I AM wondering about our friends. Do YOUR summer months start out busy and get more frenetic as August rolls around? Iâ€™m expecting September and October to continue swamped just because a young pup will require so much time, but Iâ€™m only taking time to write this morning since, for the first time in months almost, it is raining outsideâ€¦..NO one is complaining in Portland since things have been so very dry that theyâ€™re walking patrols through Forest Park behind us to watch for fire dangers. Anyway. Weâ€™ll only get a tiny drop of rain this morning, but it brought plans to pick blackberries to a halt since it will be sunny tomorrow.
The blackberries by the way look mighty disappointing in quantity. There was so much damage in last years ice that all the growth this year is in new shoots climbing over whatâ€™s left of the old woody ones. The OLD branches produce the berries and with the old vines smothered in new thorny growth, the berries are buried. I am trying to figure out what to wear to pick themâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦.
We left for Seattle on July 23 to see this new young pup on a weekend forecast to be the hottest of the year in the whole northwest. We arrived at Marjâ€™s house to see puppies stretched out trying to be in shade, but a little attention got â€˜em going and the whole batch was a delight. Marjâ€™s husband Tom had just gotten home from work and managed to get enough energy to make the puppies parents, Dillon and Penny run through a hunting exercise. Tom trained them seriously for hunting and I donâ€™t think Iâ€™ve seen any dog obey whistles and shouts faster or in more efficient order than these two. It was an outstanding display. That was a fun short visit, but we knew weâ€™d be coming back the next morning to talk more with the Bakkens about dogs.
We left for cousin Bruce & Nancyâ€™s house in Puyallup (Edgewood, actually) and just got there, unloaded, and then left for Seattle proper to pick up Nancy at work and attend a Marinerâ€™s game at Safeco Field. They were playing Anaheim so who was going to win didnâ€™t seem much of a question considering the record this year, but we had never been to Safeco and looked forward to comparing it to Pac Bell Park in SF. Bruce & Nancy took us through the Old Town before the game where we dined quite beautifully in a 100 year barâ€¦..a place well known for fine pre-game meals. Inside, all the old stuff was still intact, and the fine, fresh cooking was all done in a tiny open kitchen in the front corner. The poor Chef was about as hot as the grill itself, but kept meals coming out of there in great style. Then on to Safeco Field:
The game and stadium were great fun not to mention the company. The Purvineâ€™s (Bruce and Nancy) are big Marinerâ€™s fans so they havenâ€™t had a lot of fun this year, but they were great fun to be with. We arrived back at their place about midnight so it was finally cooling off a bit. We slept in a mighty fine cool basement anyway, so loved it. Next morning we got to see Bruceâ€™s handiwork: He has made Bows AND Arrows for his hunting expeditions, and we were impressed.
Saturday morning we were fed royally by Chef Bruce and finally said a goodbye to go back and visit with pups once again. We watched as Marjâ€™ partner Janice came over and they â€œstackedâ€ the puppies (stood them up on a table and held them out as they would be at a dog showâ€¦..to see how they were shaping up).
We learned a little more about all these kids, and it appears that all things continue to point toward one of the puppies in particular whose demeanor and personality are just like his Dadâ€™s. The Dad, Dillon, was the Dog we first saw at a dog show here that allowed us to get to Know Janice & Marj. If all goes well, we will pick him up on August 21.
We drive back home in the HEAT. We found out it had been 103 here on Saturday and only 97 in Seattleâ€¦â€¦so as soon as we returned, watering the yard was first priority.
One week later, we attended a Paper Pasting Party in Carolâ€™s Garden along with a grand buffet lunch. Carolâ€™s a true artist, college instructor in Calligraphy. Her work is being featured and more places, she has just become a Grandmother for the first time, and I donâ€™t know how she maintains her fabulous humble demeanor, but sheâ€™s a wonderful host. We were honored to be there. This was a great time and learning experience. One takes art paper, acrylic paints, and many tools to simply make beautifully painted art papers that can be used as book covers, wall displays, or anything your mind can imagine. My art mind is small so I ruined as many as I made, but Rodger did some nice stuff: Now we have to get papers, paints and try at home.
The Garden seems to be peaking (or at least it was until this rain). We picked enough cucumbers in one day from 3 plants to can 9 jars of pickles. We â€œthinkâ€ we NOW have the process down and are hoping for the same quality as Grandmaâ€™s were. We GOT A REAL PICKLE treat. While at Nancyâ€™s in Seattle, we were given 4 jars of her Motherâ€™s true pickles, the very Aunt that had given me Grandmaâ€™s copy of her handwritten recipe plus Aunt Merleâ€™s notes. But last year, I started blindly and had no idea what I was doing. After throwing out about 24 quarts of pickles this summer and getting the â€œrest of the storyâ€ by asking questions, we â€œbelieveâ€ this yearâ€™s batch will be great. BY THE WAY, we finally tasted the â€˜trueâ€™ RAY pickle with neighbors and they were just as great as Aunt Merle said they were.
Weâ€™re now eating tomatoes, yummâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦that time of year one eats ALL the fresh, juicy tomatoes your appetite can handle. Nothing like it.
Corn â€“ now so cheap, we even bought some to dry for the squirrels. IF you BUY dried cobs of corn at a store wrapped and labeled â€œforâ€ squirrels, they cost about $4-5 dollars for about 5 ears. We can now buy them about 12 for a buck and dry them in the yardâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦so little do the varmints know, weâ€™re preparing their own batch of corn for winter feeding.
The size of the garden plants is unbelievable. The Beans, Tomatillos and tomatoes have grown taller than we are. By now the tomato vines are falling over themselves as well as neighboring plants so have collapsed some. Everything remains quite lush. I am no longer able to move down a row dividing tomatoes. I did let this get away from me. I know many say if you over fertilize, youâ€™ll have all vine growth and no fruit. In this case however, there are hundreds of blooms to accompany the growth.
Weâ€™re still eating salads of lettuce, cukes, tomatoes, cilantro, green onion daily and all of it from the garden. Yumm.
The old dog is enjoying his daily carrot tooâ€¦â€¦..picked. He truly peps up when he even â€œthinksâ€ youâ€™re going out there since a carrot will be involved for his effort. Itâ€™s about the only time heâ€™ll actually pick up and make a kind of a â€œrunâ€ toward anything.
The Birds. Sadly enough, itâ€™s THAT time of year too. Our daily hummingbird feeding has dropped from a peak of about 3 quarts daily in May to less than half a quart daily todayâ€¦â€¦..their visits here seems so very short. Hard to believe they flew in, built nests from scratch, incubated eggs, fed young for a couple weeks, then built up a little strength andâ€¦â€¦â€¦deserted us. Theyâ€™re missed. In fact, almost all of our songbirds have already left despite the fact we have another 8-10 weeks of gorgeous weather. Robins and finches seem to have gone to the valleys already. Why THEY leave so early is a little mystery to me since they donâ€™tâ€™ migrate so far.
Wednesday, Aug 4 was spent watering the garden followed by harvesting herbs to dry (after sharing plenty of them with neighbors), harvesting all the onions and putting on the ground to dry for a few days, finally doing first two batches of Tomatillo Salsa, picking more lettuce, carrots, beans, etc. What a time of year.
Next week, weâ€™re off to CA. where Rodger will help his Dad celebrate his birthday at 75. Rodger has been helping put together a family party at cousin Karenâ€™s house, and thanks to a lot of family help, it should go well. It is a little difficult to coordinate from this distance, but Rodgerâ€™s been on the phone a lot and done some work to help make this happen.
Todayâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦Iâ€™m posting this while itâ€™s wet. Iâ€™ll clean a tiny bit more of the house to appease my guilt, and maybe, just maybe, with a little luck, itâ€™ll still be raining and I can read a chapter or two out of a good book. Iâ€™ve grown to love readingâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦itâ€™s truly the ONLY reason I wish there were a little more earth time since there are millions of beautifully written things to absorb. I do not have time for even a tiny fraction of them. But Iâ€™ll try.
Mark & Rodger.