Monday, July 19, 2021

Making The Best Of A Situation

As the saying goes “When you are served lemons, you make lemonade.” So that’s exactly what we did. Last year the city of Portland notified us that they would be removing a large portion of our front walk and installing a wheelchair ramp. I asked if that was a wise expense since there are driveway approaches on either end. The response was “They are not ADA approved.”

As the work began the first lemon rolled our way....they needed to cut into my neatly trimmed ground cover, “Just a little bit” because the walkway was not wide enough to accommodate large wheelchairs.

That’s not “a little bit”.

They were very apologetic as they removed more and then a little more.

The work was finished but the problem remaining was the portion of the ground cover that was left quickly started dying, not to mention was very unsightly.

So with the help of our son Nathan it was removed.

And we now have lemonade.


Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Fix It

Up early this morning we busied ourselves getting Miss Roxy fed and then outside to do her business and then loaded her into the car for a thirty minute drive to Hillsboro were MeMa checked into the Hospital to have her third stent replacement which help protect her kidneys while the chemotherapy continues.  As usual I was able to go in with her while all the paper work was completed but  because of Covid restrictions we said our goodbye's and then I joined Miss Roxy in the car. Try as I might I just can't get comfortable in this car......not our car. Yesterday a pesky little warning light appeared on the reader board of our car so we stopped at the dealer to have it checked out. We were given a rental and the nice lady told us they would let us know. It was a combination of MeMa's successful surgery this morning and having to drive this god awful rental, that when the nice lady called back and said the problem will disappear when we approve the 12 hundred dollar bandaid. I said, "Fix it, I hate this rental, I want my heated seats, sunroof and all those electric buttons and gizmos that this rental doesn't have ." And I promise I won't complain about the fact that it is dark grey instead of red, even when I can't find it the next time leave it in a parking lot filled with dark grey cars. 


This car was parked in front of me at the Hospital. I was a bit slow when I looked at the jumble of letters but then I put the type of car, an Infinity with the plate NBYND. The Toy Story hero Buzz Lightyears famous saying "To Infinity and Beyond" 

A first timer Peony bloom in the garden - Duchess de Nemours

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Photo Op


While my wife was having chemotherapy our eldest son did a great job of keeping me distracted. I was showing him what I had planted in the kitchen garden when this little Anna's Hummingbird fed on the pendulous flowers of this clump of Cerinth growing along the fence of the old chicken yard.  She was completely unafraid of us standing less than a foot away and didn't mind us snapping photo after photo.

Thursday, May 20, 2021



It is peony season here at the moment and like Camelia season it is over with in a hurry. MeMa picks as many as she can and brings them in the house where our unpredictable weather will not play a roll in  shortening their already short bloom period. Peonies are one flower that can be picked while in a tight bud, brought into the house and in a few days they bloom and make a lovely display.

Tree Peony "Boreas"

Bush peony "Mothers Choice"

Intersectional Peony "Garden Treasure"

In all we have around twelve different peonies and plenty of room for new ones. And if we are feeling up to going to the Peony Festival this year I have prepared the beds for any new purchases. I had a treatment yesterday, my fifth. Tomorrow morning MeMa has another five hour chemo infusion and typically is feeling poorly for the next three days.

When the peony beds are finished blooming then my collection of hydrangeas (20+) start their long bloom period and halfway into that season MeMa's dahlias start blooming.
In the meantime there are so many other plants and flowers to enjoy. When MeMa is not able to wander about the gardens that I have built for her enjoyment then she can lounge in the sunroom which looks right out into the gardens.

The main view out the sunroom

We have 18 trees in the gardens, but one of my very favorites is this golden chain.


My Holden Clough Iris 

Calla Lilies

Very patriotic looking Basket that our eldest son gave MeMa for Mothers Day

Just planted this window box on the kitchen window

By the end of the day we are all exhausted, even Miss Roxy. It's a lot of work being cute.

The End


Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Busy Week

 When I drew back the curtains this morning there was a group of dog walkers standing out front with cell phones pointed my way. One of them gave a wave as I stepped back into the shadow of the parlor. They were taking photos of the old Mt Fuji Cherry tree that is in its height of bloom and others were taking photos of the Monkey Puzzle tree. They were all happily talking and comparing photos while their dogs looked for something more to pee on. 

It has been an exhausting week here at Menagerie Manor. The Crazy Cat Lady who lives next door announced that she was going to have her current drive removed and a new one installed. So we told her to hold off her contractor and we would have our old oil tank decommissioned.  A past neighbor three properties over was in the process of  selling her house and was told she couldn't do so until she had her oil tank decommissioned. She got an estimate of five thousand dollars and by time they finished she had to pay fifteen thousand because it leaked and the soil had to be removed as well as most of her cement drive in order to get to the contaminated soil. Her house was built in the 50's and Menagerie Manor was built in 1916 so we expected a considerable expense. That old tank has to have leaked, but we were very wrong. The company that I called arrived promptly and told me that our tank was pre-war so it was probably made of better material. during and after the war there was a shortage of metal so the tanks are an inferior quality. They took a core sample and sent it in to be tested. We received a letter back from the state and they said there was leakage on one end but very insignificant so no further testing was necessary and the tank could be decommissioned.

The tank itself is eight feet long and would hold 675 gallons of oil which we had pumped out 30 years ago when we switched to natural gas. They had to dig down and remove a small opening to the top of the tank, clean out the small amount of sludge. and fill it with all of these bags of perlite.
After they left I re-planted the two Rhododendrons back over top of the tank area and it looked as though nothing happened. The whole process cost us just under two thousand dollars. 
Basically at the same time the oil tank debacle was going on our 20 year old gas furnace decided it was going to retire immediately without two weeks notice. So I called our good friend who happens to own the heating and cooling company that we have always dealt with. So with "friends of the family" discount and several other discounts mostly due to our age and just over five thousand dollars we now have heat

The new one reminds me of a hot rod with all of its fancy pipe work on the top

They are returning tomorrow to install an extra heat vent in the laundry room free of charge so our resident tortoises will have an abundance of heat during the colder season. The installers were quite taken by 110 year old Ruby and the young buck Elmo at 85 years.

This is a photo of our eldest son Nathan holding Ruby shortly after I rescued her, Nathan is 41 years old now.

This is myself holding Ruby many years later just before I retired.

While all these escapades were going on the city was hard at work ripping out a perfectly good sidewalk in front of our home.

They were very careful not to disturb most of the landscape and by the end of the same day they finished up their work and now Menagerie Manor has a new sidewalk with a wheel chair ramp and no it did not cost me a cent......yet!

MeMa has been doing very well with her new Chemo regimen surprising her Oncologist because this chemo is considerably stronger causing severe nausea and vomiting which she has not experienced. I have started my new treatment for bladder cancer as well which will continue for nine weeks. It has also proved to show none of the expected side effects. 
My 88 year old father fell and broke his hip and is recuperating very nicely in a local re-hab, he says the staff are amazing and the food is good. Two things my father loves are good food and nice people. He is doing so well they may release him to my sisters care by the end of next week. 
We both received our second Covid vaccines on Easter Sunday, such a relief to have that out of the way. By the second day we both had slight side effects, MeMa was extremely tired and slept which was the best thing. I just felt like every muscle ached but nothing that kept me down. 
As spring blossoms fade, pruning season starts. The roses will soon receive their first dose of fertilizer and the work load increases from there. The trays of annuals in the greenhouse will need to be hardened off before planting out, three different varieties of zinnias, two varieties of marigolds, one tray of spider flowered Cleome or Cleome hassleriana, my grandfathers geraniums, eight tomato seedlings and numerous single pots of other annuals.