Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Midnight Surprise

Life in general has kept most of my recent posts dealing with the goings on in my family instead of my gardens.  Not that this is a bad thing as my blog was intended to chronicle both.  Late last night I was ushering the dogs outside before retiring for the evening.  Miss Betty patiently sits and waits for me to attach her wheels as the other two dogs hurtle out the door in a frenzied dash to see if they can scare up any unwanted creatures of the night.  I shake my head when I hear them bark at nothing more than the dark.  I lift and slip her now useless back legs into the stirups and fasten the harness, Betty turns and with a gentle loving look as though she is thanking me she rolls out to act as crowd control.  Popeye atempts to dash past her but she cuts him off as if to say, "Ok you, calm down and do your business." As I stand in the night air I catch a slight fragrance in the air, could it be?  I turn to the greenhouse doors a short seven feet down the path behind me, the fragrance getting stronger as I come near.  I opened the door and the fan at the back of the greenhouse quickly flushes the fragrance into my face, it is intoxicatingly strong.  I return to the house and to alert MeMa and we both return, she with her IPhone and I with a flashlight as there are no lights yet in the greenhouse (on the list).

Night-blooming Cereus - Epiphyllum oxypetalum

This midnight beauty is one of five in bloom and there are two more buds that will be open the following night.  Their white petals have the softness and color of a downy swans feather.  And fragrance so unbelievably strong.  The outer ray of petals give it an easy eight inch circumference.

The show is short lived, by morning they are closed up never to open again.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Mickey or Love Spud

On June 2nd Sunday early afternoon we celebrated "Little Terrorist #2" Brooklyn's birthday, he turned five on June 1st. It was a lovely party with lots of great food and Brooklyn received lots of wonderful gifts.
On our way home MeMa decided we should stop at the market and purchase a couple steaks and potatoes for baking as it was early in the day still and we would most definitely be hungry later. When we arrived in the produce I reached in the bin for a couple of good sized Russets and this is what I pulled out.

I handed it to MeMa and told her "I got you a love potato." But knowing my wife who is the biggest Mickey Mouse fan alive, I am quite sure she was thinking it would look lovely in the "Mickey Room" along with all her other Mickey memorabilia. Alas regardless of being either a love potato or Mickey incarnate it looked and tasted great with that steak.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

For Better or Worse

When sadness comes into our lives it can hit us hard with repercussions that may or may not change our lives.  Last week my father called to tell me that his sister Joan had fallen in her home and would undergo emergency surgery to stop bleeding in her brain.  After surgery it was discovered that she was bleeding on the other side of the brain.  With this discovery my aunts life came to an end.  My father has been dealing quietly and lovingly with pain of his own, as my mother has been diagnosed with lung cancer,  and as if that was not enough, she suffers from dementia as well.  My lovely mother born into that generation of wives that never learned to drive a car or work outside the home.  My father got up every morning and left for work, his morning kiss his promise to be home for supper while his loving wife stayed home, fed and dressed her kids for school, cleaned house and made supper.  When her family was gathered at the dining room table she sat back listening as husband and children told her of all the things that happened in their day.
Our arrival in Spain. I'm the better looking one of the twins

The cancer is slow but the dementia is progressing at an alarming rate and because of that my father said he was not going to fly home for the funeral or to be with the few remaining members of a once very large family.  There comes a point in your life when the people you have left must be cherished before they too become nothing more than memories.  I told my father to go, that I would stay with my mother until his return.

My grandmother and mother.  I am still the better looking one of the twins

During the week that I spent in my fathers stead, I would make the meals and tidy up as my mother hovered near me talking endlessly about family and events in our life.  Often she would get names and stories confused so in order to diffuse her frustration I would change the subject completely.  She would quite often ask where my father was and I would tell her again what had happened.  Dates mean nothing to her as she has no ability to judge time or days in a week and would ask about her next doctors appointment at least thirty times a day.  I was so glad when her Friday appointment came.  The doctor and nurses loved the way she talked about her children as though we were still just little kids.  Her appointment was for the removal of 1.5 liters of fluid from her lung, a process that has been done three times in about four months.  The doctor told her that she would have to have a permanent drain put in because draining it with a needle was to risky from now on.  My mother smiled sweetly and told her that she wouldn't make that sort of decision on her own and they would have to wait until she was able to discuss this with her husband.  The doctor and nurse started to argue that they could have this done in ten minutes time and show me how to drain her lung at home. My mother never stopped smiling but repeated that she would have to talk to her husband.  I told them that he gets home this weekend and they could schedule an appointment then.  My mother looked at the baffled group in front of her and again introduced me for about the third time as one of her twin boys, saying how surprised she is that we still look so much alike.
Hands down the better looking one of the twins
My love for my parents has always been strong, my respect for my father even stronger.  The quiet battle he fights every day and night taking care of a house and its duties that he only had to come home to before.  Now he does it all without complaint and sees to his wife's needs.  A goodnight kiss their promise to be there for each other in the morning. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Menagerie Manor On Hold

My father will be flying to Philadelphia to attend his sister’s funeral and I will be staying with my mother who has been very ill for some time now. I do hope she won't object to my cooking and cleaning skills as those have become questionable over the years. A son's duties will keep me from posting or reading blogs for the next week, but will be very excited to read about your goings on when I return.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Another Visit to The Red Pig

Menagerie Manor sits on a fairly large lot as properties go in the city and every inch of garden is used.  So to keep up on the high maintenance and my insatiable love for the coolest of cool garden implements I have amassed quite a collection of the latest and greatest.  And the folks that hook me up when I get a little needy are Bob and Rita Denman of Red Pig Garden Tools.

I recently e-mailed Bob about building me a custom designed dibbler.  I needed a multi dibble dibbler to plant garlic, onions, corn and flower bulbs.  So last week when Mr. Denman called to say my multi dibble dibbler was done I....dashed.

I and future gardeners in the Chambers family will be dibbling in style for many years as these great tools are hand forged by Bob who has his own Black Smithy in one of the two, hundred year old barns at Red Pig.  He builds each tool with the expert care and ability that he used on my Dibbler as well as the many other tools I have in the garden shed.  If you are interested they have a wonderful Web site.
Over the 38 years here at Menagerie Manor I have owned very few gas or electric tools and either give them away or they just don't hold up.  Their demise or disappearance doesn't bother me much as I have almost every tool for the job at hand.  It just takes a little longer to get some of the jobs done but the end result always comes out well when one takes care and pride in what they do.  Also the "Crazy Cat Lady" (CCL) next door, starts hissing when anyone in the neighborhood fires up a leaf blower or gas mower.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Why Did The Goose Cross The Road?

MeMa and I had just dropped off our shampooer at the eldest son's and were on our way home when we hit a snag in the traffic.  All four lanes of the busy expressway were at a stand still when we noticed up ahead the reason for the traffic.  Canadian Geese will band together several nests of goslings, sort of gosling daycare.  This is just what was happening as around twenty little goslings and at least four large adult geese were on a very slow waddle across the lanes of traffic.  Unfortunately when they arrived at the other side there was no place for them to go..... so the group of parents turned their goslings around and started back from were they came.  The impatient traffic had unfortunately started to move causing the group to break up.  MeMa cried out and that was enough for me, as I jumped out of the car I removed my jacket and held it at a right angle gently moving it and herded the entire group back to the safety of the park they had come from.  And I was thankful for the waves of gratitude from the drivers who waited patiently until I was safely back in my vehicle and moving.

It is a rough shot but that pile that looks like road kill was part of the mass of goslings

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Wonderful Oregon Rain....No really I Mean it

Several of my "blogger buddies" have mentioned in their posts that they too are having rain soaked days.  But the difference with them is they seem to be making the best of it and write about how lush their gardens are, whilst I spend most of my time bad mouthing Mother Natures attempt to keep Oregon green.  So this morning I woke and told myself keep a positive attitude old boy and leave the weather reporting to the weather person.  Well that won't be so hard as today we are getting some sunshine.
We have had a very busy life this past week, it was the Holiday (Memorial Day) that sped things up a bit as we were up early Saturday morning picking flowers and then trundled them off to the coast to decorate MeMa's family graves.  On our way back to Portland we made a side trip to help our eldest son Nathan move some furniture and then a quick trip to my grandparent's grave to place some of the Potter Geraniums there which has been a tradition since my grandfathers death.
Sunday the "Little Terrorists" Taeya and Lucy spent the night, so we had a rousing night of high noise level with lots of giggles and acting silly, staying up a little late (naughty grandparents).  Sleeping in and having waffles with lots of syrup, did I say lots?  More giggles fueled by syrup.  MeMa made a great potato salad and I Bar-B-Qued hamburgers which seems the traditional supper for Memorial day.
I took Tuesday off..... because I can, and did a bunch of errands and a little yard work.  So here gang is where I say nice things about the rain.  Yes....... the rain has been just lovely this time of year....after all without it the beautiful little cowslip that I nearly spent time in jail for bringing contraband through Canadian customs last year would never have made it.

They really are quite beautiful
 When the customs lady asked if we had any fruit or veggies I said "no" as MeMa held up a bag of lichi nuts.  We were sent to the bad kids line and agents swarmed over our car removing all contents including the bag of lichi nuts but never found the plastic bag of cowslip under the drivers seat.  It really is MeMa's fault for not watching me more closely, I am not responsible.....plant thievery is an illness.  I know this post is rambling but do keep up, I haven't praised the rain enough.
with all the lovely rain the aphids have been kept at bay on the lupine bed.

and the Acanthus never lost last years leaves, so are doubled in size and flowering early.

with the continued rain the giant Gunera will soon dwarf the aviary.

and with all that lovely rain I was able to spend time planting six trays of giant Zinnias.

I have never seen so many flowers on my Carolina Jasmine.

Rhododendron Yakusimanum is thriving in the wet.

Out on the front porch my six foot Bird of Paradise is a reminder that although it is not a warm tropical rain one has to make do with what one recieves.  I LOVE THE RAIN!!