Monday, July 29, 2013

Bird Watcher's Beware of The Hermit Lush

(Click to enlarge)
Now I know what happened to my evening martini.
And the bugger got the olives as well.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Life Well Lived

Of late our summer evenings have been packed with family events and neighborhood comings and goings that keep us off the front porch.  The front porch at Menagerie Manor is a little bit of paradise, a place one would normally find us on warm summer evenings sitting and talking about each other’s day.   I savoured one such moment sitting quietly on the porch  reflecting on the past week.  As you know from my previous post my dear mother’s valiant battle against cancer was coming to an end.  She battled breast cancer twice only to be told that the radiation treatments caused the lung cancer that snuffed out a life well lived.  Friday July 12th was my parents 61st wedding anniversary, when I walked into the house my father showed me the card and lovely red begonia he bought her.  Saturday July 13th at about 04:15 in the wee hours of the morning my sister alerted my father that silence was present on the monitor.  They checked mom's  heart beat and felt two small beats then that to fell silent.  Calls to the rest of her children were made, we in turn called her grandchildren, and so forth down the family chain.  MeMa and I hurried the short distance from Menagerie Manor to my parents house to pay our last respects.  A phone call to hospice was made and the rest of the events were taken care of for us.  Respect is how I would describe the process that unfolded before us, I can’t thank these caring people enough for the way they treated my mother and the way they helped bring closure. 
“A life well lived” is how I would describe my mother’s.  Every few years packing up their home and children and moving on to a new home, such is the life of a military family.  My mother was an organizer and when her household furnishings arrived our new home was put back together as though magic was involved.  And in three or four years the whole process started again , the difference with our family was both of my parents were aware of the hardships of uprooting their children and they strove with all their being to make leaving one home for next one an adventure. Love for her husband, love of home and love for her children, all of this never stopped.   A life well lived, we love you mom.

Bertha "Bertie" Chambers
July 17, 1931 to July 13, 2013

Monday, July 15, 2013

With Love

With kind permission from my beautiful niece Carly I have copied and pasted her blog post and will be taking a short break from the blog world to be with family, life's most valuable asset.



Bertha Lee Potter Chambers

Bertha Lee Potter Chambers
Perhaps the greatest blessing in my life is that I have been surrounded by love since I was born. Sharing this love back has brought me great joy and filled my days with goodness. My grandmother is one of these people who has humbled me with her kindness and genuine love for others, and I am sad to say that yesterday she passed away. Grandma had been sick for a while, but her illness suddenly took a turn for the worse right before passing. I'm heading back to Oregon today and will unfortunately need to cancel my plans with those of you in Utah and Idaho. I love you all and will try to set something up next time I'm in town.
I only have a moment, but thought I would share just a quick couple of thoughts about her. My grandma is Bertha Lee Potter (yes, I'm related to a Harry Potter through my grandma). She never liked her name much and was subject to many jokes. One time my aunt put an article on their front door titled "BIG BERTHA ARRIVES" for when grandma came home from a trip (it was really for a giant ship arriving in Portland). The name jokes never improved much after she married a Chambers...the combination of Chamberpot was priceless. Her nickname in Spain was Pajarita because Bertie sounded a lot like Birdy.
Grandma, Grandpa, and their 4 kids in Spain
Birdy couldn't have summed her up better. She had a beautiful singsong voice that I loved to listen to. On our long family vacations she taught me to sing classics like "Going to the Chapel" and "You Are My Sunshine." She was my arts and crafts guru, who would sit patiently with me for hours as I tried to knit. I remember one time showing her the scarf I was working on and she saw a mistake about 30 rows back and quickly unwound all my hard work to that spot. I sat there thinking, "that was 3 hours of work! I can live with the blip!" But in 30 seconds flat she had it back to where I left off. Blip free.
Grandma and Grandpa on their honeymoon
Most of all, my grandmother taught me the importance of family. She married my grandpa when she was 21 and passed away a day after their 61 anniversary. She had two twin boys, Ron and Don, and then my dad, followed by Aunt Terri. We were her world, and she made sure we knew it. Every big day in our lives she found a way to be there. When I was younger, we were talking on the phone and she told me they wouldn't be back in Portland yet for my birthday because of their trip. I told her I was sad she wouldn't make it. That was all it took, and she was there that March 16 singing Happy Birthday. And it wasn't just those typical big events she made it to. My grandma and grandpa were at every soccer, lacrosse, racquetball tournament, and dragon boat race I stepped foot in. You could not find a set of more diehard fans than my loyal grandparents. Rain or shine, and even hail or snow, they were there cheering me on. And at the end of every game, I was always the rockstar, or so she said.
Grandma and Grandpa at my graduation from BYU April 2012
I am grateful for the influence that she had in my life. I miss the hugs and kisses that were always aplenty, the hands that dried my tears and would bang on those pots and pans in my one-year-old band, and the constant support she offered me in every decision I made. I love you, Grandma.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Never Expect

   Never expect anything, that way the events of the day will always be a surprise.  That has always been one of my credos in life, call it what you may but it is also a form of self preservation. Disappointment is a feeling I can do without.  MeMa has often voiced her disappointment over an event of some sort and then looked at me in amazement because I calmly went about my day unfettered by the outcome.  If I become upset it is usually because my lovely wife becomes emotional to the point of tears, which I can't bear and the same with the "Little Terrorists", tears just send me over the edge.

   Last week was our 39th wedding anniversary, we usually spend the day doing something like a day at the beach or a quiet stay at the cabin enjoying each others company.  But my twin brother was in town for the first time in many, many years so we both set our day aside and had the whole family over for a very nice evening in the garden.
While my brother was here our parents drove him to Morro for a bit family history, but the trip
 proved exhausting for our mother

Originally the plan was dinner at a local restaurant but my mother's health is so poor that she tires quickly and becomes difficult to handle, so MeMa suggested they all come to Menagerie Manor and feast at tables set in the garden with the lovely weather we have been having.

Lucy puckers up for GG Ma

Our eldest son Nathan and his beautiful family

An independent child, Lucy preferred to ride alone
Taeya and Brooklyn

   I turned 60 on the fifth, yep that's me and my twin, a couple of delayed fire crackers.  Anyway after 60 birthdays I would really rather spend the day puttering in the greenhouse.  I have had every kind of birthday celebration including two surprise parties, one being on a train that was rented for just the occasion unbeknownst  to me.  I have had big grand parties with gifts that would spoil anyone, birthdays that were intimate, birthdays, birthdays and more birthdays.  On my 60th instead of puttering in the greenhouse  MeMa, myself, the Crazy Cat Lady (without her litter box) and two other neighbors were asked to appear at another neighbors competency hearing before a judge whose job it was to decide if she was truly a danger to herself or to let her come home, home next door to Menagerie Manor, by herself to terrorize the neighborhood again at all hours of the night and day.  Paranoid schizophrenia  is a difficult condition to deal with when there is no one to monitor whether you take your med's or not, in her case, not!   Having lived next door for about ten years we were very sympathetic at first but after the last couple of years being awakened in the middle of the night by her ringing the door bell over and over at least twenty times because she imagined someone in her house.  Or finding large amounts of spoiled food sitting on our doorstep.  She would often ask to use our phone only to find that she had left with it and then have strange people calling our house asking to speak to her.  Before long everyone in the neighborhood lived with their draperies closed tight day and night because they were as tired as we were of having the living shit scared out of them after discovering her peering into their windows with both hands cupped around her eyes.  The topper was the announcement of a "week long garden extravaganza with live music until night fall."  We found her stopping strangers in their cars and inviting them to the party.  Fortunately for all of us at 04:15 in the wee hours of the morning she had another episode of paranoia that brought her to the street screaming at the top of her lungs that someone was in her house.  The police were called who in turn called for medical and she was sedated after some very nasty slaps and attempted bites issued to all those involved in her rescue.  A peace fell on the neighborhood, everyone slept soundly for the first time in many months and the next morning all the draperies were drawn back to let in the light and fresh air.  The week long garden extravaganza was thwarted.
   So you can understand my frustration as I drove the hour and some minutes to the city of Forest Grove  on my 60th birthday with a van full of neighbors to a facility for the mentally unstable where the hearing was to be held.  Her social worker and two police officers were called in first as we waited in the hall.  After three and a half hours an officer came out and told us that our testimonies would not be necessary as the first three were sufficient.  There was never a thank you for your time or kiss my ass. The door was unlocked and we were directed outside.  It was a long hour and some minutes drive back to Portland.
   Two days later was the annual neighborhood BBQ which is always a nice evening with friends, great food and drink supplied by all households.  As I was sitting back enjoying a rather nice single malt scotch a small band of neighbors approached me carrying a blazing sheet cake and singing Happy Birthday, they sat it in front of me and even though the heat from all those candles was pretty intense I managed to blow them all out.  The cake was shared and I was handed a card signed by all.  You know after 60 years of birthdays the party is still fun.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Good Find

I always keep an unwritten list of little projects or ideas that I would like to complete in the garden's here at Menagerie Manor.  We were recently attending the Annual Eastmorland Garage Sales, an event that draws large crowds of people looking for great bargains and treasures.  Our youngest son Ian and his family always meet us there as well, and traditionally we all go home with some fairly great finds.  Usually things for the Little Terrorists but once in a while something for this big kid.

I found this 1922 wooden pillar for $25.00.  My idea is to set it back in one of the flower beds, put a large pot of trailing annuals on the top and either a clematis or climbing rose at the base.  As you can see it is quite tall so will need to be made very secure so as not to be a danger to the Little Terrorists,  pets, or aged clumsy gardeners.