The Greenhouse

 

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November 8, 2017

A little over a year ago, in September of 2016, we made a little purchase. A neighbor happened to be selling a greenhouse and we, or more specifically I, thought buying it would not only be a GREAT idea, but would also make a dream come true. Maybe I should say my dream, as I don’t think it has been an idea others in my group have courted. I have a degree in Horticulture, actually Landscape Design. It’s true that I have ventured far afield from this early career, but working the land is something I have always done. A greenhouse has been one of those things I envisioned being a part of my life, but wasn’t sure how or when that would all work out.

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This is the “Before” photo.

As is our particular style, this event, of bringing something new into the fold, was stressful and worrisome for several members of the Daisie clan. And by several, I mean all of us. Maybe not Stella, but it’s hard to say, as she very wisely chooses to take a nap when things amp up at the farm. Maybe that is why she is so attractive? So much beauty rest. It works for her.

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She looks tired.  It was a lot of work and fairly stressful.  So much angst.  Time for a nap.

Again, I digress. My people were worried about the logistics of moving this little structure from the neighbors’ back yard into ours. There was much discussion regarding location and orientation of said greenhouse. And, of course, not everyone was on the same wavelength regarding how it should be set up. In the end, our dear neighbors and their flatbed trailer and VERY strong family members moved the greenhouse without drama or mishap. They are used to doing these sorts of things. We aren’t.

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The greenhouse comes to it’s “forever home.”

As for the location and orientation, I guess I would have to say that I mandated the placement and the angle, which, in the end, folks seemed to be generally pleased with. Dad got out his transit and level and we did a little survey work.

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Surveying.  We all have a job.  Dad does the big work. He understands the math.  He knows how to run the transit.  I get to hold the rod.  Stella is the casual observer.

We had cut and fill. This means we had a lot of opportunity to do tractor work and shovel work.

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These jobs need supervision.  Lots of supervision.

It is level.

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So much work…….I can’t even begin to describe it.  And, it was the end of a long HOT summer.  The ground was like cement.

I added some pavers for the entrance and interior, and I used some flue liners that I brought from our previous house, as planters outside the entry door.

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My paver and flue liner collection.  The pavers were covered with a moldish-type substance.  (The black stuff on the lower rows of pavers.)     I cleaned them with a scrub brush and “Soft Scrub with Bleach.”  Again, it was monumental work.

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Part of the process……

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Inside the greenhouse.  Pavers set but not yet sanded.

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Pavers set and relatively level.  The last step is to sweep fine sand over them, which will hold them in place.

Because the growing season was coming to an end, I threw my fuchsias, mums, and 1 lone coffee plant in the greenhouse, wished them well and hoped for the best. It wasn’t heated, and not knowing that it was going to be one of the coldest winters we’d had in a long time, I was shocked that by spring there was a little life in each container, with the exception of the coffee plant which dropped absolutely DEAD. It was very small. And inexpensive. It’s okay.

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A rather cold (and bleak) winter.

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And then came spring.  I planted annuals and perennials in the flue liners and made some glass flowers.  The “little old lady fencing” was to keep sweet Stella from laying down on the cantaloupes.  She seems to prefer to lay in the dirt…..next to the greenhouse.  The barricade worked.  She’s polite and takes a, not so subtle, hint quite well.

In April, Kailin came down for the day and we planted seeds for the garden. The benches were filled with the sweet scent of a greenhouse brimming with life in the making. I was careful in this endeavor. I sanitized the plastic planting containers. I bought the components to mix my own sterile planting medium. Insect pests and fungal issues weren’t a problem. Life sprung from my little greenhouse in a way that amazed all of us.

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My sweet Miss, and a LOT of tomatoes!

I had success. Almost everything that we planted came up, which I can only attribute to beginner’s luck, as well as the fragments of “Greenhouse 101” that I remember from my college days. If I’m being honest with myself, my memory might only be the glorious smell of the OSU greenhouse and the dreadful whitefly infestation. But, I did have success, and all that I planted in the garden did pretty well. We had tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, herbs, tomatillos, edible pumpkins, and jack-o-lantern pumpkins – there is a difference. And quite shockingly, for this area, we also had cantaloupes.

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Tuscan Cantaloupe

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Naked Bear Pumpkin.  It’s edible.  (Jack-o-Lantern Pumpkins are SO stringy they are not good for eating)

It has been a glorious adventure and hardly a day has gone by without a trip from the house to the greenhouse. We are best friends.   I can see it from the kitchen and its presence brings me pure happiness. It’s small but mighty. All those little seeds we carefully planted, the promise of summer’s bounty, sprung forth with a little work, love, and water. It gave me Heirloom tomatoes that I ate with a vengeance, rendering all other tomatoes as something altogether different, and not necessarily in a good way. It is true that a garden ties you to the earth. You become the common denominator between what goes into you and where it comes from.

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Sungold Tomatoes.  They were my daily “snack,” vine ripe and enjoyed any time I walked by, which was pretty often.

With the onset of fall, and the threat of our first freeze, I have put the garden to bed for the winter and buttoned up my beloved greenhouse. Once again, I have surrendered my fuchsias for the winter months, to its unheated shelter. Maybe they will survive. Maybe not. We’ll see come spring. My notes from this summer’s garden are tucked away along with my list of what to plant next year. I can’t say it any better than Henry David Thoreau:

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”

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Stella Has Friends Over

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Sunday, October 1, 2017

It’s never good to start something with a retraction, but in the hope of being blatantly honest, I really should. Dogs and people came over, but the dogs turned out to not necessarily be “friends.” It’s hard to imagine. Stella is practically perfect, and I can only assume because of that, she isn’t well received by the canine community. It’s happened before and I guess it’s her lot in life. I’ll explain.

We celebrated dear Kailin’s 30th birthday on Sunday with a family dinner and the kids, their significant others, and respective dogs came for the mealtime event. Each set brought a dog. Riley’s boyfriend, who would be my dear son Justin, brought her (Riley the dog) and his actual girlfriend, Sara, down to the farm. I’m thinking this might be a tad confusing? Riley, who is Sara’s dog, pines for Justin. Unfortunately, in the dog’s eyes, Sara has become fresh broccoli, or some other unpleasant food item. The chopped liver analogy doesn’t really work in this instance. This shunning of her companion of the last 7+ years occurred when she was introduced to Justin. Sara speaks and the dog feigns deafness. This seems to be a dog thing as dear departed Wiley didn’t hear any voice other than Craig’s or mine. My Dad barely existed in his world. Again, I am drifting in a wayward fashion.

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Riley, the dog, being held by her boyfriend, Son Justin, with Justin’s girlfriend, sweet Sara, in the background.  Read it a couple of times and it will begin to make sense.

Dear daughter Kailin came with boyfriend, Taylor, who brought the dog he is dog sitting. This would be 14 year-old Dodger, a happy-go-lucky, yellow lab that some folks would describe as being “long in the tooth.” He’s an old guy, with old guy issues. His hearing isn’t what it used to be. His vision isn’t what it used to be. His hind legs aren’t what they used to be, and his breath could peel paint off the walls. But what am I thinking? This could quite easily describe any of us older Daisies, but you get the point. What he is, is an endearing senior, who doesn’t have a care in the world, and is simply happy to be alive.

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Dodger, the dog, gazes lovingly at Taylor, while Justin and Riley, in the background, exchange looks.  This scene was repeated often.

When the kids arrived and Dodger lumbered out of the car, Stella, in her wild excitement for a prospective friend, almost bowled the poor guy over. He needed to use the facilities, and didn’t give her much acknowledgement in his pursuit of a suitable spot to do his business. After his needs were attended to, he did break into a little trot, but that was short lived. Stella caught wind of the serious age difference and gave up the idea of a running companion. I would have to say that our dear girl was somewhat crushed by all of this.

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Riley.  She has many moods.  This one is happy.  And hot.

Stella would LOVE to have a dog friend, and is briefly overjoyed whenever Riley comes down. She was equally as excited to have Dodger over. In the case of Riley, her joy is short-lived as she isn’t interested in a friend. She has Justin. That seems to be enough for her. She makes this known by showing Stella (or, in this instance, Dodger) her pearly whites. Stella learns quickly and gives her a wide berth. Riley is admonished not to do this, but at age 10, suggesting that she adjust her attitude, results in some genuine unhappiness and what her people describe as “throwing a tantrum.” I would call it doing some serious sulking.

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Riley and her teeth.  This is actually a smile or maybe the beginning of one.  Her “not so happy look” is slightly different.

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So. Many. Dogs.

The day did give us insight into Stella. It was a stressful day for her. Dodger was of the persuasion to randomly let out a bark. Every time this happened, it sent Stella into a frenzy. Somehow, she seemed to think that the perimeter had been breached and was frantic to find out what crisis was in the making. She found herself having to run in circles checking the window and dashing to the door wanting to go outside and surmise the situation. Riley was unaffected by this, as was Dodger. He was just talking and doing what Labs do. He wandered around, paying no mind to anything.

Riley, was unimpressed by Dodger and let him know that she was not interested in him invading her personal bubble. Again, Dodger was oblivious, and Stella was a mess. She kept giving me looks, which I interpreted as: “That dog is too close to the other dog. I’m telling you that bad things are going to happen. You better do something other than just sit there!”

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The infamous “side-eyes.”

It was my dear daughter who summed things up for me. She said, “Mom…….Stella reminds me of you. She NEVER sits down, and she is always concerned about what is going on and what needs to be done next.   The only difference is that she gets more sleep than you. A lot more sleep.” If you are thinking this is some sort of an insulting statement, think again. The truth is the truth. I get that. Know thyself. It’s good to have someone who’s got your back, especially when they live under the same roof. (That would be Stella, in case there is still some confusion. She is ever helpful.)

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She’s a doberman.  That means she’s a lap dog.  And, my dear departed Mother would turn inside out to think that the dogs have overtaken the furniture.  It really isn’t that way.  It just looks like it.

All in all, it was a wonderful, joyful day for the two-legged folks. I love being in the presence of my dear kids and their dear partners, the dogs, the food, and with plenty of conversation. It was Kailin’s birthday, but it was truly my treat. Surrounded by love, life, and laughter, what could be better? Some friends have mentioned that coffee and chocolate are close seconds, but we had both of those, so all needs appeared to be taken care of.

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Kailin, the birthday girl, Taylor, and Dad

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Justin, Sara, and Craig

It was the birthday girl’s choice for dinner. We had what, in our family, we refer to as “A Big Bean Dinner.” I made refried beans, and all the fixings for “make your own burritos.” For birthday dessert, she requested my chocolate cake with raspberry filling and whipped cream frosting. Food from days gone by or, more aptly put, a meal from the kid’s childhood.

We ate, the dogs collapsed, and all was good, except for the friend thing for Stella.

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Sweet Riley

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Dear Dodger

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Stella.  It was a long day.

But, by the time everyone left, she was so tired from all the work this day had dumped on her plate, that she went to bed and fell dead asleep. As usual.

Again, Happy 30th to Kailin, and to the rest of us for the grace she brings to all our lives.

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Three generations.  Happy 30th, Miss!  May the next 30 be as magical as the first 30!

 

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The Things We Do For Love

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

This is another one of those interesting mathematical years for the majority of the Daisies. You might recall the infamous “30-60-90” where son Justin turned 30, I turned 60, and my dear Dad turned 90. Here we are 3 years later, and daughter Kailin joins the equation. She turns 30 this month. Justin’s 33rd birthday is yet to come, as is my 63rd. Dad celebrated his 93rd trip around the sun in June. For us, it is the “Year of the Threes.” (Craig’s big year arrives in 2018, which has nothing to do with threes and everything to do with Medicare eligibility, so please don’t feel that he has been left out. I’m sure we’ll have a celebration of rock-star proportions.)

Dad chose to celebrate his day with a martini and dinner out at a local restaurant, followed by angel food cake with seven minute frosting and strawberries at home.

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Dad with his happy birthday martini

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Back home with standard “Dad-fare” for birthday dessert:  Angel food cake with 7-Minute Frosting and strawberries on the side.

Kailin asked for a crafting-type get together with her friends, here at the farm. We decided on a brunch with time to catch up on their lives, wreath making for the craft, and dinner, followed by more wreath making or flower arranging. It was a solid plan and it came off with only minor re-adjustment.

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In this house, there is a distinct difference between the men and the woman and their likes and preferences, and this always seems to come as somewhat of a shock. Women like…..no……not like…….LOVE……to visit. We need to ask a lot of questions and revel in the answers. We want to know all the details. I think this was somewhat of a surprise to my dear Dad, who was attempting to watch football as our guests arrived. One by one they came into the family room amid hugs and welcomes and LOTS of conversation. I realized this, with a chuckle to myself, as I saw the girls chatting amongst themselves and Dad in his recliner attempting to tune them out and watch the game on TV. He later mentioned that he didn’t understand why we didn’t all go into the living room and sit down and visit. I mumbled something to the effect that we simply didn’t make it that far. The disruption of the game was short lived as the party moved elsewhere.

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There was a lot of catching up that needed to happen.  Stella made sure to greet everyone.

The ladies – I guess I really can’t call them “girls” at age 30 – ate brunch in the garage. This was somewhat of a hiccup in the agenda. I had planned for them to eat on the patio under the “Happy Birthday sign.” But, due to the infiltration of the lung choking smoke from nearby fires, something which happened upon us the day of the event, we quickly rearranged and set things up in a more easy to breathe setting. i.e. the garage.

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The brunch set-up

In the history of things here at the farm, my dear parents loved to do casual entertaining in the garage. I’m not such a big fan of this setting. It’s a little too unkempt for my tastes. But, on this day, with a choice between looking good and being able to breathe, we opted for the healthy option. In the garage. All doors closed. As it was, they ate under the dried flowers, which had been strung up on the clothesline in the garage. It did have somewhat of a magical air, even though it was the garage. The sound of their sweet voices and laughter filtered through the closed door and filled the house with joy and life. (But not so much that football was interrupted for Dad.)

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In addition to football watching, Dad did some rug braiding much to the delight of everyone!

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Stella was happy to spend the afternoon doing what she enjoys: resting and napping.  It’s a dogs life, or at least this dear dog’s life.

It was a day of FUN. The ladies ate and then we crafted. I had rounded up some statice, some wonderful straw flowers, and globe amaranth from friend Elizabeth’s Minto Island Growers Farm, a couple more bunches of statice, and then I foraged for teasel, cat tails, rose hips, etc. I was a little short on grapevine type wreaths so I put a few together using the suckers from the filbert trees in the orchard. I thought they worked pretty well. Note to self and everyone else: It doesn’t need to be actual grapevines to make a decent wreath. Anything that will bend into a circle can be used. And…..it’s not “cheating” to use a little wire to hold things together to get the circle (or whatever shape you are aiming for) started. I’ve used ivy and the pruning’s from the apple trees to make a wreath form, and I’ve read that you can use blackberry canes that you’ve de-thorned. This sounds like a lot of work, but it looked lovely and firm.

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Wreath making in progress.

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The ladies and their wreaths!

Perhaps the greatest testament to how the day went happened long after dinner when we were in the garage and back at it making another wreath. One of Kailin’s friends mentioned that she probably should head home. There was a collective sigh and then the friend looked at her watch and said, “You know, we’ve been at this for 12 hours.”   The true sign of a good party. We simply lost track of time. There really is no better measure of a day well spent.

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My sweet daughter!  (and her wreath!)

Happiest of birthdays to my wonderful daughter. The world is a better place and my life is complete with you in it. Thank you for giving me one of two of the greatest gifts of my life. Love you, Miss!

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ps – When’s the next craft party? I’m totally up for it!

 

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This Magic Moment

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Monday, August 21, 2017

A couple of years ago, I stayed up and watched a lunar eclipse. I’ll admit I didn’t really know what to expect. What I witnessed was beautiful, magical, and captivating. It seemed to me that a solar eclipse, something that no one in my family had ever seen, would be so far above and beyond my breathtaking lunar eclipse that something special was in order. This was something to be shared, and by shared I mean that I wanted my kids present.

It is no secret that the greatest joy of my life is my children. The sun rises and sets with them, and now that they are both adults and living in my heart, and not under the confines of my four walls and a roof, I cheer them on from afar. We talk on the phone, I drive to see them, and they come to the farm for holidays both the Hallmark kind and the kind that are important to us alone. I consider myself to be very lucky.

Fortunately, we are geographically close to each other and although we see each other frequently, it’s not often that we are able to spend the kind of time together that we would like. I presented my solar eclipse plan to them and they both agreed to come to the farm and to bring their significant others. In fact, they wanted to camp out in the field, under the stars. It brings me joy to know that the magic is alive in them as well.

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The campsite.

The mention of an event (of any kind) is something that causes those closest to me to have a sudden shortness of breath. When I announced that we would be celebrating the upcoming solar eclipse with a brunch in the field, basking under the influence of the combined powers of both the sun and moon, there was the usual angst. There is that constant worry regarding details, and questions as to why I would choose to do things in the way I do. I try to ignore this chatter and sally-forth, but if the truth be known, it does give me indigestion. Again, I am used to such things and Pepto-Bismol is my friend. My real good friend.

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All set for brunch.

The kids arrived, their friends arrived, we cooked, we ate, and they pitched their tents under the stars. The next morning we set tables up in the field. I made an egg casserole and fancy breads. We had fruit salad and moon pies…..and Bloody Mary’s and Mimosa’s. And coffee. Lots of wonderful, artisan, Cave Painter Coffee.

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Moon pies.  They weren’t that difficult to make and they were GOOD!

 

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Water.  Waiting to succumb to the powers of the eclipse.  One jar for each including a super-sized one for Oscar, Kailin’s cat.  (He needs it)

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It was a day that was magical. We oohed and ahhed, and relished in the wonder. It was light, it was dusk, it was darkish, and the day began anew. You cannot witness such a magnificent spectacle of nature and not be changed by the experience. It is said that in the Pagan culture an eclipse is a time of casting away the bad and breathing in a new beginning. It worked that way for each of us. May it be the same for you.

Peace

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The daisies……

 

 

 

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End of Times

 

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

I will concede that maybe it isn’t actually the end of times, but it feels like it. I’m not saying this because of my daily dose of Dad’s “Faux News,” or the fact that I’m reading “The Handmaid’s Tale,” or any of the other 99 problems that seem to make up daily life for all of us. Here, in what was once a lush, green, and rain-soaked state, we have had NO rain in almost 2 months, and close to two weeks of consecutive above 90-degree daytime heat. It is, in a word, unbearable.

Perhaps the tipping point, in all of this, is the smoke from the forest fires burning in Canada as well as those close by. It has descended upon us. My mother would have told me the air was “heavy,” making it hard to breathe. She is right; it is hard to breathe. Maybe it’s this lack of oxygen that has had a dastardly effect on my mental state, but I think it’s more likely to be the lack of sleep due to the heat.

A week ago we woke up to this phenomena of our neighbor to the north’s smoke. The sky was orange and a haze filled the air. It was an ominous presence. Fire is one of the things on Dad’s list of worries. On this day, it made it’s insidious way onto my list. With the early morning landscape a glowing heat, it seemed like a very real and present danger. It felt like our world was on fire, and this feeling has lingered…….for days on end. Fear of natural disaster is exhausting in its own right.

The smoke has brought no noticeable odor, or at least I don’t smell it, which could be my allergies talking. There are warnings to stay inside due to the poor air quality, and sore throats and burning eyes are a common complaint. We Oregonians tend to be a hearty bunch, but heat, lack of rain, bad air, and for many, a lack of AC, makes us surly and unfit for social events. (or driving, if you really want to get specific) The heat has made it hard to sleep, the smoke has made it hard to breathe, and the lack of rain has made us generally uncomfortable. It’s not normal.

We have been promised some rain over the weekend. It had better actually happen. There is only so much you can ask your allergy pills and/or mood-altering medication to do. So, if in fact you are planning on visiting our fair State for the purposes of basking in the path of totality that the “once in a lifetime Solar Eclipse,” will bring to our city, you have been warned. My people are on edge. Don’t plan on lighting ANYTHING on fire, and don’t antagonize us. And while you’re at it, the Sheriff’s Office is concerned about our sewer system being overwhelmed by the huge influx of people to our state. So, you had best plan ahead regarding your personal needs. We’ve been through a lot. We need some time, space, and a little rain to restore our naturally free and gentle spirit.

 

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This is exactly what you think it is:  The once every 3-years pumping of the septic tank.  I guess we’re prepared.

 

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The Luck of the Irish Brought Us Safely Home

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Friday, March 17, 2017

Unfortunately for us, the desert weather situation changed last week. Things turned HOT. In the 90’s. Some people thought that was a great idea, and waxed on about how lovely the heat was. This (perhaps menopausal) Daisie found it to be SWELTERING, wildly uncomfortable, and with no amount of air conditioning able to make things any more desirable. And because luck isn’t always with us, it failed to cool down to a reasonable sleep-worthy temperature. In other words, the Daisies didn’t sleep on the two nights before the big exit. And, take this as you will, but my sleep deprived self might be complaining. So, adhering to the adage: “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the desert,” we did just that. And so, with the usual drama and trauma, we left the Fountain of Youth, our place of exile, around 9:00am on Monday.

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Desert flowers.  

The lack of a good night’s rest does not make for a pleasant day. In the spirit of not riling my Hag-mates, I will leave this to your imagination. For my children, you know what I’m talking about. We fled the desert in the early morning, with the temperature already approaching 80 degrees. It was hot. As we headed north, our discomfort, due to the heat, (and perhaps physical closeness) didn’t get any better. I don’t remember the last time I sweated for 6-1/2 continuous hours while sitting. It was a death-drive to Bakersfield, with NO STOPS. We were a hot, sweaty, cranky bunch by the time we landed at the Orange Grove RV Park. Picking oranges helped the general mood, as did being able to run the AC on high. The nighttime temperature dropped to 50 some-degrees, which also improved pretty much everything. You can’t put a price on a good night’s sleep.

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A small Barrel Cactus in bloom.  Yes, these photos don’t have much to do with the text, but the flowers were beautiful, and I need to share them. 

As is the usual on the homeward trip, the next day, which would be Tuesday, we headed north to the first stop on the “casino tour,” Rolling Hills Casino. We dined at the “half-price for seniors” buffet, I made a donation via the “Gushers” slot machine, Craig broke even, and Dad won $12.

Stella was happy to be at a park with something to smell. It’s a gross understatement to say that she is prey-driven. The RV park, located on tribal lands, complete with a golf course and large open green area, is home to long-eared rabbits and many, many birds. In order for her to enjoy these things we put a harness on her, and a 12’ flexi-leash, and hold on. Tightly. She hits the trail running, nose to the ground, loosing her (mind) self to the call of the wild. The usual drill includes a quick lap around the park, with the person on the other end of the leash becoming increasingly annoyed at her inability to respond to any command, wish, desire, suggestion…. We eventually reel her back into the Hag, hot, panting, and with tongue hanging, and I’m talking about both Stella and the leash holder. There, she drinks copious amounts of water and relives the experience she just had by wistfully looking out the window and occasionally letting a small whimper escape. Not unlike the evening walks in the desert, this isn’t as enjoyable as it sounds. Even though we may not hit the jackpot at the casino, Stella does, each time we pass through.

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Stella, focused and in motion.

This year, the trip home included two extra, out of the ordinary, stops. I mention this as it is not something that usually happens and therefore was a HUGE treat. The day we left FOY we stopped at WinCo in Indio for a few last minute groceries. This was quite a departure from our normal strict adherence to schedule and I greatly appreciated it. Unplanned stops are not something that happens with this group. On our next to the last day out, we stopped in Redding, for 90 quick minutes, to see my dear Mother-In-Law, Marion. She had given Dad some wool a year ago, and he braided it into a rug just for her and we wanted to deliver it. Marion loves pink, and this rug had a lot of pink and COLOR in it. When Dad told her that she had given him the wool for it, she said, “Yes! I recognize it!” It reminded me of a crocheted rag rug my Grandmother had made for me that lied next to my bed when I was a small child. She made it from leftover scraps of fabric from clothing she and my Mom had made. I used to sit and look at it, remembering the dresses and thinking of my Grandma’s hands working away. That is how it is with work that springs forth from your hands. It blesses the maker as much as it does the recipient. It gives everyone a chance to reflect.

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Dad, with the rug he made for Marion.  It looks more orange and red than pink, but it’s just an illusion.  All the light color is actually pink.  The desert sun played tricks with this photo.

Our final night on the road was spent at Seven Feather’s RV Park. Again, I will note this for the record: Three casino buffets back-to-back is NOT a good idea. It causes suffering on the part of the diner. I’m not one to partake of sodas, but I managed to imbibe of the Ginger Ale beverage as often as I could manage, which was a couple of times a day for the duration of the northward journey. And, on the last morning’s drive, I polished off the last of this soothing gift from the gods. I wish I could say it helped. Poor food choices are in and of themselves a natural consequence. One needs ample time and distance from a buffet to recover, and hopefully the days ahead will bring both.

We followed our usual plan on the last day, and unhooked the Jeep from the Hag prior to the last gas fill-up, about 20 miles from home. At this point, I become the driver of said Jeep, making me the first to arrive home. It gives me a chance to see what calamity has befallen us during our wayward journey and figure out how to break such news to my Hag mates. My homecoming occurred around 12:30, and for once, things looked manageable. There were a few branches that had come down, and one of the gates wasn’t working. These are minor things compared with issues of the past. The lights were working, we hadn’t lost power during the 2 months we were gone, no pipes had broken, etc. Somehow we dodged bad luck. And, if this wasn’t enough, we were able to unload the Hag BEFORE the rain returned.

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Stella.  She’s glad to be home.  (and off the leash)

In the words of Dorothy: “There’s no place like home.” It is good to have cooler temperatures. It is good to see nothing but green and daffodils. And, I may be the only one who feels this way, but it’s good to see the rain!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Save the Cactus

 

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead

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Over the past 5 years I have posted pictures of cactus growing in our little gem of an RV park here in the middle of nowhere. All of them are introduced, meaning that they will grow here, but are not necessarily naturally occurring, in this geography. Some of them have really taken hold and some of them have not been as successful. Much like “The Man Who Planted Trees,” those who came before planted and shared starts, with the idea in mind that they were NOT back in the cold country, and nothing says heat (and vacation) like cactus and palm trees. These folks were living the good life, in the warm California sun, and by-god they were going to celebrate and embrace the local culture. Staking their claim on a little patch of dry desert, with several cacti and perhaps a palm tree, was truly the way to leave their mark.

 

When you plant something, and it really doesn’t matter what that might be, it changes everything. It is a gift you inadvertently share with the world. Whether or not they knew it, these early residents procured and left something for the rest of us. It has turned this barren dusty bowl into……hmm………perhaps not quite an oasis, but into a less austere and more enjoyable landscape.

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Fifty (or so) years ago, when this sort of thing was possible, Saguaro cactus were planted around the park. And by “possible” I mean these cacti were obtained by some means, either purchased from a local nursery or dug from the desert. They are quite protected now, and not readily available to buy and digging them up is not okay. And, please do not jump to the obvious conclusion; I’m not suggesting they were procured by less than upright circumstances. I don’t know and won’t speculate as to how they happened to find their way to FOY. Years ago, folks did dig things up in the wild and transplant them to their own domain. What I do know is that quite a few were planted, and by quite a few I’m thinking many more than the seven or eight that remain on this day.

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One of the remaining Saguaros.  It’s not in the greatest shape.

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Another Saguaro.  It’s in slightly better shape, but the New Year’s Eve rain storm caused so much erosion that the roots are now exposed.

The area where the Saguaro’s are indigenous would be the northern region of Mexico and into the southwest corner of Arizona in the area bordering Mexico, parts of the Sonoran Desert…..you know, where there IS a wall…..limiting the movement of seeds, water, animals, etc. and greatly impacting plant reproduction and diversification. Let my digression provide some food for thought…….

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Carol’s Saguaros

The cactus of the hour is the Saguaro growing just down the street and one level up from where we are squatting. I walk by it several times a day. It happens to be next door to Dick and Helen, our friends from Oregon. It “belongs” to Carol their neighbor. Carol is a lovely woman. In addition to being the person who runs the mailroom, she is a friend to everyone in the park and the dogs love her. Her site is brimming with flowers and cactus in addition to the magnificent Saguaro. (and it’s smaller friend)  Carol decided to move to a larger place within the park and the fate of this beautiful giant was huge cause for concern.

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Carol’s front yard area

Some of the housing options here are older travel trailers that have additions, etc. Typically, there’s a LOT of “etc.” occurring with the older rigs and more established residents. When the “grand trifecta” is reached, which would be: owners not coming back, the trailers having reached a certain age, and some other miscellaneous details that are not know to me, (or maybe anyone else?) the old units are pulled out and the sites are leveled to make way for a more modern mobile home. By leveled, I mean that ALL vegetation is removed and the front-end loader comes in with gravel and drags the site. No life remains no matter how magnificent, or old, it may be. This is a concern, and not just to me, but maybe especially to me. No matter on these little details, the most important part of the story is yet to come.

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“Etc.”

Carol wanted the cactus saved. She has watered and tended to it for the last 15 years, and it is in MUCH better shape than its counterparts in other areas of the park. She told me that she speaks to it every day, and if I lived in its amazing shadow, I would do the same. The Tohono O’odham people, the Native American tribe whose ancestral lands happen to be where the Saguaro is indigenous, revere this plant. They believe it was once human, and based on the experience I had as I walked onto Carol’s patio and stood next to this giant, I agree. If you choose to listen, it does, in fact, speak to your soul.

Dick and Helen were not going to let this cactus be toppled to the ground. They have a “permanent site,” and faced with the prospect of loosing this friend of the earth, they contacted people who were willing to move it the 40+ feet, to their site. This would be a very expensive and risky job with a fairly low expectation of survival for the cactus. But, as Dick said, “If we do nothing it has a 100% chance of death.” 50% is better than that.” As these relocation details were being worked out, a Facebook post brought the fate of the Saguaro to the attention of the park. (and, no…..it was NOT me who posted this, but thank you for thinking I did) Bringing this impending doom to the forefront of residents and staff, via social media, helped the cause. There was tremendous support for saving the cactus. It was the topic du jour.

In the spirit of things sometimes happening for the greater good of all concerned, the park owner decided to grant a stay of execution to this wonderful cactus. The rest of the site will be cleared and leveled to make way for another home site, or maybe just a more expensive RV site, and the Saguaro will be given a short retaining wall to protect and preserve its root structure. Everyone won in this particular situation, and it was a good win and relatively painless, as causes go.

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It is good to speak up. It is right to stand up for those who cannot speak for themselves, whether flora, fauna, or hominid. It is the thread that binds us. When we work together, anything is possible.

“Look behind you. See your sons and your daughters. They are your future. Look farther, see your children’s children and their children even unto the seventh generation. They will soon be walking the earthly path we walk today, and we must insure there is a path to walk. Think about it, you yourself are a Seventh Generation.”

Wall, S. and H. Arden. 1990. Wisdomkeepers. Meetings with Native American Spiritual Elders. Beyond Words Publishing, Inc. Hillsboro, Oregon. 120.

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