Friday, December 2, 2016

Inside Homesteading

If we mimicking homesteading or living off the land, and I do envision that often from raising some of our own food in garden, orchard and barnyard, there is the inside component, baking, cleaning, preparing food, cooking.  And so is today.

We've cut back on the baking, which is really hard to do because the products are so delicious, breads, sweet breads, rolls, cinnamon or grey rolls, pies, cookies, cakes, but so full of sugars, fats and carbohydrates.  But it's Christmas and we get to bake all these goodies for the special meals, as gifts and for parties when someone else will eat them.  We just get to bake them.

Today is in preparation for tomorrow when we give cinnamon rolls to the volunteers at the clinic.  Almost before my feet hit the floor when getting out of bed, I sprinkle the yeast over warm water and dribble in a bit of honey, honey fresh from the bees near Carson, North Dakota.  After a shower and dressing, and after the yeasty water is frothy, I add the other ingredients: molasses for a old-fashioned homemade delicious flavor, oil, milk (actually I add water and powdered milk), a nip of salt to enhance the flavors, about half the flour as whole wheat, it's healthier and it's adds to the old-fashioned flavor and some of the while flour.  I continue to add white flour until the consistency is right on.

Here's where I gleefully deviate from the "old-fashioned."  I have it all in the Kitchen-Aid mixer bowl and I turn on the mixer watching all the ingredients become one smooth silky batter.  Switching to the dough hook, I slowly add the rest of the flour until it appears to be a bread dough climbing the sides of the now dry walls of the bowls.  Onto the chopping board for kneading and adding flour for that perfect texture, about 100 folds in the kneading.  Into a large bowl so the batter, now called dough, can rest and rise to about double the size.

When it's doubled, the fun begins.  The dough is soft and silky and feels so good to knead.  Once the gases caused by the growing yeast are all kneaded out, it's divided and rolled out on the chopping block, about a quarter to three-eighths thick.  Spread on the soft butter, crumble on the brown sugar and sprinkle a coat of cinnamon.  Roll up, slice into inch and a half pieces, and place on their sides in a oiled pan.  We like the glass pans.

After another 15 or so minutes of resting and rising, it's in the oven, gas not wood, with a thermostat set at 350˚F for about 13 minutes.  Then it's out with an old-fashioned pot holder, dumped upside-down on the chopping block and dig in.  Oh no, these are for gifts and so we only get the one that broke or fell apart or was distorted or was damaged [intentionally] when coming out of the pan.

Did I mention that during the rest periods a cake was mixed and baked?  It's an eggless, marble cake to be served at church as a test for the upcoming wedding cake.  And so the day's routine is gloriously not routine.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Not Much Yard Work

There are parts of the US who yard work now means shoveling or blowing snow; feet of it.  Here in Oregon it means emptying the rain gage and mowing the lawn one more time before Christmas.  I did rake the last of the leaves yesterday and lit the burn pile of yard debris, twigs and branches.  That's because there was no rain accumulating in the gage.

Today might have been more routine for this time of the year.  Mix and heat some water and sugar for the humming birds.  Put seeds in the bird feeder for the jays, chickadees, juncos, and dove.  The quail can share also but they were out back searching through the lawn.  The deer wondered into the yard until I asked it to leave.

There's the route to feed the dog, Sheba, to feed the cats, Dr. Skittles and Toby, to feed the chickens and gather any eggs if there are any.  Actually yesterday there were two, the first ones in about a month and they were pullet sized.  The filter in the fish pond will have to be cleaned tomorrow.

We did pick the two squash and six pumpkins a couple days before Thanksgiving so we had real pumpkin pie and froze the squash for another day.  The forecast talks about snow in the mountains, even down to a thousand feet but we're at less than 500 and the valley floor is somewhat lower than that.  We're safe; maybe some scattered rain showers.  A great time to write, paint and do some woodworking.

Saturday, November 26, 2016


It's hard to avoid these days, politics, that is.  It was suggested in the media, and the media is always right, right?, to avoid the political conversations at the Thanksgiving family gathering.  We did, for the most part, avoid that conversation but it did creep in a bit.  Fortunately it was quite civil, perhaps because it was rather one-sided.  In fact, it was suggested that in a world of division and some hostility that our house was a safe zone.  One could say what they wanted without arguing and fighting.

You may have guessed that the conversation was not in support of our president-elect.  If you guessed that corrected you can probably also presume that we receive emails with similar leanings, as we did this morning.  Now it would be wonderful to fight everything that our president-elect has suggested as a part of his plans for governing our country.  This may be where we're making mistakes, regardless of who you voted for or what your perference for governing this country may be.  It's what the Congress has done for the past eight years, block everything that the president proposes, and that didn't get the country anywhere except frustration and our current political atmosphere.

Let's assume that everything we propose is not perfect and that everything the other side proposes is totally wrong, because in the real world that's probably true.  So when someone suggests that we should block everything the president-elect proposes, perhaps we should step back a step and see what it is that we are blocking and consider a compromise.  Perhaps all of us should consider what is best for our nation as a society and work with each other in that direction.

I would also think that we could work together trying to understand each other and continue in our small ways at home to care for and support each other and in particular those in greatest need and those feeling marginalized.

One might hope that the words politics and polite would have some common grounds, such as politics is a process of being polite in community decision making.  That's not true.  Politics has a Greek origin meaning "affairs of the state," while polite has Latin roots for being "refined, organized."  Perhaps by common use we can make politics polite.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Bread, Pies and Cookies

Days don't get much better than ones like today; we're preparing food, lots of it, with some variety, for dear ones both friends and family, young and not-as-young.  The day is special as we go beyond the routine making tasty foods that are more seasonal and special.  The day started long before today with planning, making lists, gathering supplies and doing preliminary tasks.  Last evening I baked the traditional and sought after Gramma cookies.  While Gail is a grandmother and the cookies could be named after her, if she actually did the baking, or they could be named after my mother who was a grandmother and did bake these cookies later in life, but actually the name was coined when I was a youngster and my grandmother Marie [Saxowsky] baked them.  She probably did them more than just at Christmas but I remember them particularly at Christmas.  This batch turned out really well; some of the best I've ever done, lightly brown on the bottom as well as the top, plump and soft but didn't sag from being under-baked.

So today started by running hot water over the metal mixer bowl so it would be warm when I put water, yeast and honey in it to proof.  Then sift the powdered sugar and cocoa together for frosting the cookies.  Actually Gramma cookies are pepper nuts or as they were called in German, Pfeffernuss.  As I was putting some ingredients back into the cupboards I wondered what ingredients my grandmother had to work with back in her day, especially when she was young.  Thinking first about chocolate chip cookies, when were chocolate chips first available.  The answer is that the first chocolate chip (Toll House cookies named after the Toll House Inn where they were first made) cookies were made with chopped up Nestle's chocolate bars in the mid 1930's.  The "chip" was made starting in 1941.

The ingredients in Gramma cookies were all available throughout her life; flour, lard, coffee, eggs, spices, sugar, molasses, honey, cocoa, powdered sugar, vanilla.  She probably made chocolate chip cookies after the word about their goodness got around.

Gramma made her frosting thin enough to dip the entire cookie in the frosting, dip them out with her hand and place them on wax paper.  I vary a bit from that in that my frosting is a bit thicker, I dip only the top into the frosting and spoon off the excess before putting them on wax paper, or newspapers.

By now the yeast is proofed and we mix up the batter in a nice mixer, knead it on a wooden chopping block and place in a bowl with a towel over the top to rise.  That aside, we combine shortening (lard would have been used decades ago) and flour, blending them until they are uniformly combined.  I use the wire wisp attachment on the mixer.  Then I switch to the regular blade and slowly add the water, letting it mix only a short time until the water is integrated throughout the mixture.  Then it's squeezed together into a uniform ball before I cut it in half and roll it out as a pie crust.  Gail makes the pumpkin mix from pumpkins from the garden that we cleaned and cooked last evening.  Soon the pies are in the oven and setting up.

Back to the bread dough which has doubled, it's kneaded and separated into a small ball to be rolled out, spread with butter, cut into small pieces and rolled up into crescent rolls.  The last ball became cinnamon rolls.  Yummy.

It's time to move on.  The cookies are frosted and the frosting is setting up.  The pies are out of the oven and cooling.  The bread rolls are on the cooling rack waiting to serve their purpose tomorrow along with the turkey, all the trimmings and the side dishes.  Okay, maybe tomorrow with be a better day than today.  Two great days in rows is quite grand.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A Time for Healing

Last week we were among the leaders in a project of housing and feeding families who temporarily are without homes.  During the course of the seven days about 90 different persons from more than a dozen churches plus community members and university students participated in this project.  No one asked about or talked about religion or governance leadership.  We just joined together in a common cause.

On the last day of that same week we worked with another two dozen volunteers including doctors and nurses to serve the uninsured and underinsured with loving medical care.  We don't ask if documented or citizens; we don't care if they need an interpreter or speak English; we don't look at their skin color.

This is where the unity and love of people come together.  It's not only a county or a nation, it's humanity.

During the last months this nation has displayed division.  Like has been said before, "A house divided cannot stand."  So we must let the national leaders do what national leaders do and locally join with others to help each and every one of us.

OPB airs a feature yesterday that I heard bits and pieces of in the background of my day that showed small groups discussing international issues.  They were asked to speak something negative about their country and then as a group turn that negative into a positive.  That's our focus today, to turn our loss into a positive step forward.

Hug your family, take the hand of a neighbor and walk with a friend to make this a better place for ALL.

Sunday, October 30, 2016


After reading a blog about "the lake of fire" I feel compelled to write my version.

"If your son or daughter asks for some bread, do you give them a stone? If you do good things, doesn't God do even better things."  "Don't even the dogs lick up the crumbles that the children drop to the floor?"  God is good, God is better than good.  God is the best, beyond our imagination.

Do you really think that after all the years that Mother Theresa helped the children, the poor and the hungry in India that God would send them to the "lake of fire" just because they grew up not knowing Jesus?  There are millions in the world who believe that the understanding of God came through Moses, or Muhammed, or Buddha, or the Great Spirit.  What makes Christians more correct then them?  What if they are correct?  I believe God loves us all more than we can imagine and will do everything God can to keep us from pain and suffering, and God is all powerful.  God hates evil but not people.

Since we're on the topic which we don't understand let me throw in a simple thought about heaven.  How do I envision heaven?  It's hardly a place and there are no bodies that need food and doctors.  As God is "I am," we are "we are."  Heaven will be spiritual interactions among all of us, after all without our bodies we are but spirits and we don't know the parameters of spirits, they just "are."

Now off to do the work of today's callings.

Friday, October 28, 2016


It's never to late to learn something new, or to approach something from another point of view.

I often thought I would would like to be bored, just once.  It seems like there is always something waiting for me, something that I could do, something that I should do.  If only there was a time when everything was done and there was nothing more to do.  Time when I couldn't find anything to do.  Time when I was truly bored.

It's never happened, and never will.  Well, maybe when I can't do anything anymore.  Or I lose my mind.  It's my nature, it's built into me, to find something to do.  Even now that I no longer work for an income or am employed, I have a long list of things that I would like to do either for the next day or the next year.  I have accepted this as who I am, and it's just fine.

Today, however, I heard scientist on the radio talk about mindfulness and spoke also of boredom.  He discussed boredom or being bored in a very different way, a way to which I can truly relate.  He said that when he was doing a routine task, after a while he would become bored before finishing the task, such as mowing the lawn.  As he mowed the lawn his mind would wander to other times he could be doing and would rather be doing; he referred to this as being bored with mowing, with the task at hand.

If that's boredom, especially if it's the part where the mind wanders to another task, I am almost always bored.  I would have referred to this feeling as being distracted from the task at hand.  Now I have a new word for that distraction; I have a new definition for boredom or being bored.  And I am even bored now, or at least distracted to move on.  In fact, I have done several other tasks while writing this.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Cleaning the Garden

It started the serious type rain apparently while we were traveling in North Dakota early mid October, probably about the eighth or ninth.  Upon arriving home I reset the rain gauge by dumping five inches.  During the following week I read and dumped two and a half and thence and a half inches.  The lawns are looking it and the little weeds are covering everything including the driveway.

So it's time to do the tasks that come with fall and the rainy season.  The plan is to transplant more of the saplings under the Red California fir down in the field.  I mow the area in preparation and between showers dug some holes.  The transplanting is still waiting for another break in the rain long enough to do the task.

We did prune the grapes back seriously.  During the prying we discovered that both arbor trellises need repair.  It's that old wood rots when wet syndrome.  Add that to the autumn to-do list.

Also we remove all the plants from the garden except the beets.  The tomato plants had a few small green fruits which had no hope of ripening.  The deer got the best of them.  One pepper plant had about five peppers varying in size from small to full grown, all green sweet peppers.  We pulled the weeds and turned the soil.  Now it's waiting for newspapers and leaves to cover the garden to prevent the winter rains from packing the soil hard.

The two potato plants that came from Rich's funeral service had nothing beneath them.  Really, nothing.

The rain continues, lighter now, but enough to enjoy me to find things to do inside and there's plenty of that.  The temperatures are cool and with the dampness, working in the shop requires an extra jacket and cap.  And so I'm off.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Homecoming at U of Jamestown

There's this belief that if one travels and gets away from home and its necessary routine, one would have time and be inspired to write.  For me the inspiration is marginal and the time is, well, it's not there.  I will try to sneak in a few words this morning between taking granddaughters to school and preparing a two-hour drive to our niece's farm.

It's been 50 years since I and nearly 100 others graduated from Jamestown College.  It's also Homecoming Weekend, so by tradition, common sense, logic and "just because," it's time to have a reunion of these graduates.  The college, now a university, supports such an idea but doesn't have the resources to organize or promote it.  A few emails were exchanged among classmates and a few more were sent from the university.  The results were the return of seven graduates from North Dakota (3), Florida (1), Minnesota (1) and Oregon (2).  Some of us were friends in college, some were mere classmates with little to no interaction.  Five spouses also joined the party.

Over a period of several gatherings, mostly at the first meal, we recognized each other by our name tags and reintroduced ourselves.  Interestingly enough it wasn't only a handshake or "hoodie-doodie," it almost always evolved into a hug, both as we first met and again as we parted on the last day.  Perhaps it was an emotional embrace of sympathy for the aches and pains of being 72 years old (there's no hiding one's age when everyone is the same age, more or less) or celebration that we made it this far.  We had no major conversations about health or aches and pains but we all looked rather good and moved rather fluidly.  Thank God for that.

We exchanged a few stories, usually with the one beside us, took a group picture and exchanged some addresses, Facebook names and phone numbers.  It wasn't until we returned home or had a chance to access a computer that we would discover on Facebook that our theological and political preferences were all over the board.  A great lesson this is that if we leave some of our opinions in our pockets we can have a congenial relationship with anyone.  After all, when comes right down to the wire, many believe there is only one god in the major religions, a god of love, and if we believe as stated in almost every religion and philosophy of the world that we should treat others as we would like to be treated, the world would be a better place.

Now it's time to return to our homes and continue to do what seventy-year olds do, volunteer, play golf and try to stay healthy.  And to take the next granddaughter to school.  Only ten years until our 60th reunion.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

More Grapes

It's fall, or autumn, if you prefer, both according to the solar system and the mist in the morning.  Much of harvest is done; what wasn't gathered in the garden the deer ate this week.  I think the last of the large tomatoes are gathered, even the half eaten ones; the petite ones are still hanging and ripening.  The late peppers may not produce much as they're tops are now missing.

My walk to the grapes in the arbor yesterday revealed that it's time to gather the grades.  This is the most grapes I have ever seen on these vines; even one of the cross members broke under the weight.  We had draped the vines in bird netting to keep the birds out after losing almost all of last year's crop to our flying friends last year.  That didn't keep the deer from trimming the outside edges and so picking on the downhill side is not as necessary this year.

I grabbed all the big bowls I could think of from the house, my prunes and ladder and headed into the fruit.  There are three varieties: green, purple and small purple which are pinto noir.  The description of green and purple are as refined as I can describe the first two.  Despite my desire and intent to keep the vines on their separate sides of the fence, they are all intermixed and I had to sort them as I picked.  The bowls were full before I actually got into the arbor.  So into the house I went, using the tractor to haul them.

We cleaned the "purple" ones first and put them in the juicer.  The juice from the "purples" filled three one-gallon mild jugs.  We strained them through a chess cloth into a 5-gallon cooler and then back into the jugs ending up with two gallons for the freezer and one quart for the refrigerator.

Next came the "greens," actually the next morning.  Since the clusters were scattered, smaller and more irregular in size, we left the stems with the fruit in the steamer.  After all were steamed and strained, there was three gallons in the cooler ready for the canner, eight quarts in the canner, one gallon in the refrain for immediate use.

Maybe not tomorrow, but some time soon, the remaining grapes need to find their way into some form where they can feed us later this year.  Until then.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Why, Oh, Why?

Life at this point is rather good.  The weather is mild, I sleep well, the bills are paid, I like the good foods that I eat, most of my joints move even if slowly, most people I associate with are friends or friendly and I don't associate with the others.  That all sounds great to me.  But there are exceptions and they're stacking up today.

Ma's daughter is on the soccer whose coach was recently arrested for inappropriate with a minor team member.  The high school girls on the team are frustrated and angry.  The action of the school in announcing and explaining the situation was tarry and insensitive to the girls and parents.

A family asked a couple using and paying for space in their house to make plans to find other housing and they didn't take that well.  Hoping the departing "tenants" will not leave the place in shambles when the leave, and hopefully in a timely manner.  Sometimes one ends up regretting being helpful and supportive.  Hopefully the "tenants" will find a suitable housing.

We've been to several meetings this week, most are encouraging, uplifting and meaningful.  But not all of them.  In one meeting where the members were clarifying fuzzy policies, one said that we're all friends and friendly and don't need tight detailed policies but some day some one person may come in and change everything.  My gut smiled as I acknowledged to myself that's what's happening right now because we've been happy with fuzzy policies up to now.  Oh, dear.

So I'm off and out of the meeting to phone some contacts to better understand what's really happening, and to take a deep cleansing breath.  More tension this week than most others.  And that's not to mention the conversation on the street by a very frustrated friend wondering how to deal with his frustration, or the emails announcing a special meeting of the Presbytery to clarify some vague, maybe not so good past decisions.

Ah, the sun is shining and I feel no aches or pains.  God is good and life is good.

Monday, September 12, 2016


Most people have questions about why things happen to themselves as they do.  Why do certain repeated thoughts come to mind as I'm doing a particular task?  Porterfields and other neighbors when I'm bandsawing?  High school classmates and my freshman tree of high school when pruning the rose bush?

Why do I have dreams that seem completely unrelated to anything that I do?  Like the one about the projectiles coming through the windshield of the car I was in, projectiles that were megaphones with plastic cups attached to the end.  After a half dozen or so of such projectiles a cheerleader came by and acknowledged that we were alright.

Possible answer to number one:  at one point I actively had a thought about Porterfields while bandsawing, which have occurred a second time.  Each time it happened a path in the memory part of my brain was reinforced and the two became associated.  Possibly the memory and activity are stored to closed in my brain that they spill over into each other.  Maybe none of this is correct.

Possible answer to question two:  there's an outside force that can control my mind while sleeping.  I hoping that God created that connection from my beginning and that no one else has hacked into my thinking.  There are grosses of people out there theorizing on the makeup of dreams and I will continue to let them seek the answer to this question.  I will just go on dreaming nonesense.

All of this questioning and envisioning answers suggests to me and reinforces my thinking about this, that many stories of forlorn and the Bible are efforts by people to answer their unanswerable questions.  How did we start?  Why is there evil?  Who and where is God?

Back to harvesting and digging in the dirt.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Just Thinking

Jennifer, a math teacher at the local high school, said that the first chapter in her new curriculum is on transformations.  I probably won't use any transformations today, at least no in the form of equations or graphs.  I will use it on the computer today by clicking on some screen or picture or text and moving it to another part of the page.  Or by swiping an icon on my cell phone.  I may use other transformations by zooming in on an image, changing the text size, reversing the direction of an image or distorting an image in Photoshop.

But who cares after I can drive a car without knowing how the motor works or why we use one type of oil instead of another.  Just as long as it works.

However, someone does need to know how all this works so I can do it without knowing how it works.  But, not most of us.  The argument continues to go both ways.  Is it important to teach transformations to everyone?

Of course, I have always enjoyed math and continue to read books about math for pleasure and relaxation.  I also read them because I have to think new thoughts or rethink thoughts from decades ago.  Which brings me to another reason for reading about math, it requires my brain to physically create new paths stimulating the cells and keeping me sharp.

Many years ago, several decades ago as computers were emerging and finding their way into schools, there was a turtle, or at least that's what they called the little triangle on the green screen.  The program was Logo.  The user, typically a student, could type in commands to move forward, change directions and repeat previous steps and the turtle would move about the screen.  It was simple, so simple that I considered fun but a waste of time.  Now these decades later it is recognized and one of the best activities to stimulate thinking--critical, creative, logical.  Today's equivalent is coding and many other programs.

So what do we have?  A simple essentially useless program that promotes creative, critical and logical thinking, and more, I suspect, because this list is probably not inclusive.  This are all skills needed in daily life.  I will use them frequently today as I garden, cook, build a shadow box, write and respond to emails, even if there's no turtle or commands to move forward involved.  So why study transformations?  It makes us think.  Once we learn to "think" we go on to "educate" ourselves by accumulating "knowledge" through "remembering" facts.

Education, from me, doesn't come from a teacher teaching us, it comes from learning what the teacher puts before us.  It's not memorizing facts and testing our memory through multiple choice questions.  It's a daily activity of questioning, solving, creating, repeating and expressing, and more because this list is not inclusive either.  While I can do this all myself in seclusion, I like the stimulation of others and the guidances of teachers to save me time and let me move on to more thinking.  And so I will.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Another Workday in the Garden and Kitchen

One of the reasons for this blog is to report activities related to the garden, yard, plants and barnyard critters.  So the last two days are very relevant.

Berry-wise we picked about a quart of each raspberries and blackberries.  I will destroy the blackberry bushes which were at the end of their season.  The raspberries were also at the end of their season although both berries will generate a few more berries in the next several days.  By the way, it's September 8th.

We thinned the beets and pickled a bit more than one quart.  The apples and pears were ready so they were picked also.  The pears are sitting on the counter waiting to complete their off-tree ripening.  The apple crisp, the last of the apple preservation process, just came out of the oven.  The apple sauce, a blend of apples from the two different trees, are canned and frozen.  The better apples were peeled, sliced and frozen for future pies.  The peeling is done with a hand-cranked peeling machine with Denvy as the cranker.  Gail does the clean up and cutting.  The sauce cooks until the apples are soft and then run through a coriander, then bagged or placed in jars.

Weatherize it's a perfect late summer day, cool and overcast in the morning, clear and mild by noon and warm and sunny in the afternoon, followed by clear crisp evenings and nights.  Life is good, even if the blog is boring.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

It's Early for Fall, but...

After three days in Texas, not everything is the same here in Oregon as it was when we left.  They had forecasted rain but that didn't happen so it's still dry.  Time to water again.  Time to pick the other apples.  The pears seem to want a little more time on the trees.  The raspberries were full and lush even though there were not many plants.  The next set of blackberries are ready for picking.  The morning temperature was around 50˚F and compared to Texas's morning, it felt rather cool.

Later today the rain came for about a half hour.  Then the sunshine brought the air back up to the 70's.  Now on to signing off.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

More Harvest

One of my recent goals for this blog is to record happenings in the garden and yard that I might check back in future years to see what was done when.  Many days are like the previous ones and there's not much to write.  Plants grow and bloom slowly for the most part and then all of a sudden they reach a notable stage.  In late summer and fall that would be maturity and harvest.

The pear tree look so good.  There are full yellow pears hanging throughout the old tree.  The younger tree with its multi-varieties also has full branches with gorgeous looking fruit, some pear shaped and some oriental types that are apple shaped.  We use the criteria that if you life a fruit up to one side and it snaps off, it's ready.  These are not ready, maybe next week.

We were hoping the front, as opposed to the back, apple tree would wait another week or so but every day there are more apples on the ground and picking them from the tree is very easy.  Yesterday I picked 10 gallons.  The back tree, as opposed to the front, is quite ready so we'll do that one next week.

This morning I picked the last of the pole beans which amounted to a large handful.  Then I turned to the grapes by the greenhouse.  At first I was going to selectively pick the ripe sweet ones but as I worked around during just the first few minutes I realized they were all ready because they kept falling to the ground.  During the course of the day I picked about 16 bowls full which became about 6 gallons of juice.  Most of the juice was canned into 21 quarts and the remaining sits in a pitcher in the refrigerator for immediate consumption.

Since we're traveling over the weekend, this will be the last of the harvesting this week, actually this month.  The other grapes in the tresseled arbor on the hillside are small, hard and very bitter--not ripe or ready.

The weather was  awesome--mild, clear about mid seventies.  The forecast is for several days of light rain but I'm skeptical.  We need it so badly.

Oh, yeah, and there were the blackberries that I picked from a patch that I intend to destroy later this fall.  I would have destroyed it now but there were berries that would ripen later this fall.  We put them on a cookie sheet to freeze them and today I bagged them--one gallon.

Sunday, August 28, 2016


Certainly here's not a day that goes by when God and I have a conversation.  I suppose that shouldn't be a surprise, we are expected to pray and read the Bible every day just as we eat and sleep each day. I'm talking more about those big questions like "Is there really a God at all, or is God a creation of mankind?  Which characteristics of God as described by the Bible are most accurate, fearful or loving?  Why are there different concepts of God even within monotheistic religions?  And how does that all apply to our daily lives?"

I'm reading excerpts from Karen Armstrong's The History of God.  She rather thoroughly writes about ancient gods of the Greeks, Egyptians and Babylonians.  She relates those gods to the Gods of the Israelites; I say Gods because she suggests that the God of Abraham and the God of Moses appear almost to be different Gods even though there's only one.  It's not hard to think that mankind characterizes their gods to meet the needs of their time.  And that's not far from saying that mankind created gods at their convenience and that God doesn't exist.

This is where faith enters the picture, an a little logical common sense.  Proof of God is always debated, so we simply have to believe.  Why believe?  Look around you, the wonder and beauty of nature, the love and warmth that comes from caring.  But then I am biased with 72 years of going to church.  I suspect people with 72 years of a different experience may be strongly biased in a totally different direction.

Perhaps my comfort space includes the existence of God but what most people believe and do is a creation of what they want God to be.  I accept and believe in God but I'm very skeptical of what people say about God.  Honestly because there are so many interpretations and contractions regarding the Bible, I accept the Bible as true but not literal or factual, and in the same sense I believe that the Koran and other religious writings are valid and worthy of consideration.

Overall I look forward to learning the answers after I die, either because I will not exist, or because I will be with God and I can ignore second-hand interpretations.  For now, I accept that I most love God and others, and so it is.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


The temperature was a cool 80˚ yesterday.  We started the day by trimming the apple tree by the back deck.  It has been getting taller than the deck while our intent for it was to be no taller than the deck.  A clematis  is also climbing through the tree and overwhelming it.  It was its time to get cut back big time.  As we did all that the apples fell to the ground.  When we gathered them we had a big grocery bag of firm delicious apples.  So we peeled, sliced, frozen and canned about 14 quarts.

The bush beans have ripen to beyond prime so they were basically pulled and sent to the chickens.  The pole beans were perfect and plentiful, about two big bowlfuls.  Back in the house we froze those along with the broccoli from the plants we seeded late in spring.

The other apple trees are ready but they have to wait another couple days.  The herbs and mints were all cut back today.  We harvested and dried some mint for tea some weeks ago when it was fresh.

Back in the shop I finished the benches by painting them.  After I washed the gazebo tiles I put the table and benches in place making the place look fresh and inviting.  I should be out there now.  This evening is cool, probably mid-60's, about perfect.  Tomorrow turns hot again reaching up into the 90's.

By the way, the crocus are starting to bloom as of several days ago.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Light Weight

It seems that to be a good leader one must be hard-nosed, be able to confront challenges, be ready to disciple even to the point of firing someone.  Based on that criteria Jesus was not a very good leader, although somehow he's been a major influence to the entire earth for over two millennium.  Somehow he is my model of leadership and since Jesus didn't match the criteria of hard-nosed, although he stood his ground, he, and hence I, must be light weights.

Over the years I have become more and more sensitive to others' joys and sorrows.  In either case, tears swell up in my eyes; either with the joy or with the sorrow; including the movie this evening: Pete's Dragon.  It was a great family story although the intensity of violence and fear makes it a bit inappropriate for toddlers.  The sensitivity and kindness of the dragon, the evolving familial relationships among several family members, the decisions displaying love all jerked on my heart or at least caused the tear ducts to activate.

In some ways this light weight attitude fits into the ideas of relationships in the community and groups.  I wish to be supportive and I wish to not engage in the confrontational decisions.  So as this evening comes to an end, after a day of catching my breath after a very hot week zapping the strength from my body and a week of heavy involvement in VBS, I will sleep well looking forward to a cooler week focused on some of the items on my bucket list.

Good morning.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


I'm trying something new this evening.  I'm writing outside.  I typically write in the recliner in front of the TV with Gail by my side in her recliner.  The TV is irrelevant and Gail is the reason.  Tonight she's at a meeting and the Olympics on TV are routine.

The weather is mild; was hot earlier today, near 90˚F but now it's dark, the heat of the direct sun is gone and number-wise it's about 70.  Perfect.

Much of my inspiration for writing comes from what I experience outdoors.  Yet, when I walk through the front door, so much is filtered out; I hardly can express what I was feeling.  So tonight I'm outside.  It's basically dark but the computer keyboard and screen are lit up so lighting isn't an issue.  The moon is nearly full, to a novice it might be considered full.  However, it's on the other side of the leaves of the trees under which I am sitting.

It's not quiet.  The frogs are singing loudly to my right where the pond and small stream lie.  Either one is very vocal or there's a chorus because the song in almost one continuous note.  To my left the water is tumbling into the fish pond; what a soothing sound, the flow of water.  The breeze, if any, I didn't feel but the wind chimes hanging overhead are periodically added a soft note to the evening.  I'm ignoring the tapping on the keyboard, it doesn't belong here.

The air is so clear and clean.  As I glance up at the moon getting but a glimpse through the leaves, there's no fog, no haze, no smoke, no smog; just fresh crisp air.  The cooling effect of the evening reaches under my shirt and glances off my forehead.  All this tells me how great it is to be alive in God's creation.

Alas, the sound have changed as the crisp air allows sounds from afar.  The plane flies overhead, a dog barks in the far distance, footprints of our dog come near, the tree rustle from a brief air movement.  Now again it's only the water and frogs.

This works, this outside experiment.  I will do it another time.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

It Rained

The weatherman was talking about rain in Portland and I was just chuckling inside.  It had been cloudy, overcast and cool for August but rain, on way.  Well, the thick humility at dawn turned to a mist which left the sidewalk damp and the the rain gutters starts to drain.  By noon there was moisture at the bottom of the rain gauge and the air smelled fresh and clean.  But that wasn't going to overcome the months of dry no-rain.  Then it hit; almost a mini cloud burst but not a gusher.  Now the gauge climbed to nearly a half inch.  Awesome.

That was three days ago.  Even now the sense is that "it rained and watering isn't critical."  But alas even a soaking half inch does defeat that month of dry heat.  So watering the black cherry is critical; its top leaves are browning.  And the spring is running again so we can water with natural water.  That was on today's list.  Also did a little tractor work, walking weeds and moving dirt.  Still need to move the pruning from a couple days ago.  Procrastination is winning.

Back in the barn the three baby chicks are starting to move around the pen with mother hen following close behind constantly telling them to not wander too far.  They don't have a clue that next Monday they are headed to church to be on display for the children at VBS.

This morning there was another realization of our need to support nature around us - feeding the fish, chickens, the dog and the cats; watering the flowers, garden and trees; removing weeds and aggressive plants so beneficial plants can thrive.  And so my connection to God through nature.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

It's Inevitable

What's inevitable?  Death, of course.  They also say taxes.

Definitely death is inevitable, no one lives forever.  It's also something that we have to do alone.  No one can die for us and even if we die simultaneously, we're still alone in death.  Sleep is the other time when we are alone.  Think about it.  It really doesn't make any difference what's happening up until one falls asleep, whether you're literally alone in your bed, or whether you're sharing a bed, or even if you've just shared an intimate moment just before you fall asleep, when you fall asleep it's just you and you alone.

When you fall asleep you are just one of over seven billion persons of this planet who is in your body.  The day and evening might have been full of people, talking, laughing, quietly watching.  It might have been one other person, or dozens, or you might have had a quiet day by yourself.  As you drift into sleep, you slip into a place where no one from the day can or will go.

I find energy in working by myself in the shop, or even walking through the woods.  I often become exhausted among people.  There are conversations with single individuals that stimulate my senses, hence some times people energize my soul.  Yet, as I pull the quilt up over my shoulders, I still feel infinitely alone.  The other seven billion persons don't exist.  The thought can bring tears to my eyes.

It's not the only thought that brings tears to my eyes, I know, even though I question it daily, that there is a loving God.  I don't know much about God but there are several characteristics in which I'm confident.  God is not a old man with a long gray beard, nor is God male or female.  The Bible talks about fearing God, revering God, worshiping God, like God is "up there" and "out of reach."  Maybe that's correct.  The Bible also talks about "God is love," about God being better than one's own loving father.  God expects me to be a loving person, and that's also nearly impossible to understand, what it means to be a loving person, it can be interpreted so many different ways.

So as I lie on my pillow alone with only God with me, I know that God will be with me through the sleep even as God will be with me in death.  "Now I lay me down to sleep."  Totally alone and yet never alone.  The tears come from total exasperation in the aloneness and from the joy of never being alone.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Good Day

Any day is a good day when you can cut into a piece of wood and smell the fresh odor of sawdust.  It's even a better day if the cut is made in the right place and you don't have to cut twice.  This evening, after a short afternoon following the free clinic this morning and watching a few Olympic events, I started cutting legs for benches to replace the deteriorating ones in the gazebo.  The cuts were okay although there were some second cut adjustments.

After supper (thanks Gail) I worked on the dollhouse making some initial layouts and cuts to install the spiral staircase.  Creative cuts are always the riskiest.  So far nothing has been done that can't be undone, but it's late and mistakes happen more frequently when fatigue sets in.  It's exciting to see the vision materialize and tomorrow I'll refine it to fit well.  As I look at it this evening I realize that a banister would be a fun addition.

For now it's back to the Olympics and more emotions empathizing with the athletes.  It's a great event.  I wish we could get the same hype from Easter.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Something More Than Routine

Ah yes, there's more to say today than "things continue to grow and mature."  More than "it's hot and dry."  Yesterday we canned 16 pints of peaches, Veterans by variety, that we picked at Perrydale Farm a day before.  Also did a thorough watering of the lower and upper gardens as the forecast is for another hot dry day, the hottest of the month.  The newly planted black cherry tree looked like it was suffering from the heat and dryness.  I watered it super well and will make that a priority until it looks better or gives up the ghost.

Last week we helped paint some siding for the church.  We worked in the shade of the trees and near an old wooden picnic table.  It was so dilapidated that we didn't dare use it except to set our paint and brushes on it, gently.  Gail and I checked out building a new one either precut or from scratch.  I bought enough lumber for two and built them a couple days ago.  At the final moment of assembly things didn't feel right and for good reason, the seats were too low.  Double checking the plans I discovered my misinterpretation of a vague instruction.  So I made an Adjustment and this evening we painted the underside of one.  They're fully functional and safe but I will always know that again I'm not a clever as I used to be.

Ah yes, and there's the cluck who's been sitting on a clutch of about a dozen eggs.  Gail heard a peep from that direction last evening and this evening we found the eggs abandoned including the sole chick we found.  Mother nature can be quite cruel sometimes.  The successes are beautiful; the failures are sad and tragic.

Totally on another topic: I received an email from the University of Jamestown asking about a gathering of alumni who graduated 50 years ago.  It had been prompted by another inquiry of a classmate.  I responded with some ideas and also send an email to all whose addresses I had.  I received two replies, one aye and one nay, leaving about 48 who didn't care.  It was great to reconnect with the two but otherwise discouraging.  Perhaps with time more may reply; I hope.

I awoke this morning with the attitude that if this were to be a good day I would have to work at it.  It was OK; perhaps I didn't work hard enough.  Or perhaps I didn't let it go and let God take charge.  Tomorrow will be better.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

National Involvement

I would like to think that all Americans are considering their role in the future of America.  I would like to think that they are taking their role seriously considering not only what candidates they like, or who they understand the persons are, but what one might expect might happen in the future under each option.  I would like to think that everyone is looking at the big picture, how we can make life better for persons in America and around the world.  I would like to think that we are thinking about what an ideal country.

I would hope that everyone I meet feels good about themselves and where they live - everyone.  About their next meal and the one after that, about a warm shelter, about their neighbors and security, about their health and its care, about how they believe.  I would hope that honesty abounds and deception is gone.

Believe it or not I remember Adlai Stevenson and Ike at the conventions in the 50's, and many more conventions since then.  Certainly this election cycle is different.  I am so grateful for what each candidate brings to the election process - Trump for exciting the people to get out and play a role in selecting a president, Bernie for pushing processes beyond our imagination and questioning the status quo, and Hillary for bringing decades of experience and breaking the glass ceiling.  I so regret what each brining to the process - Trump for appearing dark and negative, Bernie for going beyond reality and Hillary for bringing decades of negativity.

I suspect that when I get to voting in late October (Oregon votes by mail-in only and ballots come out early) I will be voting for Katianne who is concerned about the services that her blind-deaf parents will lose under one option.  I will be voting for Francisco who died last month after fighting for his life with the aid of the free clinic.  I will be voting for Maria who lost her job, and then her home, making her and her young daughters homeless.  I will be voting for LuAnne, an admission counselor at WOU, whose parents may be sent back to Mexico.  I will be Drew who may have to leave college and look for an entry level job.  I will be voting for Kendall whose wages doesn't give him enough to support his family.  I will be voting for WOU student (I forget her name) whose brother was killed in a mass shooting.  I will be voting for Sgt Issenger who was one of the first to die in Iraq.  I will be voting for Laura, Jary, and many others whose lives may be affected in a major way.  I will be voting for Heba who is afraid to walk down the streets because of her clothing and Francis because of the color of his skin.

Even more importantly I will be for months before the election praying for peace, civility and reasonable dialogue regarding our future.

Friday, July 29, 2016

A Hot Harvest Day

I remember as a youngster reading a single paragraph filler at the end of a story in Reader's Digest that told of a king who was asked if he was happy.  He answered that he could count about five.  I vowed at that time that I would have more than five, in fact I planned to be happy every day.  Not every day has been a "happy" throughout my life but I think that in recent years, essentially every day is a "happy."

Today was an exceptionally "happy" despite the terrible uncomfortable heat and that the electricity was out for several hours this afternoon.  Both Gail and I were home all day.  We worked in the garden this morning before the sun baked the day.  We picked beans, primarily bush beans - the pole beans are not ready, picked peas and pulled the plants and harvested a couple heads of broccoli.  I also mowed the area and set a rigid schedule of watering from the spring.

The beans will continue to produce for weeks into the future.  The peas were past their prime and the harvested peas were overly ripe and many were given to the chickens as they were dry and hard.  The broccoli plants are such but have in many cases already produced a primary head so we're just waiting for secondary heads.  We'll have to wait and see.

This evening after the temperature have ebbed, we blanched the vegetables and froze them.  We will have veggies from the garden at least in a few meals this year.  Tomorrow the temperatures should peak near 80˚ instead of today's 98˚F.  Some pruning of bushes is becoming more important for the next weeks.  For now we're ending another very happy day.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Trees

There's a breeze this morning.  Temperatures are near perfect and sunny.  Forecast will take things into the 90's over the weekend, the first time this month.  Can't say that it's been cooler than normal and it certainly hasn't been hot either.  Since no rain; that's normal.

The plants are just hanging out, no great changes.  Fruits of pears, apples, grapes and wild blackberries are just filling out before ripening.  They say the first peaches have past harvesting and the next batch is yet to come.

Lawns are not growing except for the false dandelions.  There's no reason to mow except for pride, to be proud of the yard before the neighbors and visitors.  The water from the spring is running well and I have to move it location several times a day.  The pond has refilled even with no rain so the spring in the hillside must be producing better that usual.

This year I'm filling a 55-gallon barrel with water, putting it in the scoop of the tractor and watering the trees in the lower field.  It's a sad story but it's still moving forward.  I planted about 90 saplings, mostly from under the tree I think is a California Red Fir and a few that have volunteered around the yard in inappropriate places.  There a larch, a hemlock, a Douglas fir and a couple others.  The sad part is that only about 25 are still alive.  Perhaps they need more water more frequently.  Perhaps transplant shock was too strong.  Whatever, there are more to transplant but I'll wait until fall when the rains return and I will water more diligently.

While I was watering the trees yesterday I looked up and there were some wild turkeys in the labyrinth; four hens and ten chicks.  We have seen three hens and four chicks at other times so we suspect this is another group.  If I were a hunter I'd think that nature is raising a Thanksgiving meal for us.  However, we'll probably buy a turkey from Safeway and let these enjoy their wild free life.

It's a quiet day on the homefront.

Sunday, July 24, 2016



It's 7 o'clock on Sunday morning.  The window are ajar to let in the cool morning air while the drapes are pulled to keep some of the sun's heat out.  The world is mostly at asleep in this neck of the woods.  So listen for a moment.  Nothing.  No manmade disruptions in God's creation.  This morning is goes so far as no rustling in the leaves as the air is calm; not even the songs of the birds who are not up yet.  Just quiet.


Add to the the silent presence of God the visual panorama.  The dark of shade in the depth of the trees accented by a bright almost yellow green from a ray of sunshine sneaking through the branches. Variegated green leaves show themselves in one corner of the view while a dangling willow leaf wiggles all so slightly.  Thin lanceolate leaves poke up among obviates while evergreen needle and scales tower over head, which with its distinctive green shade and each with its unique size.  It a dance of diversity living together.

A single butterfly flutters by.  The bright spot of sunshine moves amid the shadows in the trees.  In its stillness, it is so alive.  It's is God's continuous creation on display.

As the days ages, God's ultimate creation will appear and interact with the rest of creation and themselves.  Showers will run, breakfast will simmer, dishes will clank, voices is sing from ourselves and from electronics, cars will purr, laughter will resound, crying will arise.  All this will escalate to a feverish pitch as the days goes.  People will move on foot and in cars, people will gather to play and work, and worship.  Along God is watching, involved, hoping to be remembered, hoping to get credit for their breathing and living, hoping that all will remember to love, to love God, to love the creation and to love each other.

Now the sun is reaching over the treetops touching the valleys.  Now is the time to join the growing sounds of the day.  Now is the time to continue communion with God and God's creations, especially loving others.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Cool but Warm

While a third of the nation, according to the national weatherpersons, is enduring very hot temperatures, around 100˚ to as much as 120˚, we are embracing 70˚ and some areas are even getting rain.  We're not getting the rain, so I spent the day watering the newly planted black cherry tree and trees, bushes and flowers beyond the reach of the routine watering hose.  It was a great weather day.

Gail picked a bowl of peas and the first bean of the season yesterday.  The melons in the upper garden, the three plants that have survived the rodents, the terrible soil, and the dry conditions, look lush, have been placed in racks and are setting on some fruit.

The day before was the manifestation of long range dreaming and impulsive reactions; we rented a backhoe and dredged the pond, enlarged it and cleared the stream from the pond.  It looks great although I will have to move the debris sitting on the banks of the pond.  By expanding the surface area and depth of the pond, the water level dropped drastically and will have to await a good rain to refill.

I'm watering the grapes this evening as the fruit is developing nicely.  There are more individual fruit set up than any time that I remember.  Hopefully the net will give me an advantage over the birds at harvest time.

This week from the Republican Convention and Don Trump was officially chosen as the nominee for the president of the United States.  Next week is the Democrats turn but before that we have clinic tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Up and Down in the Yard

As we walked into the house yesterday, the aster showed themselves along the walkway.  It's not yet mid-summer yet these fall flowers are blooming.  The pear and apple trees are visibly full of fruit, not full sized and certainly not ripe.  The cherry tree is bare; the birds definitely and clearly won the battle over who would get the cherries this year.    There were two peaches on the counter when we arrived at home,  The house sitters said that the deer got to them the night before.  They were delicious, even if there were only two.  We will go to the local fruit farm and pick some later this week.

Other berry bushes were essentially bare; for the most part those who watched the yard in our absence harvested as they ripened.  The raspberries should produce another crop, maybe the strawberries also.  The marionberries and blueberries are past their prime.  The wild blackberries should be reaching their maturity in the next several weeks.

The garden is has moved its next phase.  Peas are full size and ready for picking, the bean plants are lush but the beans are not ready.  Tomatoes are tall and lush but also short of having anything to eat.  Broccoli heads are ready and were a part of this evening's meal.  Lettuce, well, it's past its prime and time to remove and replant.

The lawn hasn't been mowed for over two weeks and there's no grass to mow, however the dandelions need their heads chopped off.

While there were no deaths in the chicken pen for most of our trip on the last day the peacock was killed.  I built a fire and cremated him this evening.  When I checked for eggs I discovered a clutch of eggs under an araucana.  We will have baby chicks I suspect so I need to figure out how to find the chicken killers.  I did put a smoke bomb down one hole today.  We're have to see what will happen.

Possibly the Last of the Trip

In planning this trip, the horse ride into Bryce Canyon was always the most highly anticipated part.  Preplanning set the ride at 2:00PM on Wednesday so our drive from the Grand Canyon started early and was deliberation, focused and intentional.  Despite the hour change of time not in our favor we arrived in time to eat a sandwich before arriving at the corral.  The head cowboy called families and groups forward and in a very contemplative way named a horse for each rider which we were to remember until another cowboy came by to show us the named horse and help us mount.

This was the first time the girls had been on a horse.  The boys had a lesson and ride as Riley's birthday gift  a year ago.  The thirty or so riders were set onto the trail in a line behind a guide in groups of about eight.  We were the last group which included a newly wed couple from Indiana.  Deona's horse was chosen to be first behind the guide and when her horse moved, turned to follow her face lit up and could be seen across the corral.  It seemed to say, "This thing moves!"

After a few comments guiding us to a safe ride we headed down the trail.  While we were instructed how to stop, go and turn, the horses who do this twice a day on a narrow mountain trail do what they want despite our motions including walking close to the edge.  That wouldn't be so bad since none have ever fallen but periodically they would slip or stumble removing our sense of security.  After four hours of riding, picture taking, funny stories and explanations from the guiding cowboys we found a way to slip off the saddles and try to walk.

Our campsite was KOA a dozen miles away.  The ride had been hot so as we passed a local restaurant we decided to eat out after a swim and shower.  The Arches NP was next.  The route options were a scenic windy route through the eroded pinnacles of dirt and rock or a get there quickly on a 80MPH interstate freeway.  We chose the latter; we'd already seen rocks and narrow roads.

This was the one night for which we had no reservations in a campsite so our first task when we arrived was to search out a vacancy.  We were blessed because at the first closest campground to the Arches entrance we found and claimed the only remaining tent site.  In the Arches we did several walks and saw several of the over 2000 arches in the park.  A special treat was watching four climbers repelled from a pinnacle, right next to the infamous Balanced Rock.  The heat of the day and the boredom of the teenagers kept us from long hikes and so we missed some of the highly photographed arches.

The next morning we made a quick stop in Canyonland before we headed north toward Salt Lake City for the girls' flight to North Dakota and home the next morning.  Dinner was at Perkins and the sleep was in Best Western.  Denvy took the girls to the airport at 4AM before driving to Boise and Keeners with the boys.  On the final day, Sunday, we drove the boys home to Puyallup and ourselves home to Dallas arriving about 10PM.  One of the greatest events in our lives would now live on as a memory.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Delayed Catching Up

Most often there was no cell phone service in the evenings.  During the days I drove and spent time with the grandkids.  Other evenings were late and dark so there was no writing on the blog.  While it's reasonable to suspect that while at the hotel in Salt Lake City, or at Keeners in Boise or at home last evening I could write on the blog but the space in time wasn't there.  So let's try to catch up with a summary.

After twisting through more narrow roads in Yosemite, which the kids playfully pronounced yo-se-mite with a long o and long i, we drove down to Kings Canyon.  Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park have a common border and common Junior Ranger badge which the boys were striving for in each park.  This required that they acquire a workbook for the specific park, do the activities in the book and return it to the ranger at the visitor center to submit the completed workbook and take the oath to support the preservation of the park and its contents.  Dominic and Riley received the badges for five parks and completed the books for several others which they may mail in for the badges.  On the last two days they were scheming about starting a national park club.  They became were involved in the parks.  They love the animals first of all, the touching and feeling of everything, the jumping from rock to rock and the scenery.

Kings Canyon is less known than many of the parks we visited.  It's claim to fame is not animals or trees but the deep canyon with trees and its wilderness characteristic.  It leaves road-bound visitor standing on the edge of a view point in awe but without much interrelationship with its features.  It's also unique in that there is a major contiguous but also a separated finger near Sequoia NP.  After some research we learned that the highest mountain in the contiguous US, named Mt Whitney, at 14,505 feet, is in Kings Canyon National Park but on the east side and we never saw it.

After only a brief view of the Canyon we drove to Sequoia to see the giants.  After seeing the redwoods, the average sequoia was not extraordinary.  Now the General Sherman, the world's most massive and largest tree in the world, about 2000 years old, 119 feet around at the base, 264 feet tall and still growing, that was impressive.  There's a trail to and around the tree which is paved, fenced and quite long and steep so only some of us went all the way down.  For the young athletic types there are branches to the trail in just about every direction.

Back in the van we wound around and among more big trees.  It's always a thrill when one drives between two monster trees that hardly give one the space to get through.  This evening's drive from the Sequoia NP would take us toward the Grand Canyon.  The drive is long with a side stop at my sister's home outside of Flagstaff, so we drove until dark and grabbed a motel for the overnight.  The shower did feel good.

Breakfast was in the motel.  Lunch landed while in Needles, California.  We fueled up, bought several drinks for lunches and decided to fix and eat our sandwiches in the car because there was no shade and even if there had been shade, the temperature of 105˚ was more than comfortable.  That was the hot spot of the trip although our car thermometer registered temperatures in the 90's and 100's several times in Arizona and Utah.

Ruth met us at the side of the road and led us into her home.  The trail wound among grazing cattle and mature but short, about 12-foot, juniper and pinion pine trees.  The house is perched in the hillside overlooking her 40 acres.  I marvel at the house and its self-sufficiency as she has solar cell electricity, gathered rain for her water, solar panels for heating the water, portable propane for additional heat, a waterless toilet and natural temperature control because it's built into the hillside.

The grandkids loved the barren ground between the trees where they could run unrestricted.  They also loved native Americans had lived here hundreds of years ago and pieces of pottery lie everywhere.  Also near the lower edge of her property, where piles of stones, the ruins of structures and home of these earlier inhabitants.  It motivated them to play a "survivor's game" until dusk.  They choose to sleep under the stars on Ruth's stone slab deck that evening.  The adults sat and watched the stars appear as dusk transitioned from civil dusk, to nautical dusk and finally to astronomical dusk and total darkness.

Ruth had provided an awesome supper of spaghetti and salad in the evening and oatmeal with a broad collection of condiments for breakfast.  She joined us for our day at the Grand Canyon and graciously us led us on a hour and a half drive to the park.  The kids thought this would be the highlight of the trip because the Grand Canyon is known by people throughout the world.  Some of the other parks are not even known by Americans.

Certainly the view is not disappointing because it's impossible to imagine anything so grand and massive, 277 miles long, up to 10 miles across at points and about a mile deep.  Those numbers don't come close to describing the grandeur of color and shape.  Pinnacles, gorges, layers, tables, rivers, all create a masterpiece that artist can only attempt to copy and certainly not create.  The first stop on the east end was the Desert View with a stone watchtower and viewing platform.  For the next 25 miles headed west, the road follows the rim with several turnouts for viewing.  We experienced several of them and passed others.  Lunch was at a small museum which housed pottery similar to that which we found at Ruth's.  The museum also led to ruins of earlier native Americans.

After some purchases at the general store we set up camp in Mather Campground.  Campsites were reserved at all narrational parks except the Arches NP which gave us the convenience of knowing that we had a place to stay but also dictated our schedule.  In the end that worked out well.  Our senior passes to the national parks not only gave us access to all the parks free, including the one California state park, but also gave a 50% discounts on the campsites.  Truly in America this is one of the greatest benefits of age.

Next: Bryce, Arches, Canyonland and home

Monday, July 11, 2016

Day Five - Still Catching Up

It was raining the morning we awoke near the coast and redwoods.  We scrambled to get in the car.  We and everything in the tent were dry but the tent was packed wet.  Then we drove through the mountains for three hours to Redding.  Or was it four.  It was long and enlongated by lots of construction.  Gas at Redding and a drive into Yosemite which is a slow windy process.  The campsite was awesome and we managed to get the tent up and dry enough for the next sleeping phase.

Morning was awesome as the sun rays came through tall trees.  The tent was dry and breakfast was oatmeal.  Since the campsite was near the entrance the morning drive gave us the full traditional vistas.  As we rounded one corner the view of El Capitan and Half Dome burst in front of us.  Awesome.  We stopped and camera started clicking.  After several minutes of jumping from rock to rock, Dominic said, "Oh, wow, look at that!"  I guess we weren't aware that he was not in the present. The same happening at the face of El Capitan as we oohed and aahed at the waterfall.

More later; we hitting the road.

Day Five - Moving On

Who would have thought that there'd be no Wi-Fi on the coast of California.  Yosemite, no surprise that there's no Wi-Fi; and Sequoia, no surprise.  And no cell phone service either otherwise I could use my hotspot.  This will be a brief summary.

These National Parks are not close together so there's lots of driving like from Diamond Lake to the Redwoods.  We stopped at our favorite woodworking place just before the California border and the kids climbed through the treehouses.

Finally a romp in the redwoods.  What grand trees, so beautiful in their size and height, soaring far beyond what we can see.  We, mainly the grandkids boucned from rock to rock and stump to stump as they ate their sandwiches.  After some time of stretching the legs and worrying the grandparents about falling off logs or boulders, we hit the ranger station.  Oh, yeah, it's time to buy something; we find a reason later..  Only one stuffed animal during the entire trip but it was the place to survey as soon as we were in the doors.  Oh, but there's no rule about buying stuffed animals as gifts for the parents.  Ah ha, a loophole.

Oh, the ocean is so tempting; the girls had never seen one before.  "It's so big.  I love the waves."  First it was a hike up Fern Canyon, then the beach.  Walking the canyon where some of Jurassic Park and Star Wars was filmed wasn't enough, it had to be run and climbed far beyond where Grandma and Grandpa could see and supervise.  They did eventually return.  At the beach the dress and guidelines were bare feet, shorts and wading only.  Evcn though the water only came to the knees, the splash covered the enough body and Riley was hurting from the cold and wet when we stopped things at 6:30, but he probably thought he had impressed the girls adequately with his energy level.

Did I mention that as we rolled out the sleeping bags the night before we discovered that we had under-planned and under-estimated the warmth of one of the sleeping bags and Gail was very cold that night.  Tonight she and Denvy will trade and he will overdress.  That did work.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Day One on the Road

After lying in bed anxious to start our tour of the National Parks in several Wesstern states, I got up at 5:30 and got the sourdough batter ready for cooking.  After gathering stuff from freezers, refrigerators, pantries, bedrooms and closets we attempted the impossible of getting everything into the van.  At one point Denvy suggested that we draw straws because it seemed as it wee only had room for five.  A little pushing and shoving and putting things on laps and under feet and we were ready for our departure picture.

A freely roaming Oregon white tail met us as we entered the Wildlife Safari about mid-morning.  A well-deserved bathroom stop followed by a tour of the captured creatures and a productive visit to the gift shop with a couple stuffed animals joining our entourage.  The circuit through the park revealed a great parade animals from around the world.  The giraffe and elephants were a great hit but the active bears and bisons kept us well entertained.

Onward and upward we arrived at Crater Lake early evening, in time to enjoy the awesome blue of the lake contrasted with snow and greenery and gray rock.  The ranger's station was closed by the time the shoppers finished their transactions so we found our camp site at Diamond Lake and threw together some food for the evening.  A little playing at the lake, tossing around the football and journaling and by dark we were crawling into the tent.

Good night.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Most Special Day in all of America

Someone was asked, "What's the other name for the Fourth of July?'  The answer was and is "Independence Day," meaning first and foremost that the forefather declared that they were going to be independent of another country's rules and laws.  It's also equaled with freedom.  Here I wonder what we mean.  Free to do whatever we darn well please?  Free from oppression of another?  Free to seek and find happiness and justice equally with others?

It is clear that we are not all free to choose our religion without criticism, or to celebrate our skin color, heritage or language, or to experience health and safety equally, or to find peace in our leadership.  A negative as this may sound, this experiment called democracy is still one of the best adventures mankind and womankind has embarked on.

On this day we stand together, we sing songs about our country, we gather to do what we consider American like hotdogs and watch parades.  We explode with joy in fireworks, we melt with tears in sentimentality, we for one day become one family.

I have a dream: that we remain one; not the same, but one.  That even if we don't agree with our neighbor we support their right to disagree.  I have a dream, that in our differences and diversity we find our strength in kindness, generosity and caring for others.  We have thrown the word "love" around so much that we're not certain what it means, but perhaps if we just focus on unconditionally caring for others, we might get fairly close to genuine spirit of charity.

May I now again pledge my allegiance to this country and right for all here and abroad to be free to love and laugh.

With a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye, I say good night and God bless America, my home sweet home.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

It's Began - Again

The idea saw daylight several years ago; take the grandkids to explore the National Parks of the USA.  Last year we said, "Next year!"  Gradually over months we laid out a route, made reservations, created and checked off lists.  Today the grandsons drove in from Puyallup; in two days the granddaughters fly in from Mandan. The tent is setup with the present two giggling in lieu of sleeping.

Foods are in the freezer and bags in the hallway.  Undies and swimsuits are packed.  The names of the first seen animals are listed in the new journals:  a salamander from our pond, a deer who trotted along side the car as we returned from an outing, nine California quail scurrying in and out of the blackberries in the ditch, wild turkeys mingled among domestic chicken stealing their food, and a chicken vulture circling the raccoon that is no longer killing and eating our chickens and peafowl.

The Fourth is free of obligations and will be celebratory with all the packing complete.  The Fifth, on the other hand, is packed with final preparation: get the rental van, pack the van, meet the girls at PDX, have a pre-trip family reckoning, water the plants, mow the lawn, fill the chicken water barrel.  And get a last sleep in a bed.  At least for the next two weeks.

Did I mention that the boys got a bucket of water from the pond which they poured down the child's slide as a water slide for Sally, the salamander?  They thought it was great fun for them and didn't consider if it was fun for Sally.

And so it begins.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Nippy Morning

At a followup meeting of Relay for Life leaders yesterday the question was asked, "What was the highlight of the Relay."  One response was walking the track during sunrise.   She was so correct.  Summer mornings in Oregon are filled with dynamic colors and lighting as the first rays wind their ways through the trees and over the grasses.  And in these days of hot days the cool morning are so welcome.  This morning was just short of 50˚, a bit nippy without a jacket.

The irises have been cut back and most flowers have turned to seed pods.  The lawns and grassy areas around the house are more weeds and flowers than growing grass; mowing is less critical.  The half inch of rain last week was so beneficial but today there's a need to water plants.  Focusing on the outskirts will be a priority especially newly planted trees and shrubs.  No rain forecasted by the weatherpersons in the media.  I'll check the long range forecast, despite its variability, soon.

The garden is lush with radishes, lettuce and spinach ready for eating.  Peas are blooming and beans are pre-blooming.  Tomatoes and broccoli are presenting themselves with sturdy plants.  Their time will come.  Aah, but the fruit area so enjoyable.  Blueberries are ripening beautifully but not enough to do major picking; enough for a tasty breakfast cereal addition.  Marionberries!  Aah, so good but again about enough to flavor the cereal or pancake.  Wild blackberries are flowering with green small developing fruit.  Strawberries are ripening in stages but not all that plentiful.  Pie cherries are essentially but the birds are winning again; I guess I'd better get to picking.

Time to move the finger tips from the keyboard to the garden and shop.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

One for the Gun Lovers

A good comedian would find to way to write this story so that it's funny.  I'm neither, a comedian or good.

This will be a thrill for those who oppose gun control.  I, an advocate for limiting access to certain guns, discharged a gun this morning and I took the life of a living being.  Over the past several weeks we have lost three peahens and about nine chickens.  Several days ago in the middle of the day I walked into the barn and surprised something that quickly scurried out of the building.  Thinking it might have been the neighbor's cat I continued with my original intent to photograph the wild baby turkeys and three hens that were passing by.  Just then to my surprise and the surprise of the intruder a raccoon came into view about 12 feet away stood up and looked at me.  He (or she) wandered off and I retrieved my gun from the house.

Except for that one time the fowl killer comes randomly in the dark of night.  Since my gun doesn't have night vision, it doesn't discharge numerous shots allowing me to miss and still have a chance to be successfully, and I don't like the idea of sitting up all night, we rented a life trap.  Last evening we set it with the remains of a chicken kill from a couple days ago.  Wondering if I had set the trap properly as I was crawling into bed, I grabbed a flashlight, some pants and headed out the door.  As I came into view of the trap two bright eyes looked at me.  I returned to bed knowing that daylight would come in the morning and I could finish the job then.

So this morning, I placed a single long rifle 22 bullet into the single-shot bolt-action rifle.  I put the barrel through the cage and pulled the trigger.  I thought I had brought a proper tool to remove the shell from the gun but it didn't work so I returned to the shop for a better tool and removed the spent cartridge.

It was all quiet as the sun rose at its designated 5:30 time.  The score was raccoon 12, Denvy 1, but I think I have ended the serial killings in the barn.  Oh by the way, the chicken and peafowl are in a completely enclosed pen with a top and there seem to be no evidence of how the intruder intruded.  With the help of the loader on a garden tractor the raccoon has returned to nature and I am so glad that the government did not take from me my single-shot 22-rifle along with semi-automatic assault guns.  And why would we; we're the government and we're reasonable people electing reasonable leaders.  But that's another story.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Graduation is Here

It's been too long since I last wrote in this blog, so reports on the stages of flowers should be a be jump.  Most spring flowers have done their blooming.  This week the last of the iris blossoms wilted, the ones around the sequoia tree on the edge of the circular driveway, the ones that have thin white petals.  The peonia are in bloom.  While there is one plant near the barn which grows and blooms full and large, there are another dozen on the other side of the road and they grow very meagerly with almost no blossoms.  There is one plant that is going better with several blossoms.

The weather last weekend during the Relay for Life was hot, hitting 100˚ twice.  This affected some of the heat sensitive plants including some of the nice fine grass that I planted in from to the house this spring.  It's brown.  I did a second planting of another type of grass which is coarser and grows faster requiring frequent mowings and it's doing fine.  I've been carefully watering and even threw some more grass seed out in the brown spots.  We'll see.

The blueberry bushes are filled with green berries.  People in the valley are talking about harvesting next week but I think we have a bit more time.  The cherry tree which was covered with small green berries seems to have shed most of them.  The dumper cherry crop has become a sampling.  We've picked several strawberries and the raspberries are on the edge of turning pink.  The pear crop appears to be modest with a spattering of fruit now the size of large marbles.  Several branches on the apple tree have thick clusters.

The squash have broken through the soil but there are no signs of corn.  A big question mark there because I had soaked them before planting and they looked like they would pop up any day.  But nothing.

Peas are starting to blossom, beans are climbing the twine, broccoli both those from seed and those from starts look great.  Other plants is the garden are starting to show also.

After the hot weekend a week ago we have cooled down with forecasted rain.  The rain was a mist and so I'm off to water this morning.  It looks like a perfect day, sunny and mild.

Red Letter Day

We could mark today with a red letter; it is a special day in the yard.  It's not the weather; that's the same as it has been for the last several days and as it will be for several days to come--sunny and gorgeous for a few minutes followed by a cloud, a mist and even periodically a downpour.  And then it starts over again.  It's not the flowers, most everything was passed its prime although one rose bush has blossoms and the peonia continue with a few buds turning into blossoms.  The trees are about the same except for the top of the weeping birch near the front driveway which I topped a couple days along because it was getting too tall for its environment.

It's the fruit.  It's neither the quantity or the quality.  During my early walk around to move the watering hose I picked a couple pie cherries (still a bit tart, first of the season), a couple raspberries (again the season's first, maybe more later today or tomorrow, the first two blueberries and that was stretching their ripeness and a strawberry (we've been enjoying them off the vine for several days now).  The marionberries haven't matured in size or color yet.  Maybe another week.  Fresh berries on the cereal for the next couple weeks and maybe even some for the freezer.

Gail brought in some radishes yesterday, really tasty but really sharp.  The volunteer lettuce plant is about five feet tall; we've nipped the leading buds several times so by now it has a half dozen tops.  The leaves are still fresh, crisp and delicious.  I pick about four or five for the evening meals.

Well, the corn has never sprouted, nor have the potatoes from Rick Ernst but maybe later for them.  The squash, pumpkin and watermelon have sprouted but seem a little slow this week.  I'll up their watering schedule.  Peas are to the top of the three-foot fence and putting out blossoms.  Beans are healthy and other random veggies are coming along.  It's an average year, some things doing great, others OK and others still not at all.

The clouds are covering the sun and the shadows have vanished.  It's time to work the yard before the shower hits.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Sadness in the Beauty

We received the forecasted soaker over the weekend, better than a half inch.  I planted the corn in the rain Sunday, put up the deer fence on Monday, and sprayed the weeds on Tuesday, latest warm dry day.  It was a great time to pull weeds as the ground was wet and the weather warm.  Did the edges around the driveway and the rock garden by the gazebo, as well as mowed around some edges.  We could be mowing everything again; it's the season when grass grows a mile a minute.

The peas are about 4 - 6 inches tall but nothing that was planted on Saturday has broken the surface yet.  We had a couple leaves of fresh lettuce from the volunteer plant that appears in the garden.  Nature does a better job of growing things than I will ever do.  The volunteer potato and onions are looking great as well.

California poppies are blooming, have been for several days.  Also a couple peonia have blossomed, the one near the barn is great much like last year and one in the row has dominated the poppies and iris and bluebells and weeds to reach the blooming stage.  Most of the others are surviving by the skin of their teeth.  It's not my big success story.  But I keep hoping.

Why the title?  Amid the trips to the yard and garden, we have focused on the death of a dear friend in Alaska and the impending death of another friend and neighbor here in Oregon.  In retrospect the spring goes like this.  My sister's father-in-law who was almost 100 died this spring.  My brother's ex-father-in-law died earlier this month.  Two classmates from high school died this past month.  A dear dear friend who traveled to Africa with us and also joined us in several other service trips suddenly died a couple months ago and now another service trip co-traveler is days from death.  Another neighbor, in her nineties, died a couple months ago.  It's almost more than one can handle at one time.

But the trees are green and the roses are red, so I say to myself, it's a wonderful world.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Planted the Beans

It's been another day over 80˚; A record number since April first, 13 so far, another forecasted for tomorrow, then more average temps.  It was a good day to plant more garden, no meetings or other events.  So the beans were planted as were some spinach plants, some broccoli seeds and some onion starts.  It was a great motivation to mow and weed wack around the raised beds.  Looks good.
  It's a time to mow some of the rest of the yard also, mostly the lower part under the oak tree and around the barn.  The blue barrel that I set up two days ago seems to be working or at least the chickens have water every time I check them.

A couple California poppies blossomed a couple days ago.  The hedge with its clusters of tiny white flowers have lost their blossoms.  So I trimmed that section this evening.  Then I mowed until it was to hard to see, about 8:30.  That's the beauty of summer in Oregon, or Alaska, the days are long and darkness come later and later.  That was one of the things that I found unpleasant in Tanzania which is near the equator, darkness almost comes about 6:00pm throughout the entire year.  No real seasons as I have known them.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Peas Seedlings Surfaced

Sunday - today's Tuesday - the first peas showed themselves as they broke through the surface of the garden.  Time to adjust the fence for them to climb.

The lilac bush by the house was overwhelming the pathway and its blooming was finished so the outer branches were trimmed several days ago, probably Friday.  While the trimmers were out several other bushes were cut back to their reasonable size.

It's time to cover the blueberries to keep the birds from grabbing the fruit  as it ripens before I get to the berries.  The strawberry plants are very big and the fruit is setting on.  Someone gave me some local strawberries Sunday but I suspect ours are still down the road.

The first egg from a peahen showed up Sunday morning.  The chicken are laying well for spring at about nine eggs a day.  I suspect that at least one chicken hen and peahen will become motherly and decide to set sometime this summer, but not yet.  Good.

There's been no rain for over a week now although some days have been either overcast or partly cloudy.  This morning the sun is the only thing to be seen in the sky with sunrise temperatures to be in the 40's and forecasted temperatures to be near 80.  Time to plant more garden.

Time to get going.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Fauna of Nature

I'm on my way to the Portland airport this morning to retrieve Gail from her stay with North Dakotan grandchildren, teenagers at that.  Before that trip there are the critters to appreciate.

While watering the plants in the front of the house I heard the goggle of a wild Tom turkey.  They are the latest of regular visitors to the yard.  Tail up and fanned he was wandering around amid his harem of about a half dozen hens.  They come through about every other day, or at least that's how often we see them.  Instead of the typical cock-a-doodle-doo in the morning, or in our case, that along with a yelp from the peacock, we are blessed with a trialogue among a rooster, a tom and a cock, each saying their piece in turn and none listening to the others other than to outtalk them.

The bird feeder was low, so they received a refill - on the house so to speak.  The humming bird feeder also needed a refill, again on the house.  There must be more wild food in the surrounding woods as we don't see as many birds and the refills are less frequent.  Early this spring it appeared that there were as many as eight to ten humming birds and dozens of different seed eaters.  The sapsucker ignores the seeds but peppers our young tree is little holes.

A momentary interlude:  I was and am hearing a sound in the foyer that I don't normally hear.  Maybe it was the dog scratching on the rug at the front door trying to arrange it to be more comfortable.  As I walked toward the door I realized the sound was coming from inside the wood stove.  So now I get to invent a way of removing a bird from the stove without letting it fly around the house.  More on that later.

The chicken left us a dozen fresh eggs this morning.  The peahens have not started laying yet although the cock is trying to do its part, tail high in the air.  Dr Skittles and Toby, the feline of the community joined me as I placed their food in the dish on the table in the barn.  They are barn cats; there are not house cats.  They affect my eyes with itching and swelling.  Sheba, of course, received her morning meal first thing.  She will be glad to hear that she can ride along to get Gail this morning.

No deer this morning; that's not unusual as it seems like there's about a 50-50 chance of seeing them every other day.  When we see them and smile they're on the other side of the fence.  We don't smile when they in the front yard or when we find the tops of flowers eaten off.  They're very good at that.  I removed the protective fences from around the tulips and bluebells as they have more or less completed their cycle of blooming.

Remember the rose that was showing color a couple days ago; it's in full bloom today - yellow.  And the population of blooming iris have doubled.

Off to the airport.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Where to Start

This blog started years ago so asking a "Where to Start" seems unnecessary and even out of line.  The university and school district set the opening date, the teachers start the term with introductions, explanations of the class and the beginning of the text.  Are do they?  There are prescribed starting for some events.

I've been thinking for years about noting and recording what events in nature occur on what dates.  When did the first daffodil bloom?  When were the different fruit trees most susceptible to good pollination?  And what was the weather at that time?  Or the number of bees heard and seen at that time?  How much rain did we get in April?  Or May?

On what day do I start that journaling?  January first, a day arbitrarily chosen in continuous cycle?  The first day of winter or summer, dates set by natural phenomena?  Or my birthday, May seventh; why not?  Or just when I have the whim to do so?

Perhaps the last option is most organic and natural for me personally.  So today is the day.  Today has another feature we can build on; I planted the peas, the first seeds in the garden.

Spring has been atypical so far.  We have shattered temperature records several days reaching 90 degrees far before ever before.  Plants, weeds, flowers, and trees are all following suit; they seem early.  The hot days tempt gardeners to start gardening and even set tomatoes out, but wise gardeners know that cooler weather and even frost can still come later this month.

Today is May first, called May Day by many and a national holiday in Russia.  After two snaps of super warm temperatures, the last three days have been cool, overcast and with small rain showers.  Yesterday began a warmer stretch leading to about 80˚F today and warmer tomorrow followed by a forecasted week of 70's and warm showers.

The daffodils have done their annual task, they've bloomed and gave room for other flowers.  The tulips weren't far behind although I saw a fresh bloom yesterday.  Forget-me-nots are everywhere and are getting tall and spindly.  Lilacs too have passed their peak.  I remember Granddad Henry Sax wearing a lilac cluster to church on Father's Day in mid-June.  They didn't even wait for May Day or Mother's Day this year.  Irises started showing their colors about a week or so ago and are going gang-busters now.

It was several weeks ago that the fruit trees took turns going through their spring ritual of full bloom hoping and waiting for warmth and bees to help pollinate the flowers.  The Queen Anne cherries are small, about the size of a mature cherry pit, but visible and green.  At close observation one can spot some bulging ovaries on the pear trees.  At least one Oriental pear is the size of my thumb tip.  Blueberries are also visible but hardly exceptional.  The Saskatoon blueberry bushes were covered with blossoms, and there seem to be some developing ovaries but they've not done well in the past so I'm not overly optimistic.  The strawberry plants are lush and I'm hoping for a respectable showing to add to the breakfast cereals.

The peonia are up and waiting for ants to come and help open their tight buds.  Roses are out in Monmouth and out here just close enough to blooming that one can see the color.  Hopefully we have enough fences and wires around them so we can enjoy them visually instead of the deer for a snack.