knew here and looking at listing for available properties. cool.

We did have a little cold snap and a bit of snow for a week….I always find myself bound by some ‘code’….to make sure our bird friends living here continue to be fed, thawing a feeder, (including thawing hummingbird feeders)…..and they Do come in when it’s freezing……I can’t imagine what the mortality rate is for wild birds in a cold snow period like this.

And so on and so on……..and here on Jan 22…..the big wet period MAY BE behind for this week….we’re going to have a few days of moderate, warming air, and rain only every other day. I’d be SO happy to see some things dry out a bit.

So, my diary’s caught up a bit…..not much has happened, eh.

A walk into FOREST PARK. PEAK fall colors. Exhilarating.

Bloged in Fall,General Home Life,Nature,Pacific Northwest by mark Tuesday November 3, 2015

What a crisp, bit cloudy, brilliant morning….. neighbors Dog found to have a TIC….they cancel going along and go to the VET. Just ME and MAC. The light looks perfect for an autumn picture maybe. I only take the phone camera. ………… SO.

JOIN me for just a few brilliant visions my head saw this morning, here, the peak of fall color:

I don’t even have to leave the yard these mornings….in the BACK of the house, our tiny Deciduous Redwood (now about 10 yrs old..) is ready to shed its needles…..it’s gorgeous spring summer and fall……

redwood redy to shed

SO…..One doesn’t have to walk far from this house to find so wonderful a rain forest, that the shorter vine maples often have to bend and stretch and search for light. hence. many scenes like this:

bent trees

or these……

bent 5 to home
**Those BENT limbed trees are all over this park…..the nature of the rain forest!

Halfway into our walk, we pass MAC’s favorite late winter romping puddle, the Elk Wallow….it’s just now barely returning with all the rain, but not quite “rotten” enough to intrigue him….by January, if he’s NOT leashed walking by this, it is irresistible to him:

return of the elk wallow

And, then uphill for a big, yep, it works the lungs, good reason to walk, eh….. some other tree scenes are simply breathtaking (at least “live” they are…I know, it’s a phone camera):

autumn color light2

and on the way back, if you’re looking you’ll find a few “bird buffets”….rotten trunks now full of bugs for our feathered friends:

bird log2

or this one:

bird log1
**bigger, and looking like there’s a nest or two up higher…..

ONE massive old fir ….I’m wondering about termites…..SOME ANIMAL is taking on some of the thick bark of this tree….it’s a GRAND HUGE OLD fir:

massive old fir

****AND this morning’s walk was NOT along the VERY scenic Wildwood Trail…..sinee I prefer to let MAC walk unleashed, I often stay on the Fire Lane…you seldom see a soul unless a jogger or two….but if you and I HAD walked the Wildwood, this is what it looks like out this far from town:

wildwood2

Thanks for joining me……….I USED to THINK I was giving up my own wants to WALK this dog for HIS sake….and long ago, I realized I GOT more out of it than this wonderful animal companion, who loves the walk, but his nose is always looking’ down….. and, well, he’s right in a way, you need to make sure you don’t come across coyote scat and step in it…..damn coyotes! They poop right ON the trail…. OH well!

We’re back home now with an appetite! How about some just baked sourdough toast and eggs and bacon? See ya soon.

End Oct Begin Nov

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Friday October 30, 2015

**ANY picture can be “clicked” on to see it in full perspective……

Wow, our weather turned within a few days from the endless summer dry warm bright worker-bee busy life to dark gray, wet, drizzle, fog period now forecast for 5-6 days……and the plants in the yard seemed to be on pace, maybe not so noticeable in the bright sun as they are now……… but with the long-term forecasts ALL calling for 5-6 days of rain / gray…….it was TIME to get any yard work done ahead of it.

The LAST Flowering HUGE plant: the Datura, and NO, we’re not making tea out of it

datura2

The “favorite” fall tree for how the leaves/shape appear:

fav fall tree

The Deciduous Redwood we have….the needles finally turning gold/brown, soon to drop:

redwood redy to shed

The Huge Leafed Catalpa Tree stuck in a narrow space between house and a row of firs….has finally almost shed everything, but it IS the yard space I have to pick up with the mower/bagger MANY times and drop on the garden….I got it really cleaned out last night expecting the rain to start:

catalpa base

Yes, the Garden is now under a heavy 4-6″ layer of mulch for the winter:

hevy grdn cover

Oh yes, Rodger got his turn at cleaning the chimney prior to fall wood fires….yes, done ahead of the rain, and we should be set for a couple of years now:

clean the chimney

Even some vine maples in the forest seem to be showing strains of a very DRY summer:

bent trees

So….yesterday was a very busy day getting the place ready for the rain period to start….and today, I spent reading a book! Yes, recovery!

a melancholy mark

Bloged in Fall,General Home Life by mark Wednesday October 28, 2015

No post since August. Clearly showing the decline of blogging as with almost everyone I used to “follow”. Now replaced with the short-quips on the FB, Twitter….. now everyone’s convinced they no longer have the time to read a considered post in a blog…..takes too much time because you have 459 “real” friends on the other media formats. And I can’t claim I’ve done any differently…. It IS a bit fun to read little bits about a lot of people….but………… oh well…. just my observation.

I had to decide Oct 1 whether to even “pay” for another time period for Blue Host to maintain this site…..so I Outta find it IF….. this next year I Do learn to write in this little ‘diary’ again, OR….just back up the database and put it on a DVD scrapbook for ALL my “0” grandchildren to read about. Hah.

That being said, SO MUCH has gone by since August……… I’m simply going to throw up a few pics and a few thoughts about the last 60 days…..as fast as I can, I MUST get back to FB quick to make sure I haven’t missed anything. Hah.

So the walk through FALL begins:

fog wlk2

FIRST observation Oct 28, 2015. Sigh. I am truly feeling melancholy, a little blue this morning. For the first time, ALL long term weather forecasts are calling for our entering the normal “wet” period of late fall that may well be here through spring……and ALWAYS……when that first starts, I feel a bit empty after having 6 straight months of fabulous perfect sunny days/ warmer nights. Day long shades of gray, and little drizzly rain bits are not my cup of tea, although I WELL know that’s HOW you have a rain forest. And how can I WHINE…….of course I wouldn’t trade this for the serious long-term drought killing California.

2nd Observation: I just turned 69. Just HOW did that happen? I used to the “little kid” in the family a short while back:
ourartdalemrk2

Yep, that’s right….the last one you can still be NOT in your “70’s” . . .a decade I am not fond of yet…..you begin to be discounted by fewer friends (fewer are alive for one thing…hah)….. others you know that ARE your age…..begin to discuss Prostates, bumps here or there, digestion, prescriptions, doctors, and on and on. NO! Let’s talk about our friends we miss or even see, and about where/what we’re doing…… let’s still be ALIVE while we ARE alive and healthy……NOT start to sink into that nursing home machine 10-15 years before you should. ENOUGH of THAT!

SO………. remedy. While I type, Playing a bit of Debussy (Children’s Corner)….spot of tea, and just let myself SIT here and mind-wander. Hm……I already feel better.

And…. one of my NEW adventures IS Bread Baking….starting with learning Sourdough from a fabulous Prof. Melanie Templeman, who we’re lucky enough to be neighbors with…my first class mid-day pic:
mark n bread
**I’m already up to attempt #16, and AM getting better….(that being said, on #16….I completely forgot SALT…oh well).

Friend and ex-neighbor Krysta stopped by not long ago….

krysta 2015
.now living on the coast, she’s got a lot of life surrounding her….2 new kids, a degree in nursing meaning she’s working plenty at the hospital, and dealing with “marriage”….. AH, maybe that’s ONE little part I do NOT miss about being younger…..A LOT of added stresses older folks don’t have….or need 🙂 .

**An overdue BIG project for OUR household has been…..getting some maples down that were either already on last legs from termites, OR…leaning toward the house because that’s where the sun was coming from…. and this September we DID it….WHAT an adventure it is simply to watch a crew dancing up 30-40 ft in trees with heavy chain saws hanging from their belts while they slowly cut a tree down to size. THEN….OUR own work began, cleaning up the entire site, splitting the trunks, getting the last huge trunk (164” around at the base) cut down…..WHEW! There were some adventures here….some exercise, and a HUGE satisfaction moment when the stacks were either stacked for curing this winter, or IN the woodshed for warm fires that’ll begin soon…… Not SURE that MAC understood the scope of the project, but he sure like THIS little pile of ex-wood bits:

last of huge tree

**almost done….. Splitting wood’s the fun part, stacking….the good exercise part:

last stacking to do

SO….got that done…… got the garden cleaned up, deer fence once again, rolled up and put away, plants dried, frozen, or…. A relief kind of to let this year’s garden go…..the year was So warm, dry, that harvesting continued TOO long….wore me out!

garden to rest 2015

And…..the space was turned over for the deer to salvage dinner snacks as they wishes:

deer eat grdn fwrs

Not long ago, a friend I have not seen in some 30 years visited….it was non-stop talking, dining, and learning once again, real friendships remain no matter the time and distance. Dave’s a fabulous guy, and he’s already missed…..we’re hoping to see him again soon…..

dave n mark

Okay….I Do admit one thing……….with summer out of the way and gray days upon us, I “allow” myself a bit of pleasure……. (no, don’t go there)………I get to “READ” a few books I’ve gotten ahold of through the summer…..waiting first is the one about “how/what animals feel/think” . . ..a subject I am close to, as we’ve grown to understand a LOT more about nature living here the last 20 years than we used to. And, now that MAC has somehow gotten to be 11…..when we first got him, I was thinking, “Well, HE’ll be the lat dog you’ll ever have…….and now, he’s already as old as I am…….and I’m probably TOO well aware I just might be showing a few signs of being 69 as he’s showing being 11…..HOWEVER….he STILL does a strong powerful swim session 1-2x a week down in the river…. he’s been a great friend.

Sigh. Time to go………….. there’s one piece of birthday cake left and it’s noonish….

mrk bday cake2

hm……I think my birthday will be completely gone when this piece gets put on that plate in a bit………okay. I’m 69 now. Whew.

High Summer August Days. Thin the Garden

Bloged in garden,General Home Life by mark Friday August 14, 2015

The raw season-ending-coming-soon weather changes that come in “High” summer sometimes take your breath away. Roses…..the “springtime” wonder…..have mostly gone, but those that are left are appreciated all the more in their dry hot weather beauty:

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yQfOS
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okay. NO time to sit around in “August” of high summer smiling at roses….. work is finally “required” in the vegetable garden. Simply because, the production there is NOW at a point harvest must happen……..THIS is the point one works for in the 3 months that lead up to this. Some things had to be done NOW:

**Thin/Prune some Bay Laurel branches poking through the deer fence. I wish people would take some…cook with ’em fresh, or dry them…… it’s cool to have the plant that gives us “Bay Leaves” in the yard:

wFtEC

This year, I surrendered the north end row of the garden to mostly “Volunteer” plants since with most damp years we don’t see these, so it was simply an experiment. … but in this row are 2 kinds of tomatoes, 2 tomatillos, a bunch of garlic plants and then some planted chard, thyme, rhubarb…. The bay laurel is at the end….but I was amazed how BIG even these volunteers got and how much they too are fruiting:

pTnEi

The Tomato rows begin with some “Stupice” (Russian) heirloom tomatoes that truly work well at our altitude, they are early, perfectly tasting like a big slicer…..We and a couple neighbors have been dining off these are 3 weeks now almost ev day….delicious:

TXH3F

And the other 1st plant in the row is the SUNGOLD, our favorite ‘cherry’ tomato…. that plant is absolutely FULL of fruit…..so this next month, there will soon be “spares”…..we won’t be able to eat all of them:

Dzj94

This was an “experiment”….an Italian huge Slicer tomato (oops…forgot name at moment)….but the plant and fruit are SO heavy, you can SEE that it’s bending the tomato cage itself:

yrcwV

**I’ve mentioned on the FB how, since Aug 5, I’ve been pruning these plants back, and maybe this can show you why…..I HAVE TO…..they’re producing lots of fruit yes, but STILL growing vines/branches….and in 4 weeks….by mid-September, weather will be changing and not in the Tomato Plant’s favor. So TODAY, THESE rows all got a major cutback of vines:

WN7CG

now, at the Southern end of the garden…..this early cool crop row of what was lettuce/chard, celery, is finally been chopped out….we had enough Chard to get tired of it…..I’m NOW awaiting to see just how the corn Does RIPEN up…..it’s about done with the tassels dropping pollen period:

6wPLJ

2nd Harvest of the Oregano meant…..it went into the compost heap….1st harvest produced 2 quarts of dried oregano……. too bad I couldn’t have sold it…it’s one hardy annual:

JWBd3

And Thyme was harvested…….now drying in our Dining Room:

n2Yle

It DID well….smells wonderful:

XD595

I sure don’t KNOW what KIND of heirloom Zucchini Michael & missy gave us this year, but it’s unquestionable that it’s been the most amazing squash plant I’ve ever seen….. Rodger’s made zucchini bread 3x and plans more:

hsfMc

Now…the Tomatillo Plants are coming into season….and even though I cut BACK the number of plants THIS was a summer with weather perfect for these guys…..I will have MORE than I’ll want to turn into salsa….will have to give some away within a couple weeks:

GXfMB
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THIS……was the tomato harvest TODAY…… (will do this again in 2-3 days):

FCQoZ

And what garden is complete without a few of these guys blooming by August…..2 of ours are already finished pollination, now drooping, and seeds beginning to form……by November, they are Perfect Bird Feeding plants out there….they remain standing until the seeds are all eaten:

AENOT
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And THIS GARDEN…..in AUGUST…..is one of the BIG reasons Mark doesn’t have much life outside of being home…………..but it’s exactly WHY one DOES do the tiring work of the 3 months leading UP to this….to see, enjoy, preserve, eat, etc etc…..the beauty that grows out there.

that’s all folks!

pickled days of August

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Tuesday August 4, 2015

Here’s where a pickle w/e begins, the Pumpkin Patch Produce Farm down on Sauvie Island. It’s an old wonderful place, wonderful owners, and like all land down there, at the very confluence of the Willamette & Columbia Rivers, it’s 20-30 ft deep loam soil has been flowing down that Columbia Gorge for a couple mil years….so it’s rich:

cukes2

First task is to calculate how many supplies you’ll need buy finding out just how ‘many’ quarts the cousins hope to take home…..we came up to around 100……. To make 100 quarts of pickles, it will require:

*about 100 lbs of cucumbers
*about 15 bundles of fresh dill weed (from a farm hopefully, the store bundles are small and wilted
*a few dozen garlic cloves…..and these you’ll find more varied than you’d think depending on where you look…..this years fresh garlic came from West Union Gardens.
*Dried Red Peppers. Purely for aesthetics, and that Grandma & Aunt Merle both used them.
*Fresh serrano & Habanero peppers.. . . . . as folks have gotten used to the habaneros, this year the split was 50-50….. so these are ‘winning’ over appetites.
*Fresh Grape Leaves….from our yard
*dried alum – 1/8 tsp per jar. Reputedly helps retain crispness.
*Canning Salt – about 10 lbs
*Vinegar – about 3 gallons.
*optional…..and we haven’t added…….. bit of dried mustard seed and/or celery seed.

Everything but the cucumbers and dill weed may be bought earlier, but those last two items are best fresh…and bought ONE DAy earlier than the pickle day…once home, the cucumbers are rinsed, blossom end cut (to avoid spoilage),

brining cukes

and brined overnight:

cukes prep1

Over a few days time, hopefully, the house has been prepped so that just before the cousin-crew shows up, we’re ready:

pre pickel

And HERE is where the day gets lost in business…..not another pic taken until we were done….I wanted 2-3 to show the mess that this can be at times, but NO….we were all moving too fast…..talking the whole time, it’s a great little family event:

ray pickled 2015

This all began when there was only ONE Aunt left alive ….and by luck, she still made her mother’s pickles, lots of them……Here’s Grandma Ray’s written recipe, and Aunt Merle’s Notes….. the pic on the left is used on the label…it’s Grandma Ray at 16:

pickle label n grama write

End July & Begin August 2015

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Thursday July 30, 2015

How the heck has HIGH summer gotten here this fast! I can’t keep up with pace of this hot/dry summer……

Last time a post was published, we were going on and on about the Evening Grosbeaks.

*That beautiful huge flock of evening Grosbeaks was gone by Mid-June as we thought they would be…..boy, were trees ‘quiet’ in comparison for a while, till the rest of the Black Headed Grosbeaks ALL arrived and began calling those beautiful long floral calls every morning beginning about 5:00 am. BUT they too, have JUST finished fledging their last bunch of chicks, and have already thinned out by half……there are NO birds calling in the mornings. Seems sad in comparison to the beautiful sounds of spring.

*First of July company were the Ebert/Hoppe’s from Minneapolis….Thomas was here to perform a wedding for Matt & Kate….. this things was one gorgeous affair held in the Hoyt Arboretum ….on a sloping hillside …. one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve been to, memorable, and so MANY fabulous people. We were lucky to be included!

*Matt/Kate, Todd/Lizz came up about 2-3 weeks later for an evening of some music fun…..perhaps it was obvious some had been enjoying a little wine when Beethoven inspired the MICE to appear:
****Click on the mark-matt-tod text…I don’t know why I’m not getting an image uploaded!!

mark matt todd

*The GARDEN! This year is almost in the record books for being DRY and HOT…..it’s been impossible to keep the lawn from dying, it’s solid brown….and all the flowering shrubs are demanding time/water we’ve never had to give them. The toll on the vegetable garden is visible….the lettuce exploded in growth, bolted, withered….the Chard is still out there and giant but a little bitter by now. IT was SO hot, I never replanted any lettuce….so there’s about 15% of the space empty…….now while The cool weather crops suffered, tomatoes/tomatillos are SO tall I’ve had to tie up branches as best I can for the tomatoes, they’re all well over 6′ and trying to spread out….they’re JUST beginning to ripen, though, tasting great, and that MONTH of fresh tomato dining will likely over-ride any negatives I’ve felt this whole growing season….I’ve just never had enough free time to keep up!!!! As I type this, the big orchard boxes out front full of flowers NEED water….and I’m NOT going out there in the hot 96 sun to do it…..they’re gonna have to figure out how to suffer it out until about 6:00. Whew.

*THE ROOF!
Lord! After last winters winds blew off about 15-20 shingles from the new wing of the house, it was obvious, this older portion would have to be replaced…..DONE in July! 25 yr guarantee …. to save a little of the cost, Rodger tore out the old chimney from the front older part of the house ….(we’d replaced that wood stove with the new one in the family room in the newer portion of the house)….that was a bit of a drafty, and dirty chimney hole in the dining room. Rodger had most of gone by the time I took a pic:
chimney2

With the help of pal Aaron show showed up by surprise, and gladly so, (it was AARON who crawled into the attic opening to grab that old chimney and lift it out)….. soon things were all on the ground to get hauled off:
chimney3

I was left to vacuum/clean the inside of the room where the bunch of ash/crumbs from old fires fell through that opening while it was open:
chimney1

And we were ready……as the roofers arrived soon after with supplies:
roof arrives 2

Best part of that story is that the 3-man crew showed up at 7:00 am next morning ….and as the day went, it was obvious they wouldn’t finish ….. I didn’t like that because good rain was expected sunday. On their OWN…..they decided to stay put ’cause THEY wanted a day off Sunday….there were there until 7:30 PM….and did a beautiful job….and boy were WE happy with that action….it DID rain lots Sunday afternoon…. yea!

*PICKLES! THIS IS the weekend the cousins will be here for what’s become an annual family tradition. NEW cousins this year? Joe & Stacey Smith from Kennewick…..Joe works in the wine business there….they’re lots of fun, and hopefully will have so much fun they’ll be here every year. Joe is the grandson of Aunt Merle, the last Aunt who was still making these back in 2008….she taught us how to do this stuff…… and Joe’s Aunt Nancy P was with us from year one, until she too passed away 3-4 years ago of the scary Mursa Virus, we still miss her fabulous personality, and loving spirit:

nancy 2
**THAT picture was taken in 2009…..sigh….

Getting READY for it? It’s a little work……the cost for supplies (not jars) is about $2.25 per quart, and a jar cost give/take $1.00 1.15…….so you’re not saving much money, but you’re sure getting something that makes memories, and if I may say so, are delicious. SO……OUR 30 jars are here, and each cousin brings how many jars they want to make.

Everything else? I’ve been collecting as I tour around farms, markets: so we have some beautiful just harvested garlic, dried red peppers, grape leaves out on the vine yet, canning salt, habanero & Serrano peppers ready, vinegar, leaving the Cucumbers and Dill Weed at the Pumpkin Patch awaiting our arrival tomorrow……
cukes2

We’ll bring them home, get them soaking in cold water tubs overnight, cutting off the blossom end……and await the cousins saturday morning!

The new dishwasher has a hot enough rinse/dry cycle, it’s wonderful to load the jars in there…. when done, they’re ready for packing….the real fun of the day.

I can’t believe it was early June for the last post…..it’s been a VERY busy hectic hot 2 months…… whew!

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