Inclement Weather and Other Things That Cause Angst

 

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

With the holidays over and the dismal days of January upon us, our thoughts have turned to a sojourn to warmer parts. With this idea in mind, so begins year FIVE of this annual journey to the end of the world. Originally, we planned to leave on January 2, but we had a snow and ice storm that arrived on New Year’s Eve, coupled with news delivered a few days prior that one set of Dad’s renters would be moving out ON New Year’s Eve. This unfortunate turn of events dropped weather-related things down a couple of places on the list of worries, and we occupied our “free time” dealing with things related to the rental. There is nothing like cleaning and scrubbing to take your mind off everything else, and by “everything else” I mean things like putting away the holiday stuff and packing.

As we cleaned the aforementioned rental, we watched the weather reports. Actually, we became obsessed with the weather; specifically what was happening on all mountain passes on I-5 heading south. As a side note, some years ago I crossed the Siskiyou Pass at night, in a blinding snowstorm, with my head hanging out the window attempting to locate the edge of the road while the driver merrily barreled down the highway. I was younger then, and so was the driver, and we were in a car, not a motor home towing a car. This event was as wild as it sounds and is not a scenario I wish to repeat. Ever. With age, the will to survive exceeds the need for adventure, or something like that. So, decent weather on our trip south is somewhat of a high priority for me.

But, to our dismay, as one storm passed another one moved right in behind it. We had reports from family members of snow and ice in southern Oregon and northern California. There were “Severe Winter Weather Advisories,” and “Wind Warnings,” and “Flood Watches.” It was a becoming a weather apocalypse.

There were some in my little group that just wanted to GO, and thought we could “wait out the storm” in an RV park down the road. This wasn’t an idea I was in favor of, but after a week of more casual packing than serious preparations for a 2-month exile, it seemed like something needed to happen. This coincided with my discovery that I was “half-packed,” the most dangerous of all situations to be in. After two weeks of “casual packing” I was not so sure what I had packed and what hadn’t yet jumped aboard the dear old Hag. Sometimes this leads to leaving things behind; this time I do believe it may have contributed to a little over-packing. So. Much. Stuff. And, it’s everywhere. Not to worry, I am prepared for any sewing or crafting adventure that may (or may not) come my way. I haven’t totally lost my direction.

And so we began our little dance of “Yes, we’ll leave today,” followed by “No, not today, it’s snowing on the Siskiyou Pass.” After several days of going back and forth we seized a brief window between storms and made our exit. We left the farm Tuesday morning with little patches of snow on the ground, and headed into rain. Lots of rain. Night #1 was spent at Seven Feathers RV Park where good fortune occurred in the form of “Taco Tuesday” and not much else. Good luck did not extend to the casino activites.

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Not too much snow left on the ground on the day we left the farm.

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Stella in her traveling sweater.  It gets cold in the Hag, so I made a little something to keep her warm as we motor along.

The following day was the “day of big worry” for the Daisie group, as the next leg of the trip involved crossing the mountain passes. It is with a huge sigh of relief that I report: I-5 was wet, but not icy. Snow was on the side of the road, occasional snow fell, but this was not a big concern.

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The Siskiyou Pass.  It was beautiful, probably because it was clear and the temperature was above freezing.

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It just doesn’t get more beautiful than this.

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Lake Siskiyou almost full!

We arrived safely at our next stop on the “casino tour” and spent the night at Rolling Hills Casino RV Park. Again, our good luck only extended as far as the drive was concerned and the fact that the following day was half-price senior discount at the buffet. That is good enough for me.

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Taking a walk at the RV Park

It seems that our departure unleashed a snow event back home that some are referring to as “Snowlandia.” My dear daughter, Kailin, called me to say that the snow began falling Tuesday night and by Thursday morning 12-15 inches of snow blanketed the Portland area. For us Oregonians, who don’t salt the roads or have to have much driving experience in this sort of weather, our lives simply shut down. We go inside and drink, (mostly hot chocolate, but there’s a possibility I’m not quite up to date on these sorts of things) we binge watch trash TV, and marvel at the beauty, the silence, and the wonder of life brought to a standstill by the magnificent power of Mother Nature. This is not a bad thing. I strongly advocated for this departure from the norm as my kids were growing up, and I am happy to see that they have come to embrace this. They enjoyed their winter wonderland and sent me photos.

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My very own snow angel!  Kailin in Portland enjoying the snow.        True bliss!

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Riley, the dog who owns Justin, surveying the scene.

So, to you and yours in this weather filled season, I wish you peace and solace as we await the next storm. Whatever that may be.

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Thankful

Saturday, November 26, 2016

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Butter, in the shape of a turkey.  Thank you, WinCo Foods.

Thanksgiving came to the farm in the midst of a torrential rainstorm, or more specifically, in a set of several massive storms that dropped inches of rain. We don’t see rain as anything out of the ordinary, so life went on in the usual fashion, with the exception of the dogs who for the task of doing their business, were escorted outside with the covering of a giant umbrella. No one likes to get that wet. Truly, we received about two inches of rain in 24-hours, and then it slowed down to a little less than that.

Our gathering was small: dear daughter, dear son and his dear girlfriend and her dog that refers to Justin as HER boyfriend, and who I refer to as my dog-in-law, and Craig, Dad, Stella, and myself. Six adults, two dogs, and a turkey breast instead of the whole bird, was just about the perfect number of everything.

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The Daisies, minus Craig, the picture taker.

So, you may ask…..what does a Daisie Thanksgiving look like? We cook food. We eat way too much. We nap, and we watch TV in the form of the Macy’s Parade, and sportsball.

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There was a lot of worrying going on.

One member of the family does laundry, and one member works on projects. I’m guessing it looks very similar to everyone else’s holiday gathering. Political conversation was banned, and my phone gave me serious warnings throughout the day regarding “Areal Flooding.” We sit on the side of a small hill, so we are immune to any flooding that may occur, so this, thankfully, becomes interesting information for us. We watched the rain, I tended the turkey, the side dishes, and the fire, and I reveled in the sound of the voices of my family, and the joy of having them all in the same room gathered around the table.

I am a big fan of these types of events. I could easily do it every week, but that’s not the way life works. How does the song go; “Children get older and I’m getting older, too.” We live in different cities and have our own lives, but these times together renew my spirit and remind me of the things I am so thankful for.

Again, the message here: Live in each moment as it happens. Look deeply into the eyes of those surrounding you during these magical moments. Savor the time together and the gentle thread that binds you securely to your loved ones.

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And, who’s not thankful for a holiday that demands cooking with alcohol?  (fyi: sherry in the mushrooms, whisky in the pumpkin pie, and orange liquor in the cranberries.  Had I actually made the Derby Pie, spiced rum would have made the photo……maybe for Christmas?)

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Bringing in the Sheaves

 

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Raspberries, and Dad the berry picker

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

There is a little known fact about myself that I will share. I’m certain it will come as a surprise, and I probably shouldn’t tell tales so shocking in nature. Here it is: I don’t like to harvest things. I’m not thrilled with picking raspberries, especially EVERY 3 DAYS without fail as is the custom here at the farm. I don’t like to pick strawberries, apples, blueberries, cherries, etc.

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Cherry picking.  It can be death-defying.  And yes, this tree has seen better days.  No worries, though.  We’ve planted another one to eventually take it’s place.  We should never be without pie cherries.

This comes from my early years. As a child, I, along with every other child living in the Willamette Valley in the 1960’s, was sent to the fields by our parents, to pick berries and beans for the local farmers. There was a cry from the farmers for labor, and the parents of the 60’s obliged. Rest assured, this is not a thing anymore, but when I was growing up, all of us kids were involved in this form of “child labor.” There were buses that picked us up and took us home. If the bus didn’t run in your area, there were parents who carpooled kids out to the farm. It was a good reason to dread the summer months. I suppose it did provide a source of income for some, but the small pittance I earned, didn’t quite make me the millionaire I had my sights set on. For the farmer I am, this activity didn’t grab my soul, and somehow, this feeling of impending doom hasn’t ever really left.

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Some of the potato crop.  Believe it or not, these are volunteers.  The original potato that started this crop, probably came from the compost that is spread under the raspberries.  They have overtaken the last row of the berries.  We encourage this volunteerism here at the farm.  It’s a good thing.

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Cucumbers

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Pears, picked and ripening in the shed.  (They are “lifted” when green and allowed to ripen off the tree.)

Please don’t misunderstand. I do pick things. I’m an adult. I do it because I have to. I might have mentioned my distaste of crop harvest to my dear Dad. I am quite certain it was both a shock and heartbreak, but he is a smart man. As he played out the summer scenario I do believe he understood the next part of the story:

I like to preserve things. I love to can. I like making “concoctions.” Our freezer is full of bags of ice cube sized things like roasted red peppers, tomatillo sauce, pesto’s of various origins, as well as bags and BAGS of raspberries and freezer jams. On the shelves, are my stores of canned applesauce, pears, pickles, relish, jams, jellies…….and the list goes on and on.

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Canned.  Pears.

We have reached détente. Fruit, and possibly produce, appear and I deal with it. There are times when the timing of my side of the bargain is not, shall we say, convenient.   But at this point in time, the harvest related activities are mostly over, so I’ll allow myself the grace to forget some of the more stressful situations that may or may not have occurred. (And, I will assure you, they did occur with an alarming frequency.)

And so, another season comes to a close. We all survived the harvest, perhaps not unscathed, but a nice spoonful of blackberry jam on that piece of toast while sitting by the fire, might just make it all worthwhile.

Peace to you as you watch the leaves drift to the ground.

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Figs.  They’re my personal favorite.  I pick these myself.

 

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What Comes Next?

 

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

It has been a difficult week. I’m not saying this to be cliché. I am broken to the depths of my soul, and I would be remiss to pass over the events of the past week with drivel about the plumbing, yard work, etc.

This country is wrecked. People are scared, emotionally charged, and hurting. If you don’t believe me, check your Facebook feed, watch the news, read the paper. Change is coming and it’s not going to be pretty or comfortable, or even safe. This is not a political blog, and it won’t move in that direction.   But, I’m not going to tiptoe around my beliefs. I am a feminist, a humanist, and a generally compassionate person, and I am afraid. We elected the school bully to our highest office, and his stated agenda paints a terrifying picture of life to come. For all of us.

I am not alone in my fear. My daughter, her women friends, my women friends, and my LGBTQ friends are afraid. I am worried about the state of my friends with disabilities, my friends whose skin color isn’t “lily white,” and those whose families came from another country. I am worried about the environment. I am worried about the future.

My life on this earth won’t last forever, but the choices made in my name and yours, will follow us like a python stalking it’s prey. This isn’t about “my candidate” loosing the election. I have suffered the disappointment of defeat before. This is about this person’s well-documented plan as to how he will alter the course of history. It will be more than a “bumpy ride” for the next four years. We are in for trouble.

In the hope of solidarity, strength, and safety from persecution, I wish us all the resolve we need to move forward.

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Magical Summer

 

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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

For the most part, we live a fairly unremarkable existence here at the farm. We tend to the things that need tending to, which means that we stay busy. I’ve mentioned this before. We are mindful of the weather and the changing of seasons and all that brings. We mow the grass, weed the flower beds, tend the garden, prune errant bushes, pick the fruit, do the laundry, fix things that need fixing, and attempt to clean up after ourselves. We have grown complacent with this life. But this summer something else happened. This magical series of events interspersed themselves with the usual goings on and turned an otherwise mundane season into a time of great anticipation, and life.

We had company. Dear friends and family members came to visit. This is not a small or insignificant thing. These people of ours came from near and far. They came to visit us ON PURPOSE. Many had not been to the farm in years.

Before each of these groups of folks arrived, they admonished me NOT to “cook or go to a lot of trouble.” As much as I understood their intent, I really did want to cook. Their presence gave me reason to cook. I had things I wanted to make, and things I wanted to serve to more than the usual three of us. Placing food on the table, for us to share, gave me the opportunity to gaze upon their beautiful faces, listen to their voices, and marvel at the wonder of it all, as we ate our meals together. They brought joy and life to our corner of the world. Their stories, their words, and their laughter breached the disconnect that sometimes makes its way into our lives.   To say that this presence graced us is an understatement. It made our summer. For me, and for my family, this IS the life in life.

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My kids…….all of them……biological or not

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Duplos and kids

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Journaling for his school, back in Australia

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My cousins, my kids, Dad, Stella, and I

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“This is the track that Dad built.”

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My cousin and I baked a cake while the rest of the group went on what I refer to as a: “death drive.” (More than a “three hour tour.”)

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A birthday cake for my brother-in-law, who came to see us on his birthday!

And to those who I have no photos, Neil and Jenny, Don and Wendy, Jon and Trish, Dick and Helen, and John and Karen, a heart-felt thank you for coming to visit. The gift of your presence meant (and means) the world to us.  Thank you for gracing us.

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The Dog Days of Summer

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Summer is a good time for our wonderful Stella. She likes warm weather. The hot weather doesn’t seem to be quite as enjoyable for her. As we say, a black dog in the sun is much hotter than a lighter colored dog. This is not just our made-up logic. Pups, the neighbor dog, who has black fur, is always much hotter than her counterpart, the White Dog.

I digress. I was discussing Stella the Wonderful. She enjoys a temperate climate. We are happy to offer that to her, here at the farm, in the beautiful Willamette Valley.

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Resting on the patio

She is fortunate. There are many reasons for her good luck, but in this instance it really pertains to our myriad collection of things related to leisure. We have lawn furniture to rest on. These pieces of outdoor furniture are not in the sun. In addition, they have provided a comfortable place to rest for EVERY dog that has ever come to the farm. All dogs, past and present, seem to know that these are provided for their enjoyment and relaxation. If we should happen to have company that are inclined to park themselves on said outdoor furniture, Stella is a polite hostess and simply sits with them, usually in their lap. Because EVERYONE loves Stella, this works out pretty well for her. She is quite comfortable sitting in the lap of someone, and they simply put up with a little discomfort in favor of being snuggled by a sweet dog.

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A favorite lap to lay on

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Another great napping spot

We also have copious amounts of lawn and grass, some concrete, (it provides a sort of radiant warmth to a dog) and then there is the gravel driveway.

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A nice warm patch of concrete to rest the old bones

It goes without saying that in unpleasantly hot weather, there is the bed in the house. This would be our bed. Nice and comfy. So many choices for naps. Most days, this quandary of where to rest is solved by moving from one location to the other.

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A nice pre-bedtime nap

But, the all time favorite discovery of the summer revolves around the wheelbarrow. Craig happened to be up in the shed fooling around with various things and with the wheelbarrow. He happened to put Stella’s car dog bed into the wheelbarrow. Stella, looked at the wheelbarrow, looked at Craig, and looked at the wheelbarrow. He asked her if she wanted to get in the wheelbarrow. She jumped in. He proceeded to wheel her around. Up and down the driveway. She enjoyed the ride, and a new activity was born. Yes, she does live a charmed life, but then again, life with Stella charms us maybe more than it does her. It is just the way it works, and we couldn’t be happier.

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Wheelbarrow rides.  Who could resist?

 

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Come for the Chicken, Stay for a Swim.

Friday, August 19, 2016

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We have been gifted with two quite remarkable things this summer. We’ve had some pretty mild and pleasant weather and we’ve also had a fair amount of company. The first of these facts is remarkable because we live in Oregon and, in spite of that fact, these events somehow happened simultaneously. Dependably nice weather, aka not raining, is hard to come by in these parts. Knowing that we were going to have company, and knowing that our seating arrangements for a dinner-time experience are limited, I bought a couple of plastic folding tables, made a couple of tablecloths and some table runners, and waited for the guests to appear.

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My new tablecloth and runners!

It is a known fact that I like to cook. It is also quite true that I like to cook for the masses. With all of these things coming together at once, it has made for a lovely summer of eating on the patio with friends and family. It is also possible that these events allow the odds to be stacked a little more in my favor as to menu selection as the majority rules, with entrée selection. In other words, the pickiest eaters in my group are directed to eat around the objectionable items, such as kale salad or chocolate cake.

But all this joy is not meant to happen without a downside. Like many folks, our summers of blissful dining al fresco seemed to be plagued by the damnable yellow jackets. They infiltrate our somewhat peaceful existence and seem to cause a level of distress among diners that make for anything but a relaxed mealtime. And then there is the ever-present fly swatter that my dear Dad likes to use as the second line of defense against these beasts. His first option is the brown bag. He uses a small, sack lunch-sized bag, blows air into it so that it is full, uses a string or twist-tie on the end, and sets in the bushes somewhere near where we are eating.  This is supposed to mimic a wasp’s nest, which is supposed to frighten the yellow jackets away. If you ask me, there is NOTHING that frightens a yellow jacket.

In order to avoid Dad’s third choice in the eradication of the yellow jackets, which would be insecticide, I have my own plan. I have done this for years and I have pretty good luck. It does pair nicely with my own personal hospitality goals, even though it results in the untimely demise of our uninvited dinner guests.

I have a moderate selection of plastic containers that have been given a second life prior to their toss into the recycle bin.

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Yellow jacket traps in the clothesline.  Redneck, but effective.

If need be (in the case of the ketchup bottle) I cut the top off, so that I have access to the inside.  I poke a hole in each side close to the top of the container.

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Yellow jacket trap

 

I thread a bamboo skewer through this hole, and attach a raw or cooked (small) piece of meat to this skewer with a twist tie. I put a couple of inches of apple cider vinegar, and a drop or two of liquid dish soap (to break the surface tension) and set these around up high…..near where we are eating…..but not within reach of any kids or curious adults. (or possibly Stella, although she hasn’t seemed interested)  The yellow jackets arrive. They eat. This meal weighs them down. In their attempt to leave my little diner of sorts, the take-off maneuver begins (and ends) with a downward fall. They land in the water. Since they don’t swim, they don’t leave. Ever.

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Yellow jacket trap with “guests” taking an eternal swim.

And, there you have it. If, in fact, you wish to try my “kountry method” of pest control, I’ll pass on a couple of helpful hints:

  1. I have been known to stockpile fatty meat remnants for just such events.
  2. I have also used our apple cider in the traps when I have been desperate. (or, out of apple cider vinegar….or both)
  3. You do need to re-bait the traps every 24 hours. The vinegar continues to work, the meat seems to loose it’s “attractiveness.”
  4. Use plastic covered twist ties. It makes #3 much easier.
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