All posts by janeviehl.com

Western Screech Owl

Didn’t mean to startle you, but don’t worry. He’s about as big as a robin, hunts at night. This image is from Animal Spot, courtesy of Google, and he’s the one we’re hoping will move into the box we hung in one of the oak trees just behind the backyard fence. Here’s how that happened:

That’s Mitch, saving Larry the necessity of working 10 feet above ground with a ladder. Whew!

But now a little quiz: What word describes the relationship between this owl and the oak tree?

Mutualism, Parasitism, Commensalism, or Predation?

The answer is Commensalism (we all knew it wasn’t predation, right?) Commensalism applied here means that the owl derives benefit from the tree, and the tree neither gains from nor is harmed by the owl. Learned a new word!

I found this on a site called Brainly, which is pretty cool when you don’t feel like asking Google every last thing.

A little time off, and we spent a morning at the dentist, got our teeth cleaned, and kept going on to Portland. As this was a Tuesday, we had the good fortune to enjoy Tuesday Tunes at Mirabella’s Bistro, guests of Vik and Gordon that evening. And on to hear a talk by Molly Gloss. I had known Molly years ago and loved the chance to catch up. If you haven’t read her books yet, get going. Start with The Jump Off-Creek and go from there. For some reason I hadn’t read her Dazzle of Day, but when, in her talk, I learned that it was a novel featuring Quakers in space, I sent for the book the morning I got home. From time to time, I talk to my sister Mary, herself a Friend, on the subject of Quaker philosophy and practice. So far she hasn’t kept me up to speed on their activity in space. I will let you know.

You all knew we are going to raise some chicks for our flock. We stopped in at WilCo the next morning to find and purchase a Starter Kit, which would provide some housing, water and feed dispensers, and a stand for a heat lamp. Fortunately we decided to go home and set up before selecting our new little residents.

Fortunately, because the starter kit was pretty lame. We realized that we could use a stock tank for the base instead of the kit, but the only place we could site this great awkward thing was in the garage. So my little car gets bumped outside for the duration.

Larry cobbled together the post, took the heat lamp from the greenhouse, and put the Starter Kit back into the car for its return to WilCo when we picked up the chicks the next day. Here what that looks like:

We’re advised to hold them every day, to establish our ability to hold them when we need to when they are adults. (Just try to catch Gracie. Guess she didn’t get cuddled as a baby.)

These are about a week old, and include two black, one speckled, and one red breed. Sidebar: it was fascinating to watch them as they were put together from differing tanks at WilCo. One immediately began to peck at and chase the others. Guess she’ll be the boss lady. The little Rhode Island Red has apparently been assigned the bottom rung of the ladder, and often goes off and takes naps away from the others. Hmm. A week old and they know to do this! Does it remind you of people, for example?

Last time I mentioned the Corvallis Community Thrift Shop. Yesterday I took some items over and met Bonnie there. She took my stuff, and when I apologized that Great Aunt Clara’s tea pot had not been polished, she laughed and informed me that unpolished silver is now a “thing.” Awesome. Who ever thought of that one? An influencer somewhere on Instagram or X or? Seriously. That’s brilliant. Women everywhere thank you. “Don’t polish that, you’ll ruin it!”

She went on to talk about the carved figure of an Indian that had washed up in the shop. A volunteer at the shop is a member of one of the local Tribes, and she had said that the figure must not be sold. It was highly disrespectful, and it should be burned. Bonnie volunteered to take the thing to her home, from where she’d find someone with a burn pile who could take it on. That’s where we come in. Of late, we have many, many burn piles.

Not up to me to judge what may or not be respectful in this case, but if burning is the appropriate disposition of this guy, we can only oblige. Someone has spent hours carving that head-dress, that sad face, and I wouldn’t suppose it was in order to laugh. Or so I hope. Anyway:

R.I.P.

See you next time! 😊 Ha! Wanted to see if my blog would accept emojis. Guess so.

APRIL

Larry cooks dinner. Gotta love it! This beauty is chicken thighs. Having overnighted in white wine, they were sauteed along with the endive. He added a chopped salad? Oh, maybe I made the chopped salad. Anyway, delicious! I always thought endive was pronounced “en-dive,” right? But learned from one of my more sophisticated friends that it is correctly pronounced “on-deev.” You can decide for yourself . . .

In farm news, the cows are back. Probably at least 50, yearling steers, chewing down the westside pastures up to and around the barn. I’m glad to have them back, but it does give me pause when I want to take my morning walk down the road. They see me coming and rush over to the fence, then start to follow, moo-ing, plainly wanting something from me. Whatever that might be, I don’t have it. Out? They just want out? I do think that, when they see a person, they believe that change is coming. And they are certainly eager for it.

We’re about to make the leap into raising chicks. Gracie-the-chicken has been living alone for several months now, and although she faithfully lays her egg every day, I’m sure she’d like company. She needs her flock. To this end, we need to improve the environment where the birds will be safe. This means tackling the run, which is lumpish, weedy, impossible to mow (must be weed-whacked) and, acutally, ugly.

So Mitch is here today. He wrestled the rototiller around in there yesterday, is raking it into smoothness today, and will help plant lilacs along the west boundary for shade, and then build a cage for the young birds when they’re old enough to be outside but still need protection from Gracie, if she doesn’t get broody and imagine that they’re hers. Could happen, we’re told.

So what have I been doing while Larry is farming, and cooking dinner? I’ve been struggling to dispose, one way or another, of the baggage we’ve been hauling around all these years. Not just from our lives, but those of several generations back:

You know the kind of stuff I mean. The tea and coffee service from Great Aunt Clara. Cut glass pitcher. Sterling silverware. Mom’s diaries. Larry’s and my high-school annuals? All those photos! Twin bed sheets and blankets. A roasting pan for a twenty-pound turkey. Okay, easy. Donate this stuff!

Last night we went to a meeting for One Hundred People Who Care About Corvallis, and heard about the Community Thrift Store. They take everything, and the proceeds go back to the community in the form of grants to various local NGO’s. Open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8 to 6. Yes they’ll take my old Nikon camera. That sweater I knit but haven’t worn since Jenny was a baby.

Jenny successfully divested her family’s dining-room set, a grand piano(!) and other treasures, with the help of on-line markets when they moved to their new house. Even got a little cash for it. Maybe a little easier when you live in a huge city, but maybe that’s just an excuse.

And now it gets a little harder: What about my MFA thesis? “Who are these minor characters and what are they doing in my novel?” The vase etched with Larry’s name, presented on retirement from Columbia Management Company. The framed illustrations I did for the children’s book which never got published? The children’s stories I wrote but never submitted. Don’t think the Community Thrift Store is the answer here. But still. Throw them away?

I don’t know why my mom hung onto her diaries. Sister Martha keeps a daily journal of her every day’s life. Don’t know what Mary is up to, but she has a lot to write about, if she isn’t. And isn’t this blog a kind of diary? Hmm. I guess so. But. Ha! “But” means I’m about to argue my own position. See, I mean to entertain you with this record of old people who take up farming. I don’t think Mom had that in mind. Nor does Martha. But, if I don’t get around to tossing my MFA thesis, kids, just do it.

Changing the subject: About the new truck? We’d said we wanted Grandson Will to be in charge of naming the vehicle, and he obliged with the name Bob Junior. We’ve shortened it to L’il Bob, which sounds more down country. Larry says it isn’t a farm truck because it isn’t dented, rusted, dirty, but it’s getting a farm-truck name anyway.

Tonight we had the pleasure of Face Timing with David and Caroline. They’re in Wanaka, New Zealand, it being Friday afternoon where they’re living, Thursday evening here. We get used to it. Caroline is still recovering from a ferocious bout with Covid, but is up and around a bit. We had a long discussion about their plans, which more or less boil down to “we don’t know.” Apparently they can live in both NZ and the US alternately, so long as they don’t trigger some clock ticking with regard to which state gets to tax them.

Tomorrow, I plan to start a knitting project — a sweater for a baby boy. I love this! I love to knit, especially things tiny enough to be completed within the space of, say, a couple of good novels I’ll listen to on Audible while I work. This is for the expected grandchild of one of Allison’s great friends. No, you don’t know her and neither do I, and it doesn’t matter. I wonder. Maybe someday, in some future, a woman somewhere will be wondering if she should just keep this cute little blue sweater or take it to a neighborhood thrift shop. I hope so!

MARCH 2024

If you were with me last time, you may remember that we were pleased to be contributing to the well-being of the red-breasted sap sucker Mitch found in the trees down by the barn. Hmm. See photo:

“Sorry to say that your tree probably can’t survive this,” Darren, the arborist-guy at Shonnards Nursery, told us. “That’s a sap sucker’s work.” But this tree isn’t down by the barn. It, and the other two similarly afflicted Mountain Ash, are right up in the front lawn. Well. What to do? First we’ll probably do nothing. It will have to be up to the trees’ own defenses. Here’s what Google has to say on the subject: The mighty Mountain Ash tree is the tallest flower in the world. Native to Tasmania and Victoria and soaring to heights of over 100 metres, they are the second tallest tree species in the world. The tallest flower in the world? Guess we’ll hope for the best.

See this guy? It came down in the recent ice-storm, crushing the fence and blocking the road:

I loved to walk down and see this stump. Just the power and beauty of the thing. Obviously, we had to have help clearing it, and the others, from the fence and road.

But damn. No-one consulted me, they just hauled their equipment in and got to work, and took the stump with them. Of course they did, who would care about the dumb stump, and anyway they would take it to the chippers who would grind it up and it would be useful in all sorts of applications. Wonderful.

So, trees. This morning, Ryan (cow-guy) sent Keaton over to survey the damage to the all the fences. He’ll come back next week with appropriate machinery to clear the fallen trees from the Eastern pasture and re-wire the hot line. I’ll be happy to see the cows come back, and don’t have any particular fondness for any of the fallen timber down there. He’s also going to install opposing gates so that Ryan and crew can move the animals from one side of the driveway to the other. I wish you could be here sometime to watch the cattle drive! Wild-wild-West.

What else is new? This:

Yep. The white one (Bob) had been seriously underperforming for months, refusing to start, for example, and Larry had been all over CarMax to find a replacement. Then this weekend we were on an errand in town and had the bright idea to scan the local dealers, and here this little beauty was. Dodge Ram 1500 for those of you who might know what that even means. 2015, and perfect, inside and out. Yes, it’s littler than Bob, but considerably younger (Bob was a 2002, 187,000 miles). We’re waiting to hear from Will, grandson who named Bob, to see if he has any inspiration for this one. I’ll let you know, but apparently Will is somewhere in Europe on Spring Break, so it may be awhile.

Yawn. Not enough sleep last night. Larry’s in the kitchen baking bread. Don’t you love it? I sure do!

But back to a little story: He, Larry, had gone to a meeting of the Bee-Keepers Association the other evening, and didn’t notice until he got home that his phone had apparently jumped ship somewhere while he was gathering stacks of bee info from the table on his way out. We tried calling the phone, but whoever had it didn’t answer. Next morning we got on our computers and located the number of the man who had run the meeting, and from him, did get the name and number of the guy who picked it up. Of course, the phone is locked, so nothing that man could do but wait. We drove out to retrieve it, and had a nice conversation. He asked me if I’d read my blog that morning — what? No, I don’t usually re-read after the first day to see if there are comments. He said that in looking up “Viehl” which was all he had, he’d come across the blog and had commented his contact info there. Didn’t see it, but I’ve been through several updates and will have to see if there’s something I can do to facilitate comments at this point.

Larry’s garden is up and running. Cabbage, peas, onions, potatoes, lettuce all planted and up. He has a light installed in the greenhouse, and it’s on automatically until 10:00 every evening. It’s fun to see it after we turn off the inside lights to head for bed. Sweet. Oh, and the fennel is planted, Larry has commented in passing.

We’re planning to start a new little chicken flock in a couple of weeks. Walking up the road the other day, I saw Gracie wildly squawking and beating her wings, safely in the run. But as I got near, I saw a cougar? bob-cat? mountain lion? standing at the fence. Seeing me, he took himself off across the orchard, leapt up onto a post and so out into the woods. Obviously, he who’d taken our other two. Poor Grace was much upset and took herself into the coop for the rest of the day. She’s been laying every day, now, bless her heart, and already we have more eggs than we need. But a flock is more than one, and she misses the others to boss and scold and teach their place. We’ll do what we can.

Dinner tonight? Pulled pork enchiladas. Courtesy of our last visit to Costco, where we’d acquired a 2#package of the pulled pork. Also picked up a stack of corn tortillas. In our freezer I found a half-pint of tomatilla sauce, made either at the inspiration of, or recipe for, from Tom a year ago. Never made it before and hope it will stand in as enchilada sauce. Oh, btw, we divided the 2 pounds of meat into four packets and will proceed with our usual m.o. of making several batches from the first half-pound, which will last us until the next full moon, or the anticipated eclipse of the sun. How it goes in Chez Viehl.

Bon appétit, and see you next time.

THE LORD GIVITH . . .

You know the rest. But first:

Yes! Friday afternoon, on our return from Portland, we heard Goldie singing the “I laid an egg” song. First time! This chicken is she who has the charming voice of a rooster with a sore throat, but still. I’ve learned to trust this song, and there they were. Two eggs! One crushed, but one lovely specimen. Of course, they might have been courtesy of Grace, but that song? On Saturday we found another, and are hopeful that the long pause in production is over.

Mitch came over on Saturday to help Larry with the tangle of downed trees by the barn. He’s a wizard with the power saw, and the boys spent the morning lumber-jacking. Results:

More firewood and several huge burn/chip piles of branches. They left three stragglers standing because of the red breasted sap sucker Mitch id’ed working the trees.

And now we come to the second phrase in the title’s quote: He taketh away. I, having spent the morning doing inside chores, opened the door to the storage space in the garage, and found the pipes for the tankless water-heater happily dripping. The floor flooded, along with the stash of exotic alcohol (what is Manzilla La Gitana and why do we have it?) Costco supplies of paper towels, and etc.

I immediately turn this sort of emergency over to whatever men may be on hand, and in this case, there were two of them available. They did what they could, turned off the system, helped move all of the sopping etcetera out into the main body of the garage, thereby blocking access to refrigerator and freezer, of course, and went off to move the bee hives, or whatever else they had been doing. Sigh. It’s Saturday. The plumber’s shop is closed. They will put us on the list for Monday morning. Can I call this an emergency? Yeah, no. We will just do without hot water for a day or so. Didn’t we just have a water emergency a couple of months ago? We’re fine.

Backing up, we had spent a couple of days in our apartment in Portland, and I was able to spend time with Chicks at a happy hour and movie. Our designer had scheduled a crew to hang our “art” which had been in storage, and it was fun to revisit the old favorites. Not all of our collection will work in this new space, so we’ve brought a few things back to the farm to enjoy here. And now I’m back to where the Lord givith:

For some month I’ve been unable to find a book that I loved. Didn’t like Colleen Hoover’s It Ends With Us, Kristin Hannah’s The Women, Jilly Cooper’s 915 page epic Riders (actually read all of that one as it’s so famous). Anyway, there, in Portland, was a cardboard box of my books from grad school in North Carolina. My books! Andrea Barrett, Rick Bass, John Barth, Charles Baxter! Barrett and Baxter were both on the faculty of my school, and all were examples of great writing to study. OMG. I’ll be good for months. Years. Yes, of course, I will have read them earlier. No worries.

Now I’m back up to the present. The weather is lovely, the daphne is blooming and that lovely scent fills the room with clippings. The daffodils are in bloom. I have a massive week-whacking chore waiting in the chicken’s run, but can’t do that without the man here to start my f-ing machine. The power cord of which is built for longer, stronger arms than mine, so oh well. Where is he? you may ask?

He has driven the truck, which happily started this morning, off to the recycling stations around town, to Wilco for more chicken feed, to Safeway for sundries, and should be home in time to take me out to lunch at his golf club. Some of the things you can’t/don’t want to do when you have no hot water: take a shower. Wash your hair. Run the dishwasher. Yes, I can still cook, but am laughing at how many times I turn the handle for water and nothing appears. Have to turn the cold water faucet, dummy.

I can still iron, though. Make a cup of coffee the old-fashioned way and sit on my porch swing enjoying the peaceful, quiet morning.

2024

Is officially underway. Yes, I know it’s already the 17th, and the days are getting longer. It’s cold! We have a fire going. We have no heat from the furnace, because the generator stops at providing lights, keeping the freezers cold, and energizing a few outlets. No stove, no microwave. Every few minutes another sheet of ice crashes down from the roof with a sonic boom, but we just look at one another, then back to the page of our book.

Here’s what that looked like earlier, before the temperature reached the present evening’s 40’s:

Now the house must be surrounded by these piles of ice. The little camelia outside our bedroom window has been crushed under the assault, and you just wouldn’t want to be standing around outside admiring the stars while this is going on.

Backing up: On Monday, when it became clear that we wouldn’t be going anywhere, Larry decided to try running the ATV down to the barn to collect the firewood we’d be needing. Ooops. The tough little all-wheel couldn’t make it up the hill closest to the gate, and slid into the fence. Larry had to hike back up with the news that we’d better ration the wood. The power was out much of Monday, but life seemed kind-of fun. Pioneering. Snow bound. Then overnight the power was miraculously restored.

But last night, at 10-ish or so, while I was still up reading my new fave, Jodi Picoult, everything went black again. Larry was already sawing logs, metaphorically, because wait for it. I’m not evolved enough to realize that my phone would work as well as a candle to see me into bed, so I groped blindly for a match, and tucked myself in.

No power this morning, no power all day. I made a cup of coffee by boiling water in the Instant Pot, and the toaster works fine for bagels. We are getting a bit low on essentials, like milk, cream, eggs (no, the chickens are on strike) and so on. This afternoon we thought we’d see if we could get out to the grocery. Tested the SUV on the driveway, and the ice seems to have melted enough to let the big SUV travel just down this far:

Across the road. Yep. Guess we weren’t going to the grocery store. We backed up, put on our hats and gloves and boots, picked up our walking sticks and hiked down the road to where the ATV lay ditch-wise. Larry coaxed it onto its feet and we made it to the barn where we could pick up the chain saw. Back up the road, we stopped and Larry sawed logs for real (haha.) A path wide enough to squeeze by. At least we could see that there were tracks on Llewellyn, so are encouraged that tomorrow we think we can at least get some food, even it we can’t cook it.

Side bar: Here’s how you cook when you have only an Instant Pot and a toaster. Take something out of the freezer, dump it into the pot, press saute, and go have a glass of wine or something NA if you’re me. Okay fine for nights 1 and 2. How much do you even have already prepared in the freezer, anyway? So this evening, night 3, I found some sort of braised mystery meat, but we’d need something on the side, like potato or rice or polenta, and you can only cook one thing at a time. Maybe you’d like to keep all of it warm at the same time? No can do. My uninspired choice was to boil some potatoes first and thereby make potato salad. Tragically, we’re also out of ice cream and the Christmas cookies are gone. Whimper. Okay, we’re fine.

The booming continues as I write, and we wonder just how much ice has accumulated up top. We’ve just heard a coyote cry, and realize this must be hard for all creatures down here on the Wood. We hear the geese flying, and the creeks are full and rushing so life surely goes on. Tomorrow will be better!

NOVEMBER ’23

First, let me show you how the project is progressing:

This was about 90%. If the rain held back, Allen and Chance would be able to start unfurling the sod the following week. As I’ll show you in a minute, it did, and they did.

Meanwhile, does anyone know how to keep Meyer lemons over the winter? The tree will have to spend the time in the greenhouse, as it has for the past years. Not sure how old this little beauty is, but we had it in the condo in Portland, and down here since, but it’s doing a fine job:

Of course I Googled the subject and learned lots of ways to “preserve” them. As in salt. In jelly. In Lemon Curd. But can they just go in the refrigerator and last several months? I guess I’ll find out.

And here’s the way our new lawn looks with actual grass on it:

The wall around the tree will have a stone facing and top, but it’s getting there.

So that’s what Allen and Chance have been doing. What about us?

A wedding at the neighbor’s home, which was gorgeous. Their son Everett married Katie. Out doors, just a little rain to bring its blessings, lights in every tree, great food (Vegan wedding cake — who knew that was legal?) and we met some new people from the neighborhood, whom we hope to see again.

Back and forth to Portland, it seems. We attended a Celebration of Life for an old friend from Tigard school days, and work, in Larry’s case. Jenny came down for the gathering, as Steve and Maxine’s daughter Jill had been one of her high school buddies. It was so sweet to see the other girls — women — who had been part of the circle. All grown up and married and moms of their own teenagers.

We learned, also, of the loss of another friend of those days, Renee Edwards. She and her family had lived next door to us since we first built our house on 133rd. So many stories of those times! Most of them funny and almost all of them true.

Yesterday we drove to Portland in the morning to attend a procedure at the Endodontist’s office. Me. Root canal. Not fun! But we remarked that soon (!) we’ll be able to break our trips up and down I-5 with a stopover at the new condo at Park View.

It’s 5 o’clock now, and getting dark. Sigh. Larry is outside somewhere raking the few last oak leaves, but the oven is turned on and soon we’ll be having dinner by fireplace light. And then, on to Altadena next week for Thanksgiving with the assembled family.

So what is for dinner? I just completed an inventory of the garage freezer. I have to make room for this year’s garden, and this will require discipline in the kitchen. While in Portland yesterday, we stopped at a favorite grocery, Zupans, and bought half a boneless ham. Been disappointed in the product labeled “ham” from groceries lately, and trusted that Zupans would be better. ( I remember ham! It used to be salty and dark and certainly not sliced and packed in water.) So we chopped it up Zupan’s ham and squeezed it into the above-mentioned freezer, with exception of the chunk for tonight. Which will go nicely, I think, with some Rumbledethumps (look it up) and zucchini. Fingers crossed.

OCTOBER

What’s going on over there? An annex to the chicken coop? A pen for goats? A wall to keep the house from sliding down into the wetlands? I’ll get to the answer in a minute.

But no solar eclipse here this morning. A thick fog obscures everything beyond the first trees around the house. Nonetheless, a good reminder that the heavens go on turning, despite evidence here on the ground.

And, our family gathering this past week: Mary and Matt arrived in Portland from White Plains on the evening of the 2nd, drove to Corvallis on the 3rd. Martha also came over on that day, and the Eagleson girls were reunited. It’s strange to find yourself with women who look like you, but don’t. We remember things differently, but always laugh anyway. What Dad said that time, how old Grandmother was, Mom’s recipe.

The farm for a couple of days, the beach for a couple, and on to Black Butte. Here’s a shot at Black Butte — gorgeous weather:

I’m the sister in the middle. The way I remember things is always the correct way, of course, and you’ll just have to believe me. Martha is an inveterate photographer, and thus has evidence in her phone dating back decades, it seems. I don’t have any photos of the three of us, but if you check with Martha?

Right. So, what is going on here at the Wood?:

These are just the frames, of course, and concrete will be poured next Tuesday. I think these look pretty gorgeous as is, and am way impressed with the carpenter skills of Allen and Chance. But what they’re accomplishing is, in fact, a wall, which will be visible only from below. The curves will be stone benches around the maple trees, and the land, which does indeed slope toward the wetland, will be filled with the excavated dirt and replanted with grass. The idea is to reduce the amount of grass immediately around the house to a manageable degree, letting the rest rejoin the pastures. Mowing, watering thus greatly reduced.

Here are Allen and Chance. I should say that it has been raining during most of the time they’ve been here, but this was a sunny moment:

Why are we even doing this? Yeah, I know. It started with the thought that we could plant trees in the large patch between the driveway and the coop, thereby eliminating one patch of “lawn” to be tended. I mean, of the sort and size that would need to be professionally selected and installed. This means help from Bill Peterson, our “landscape” guy. But he’s really a landscape architect and he had a few other ideas for us to consider. Hahaha. We simply couldn’t resist.

Larry is out picking the rest of the apples for the year, the Braeburns, I think. They will join the others waiting in the shed refrigerator to be prepped for the freezer. He just finished washing and cutting one up for lunch. Said it wasn’t going to be easy, as they’re pretty worm-afflicted.

We’d get to work this afternoon, but are planning to attend the wedding of Katie and Everett, neighborhood “kids” at the Stuart-Barnses home across the way. So far, it looks like the festivities will be free of the rain that’s on tap, but so far hanging back. A wedding day to remember: the annular eclipse! I wonder if they planned it this way.

Ah. The Oregon/Washington game is about to start. Okay. Apples maybe tomorrow. But I have forgotten to describe our trip to have a look at the apartment being built at the Terwilliger Building’s Parkview. This was the first opportunity for a walk-through with our designers and the craftsman who will be building cabinets and etc. Larry took photos, but there’s not much be to seen except bare walls and this shot of the view we’ll have:

We will be able to “move in” in January, although we won’t exactly be moving in. What we will have is a place to stay overnight in Portland, and security for the future when/if one or both of us need more help than can be provided at the farm.

All for now. I believe this is my 98th blog post. Starting from 2014! Time. Marches. Almost 10 years, or will be if I wait until January to post number 100. I hope you’ll be with me!

Last day of September, ’23, and the sun has come back after a week’s rain. Maybe we’ll have our Indian Summer. Can we say that? Looked it up. Nope. “It’s disrespectful, and should be called Second Summer.” I think I disagree. It’s a beautiful time of year and perhaps may cause us to take a moment and think of the people who were here first.

On our return from England, we got ourselves facing the right direction and were lucky to have David for a couple of days all to ourselves after the golf function, and then a visit from Amy. In town for a reunion with her UO buddies for the Saturday football game, she stayed with us for two nights. Okay, yes, I am bragging, but our two granddaughters are pretty amazing. Amy, a little older than Alli, is establishing a career in New York City, working, at the moment for a fashion design company called White + Warren. They sell beautiful (yes, expensive) sweaters, and Amy is an assistant buyer and is in marketing. Yeah, I don’t know exactly what that means, but check out their website!

Today, because there’s a moment of sunshine, Larry has taken the opportunity to mow the field in front of the house. The threat of wild fire has prevented field mowing until now. After an hour or so of crawling around the barn floor greasing the brush hog, he’s glad to be back in the saddle just driving the thing. He’s carefully circling the young, two-foot high, oak trees which we hope will provide another generation of Oregon White Oak on this landscape.

In other farm news, here are the two new members of the flock family. We were able to persuade neighbors Tracy and Lyn to release a couple of birds from their several dozen. They, now named Goldilocks and Snow White, for obvious reasons, must be wondering why they were kidnapped from Paradise and sentenced to live under the reign of Miss Bossy Pants, ie, Grace:

I’ve been mostly in the kitchen, standing at the counter peeling, chopping, slicing, freezing. These are the peppers I brine to make pickled peppers, one of our favorites.

Tracy, she of the chickens, also lent me her steamer/juicer. Quite a contraption, but super easy to use. The question is, what to do with the first 6 pints of juice? It’s naturally sweet, tastes nice, but I am about out of storage space or I could keep going for days with this year’s grape crop. Someone suggested gummy bears, minus CBD of course, but seriously. Absent grandkidlets, who’s going to find that a special treat worth the work?

But now it’s my turn to get outside. Deadhead the dahlias, sweep the gravel off the side walks, pick apples? Yes. Or, wait. Maybe sit in the sunshine and read? I’m liking Mad Honey, by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Boylan. Good idea. I’m on it.

Larry’s in for a moment. It’s not so easy as it looks, he says. Now he just has to weed whack around those new trees and then he’ll be ready to watch more of the Ryder Cup this evening. No, late breaking news: he’ll do the rest of the field tomorrow and get started now cooking some ribs that have to over-night in the refrig. What a guy!

I’ll be in touch.

LONDON

Been a morning already . . . starting last night when we discovered that we had no water into the house. I can hear you, Vik, “call Maintenance!” No, what you do in this circumstance, after surveying the complex RO water complex in the shed, is find a couple of buckets, hop in the ATV and head to the pump house down by the barn where there’s a faucet. This allows for manual flushing of toilets, albeit nothing else. It was a lovely, starry night, though. There’s that.

Anyway, we were out getting coffee this early morning (yes, Starbucks was open) when Jake, Pump Guy, returned Larry’s phone call from the evening before. Seems there’s a lever that activates automatic shut-off when pressure level is too low. This sometimes happens when there’s been no water activity in the house for a week, or so . . .

Every single time, when, on returning home from a trip, our plane touches down, I breathe, and claim NEVER AGAIN! Of course, there’s always an Again, as was the case here, when we traveled to London. So, how was it?

Must admit, it was pretty wonderful. Yes, exhausting, nerve wracking, but. The first surprise was the appearance of Jan, our exchange student from back in the day. (Pronounced “yawn” but that noun in no way applies to our Jan.) He’d “hopped over” from Dusseldorf where he lives with his family, to wish Larry a happy birthday. Wow. Really sweet. He’s a lovely man, taking time for us before a quick trip to India on business.

Next morning, we made the trip to Alli’s new student apartment in West Hampstead. The place was busy with student move-in, and we could check out Alli’s new people. She had hauled a year’s living across, which now needed to be settled into her new space. On the eighth floor. And the elevator was out of order. I know. Good to be young, right?

Here’s Alli at home, and also a shot of Jan:

We spent the next days with Jenny and Alli, putting thousands of steps on our Apple watches, and then the girls left for Paris, and Jan’s parents, Ursel and Epi arrived to pick up the slack.

OMG. The Schefflers are urban folk, unlike us, simple country people, and we saw London in all its crazy, people-intense, noise, history, richness. The Germans wanted to travel everywhere by underground, but I was firm in my psycho dislike of that MO. Instead, we got tix on a Hop-on, Hop-of bus, and that was actually great fun. Included in the program was a boat trip up the Thames. I don’t have photos of this part of the trip, but will just tell you that we saw As You Like It, performed at Shakespeare’s Globe theater. Pretty memorable, especially when we needed to get an Uber for a ride home and Ursel discovered that her phone was out of juice, that Larry’s was inoperable, and there was not a single taxi to be seen for us to hail. I didn’t have an app, but somehow my own sweet phone was able to connect us to a ride and we didn’t need to walk the 6 miles back to the hotel.

All things coming to an end, we left for home on Thursday. A nine-plus hour flight and we touched down in Seattle (NEVER AGAIN I said). And looked out at a thousand-plus mass of people trying to thread through 3 or 4 Pass Control stations. BTW, did you know there’s an app for pass control? Larry made a stab at working it, got the error message, but the sympathy of the line control person was somehow engaged and we were shunted over to a station and then through and out into the evening light.

Ah. A five-hour trip down I-5 and we’re there. Except, no. Got stalled in a one-lane construction zone, which took an hour and a half to thread.

Home, fell into bed, and woke up on London time. Stumbled through the day unloading, laundry, surveying the plants which had died from lack of water in the hot spell, and found . . . little tension in the plot line here . . . that one of our remaining chickens was missing. Feathers strewn about, with Gracie wandering about sadly clucking. I’m not sure her clucking was from unhappiness, but still. So, Trouble and Sorrow aptly named.

We’ve checked the web for replacement chickens, but it was Saturday and nothing was open. We’ll have to find some replacements, maybe on Monday. Then to bed again, hoping for a full night’s sleep. Ooops. No water.

As we speak, Larry is out searching for baskets into which to load our crop of lovely apples, now dropping from the trees. We also have a crop of prunes, pears, and plums, so the next few days are mandated for me. Which is okay, because Larry and the boys of the family are off for a golf excursion at Bandon Dunes, leaving me at home in perfect quiet to process not just the fruit, but the last week of London. And travel. Honestly, really, Never Again?

R.I.P SORROW

She’s the one who kept trying to escape? The little Speckled Sussex whose wings we’d had to clip? Yes, that one. Yesterday she flew the coop for good. This had been some days coming, and we had determined that we wouldn’t take her in to the vet, as one of the possible explanations for her torpor was that she had simply gone broody. Wanting to hatch her little family.

But no, she was definitely dead yesterday morning, and then came the hard part. Influenced by a book we’d been reading, Wilding, The Return of Nature to a British Farm, we wondered what would the most natural, reasonable way to deal with a deceased chicken? (NO! We couldn’t fry her for dinner.) We could put the body out into the pasture land and wait for an eagle, or more probably, a turkey vulture, to dispose of her remains. Wait. We don’t know cause of death. Maybe some sort of avian flu? Can’t risk spreading some unknown bird virus throughout the valley.

Just put her in a plastic bag and add her to the garbage pick-up on Thursday? No, don’t want to add plastic to the landfill. So a brown paper bag became her shroud and she’s on her way to her final resting place.

It does look a little thin out there in coop with just the two-bird flock, and when we return from England, we’ll see about a replacement.

Today we’re shrouded ourselves in the smoke from a couple of fires, the Lookout east of Eugene the most probable cause. This is along the Mackenzie River on the highway to Black Butte. With temperatures in the 100s the last couple of days, it has felt inevitable. So being outside isn’t an option, and what farm chores remain will just have to wait.

Okay, it isn’t all bad news! Last week, all our cows were moved to their winter pastures or barns. I think I mentioned the moo-ing last post, which had become a little challenging, and we’re glad they’re off to greener pastures. Not a euphemism! Really!

And we were treated to a bagpipe concert down in the oak grove behind the barn. Neighbor Terri had met a gentleman, newly moved to Philomath from Oahu, and somehow she had taken him with her when she walked her dogs over on the west pasture. He thought the grove would be a perfect place to play the pipes, and Terri set it up.

A bagpipe concert is a little hard to describe. You can’t really be sure what song you may be hearing, although Danny Boy did come through. But this Dan was dressed in his clan kilt, looked the part for sure, and we sat on our lawn chairs, drank lemonade, and enjoyed the somewhat rare event.

Peter, Andrew and Charlie flew into town for a short trip to Black Butte. We played golf, and learned that Andrew has a highly developed style of putting ambidextrously. This was good for alot of laughs. How does he do that? Good food, good stories, good to see them.

Larry got his first bee sting this morning. We had not realized how complex this bee keeping is, including the massive amounts of sugar water to be boiled and provided to our darlings. There are two types of bees, the Carnolian and the Italian. No we can’t tell them apart on the fly, but they each have their own hive, their own queen.

Our trip to England? This is mostly a celebration of Larry’s birthday, and the excuse for the event is Alli’s move to a years studying in London. Also an opportunity to meet with our great friends, Ursel and Epi, who will join us for a couple of days. Jenny has been busy making reservations for lunches, dinners, shopping, walks, etc. It’s nice to have a tour director as we feel a little overwhelmed with the transition from farm to, gasp, London. What would we wear? What shoes? How hot will it be over there?

Ah, it’s lunch time. I’ve been watching the clock, and now it’s legal. Larry has just made a new batch of his amazing bread. Wish you were here!