Yes, it finally caught up with us. Moments after the gov’t. announced that the Pandemic was Over, Larry set out to prove them wrong. How he accomplished this feat is unknown at this time, but sometime before Friday, May 5, he apparently touched, breathed, swallowed a sample of the virus, and here we are.

May 5, is, of course, Cinco de Mayo, as well as our anniversary. Don’t ask or try to figure out which, it’s practically triple digits. Obviously our celebratory dinner has been put on hold.

We settled him into one of the upstairs bedrooms and he proceeded to sleep for the next 72 hours. Okay, I’m making that up, but for a long time. Fortunately, he seems to have a light case, and when I came home with the Paxlovid on Sunday, he declined to take it. This on consideration of the warnings administered by the pharmacist to the wife. As he didn’t feel particularly sick, why choke down those huge horse pills . . .

I just took this photo minutes ago to assure you that you don’t need to feel too sorry for us. Cows grazing in the tall grass, evening sunshine, light clouds. Ah, May in Oregon.

So what did I do while we quarantined? I was going to title this post TO BEE or . . . before being shamed by one of my readers. Cute, but I guess not cute enough. This refers to the fact that Larry has decided to engage in bee keeping. More about which later, but for now, it meant that I climbed up on my high horse about the possibility of spraying the weeds in our driveway. We can’t spray if we have bees!

And what this has about my quarantine activities is that I decided to weed the driveway. Here’s what I’m talking about:

This is a before and after shot. Weeds in the top half, weeds pulled from the bottom half.

Yes, I weeded the whole thing. Four days of quarantine. Just took out my little garden stool, sat down, and started pulling. What else was I going to do?

Anyway, here we are on Day 5. This afternoon, we saddled up the SUV, donned our masks, and drove to Eugene. I wanted to talk to the people in the Hult Center box office about some tickets we have for next weekend, and I wanted to visit Nordstrom Rack about a white, short-sleeved T-shirt. This is about a hundred mile round trip, really inexcusable for the reasons I’ve cited, but we were about to go house mad, so we went.

BTW, I’ve been testing myself — negative again this morning, so fingers crossed.

Now, about the bees. Here’s their prospective home:

Looks a mess. Larry has immersed himself in bee know-how, read three or four books, consulted with the bee lady at Shonnards nursery and, more important, with Alan, the former bee master and builder of this hive. The bees and a queen have been ordered, to be delivered in about two weeks. I’m sure there will be more to tell, stay tuned.

Meanwhile, here’s his latest toy:

I don’t know if the thing has a name, but it’s a wheeled, motor-driven, weed-whacker. This should be endlessly useful, and, once again, Larry has chosen to acquire a tool that is beyond my skill-level and physical capacity with which to help out. Damn. Kidding. Seriously?

And now it’s dinner time. I found a couple of chicken pot pies in the grab and go rack of our super market, discovered that they had no operating instructions what so ever. So they’re heating in the oven, and I’m hoping that’s adequate. Tomorrow I may start cooking again.


I know. But I’ve been busy? So I’ll start with spring chores: Here’s Larry busily pruning the grapes on the arbor:

There. Now you’re all caught up. See the nice blue sky? Lovely life on a farm.

This morning we went for our newly scheduled “longer” walk. Our regular exercise routine, in which we worked out with our trainer, Nancy, twice a week, has been upended. First, when we discovered the luxury of an actual gym in the local golf-course buildings, exercise on the dirty floor of our garage lost all appeal. All those shiny machines, mats, balls, weights, pulleys, bars, and no one else there using them in the real gym? Seriously, just Larry and me and the morning sun on the beautiful green golf course out the windows? See photo. You’ll understand:

Okay, it’s true, sweet Nancy is not there on Zoom to remind us to keep our knees bent, or whatever, and we do miss her. There’s just not sufficient wi-fi coverage in this beautiful new gym to make Zoom work on the computer, and the tiny screen of a cell phone didn’t make the cut, either.

But if we’re to be on our own, we have to absolutely have a schedule and one of us has to enforce it. That meant the walk is Tuesday morning. By “longer” I mean down to the first bridge and back. We can’t see Muddy Creek from there, but there’s an eagle’s nest in one of the straggly oak trees in a copse just off the road. Often enough, as we pass by, we can see the white heads of the adult pair, and hope soon enough to spot the babies.

This walk nets about 3,000 steps for me, fewer for Larry, obviously, and offers us an excellent opportunity to discuss if Pete Buttegieg should have gone to Ohio earlier, even if on paternity leave. Paternity leave?

And what could have been done to avert the banking crisis, given the warning signs. Passing motorists move to the middle of the road and wave, so that’s nice, but we haven’t determined the answers to the above. Sorry.

On the way back up our driveway, we stop at a the sound of rushing water in the first creek. There hasn’t been water in that creek for three or four years, so it was a welcome surprise. Especially as we’d just experienced our own water crisis. Yep. The well ran dry last Monday. This is an absolutely existential fear of mine. Without well water, no farm. Period. So, it’s been my job to monitor the water level in the cistern and adjust use accordingly. On my defense, this rainy year? But, when we checked, no water to be seen.

Here’s how the water system in the house works: You wouldn’t want to drink water from our well just out of the ground, so we have this reverse osmosis machinery in the shed which delivers clean water to the house, and leaves the outside water as is. The plants don’t care and neither, apparently do the chickens: (Yes, the black thing is a Traeger, has nothing to do with water at all.)

So the first thing we do is call “No Drought” in Lebanon (about 20 miles down the road). They could bring us 1,000 gallons of clean water to fill our reservoir, for $400. Obviously, that’s not sustainable, so the second phone call goes to Oregon Pump. Jake, our Water Guy, could be here in the afternoon to discover what was going on.

The well and the pump served the original house down by the barn, which we’d torn down to build here up on the hill. We were assured that it was a viable, dependable well, been operating without fail, apparently for dozens of years. Not to keep you in suspense, it was the pump, Jake found, which failed, not the aquifer. A pump can be replaced, which it was the following week. It turns out a family of two can live on 1000 gallons of potable water for a week. You might find that useful to know. But you do have to limit the number and duration of showers, and hand-wash the dishes. The laundry has to wait.

Because I haven’t written for a long time you might be wondering what, if anything of importance, we’ve been doing. Besides pruning the grapes. So Larry has been busy outside building next year’s garden. First these cute boxes, created with help from Mitch:

These are made from cedar planks, will obviate the necessity of crawling about on hands and knees to harvest the coming bounty. Next, the dirt necessary to fill them:

Larry has filled the boxes first with mulch gathered out by the little shed. Including, of course, the detritus from a year’s worth of cleaning the chicken coop. That’s got to be good stuff. So when this lovely compost from the Tack Shack gets layered on top, should be some darned fine tomatoes. Right?

My turn. What have I been doing? Remember all those onions we gathered last year? We haven’t perfected an onion storage practice, but I was able to sort out still okay candidates from a burlap bag hanging in the garage. I learned you can freeze onions easily, but decided they needed to be chopped up first.

Got them in small plastic bags after they were frozen, and now have a great supply, if the creek don’t rise . . . I’m referring to the freezer failure of earlier in the year which lots of our fruits and veg from 2021 were thawed, and thus destroyed.

We’ve been watching a hilarious show called Clarkson’s Farm, in which farming disasters are filmed. No, it is funny, and painfully familiar.

It’s not a farming disaster, but our ATV had to go in to the shop today. This means a trip to the rental shop in Philomath for a trailer, then back to load up the ATV and on to Albany for repairs. The kind of annoying chore that can eat up a day. But, Larry decided he needed more potatoes to plant, and after dropping off the rig, went on to Shonnard’s Garden Shop. What would have been a good episode for Clarkson’s was filming Larry parking the truck with trailer attached in the busy lot of the garden store. Or rather, trying to back out of the parking space with trailer attached.

However, our lives aren’t only about the farm. After the condo sold, we’ve been road-testing various hotels in Portland. Last Thursday, I had a massage at noon (I know, I’m totally spoiled with a once-a-month visit), went to a movie with my Chicks friends in the afternoon, and then hung out in our newest hotel candidate, the Paramount while Larry went to a meeting. It’s been the nicest so far, but I have to report that the burgers we had for dinner in their restaurant weren’t that good, and the bar where we went for dessert after Larry got back, was loud and not that comfy. So. Here we are.

Our new place at Terwilliger, the Old Folks Home, won’t be ready for occupancy until next January, so we still have more hotel visits to enjoy while in Portland. Or not.

We’ve cancelled our planned trip to Boston to see Charlie direct the latest B.C. musical, after learning that we wouldn’t have that much opportunity to actually spend time with him. We do love him and are sure he will have an amazing career. I promise we will attend his first opening on Boadway, or off-Broadway, but the problem is, Boston/New York just doesn’t get any closer to Corvallis. At out ages, we have the crotechety attitude that maybe our beautiful grandkids should travel to see us. I don’t know. Some old people like to travel. Or so I’m told.

Music? We’re both in our separate banjo/guitar worlds, trying to sort it out sufficiently to enjoy participating in a bluegrass jam we discovered that meets every second Wednesday. So far our participation has been just frozen terror that we may get called upon, and pure fun being part of the music. Today, for Larry, it’s Cherokee Shuffle, and mine, Don’t That Road Look Rough and Rocky. The trick is to memorize the music and be able to play with/in front of others. You can look up those songs up on YouTube and see what we’re up against.

That said, the sun has set, dinner dishes done, and it’s time to practice! See you next time!


I just counted. The first post I wrote was in July of 2014. I’d meant this blog to act as a record of our project here on the farm. Like a diary, or journal, if I had ever been disposed to write a diary, or journal. Which I hadn’t. Simply not that much of interest happened often enough to be worth dedicating a notebook to such an undertaking.

Then when I started this, I discovered that I was doing it more to entertain an imaginary audience, and looked for funny, silly things to record. Of course, I do like to write, and this was an opportunity to exercise my imagination. Except for the photos, which haven’t been photo-shopped (no idea how to photo-shop something anyway), there’s always been an imaginative overlay to the reporting. In other words, don’t exactly trust me. Got it?

Here I am again after a two-month layover. Mid February already. So, what’s been going on? Lots of what I’d imagine real farmers would consider winter work. Pruning the orchard. Building raised beds for the garden. Deadheading all the landscape stuff.

And in our case, trying to accommodate artifacts from the condo in storage or down here in Corvallis. Errors were made by the moving company, and we found some large artwork that was meant to be in storage unloaded into our shed. Right.

I had observed out loud one day that, for Larry, a job to be done announces itself as something he, himself, must do. A wonderful quality, but here in our dotage, not always practical. Case in point, what to do with several large paintings that had erroneously arrived here, all wrapped in camouflage cardboard and thick paper. Me: “We can’t hang those here ourselves. It would take scaffolding, several muscular assistants, certain skills we don’t have. We’ll have to hire someone.”

Hahaha. We got an estimate. $2,000 for the job, plus mileage from Portland. Okay, stop. Think. No, we can’t hang the Lee Kelly oil, but everything else?

We can do this. Here’s how that looked:

I need to tell you that the mirror came in pieces, so the thing had to be reassembled, which involved tiny pieces and tiny screws and lots of colorful language. But it looks lovely here and we can find better uses for two thousand dollars. Right?

Another major project we’ve initiated is the discovery of the right place to stay overnight when in Portland. Which it seems we certainly are and will be going forward. So. A hotel. Which? We’ve tried four, now, and find each not quite right. First, a modern, simple, bare minimum room at the Convoy. Next, Larry stayed at the Fairmount to attend a meeting, and he did approve of that one, but it’s not in the right neighborhood.

How about the Marriott down at Waterfront? Right spot. We could ride the streetcar from there to everywhere (thanks now, to Vik, who secured Hop cards for us and is instructing us in the usage of the system). But the hotel? Nope. Made for giant people, and when I can’t sit to read a book on the chair or sofa without my legs extending straight out like a six-year old, nope. The bathroom door wouldn’t close, the entry door wouldn’t open. Yeah, nope.

On to last weekend. First, we had to go north for dentist appointments which, on arrival, we learned, were correctly scheduled for some time in April. WTF? We both had the Feb. date on our calendars, but, again, mistakes were made. Okay, on to our next hotel, the Hampton Inn right in the Pearl District. It’s nice, it’s fine. But we are learning that a hotel room with but one chair is just not comfortable when we have hours to spend there. Even when I can sit in said chair like a normal person.

So, we’re 0 for 4. And, btw, when the TV in the hotel offers Netflix, but you must sign in with your own personal account, and you have not brought your user name and password for Netflix with you, you’re screwed. Why doesn’t the hotel just provide the damn thing? Oh well.

Now, to change the atmosphere, here’s a photo I took last week on my early morning walk down the road:

Magic. Or at least I think so. Oh, and this was on the way back up the road. Just so you’ll know.

I haven’t told you about the bluegrass jam we’ve found down at the Philomath Grange. Every second Wednesday, from 7 until it’s over. Larry and I have been taking lessons from a guy in Corvallis, guitar for Larry, banjo for me, and this is an opportunity to participate in the music with other folks.

It’s a mixed bag for sure. The first time, we didn’t take our instruments, just sat in the back of the circle and listened. Fun! Feeling braver, we did take the instruments next time, and joined in at the “beginners circle.” Again, this was fun, though terrifying. The thing is, you have to play totally by ear. No music stands. Someone calls a tune and you just try to plunk along with. All fine. It’s definitely best when the person calling the tune chooses something recognizable as bluegrass, not, like, some Rihanna tune from, what, Barbados, by which I mean no disrespect, but where are the chord changes? Yes, that does happen. Anyway.

In preparation, Larry and I have acquired books entitled Banjo for the Complete Ignoramus, Guitar for same. Surprisingly, they seem pretty helpful. When’s the next Second Wednesday? Just looked. March 8. Not that much time.

We’ve been trying to arrange a trip to California to see Peter and Allison’s place in Palm Desert, but all the arrows are pointing down. First, I’m having a little eye problem, perhaps detached retina, which means I’m not to fly just now. So, we can drive? Except we’ve just heard that it will be raining all week on the days we meant to be there. Okay, we give up. We’ll go to sunny California when it’s, you know, sunny?

And, speaking of Netflix, we’ve been struggling here at the farm as well. First, my new computer, which doesn’t speak English as I understand it, and the family TV, which plays well enough although the sound comes and goes. We called on a geek, advertising in the local co-op, who came and was brilliant in taming my computer, but had no luck with the TV. We are therefore, going to Eugene this afternoon in search of not only a replacement TV, but a person to come and install the thing. Too much to ask for? I’ll let you know next time.


The end. The door closes. We begin our new, simpler life in the little house in the country.

Having survived the great Amazon Scam which infiltrated Larry’s computer, the Debit Card Scam wherein someone gained access to the Farm’s debit card and bought fifty-nine dollars of make-up. (The bank declined two other attempts at the card but somehow let this one through. The make-up purchase is under investigation. A debit card, bank-people. Don’t you have to know the code to use it?)

Okay, the “Simple Life” continues tomorrow, when we get up and drive to Portland for a performance at Center Stage with the White-Davises. Spend two nights in a hotel in town so that I/we don’t have to drive there again for the Tuesday evening Book Tea.

We won’t know what to do in Portland during those two days when we don’t have the condo, I worry. No, Larry says, we can go to a MAC store and get his computer straightened out. We can get that replacement glass chimney for the lamp in the bedroom. You can go to the fabric outlet. We’ll get the Bose speaker fixed.

You can learn how to have fun in Portland, Vik says. We’ll take you to a movie. But . . .


We spent Thanksgiving in Seattle with the Ederers and the Peter Viehls. Eleven of us, enjoying Jenny’s new house, Tom’s spatch-cocked turkey, all five grandkids being cute and beautiful and funny. It is confirmed that stuffing requires Jimmy Dean sausage in the formula, and that pumpkin pie and mincemeat pie are well augmented by pecan pie.

Just now it’s December 3. Larry is coming in from moving potted plants into the greenhouse. Pulling up the spent flowers in the garden. Ricardo and his crew have been mowing the lawn, raking leaves, dead-heading plants to complete the job started two days ago, before the snow got too heavy.

Here’s the antique clock we hauled down here (I mean, the movers hauled it) because we didn’t know what else to do with it. It looks pretty weird in the corner of the living room — and it doesn’t work. So? In our bedroom? Well? First, of course, we won’t make it stand on the coasters, which look like little slippers or something. We’ll have it fixed, and then decide if we can sleep through the ticking and the on-the-hour gongs.

Just for fun this afternoon, Larry put together a swing for the chickens. This was inspired by a note from Kathy Abraham with a link to instructions. Chickens get bored, too, as you may not be aware, and ours definitely need some diversion. I do understand the concept of pecking order, and Grace takes it quite seriously. They’re all molting now, not laying eggs, so a little recreation seems appropriate. Larry does roll his eyes, but how cute is this?

I’ll thread some beads on the rope, if I can find some large enough. And if I ever see a chicken swinging on it, I’ll grab a photo and post it. Thanks, Kathy!

This afternoon the truck from the moving company drove up with the two reading lamps which had failed to appear with all the other boxes and packages. We were sure we hadn’t left them in the condo, but then we were also sure we hadn’t left my green dress and fleece jacket there either. (Fortunately out agent, the fabulous Susan Suzuki, had retrieved them and we could collect my wayward clothes from her office on the way to Seattle.) The lamps weren’t so easily recovered, as it seems they’d been hidden behind some packaging and had travelled to Palm Springs and back in the movers’ truck before being discovered.

This evening we met Allen down by the gate. He’s made a box for package delivery on the outside of the gate to replace the plastic bin currently serving duty. The box was created with wood from one of the many fallen oaks on the property. He’ll mount it tomorrow afternoon, and when I get back from you-know-where I’ll take a photo and send it next time.

Allen offered to help Larry fix the actual gate sections to new, heavy, steel posts, which should work to correct the problems illustrated in my last post. Allen is maintenance of the best kind — you’ve met him and his massive machinery in earlier posts, and you remember that he’s the bee guy, too?

Larry and I have succumbed to another round of Great British Baking show, but tonight we have a fire, candles, the two new lamps and two good books to entertain us. We can catch the GBBS while we’re tucked into the hotel tomorrow evening. Pretty sure they won’t have an oak fire blazing in the fireplace to tempt us otherwise.


Oh My God! Look!

He’s standing at the front window, and I look out. I see the camellia loaded with buds, I see the grass newly growing on the driveway, I see — Oh My God. The Heritage Tree.

See the stump, at the base? Where we had a tree service take down the original main trunk of this beautiful Oregon White Oak, as, apparently suffering from rot, it threatened the site of our new little house-to-be. We used the massive chunks of wood to create an artistic installation in front of the copse, called “Oakhenge,” hahaha. And now the remaining half of the tree is on the ground.

We’ve become resigned to seeing the oaks fall, but not the giants. Not the iconic hundreds-of-year-old giants with names of their own, who were here in the time of the Kalapuyas. Memento Mori? For sure.

We practically have Mitch on speed dial, and have called to see if he’s available on Sunday to bring his chain saw. (The rural way to “call Maintenance?)

Speaking of Mitch, here are he and Larry dispatching a cherry tree in the orchard. This tree succumbed to some sort of tree virus and had to go, but we’ve learned that growing cherries is just a complicated way to feed the local flocks of birds. We’ll replace this tree with some other, more defensible fruit next spring when the bare roots are available. A bad week, apparently, for trees.

If you live in the country, you’re going to need a pick-up. The older and more beat up, the better, at least for cred down at the hardware store. Thus, we have our Bob. Bob-the-Truck, who featured in an adventure the previous weekend. Delivering this pile of split wood (from yes, another downed oak.) to our place at Black Butte.

All going well until the return trip when, after a quick lunch in Monroe, the battery died. Triple A, a couple of hours sitting in the cab, and we made it home.

Fine, until this Monday when Larry had a breakfast with the boys in Wilsonville, where he was to collect a used walk-behind weed whacker from friend Tommy. Breakfast got cancelled, Larry didn’t get the message, called me from the freeway about half way home. Bob-the-truck once again non-functioning.

This time he got towed, got a ride with the driver, deposited our Bob at the local Chevrolet dealer and came home with the determination to find another beater truck which actually ran on demand.

Okay, but what’s been going on in the country kitchen? Mostly freezing the production from the garden. Like all the apples, tomato sauce, tomatillo sauce. That one for the first time, and it’s really good. Not sure how to use it, I mean, sure, enchiladas, tacos maybe, but I’ll have to do some research. I haven’t yet found a good way to use up all those 30 pound Napa cabbages, but we’re whittling away at them in the raw. We’ll see how long they can last in a refrigerator.

There must be a thousand cooking blogs out there, and I like to read them, but I’ve not yet found a recipe for left-over French fries. So I’m a genius maybe, because I sauteed some onion, tossed in the fries from yesterday’s pub lunch, chopped some left-over grilled pork tenderloin in the processor, added some chicken broth and let them all simmer for awhile. The stuff is delicious. I’ll spoon a dollop of sour cream on top and whistle Yankee Doodle for dinner. I amaze myself.

We’ve been enduring a plague of flies, generated, it seems, from the application of chicken manure on the pasture across the road. When we bought this property, we had to sign a document from the county to the effect that this IS the country. There will be farm activity, noise, smells, associated with the practice of agriculture about which we cannot expect redress. The smell of the manure was bad enough, but each day, lately, we watch flies bat against the windows, never really knowing how they all even get inside. Where they eventually die, even if we don’t swat them. Larry is particularly besieged by one species of tiny fly which is fatally attracted to his hair. Don’t laugh! (okay, I kind-of do.)

Then came the lady bugs. By the millions, I swear. Migrating? Dunno. But they’re called lady bugs because Europeans once prayed to the Virgin Mary to protect their crops. The lady bug swarms arrived and ate the insects threatening the farmers’ crops. A miracle from Our Lady. So we must appreciate them, even though they lie dead on the porches each morning, after failing to gain admittance to the house. The flies get in, why can’t they?

But now the really big deal. This blog is really meant as a log of our move-to-the-country while old, so I have to include for future reference the news about the still-potential sale of the Portland condo. Eight more days til closing, and so far, it’s looking almost on. We learned today that all contingencies had been removed — which means if they walk away, they leave the earnest money behind. Yeah, this is huge alright. I don’t need to include details, except to say that there are a lot of details to clear out of drawers, off of shelves, under sinks before the day of their occupancy, Nov. 18. I don’t have photos to share, not yet, but you can imagine. Right?

This evening, Larry and I are going to an actual movie! I know, seriously? It’s a documentary at the Darkside Cinema, called Elemental. But that being so, I need to make a salad (Napa Cabbage of course) and get that soup stuff on the table.

Next time we are together, perhaps our condo will be but a memory. I will let you know.


In which Tracy comes by to clip some wings. Tracy is the former owner of our two new chickens — an engineer at HP who also raises Islandic sheep, and manages her flock of some 30 chickens, all of whom are apparently sufficiently well-trained to free-range about the property and put themselves to bed in their coop every evening. Says she knows how to clip feathers, and agreed to show me how.

She uses a pair of ordinary kitchen scissors, and here’s the technique: you sit down among the birds who have come to you for a treat, grasp a chicken by the leg and soothe it in your lap. Spread out the wing and find the end feathers, clipping them above the shaft, which is still live. You will probably never need to know this. But the intricate beauty of a simple chicken feather is enough to stop your busy life for a moment of wonder.

As we didn’t know which chicken required this intervention, both the new girls were so treated. Tracy says they don’t care. Grace, who has never attempted flight, to our knowledge, escaped Tracy’s attention.

We opened the door to the run, and the chickens quickly dispersed about the orchard. Tracy and I fell into conversation in the shade of one of the apple trees, and were pretty surprised when we saw Miss Clipped Wings strutting by OUTSIDE the fence.

Right. WTF? We brought her back inside and watched her escape again. See the wire stretched across the gate in the photo below? Easy peasy. The simple addition of, yes, chicken wire across the base of the gate seems to have, these three days later, done the job.

Simple, Larry asks?

The drama of life without an oven has come to an end with the installation of our new model this morning. It was only a month, but some of the inventions we attempted were pretty pitiful. Cook one of the frozen left-over casseroles in the microwave? An explosion of cheese sauce all over the oven and noodles of baked cardboard. Yes, I know you’re supposed to cover something you cook in the microwave. How could I have forgotten?

Bake a loaf of bread on the barbecue? Fine, if you like a blackened crust and underdone interior. It tastes okay, once you saw off the charcoal.

We were fortunate enough to score an invitation to dinner from our neighbors, Marjorie and Ted. Amy and Mike, Marjorie’s sister and husband, had come to the valley, and would take home a load of firewood from our endless stash. In return for a dinner Mike would cook, of the game he’d harvested. Goose and pheasant, sauteed in butter, with some special seasonings of his devising. Both these people are wild-life biologists, and we heard, among other things, how it is possible to identify a wolf-kill of, for example, a rancher’s cow. Or find a spotted owl’s nest. Pretty cool stuff.

I thought I remembered picking shot out of a pheasant I roasted once that Larry had shot, back in Minnesota days. He says it never happened. He certainly has not shot anything since. So much for life off the grid.

Life with a simple country garden? Larry’s little acre has been blessing us all summer . . . with, among other successes, at least four 30-pound Napa cabbages. That’s a lot of cabbage to work into the meal plans. I wonder if it will be easier now that I have an oven?

And speaking of life in the country, we were awakened last night, midnight or so, by a furious scratching in the wall behind our bed. Somebody preparing winter quarters, apparently. We checked with our builder this morning to learn exactly what type of insulation had been used, and he said not to worry, nothing could penetrate. Yeah, well. You trap or poison the thing, it dies, and you live with the smell unto eternity? We did a perimeter search this morning and found nothing except an overgrown jasmine plant, which we will trim later, honestly. I know what you’re thinking. It’s one of the chickens, right?


A person likes to think she’s at least as smart as the average barnyard chicken, but this afternoon, that reassuring affirmation was definitely tried. Here’s why:

The newest member of the flock. We don’t know her name yet, and she has a sister, whose name we also don’t know. But it doesn’t matter at the moment because we can’t tell them apart anyway.

I don’t imagine that our grandson, Will, who has named other items of farm equipment, reads these blogs, but if you’re out there, Will, can you think of appropriate names for these two? They are of the Speckled Sussex family, an English breed, but Meagan and Kate won’t do. Larry rejects “Speckles” and “Freckles” and we hope you can do better.

To set the scene, here’s a photo of our one remaining bird, after the untimely death of Madeline “Maddie”, cause unknown. This is Grace:

We have had a little experience, and knew it would be challenging to introduce the chickens to one another, so we proceeded slowly. The S.S. breed is known as one low in the pecking order, and apparently, Grace had done her homework. She began the festivities by attacking both the newbies, to the point that we determined to separate them for a few hours.

However, all of them have to get into the coop by sundown, so we opened the door to the run where Grace was pacing, planning her strategies.

We left them to sort themselves out, and were surprised this morning to find Speckled No.1 outside the orchard, having a walk around the place. The fenced-in, impenetrable orchard. How ? ? ? Maybe she hopped onto the planter box and flew on from there?

A daring capture, featuring a cardboard box and an unenthusiastic Larry ensued. Success, with little injury all around. We relaxed, went off on an errand after lunch, and returned to find Miss Speckled outside the orchard again. Of course, it may be Miss Speckled No.2. How would we know?

An undignified attempt at seduction via corn-scratch failed, and the hen strolled off into the weeds of the back acres, laughing at us. We supposed she would find her way back, but were a little concerned as it’s hot and she would have no access to water. She can get out, but not back in.

An hour or so went by. I found I couldn’t immerse myself in the Isabel Allende I’ve been reading, or even worse, to practice, more about which later. I went back out, found the girl nestling against her sister on the other side of the fence.

Larry and I tried a circling maneuver, he with the box, I with a cup of treats. Aha! We had her penned in a corner up against the coop. Not stupid, she, she attempted to squeeze between two sections of fence, and nearly managed to arrive back in the run where she belonged. Almost. But stuck. Unable to move in or out or underneath. Larry left me with the box, guarding the slot into which she’d inserted herself and went to get wire clippers.

Okay, I do have scratches, from her or the wire I don’t know, but I did get her stuffed into the box, the top secured by the time Larry got back. Hooray for me! We decided to imprison all of them into the run, no one getting out into the orchard, for several days. And, it being dark now, Larry has just come in to report that all three are roosting inside the coop.

Whew. A reminder that our chosen life here on the farm has its unexpected adventures.

Now we’ll have a flash-back. Banjo camp, after all. Why on earth would I want to go to Banjo Camp? Not like I expect to join a band, dazzle friends and family with my skills. Not sure, but here’s one plausible reason:

Last week we went to a pot-luck picnic with an organization we’ve joined, and this was to be the first in-person opportunity to meet the other members. We were lucky and found seats across the picnic table from an ex professor of oceanography and his wife. They entertained us with stories of sailing across the Pacific from California to New Zealand in a 36 foot boat, with a one year old baby. Yikes! Sailed up to Alaska with, this time, the two year old and a new baby. Stories about whales, the barrier reef, storms.

The professor having wound down, another participant looked at me and asked “what do you do?”

Right. I spread my arms wide, leaned back, and said “I play the banjo.”

They were speechless.

I’ll go practice when I finish this.

See? You never know. Camp was fun, but, moving on, this past weekend we went over to Black Butte for the Sisters Folk Festival. It being sister Martha’s birthday, we went to her house for the celebration with my nephew Ben and his family.

Jenny was there while some alterations were being made to her brand new house, so we had some rare daughter-time with her.

The Festival was as advertised — loud bands, banjos, guitars, fiddles, singers, all what you’d want in a festival. We had just the one-day tickets, so came back Sunday. In time to collect the new chickens and begin to write this blog.

If any others of you can think of chicken names, remember Will is busy, please let me know!


ohmygod ohmygod OH MY GOD!

“I suppose I’m going to read about myself now,” Larry says when he’s back on dry land. “Don’t make it some big deal, because it wasn’t.”

Well, it was pretty . . .

“My kids will think they have to take away my drivers license, or something, and I wasn’t hurt, no harm done.”

It’s probably not apparent that he’s just climbing out of a hidden water hole in an otherwise dry creek. I didn’t react quickly enough to take a shot while he was chest deep in there, but I was very busy worrying. Should I call someone, should I get a rope, are you hurt . . .

“God, Jane. Just let me get my feet under me. I’m fine. I’ll crawl out.”

Which, as you see, he did. We were tansy hunting. His job to wrench the plants out by the roots, mine to clip off all the blossoms into the bin. (See them in there?) The good news, he wasn’t hurt, and the even good-er news was that he’d forgotten his phone that morning, and thus it was safely at home on the dresser instead of in the creek.

Drama on the farm.

We escaped on Friday for a quick overnight to Black Butte, staying with Martha, going to a concert featuring Tim O’Brien. A nice respite, an evening under the stars with sweet music at a park in Sisters.

But when we got home, Allen was at work on an oak tree that had fallen some time in the last year. I’d posted a photo at that time, amazed at its size and age. It has lain there of course, ever since, harboring an owl, according to our neighbor, and providing scaffolding for the relentless blackberry vines which would consume it, given time.

We supposed the wood was rotten, but Allen came to give it another look. He’s a valuable scavenger, taking the trunks of other fallen oaks on the property for the mill he’s building in his back yard. I know. Who does that? We haven’t been invited to see what this mill looks like, and hope to have a chance at some point.

But here are some photos of the process:

You may wonder how I happened to be down there taking photos? Fortunately, Larry had heard his arrival and came to get me and my camera. Well, my phone, actually, I don’t even know where my real camera may be. I suppose Larry hoped this might be the lead story this week?

Ha. Earlier, the pasture along Llewellyn had been mown, the seeds reaped, and it was time to bale the remaining straw. Here’s what that looks like:

This is just the beginning of the baling process. Now there are bales strewn about the field, waiting in the sunshine to be collected.

Several posts ago I told you that I was having fun planning to play some music with a friend who plays the guitar? We seem to have mutually run into about a hundred miles of reason while this wouldn’t work very well. But he, Dick, did tell me about a new banjo shop which had arrived in Sisters, and that I should have a look.

Planning, as I was to be in Sisters, see above, I checked this out, learned the name of the owner and looked him up. Sent him an email requesting an appointment to have him sharpen up my banjo before I head off to banjo camp in September. Never heard back.

Okay, picked up the phone and left a message. Didn’t hear back, until a few days later when I got a text from him. He’s in France, so won’t be able to help. But was I interested in lessons? Whoa! Did he mean, like, on line lessons?

I don’t know. Who is he, anyway. Of course I turned to Google and found him: “See, when I was on stage once with the Dixie Chicks, and . . . ” Oh. And he was offering lessons? A couple of texts later, when I learned that he would be back in Sisters, I turned to a piece of advice I’d recently heard: Don’t let fear keep you from reaching for your goals. I know, something my new Apple watch would tell me. In fact, maybe that’s where I did hear it.

Anyway, why not. Let’s do this, I told him. “Could you send me a record of your playing so I can see where “you’re at (sic)”? he asks. (I’ll work on his grammar later.) (When we’re really good friends) In the mean time, speaking of fear! Send him a record of my playing? Um. Right.

But I did it, and am nervously waiting to hear something back. So far, what with being in France, both of his texts to me have arrived at about 1:30 a.m., waking me, of course. Maybe tonight? He says that he’ll be back in Sisters soon, so the idea of lessons isn’t quite so ridiculous. Except it is. Hey, remember what your watch told you?

I’ve just asked Larry if he has anything to add for the blog and he says no, can’t think of anything. So that’s it for today.


Sometimes it’s like this. Five o’clock, but he’s awake anyway, and this is the morning he plans to spray the thistle, blackberry, and tansy. Overcast, cool, no wind. It’s hard work. Carrying a 3-gallon pack of glyphosate spray on his back through the hip-high grasses of the Fish and Wildlife acres.

He’s quiet, tries to slip out without waking me, but it’s okay. I’ve been awake for awhile, too. “I can drive the ATV so you can just get in and out to spray,” I say, but he says no. The stuff is evil. You have to wear a mask and goggles, and it wouldn’t help much, anyway.

I guess not, but I wish he didn’t have to do this. What’s the equation that connects Roundup with these toxic, invasive, plants? This is the question, isn’t it? We can’t just hire our “guys” for this work — have to have a pro, and just try to find one.

Here’s tansy ragwort:

“It isĀ toxic to all classes of livestock but most toxic to cattle and horses. At doses likely to be ingested, it causes a chronic liver disease that is seen as a cirrhosis-like hepatic degeneration. Affected animals generally die within several weeks or months after the tansy ragwort has been eaten.”

I don’t know if “our” cows are stupid/hungry enough to eat the stuff, but we’ll have to try to keep them safe and healthy.

There’s a natural control, the Cinnabar moth, so Larry will look before spraying to see if a given plant has the caterpillars on board. Here’s one. Pretty, huh?

Exhausted, Larry comes in at noon or so, after spraying three loads of chemical spray. Me, the DDT-queen, I hate using the chemicals. My dad was an entomologist/chemist who dreamed of making the Willamette Valley feed the world using the stuff. And yes, I know what DDT means, not that anyone ever asks. Guess I’m not the DDT queen any more,

Next day, Sunday, we decided to go to the beach. I wanted to swing by a little town called Eddyville on the way. Our daily paper obituary section featured the death of a 97 year-old woman named Wilma Mae Eagleson. What! Eagleson? You know that’s my maiden name, right? So who is this person?

I hoped to poke around, find the drug store, ask about her family. Yeah, well, no luck. This Eddyville does have a post office, but that’s it. No cosy little grocery, actually no nothing that we could see. Hmm. The long-lost relative will remain lost. On to Newport and the harbor.

We like to go to a restaurant there called Local Ocean. Fish and sea food right from those boats. Lesson learned: Don’t order the grilled calamari salad unless you like sushi-grade calamari, aka grilled inner-tube salad. Disappointment! The crab cakes were awesome. But don’t plan on picking up some crab meat to take home and make your own. $69.95 a pound. Yikes!

This morning, Monday, it’s still cool at 6:00, and we’ve decided to get out in the fields and pull the tansy that didn’t get sprayed on Saturday. It will be in the 90s by this afternoon, so we hop to it. We’ll just drive around the same F & W acres, check to see if the sprayed plants have wilted. This time, I’m allowed to help:

We clip the buds from the thistle, bag them in the paper bags we use to hold the tansy, and chop the plants to the ground. Can’t do much about the blackberry, not by hand. I drive the ATV, and Larry can’t help asking. “Do you keep taking your foot off the pedal?” You know how your mom used to drive that way — speed up, slow down, make you crazy? “No,” I say. “It just does that.” He rolls his eyes. It’s true! It does!

The End. For today, anyway. We’ll get up again in the morning to walk the fenced-off creeks, in which we see more tansy. But for now, we’re relaxing in our cool, air-conditioned house. We’re watching a baby swallow who fell from his nest. Mom and Dad keep feeding the little one, but I hope he/she. figures out how to fly, stat.

Larry wants to buy a new printer for his computer this afternoon. Seems “they” don’t repair broken models. This will be a challenge, that is, getting a new printer to bond with his computer. Hmm. Late breaking: he’s spoken with Peter, who advised him to take his problem to Best Buy. They will, he asserts, be able to get everything connected and working. We’ll see. But suddenly it’s dinner time, and there was a 40 minute wait to talk to a Best Buy guy in Springfield. Maybe you know that the World track-and-field Championships have been in Eugene for the past 10 days. Good reason to avoid Springfield/Eugene. Maybe tomorrow?

Supposed to be another heat wave this week, temps in the 100’s. Any farming gets done will have to be done early. I’ll let you know.

4th of JULY

It was going to be great. Allison and her mom had the beach house for the holiday, the far-flung kids would all be there, Jenny and Tom had found a way to join the party, and, here’s the amazing part, Jan and his family would be joining us all for the big celebration. You remember Jan, our exchange student from Germany all those years ago? Jan, pronounced “Yan,” in case you’re confused, his wife Angelika, and their Lotte and Oskar.

Great enough that I cowboy-ed up and climbed on an airplane, the second flight in a fortnight, I might add. Yeah, what’s a fortnight? Okay, longer than that, but still.

We arrived in the foreign country of Newport Beach, CA. Or more specifically, the island of Balboa, to learn that Angelika had tested positive. They would not be joining us.

Well, damn. Okay, maybe Jan and the kids could come over as planned the next day, and we would all sit outside, masked.? Meanwhile, A and P’s friends, the Lees, had offered a ride down the canal atop their pontoon boat. It’s so gorgeous there, you would want to immediately quit your jobs, sell your houses, and move to Balboa. But you can’t. Not unless you have about 8 to 10 spare million for one of the houses on sale there in the realtor windows.

It’s true, but I do want to make one thing clear: Allison’s great grandmother had purchased their place in 1925. Not sure if that was for the land or if the cottage had already been built, but it cost $1500, Margie, Allison’s mom told me. It’s pure charm, adorable, surrounded by expensive splendor. Right on the canal, you can sit on the patio and watch people canoe, paddle board, jump off the bridge.

But I want to stop here and perform a public service. It’s about the important bitter-sweet rules of being an old lady. Of which I am one. You know how you look at an elderly person and think “do I look that old?” Yes, in fact you do.

We’ll start here. I’ve been led to believe that old people fall down all the time. I haven’t witnessed examples of old people crumpled here and there all around, but at every intersection with a person of the medical persuasion I am asked “Have you been falling?” My advice, therefore, is Watch Your Step. Don’t trip, stumble, think no-one will notice. “There goes another one down,” and your Primary Care will hear of it and take away your driver’s license. Or your daughter-in-law will tell your daughter, and that’s just as bad.

Next, yes, extra-long black false eyelashes are definitely in style right now. We’re all so tired of those masks covering up our beautiful smiles, so let’s focus on our eyes. But they’re not meant for you, my fellow LOL. Little Old Lady. Tattoos? Probably better give them a pass. Okay, how about those super short skirts or shorts which reveal the whole butt from the thong out? I’m thinking no. Please.

It’s okay if you can’t figure out how to acquire your boarding pass on your phone. Make your son do it. Calling for Uber from Starbucks can be tricky if your phone won’t do what you tell it to, but don’t worry. There’s a young person nearby who will be willing to help. You just have to ask, and if she calls you “honey,” that’s okay, too.

People may want to do things for you that you can do perfectly well yourself. And “Are you okay to walk here, on the sand?” Of course you are. “Can you manage these stairs, or should we take the ramp?” Jesus. No snapping. You have to accept this sort of thing with the grace which you have learned in your long years.

We know how funny we can be at a gathering. Right? One grandkid tells a cute story about how he was busted buying beer, how he had to give up the fake I.D., turn over the beer and ride his sorry ass home on his bike. But your story about how Boris Johnson’s resignation is the first instance in history of sinking ships leaving the rats just isn’t equally funny in this setting. Wait for your book club. They’ll get it.

Above all, don’t try to use a foreign language. What do “swag” or “queen” even mean? Not what you think.

What I’m saying is, it’s fine to be old you. Wear something expensive and gorgeous, even if you pick it out at the Good Will store, and smile your beautiful enigmatic smile. Remember that you were young once, and they’ll be old soon enough. Then have another glass of that lovely Moet.

Back to Balboa! Jan and his two kids did come over to the cottage the next day. We sat outside, wore our masks, and managed to have a lovely, funny time. His daughter, Lotte, is the age Jan was when he arrived in Oregon to live with us for a year. She’s beautiful, and it’s hard to comprehend how mature 16 years old can be. Of course, Covid changed everything for those school years in Germany, too.

And our grands? Amy living in a brownstone in New York, working. Charlie spending a semester in Vienna, then a couple of weeks in Jordan, I think, riding an uncooperative camel. Alli in Europe and what she loved most was her time in Poland, visiting, among other wonders, a salt mine. The little cat which adopted her in Mykonos. Andrew cooking lamb racks with Grandma Margie, and Will working for a moving company over the summer. Better pay than the golf course of last year, and more interesting.

Here’s the one photo I can offer:

Left row front: Will, Alli, Jenny. Top, behind the POLY shirt, Charlie, Andrew, Peter, Amy. Front row middle: Margie, Allison. I’m assuming you can identify me, Larry.

Okay, so how long is a fortnight? Fourteen days. Seems the old English counted the nights, not the days, so “fourt” “fourteen” and “night” was because the two-week period was fourteen nights.

Back home at the farm, the dishwasher is chugging, Larry reading the Economist, and me? I need to go practice! Banjo camp is approaching.

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