Thursday, May 29, 2008

It's Looking and Sounding Like a Bird Refuge!

Dean has been feeding the birds and they seem to like it A LOT! This is right off the deck in the back of the house. The finches like the black sunflower seed better than the niger thistle, though........And do they ever sing for us. This little guy (girl?) went on for the longest time.
This one and it's mate were chasing each other along the fence - I tried to get both of them, but shooting out of Dean's office window has its limitations..........A while back, I made a bunch of bluebird houses - with Dean's help, of course. We saw bluebirds last year, but none so far this year. The bluebirds like small holes, according to what I've read - 1 1/4" diameter. Dean enlarged the holes on some of the houses, but not this one. This bird kept trying and trying to get its chubby little body through that small hole
And finally managed to get in. I was worried that the mommy bird wouldn't be able to go in and out very easily, so Dean went down and enlarged the hole on this one, too. The birds came back to the house, so they weren't too bothered by the activity.
This house is just outside Dean's "office" (computer room.....) and I've been taking pictures out the window. This looks like the bird is on its back? Not sure - interesting position anyway
Here is the pair - one on top of their house, one putting grasses inside. I'm sure that the one on top is telling the other one how to put the grass in correctly
It's been raining the past few days and I'm liking it. We got .30 in the last day - we need it. Dean contributes to a program that documents rain in micro climates. Every morning, he reads the amount and enters it into a website database along with general comments about the weather. He is enjoying it and I like knowing the weather history. The newspapers and television weather generally report for Redmond or Bend, but our information out here is usually quite different. We are generally warmer in the winter and get less rain/snow. Right now, Bend has just over 2" of rain for the calendar year - normal for this time is over 5".

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Election Night - Crooked River Ranch Style

So, we went to the Big Dog Saloon for the big election night party. Whoop whoop! It was really crowded - for the Big Dog, which has a capacity of somewhere around 20-25. It was too chilly and windy to sit out on the patio like we had planned, so we crowded around indoors. Here are a few of the happy people just before the returns started coming in. Ross brought in his guitar and collection of harmonicas and a couple of other guys happened to have their guitar/harmonica with them, so there was an impromptu jam in the corner. We drank our beer and listened to music. What better way to spend election night?
Gloria, our chief Obama organizer, and a couple of friends talking over the results.
The official tally of those in attendance. And we all got along - how about that!
There were some races that I wasn't happy with the results, but quite a few went like I wanted. Sam Adams and Kate Brown, for example. Our local school bond passes - that is good because they need another high school - the current Redmond HS was built for 1200 and has over 2000 students crowding the hallways. Y'all know how I feel about schools...........
The weather today is quite blustery again - not nice to work outside, but I helped Dean cut some firewood that Bill had brought to us last weekend. He (Bill) has been working in the valley again and comes home with surprises once in a while. Thanks, Bill!

Monday, May 19, 2008

We went to the "ranch" limb dump to get some chips for the paths around the raised beds. It is open for people to take their yard debris, no garbage. At the end of the season, they bring in a huge chipper and mulch everything, then give it away the next year. We made the mistake of picking a windy day to do this, so we ended up not getting much this load because all the dust was blowing as we loaded it. We'll get more next time, though, as it works well at holding down the weeds.
The next big project was refinishing the railings on the deck. The deck itself is Trex (we splurged on this, but with the low humidity and strong sun, we figured it would pay in the end....), but the railings are cedar and we didn't reapply the preservative last year like we were supposed to :( so had to sand it all down and do it all over again. Dean got a sprayer, though, and it went a lot faster this time. The white thing in the photo below is an old shower curtain liner - stapled it to a board and I held it up to protect the deck and the house while Dean sprayed.
We also taped around the posts and put down some old packaging paper from when the beams were delivered to protect the Trex.
This is a demo photo - I would normally be holding up the shower curtain, but couldn't take photos while I was doing that, so....... Also did the gates - this is the one to the back and the garden area.
More of the early irises are blooming - the darker yellow ones are miniature, I think - quite a bit smaller than the others.
And the veggies are coming along nicely - this is broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.
So, that's it from sunny and HOT Central Oregon. Other than the above - I have been working on my sermon - so, Becki, that's why the updates have been slow. I'll let you know how it went - after it's over!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

It's all About Obama!

So, we got our tickets yesterday - left this morning at 7:45AM - probably a bit too late (my fault - Dean wanted to leave at 7:30....) got to the location around 8:45 and stood in line for an hour and a half before we got to the door. Now, the tickets said no bags, no signs, but did NOT say no water bottles, but my new expensive ($4.) one was not allowed, so I left it outside (and it was there when we got out :)) Went through security check - like at the airport - and headed in to find a seat. Some guy called us over and put a little star on our collar and told us we would be sitting behind the podium. Say what?????? We went in the gym (event was at Summit HS) and another person led us to the other end to a "special" roped off area and we sat 3 rows back. How sweet it is! I suppose we were chosen because of our age or something - demographics - but, hey - it was cool. After the student body president and a local state senator, Ben Westlund (neat guy) spoke, Myrlie Evers Williams came out. What a really impressive lady she is. Medger Evers' widow, but a civil rights leader in her own right. And, at 75 years young, she is amazing. She introduced the man - Barack Obama! My old camera didn't do him justice, but it was pretty nice to get close enough to get photos. In this one, I am sure that he is looking directly at me........
He spoke for quite a while, then took questions, which was pretty neat. There were good questions from the audience and he gave very complete answers. As he left, he went around the perimeter shaking hands. I wasn't able to push my way up to the front, but I enjoyed checking out the crowd reaction. When he was close enough, I tried the flash - I like the effect. About this time, my batteries said bye-bye. Then he looked right at me, but no more photos!
So, that was pretty much the day. We went to Parrilla Grill for fish tacos - the best around - and did a wee bit of shopping. A long day - I'm ready for a nap!

Friday, May 9, 2008

It's all (almost) about the plants

Thought I would show you a few of the interesting examples of flora that we have growing on our place. This is comfrey and we are allowing it to take over the hill beside the house. Actually, we are encouraging it by digging up the large plants and dividing them. It is fun to watch it get big - probably 4' high - and get it's nice purple flowers. It grows VERY fast. Then it kind of wilts back, so we cut it way down and it grows up big again. We can do this 2 or 3 times during the summer. The bees and hummingbirds love the flowers and the trimmed leaves make great compost and/or mulch. Nutritious to the soil. This comfrey came to us a couple of years ago when my good friend, Linda, spent the summer with us. She took a trip up to Selah, Wa. to see another friend, Sharon, who, among other things, is an herbalist. She uses the comfrey in her healing salves. Linda also brought back many other plants - some made it and some did not. We do have lots of lambs ears placed around the place - the bees also love it. The cages finally came off the trees and bushes (don't tell Dean I said that word - he keeps saying that there will be no bushes on his property.......) This is curly willow from the tree in our front yard in Vancouver (where we moved from 3 years ago). It started out as a branch about 3' long which lived in a bucket until we got the yard in - so for about a year. Once it got in the ground, it really took off, as you can see. Each generation is less "curly" but they are still nice trees and we're going to take a few more cuttings from this one now that we don't have to cage everything. Note Abby on "her" lawn. It was a pretty warm day and she like the lawn because it is cool on her tummy.
This strange thing - I don't have a name for it. It is a sedum of some kind, I think, and one of the few things that the deer won't touch. A lot of people have it in their yards around here for just that reason. That, and it self seeds, so you better like it once you get some! Luckily, we do like it.
And last, but not least, I have some early blooming iris. Of all the iris I have in the yard, these are the only ones blooming. For you folk in the "valley" or west of the mountains, or Virginia or California, I should remind you that our season is much later than yours. I was in the "valley" over the weekend and WOW! all the leaves and blooms were amazing. That is one thing that I miss about being over there.
So, last weekend, I was fortunate to be involved in the Walk to Emmaus in Vancouver. It was an especially good walk, I think. After 3 nights of little sleep and no shower (I did clean up some before I went....), I had to be in Salem on Sunday afternoon to receive the very first Certificate of Laity Theological Education from Northwest House of Theological Education. I was honored and proud. I have to tell you a little story which topped off the weekend. My friend from school, Mary Anne, had spoken of her partner, Katie, but I had never met her. Turns out, I had known Katie 40 some years ago and we had lost track of each other as so often happens. Such a small world it is. We had fun catching up and I'm looking forward to getting together again soon. They are headed to Berkley for school, so maybe it will be an excuse for a road trip...........hmmmmm.
And now, back to the yard work.
Later, peeps

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

OK - I'm embarrased!

It has been waaayyyy to long since I have posted and y'all are probably giving up on me, right?
Well, here goes - the "catch up" - I'll spread it over a couple of days so you have something to read, OK?
This is what we have been working on the past few weeks - a fence. Mostly for the garden area in back, but we decided to bring it up front, too, so we can have some real flowers in front. Pretty much the only ones the deer won't touch are daffodils, poppies, and iris. God made many more flowers than that and we would like to see some of them - hence, the fence.
Here is Dean preparing to install the gate in back. Abby doesn't get it yet that she won't be able to come and go as she pleases any longer.....
And this is why the fence is going in. These cute little (?) hoof prints are all over around the garden area. As a matter of fact - they're all over the yard. I don't mind the little dears (deers....) munching on the weeds, or the lawn. But they can't have my veggies!
Of course, the bad part about the fence is that we won't be able to see this any longer - right outside the window in the front yard. Note the wire cages around the plants - they can go away now.Here is the first veggie plot to be planted - with cold loving crops like spinach, lettuce, and peas. We're using the "lasagna" style gardening method which we used with much success in Vancouver. Compost rototilled into the local soil (er, sand) then a layer of good soil (NOT from our property....) topped with several layers of newspaper, then followed with bark chips to hold it all down. I then planted the seeds in a trench through the newspapers and watered. Note the fancy temporary setup for watering with the soaker hose. The newspaper eventually decomposes and will be tilled into the soil for next years garden. Works quite well for holding the weeds down and keeping the moisture in. Little sprouts are already coming up, so glad we got the yard deer-proofed.