Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas 2012 - That's A Wrap !

 I would give MeMa a big hug for doing Christmas up so fine but my back is still out and that sort of activity is risky for this old fart.  So well done dear!

But I did a marvelous job of holding up the piano if I don't say so myself.
Besides doing all the gift purchasing she did all the wrapping (a talent I have never mastered), very tastefully decorated the thirteen rooms at Menagerie Manor, shopped for and cooked Christmas dinner for all the family.  All this accomplished along with trivial interruptions like breaking her ankle, babysitting grandkids with stomach flu, coming down with said flu and back on her feet and running the next day.  Only to get a call that her father was in emergency with a nasty bump on his head after falling out of his chair.  He is ok and back at the care facility but MeMa had a battle to get him there and after she insisted on an investigation, she found out that the a staff member had left him unattended in his wheelchair and the poor guy tried to get himself back into bed.
The garden room was the ideal site for such a group, so that meant we had to empty the room in order to place the tables. 

The meal was finished and we all retired to the living room.....

......when my mother blew the whistle on the bright jolly old elf's appearance.
Brooklyn was thrilled with his "supper cool box of Lego's"

Taeya magically transformed into Princess Jasmine as though the genie himself did it.

Christmas gifts out of the way it was time to celebrate "Little Terrorist #3", Lucy's 1st Birthday.
What did MeMa and Poppi get her?

The bright red upright piano MeMa found for her was a complete hit....enjoy the concert.
Lucy thought the cake was delicous to eat and wear. 
"The Little Terrorists"
Adrianne, A├║ngelle with Lucy, Taeya and Brooklyn
So after a quick bath and jammie's, birthday girl joined the rest of the grandkids for a goofy picture to end a most enjoyable night and to wish you a safe and wonderful New Year coming.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Menagerie Manor Greeting Christmas in Style

First... I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.
Second... I would like to thank Little Terrorist #3 Lucy for passing the stomach flu to all of us early so that we are over it before the actual holiday.
Third...I would like to thank MeMa for insisting yesterday that I purchase this heat wrap thingy for my back as the pain is nearly all gone.
Fourth...I would like to thank my dear parents for volunteering to purchase a pre-cooked turkey to go with our Christmas ham after we found out that there would be sixteen dinner guests instead of twelve.
Fifth...I would like to thank my entire family for being so understanding when I called them all this morning (Christmas Eve) to tell them that dinner would be at three instead of four because all our children are coming to open gifts in the evening instead of the morning.
Sixth...I would like to thank my entire office for just talking among themselves and pretending they didn't hear me using expletives on the phone when dealing with "One more problem!!!!"

Seventh... I would like to thank the Mayans for being wrong thus far about the end of the world because the orchid that my twin brother Don gave me a cutting of finally bloomed.  That's right you twits,  just flip the damn calendar over and get on with the rest of the year.

I hope and pray you all have the most wonderful New Year.

Monday, December 17, 2012

December 11th

I could tell when I pulled in the drive that MeMa was not home yet as the house was dark.  I looked at my watch to see that it was past the time she would normally be home.  Just as I layed my work bag down my cell phone started to ring and when I answered there was her voice telling me she was headed to Clackamas Town Center to check on a few gifts for the Little Terrorists.  Not a problem I told her, I was going to change and head out to the garden to do some clean-up.  An hour at least passed when my phone went off again, MeMa’s voice, only this time she gave a nervous chuckle and said it will be a bit before she returns home as she was barricaded in one of the Mall stores with other shoppers because there had been a shooting and the Mall was on lock down.  She said she was in the back of the store behind shelves and out of sight, and not to worry.  I turned the TV on and there was an aerial shot of the mall, the reporter talking about two deaths and possibly more.  They had a triage tent set up in the parking lot and it was so hard to see the scene because of all the ambulance and police cars had their lights flashing.  The nearby freeway ramps had been shut down and hundreds of police swarmed the Mall immediately when they arrived, a new policy to prevent more deaths of innocent people.  In the past they approached slowly in order to access the situation better, but that process often meant more deaths.  My pulse raced but I felt in my heart that my lovely wife was safe.  About another hour MeMa called and said the police told them if they are able to get to their cars they would like them to leave so that was when she called, as she was headed to her car and leave the Mall.  I stayed on the phone with her until she was clearing the Mall and headed home.  Two innocent people died that night a third rushed to the hospital near death, the gunman dead by his own hand before he could kill any more innocent shoppers.  That evening I happily went about our normal night time routines and thought how lucky we are to be safe in our home together and prayed a silent prayer for the families of the victims who are going through their private hell this close to Christmas.  
At work  that Friday December 14th was just a typical Friday, I busied myself getting work done so that I might get done early because Little Terrorist #1 Taeya was going to sing in her school Christmas performance and I didn’t want to be late.  I dashed down to the mail room to get my daily pile and as I returned to my office I was asked if I had heard the news of Sandy Hook Elementary School?  The news was the blackest most evil thing I had heard.  Innocent children the youngest only a little older than my own granddaughter, the news hit me like I had been punched, knocking the wind out of me.  All these little children dead, shot as many as eleven times at close range.  The motive??? Who knows, there is no motive for this senseless act of violence against innocent children.  I arrived at Taeya's school early and waited in the car listening to the ongoing investigation that was to give no answers.  I gathered myself together so that when I greeted my granddaughter I was nothing but her smiling Poppi.
Our Taeya is in the red dress on the right

The sparkle and magic of the performance was so contagious that the evil of the world was soon lost, pushed away from thought by the singing of little voices.

Little Lucy watching as big sister performed


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

When Are You Going to Retire?

Nothing to say about the garden and no photos of what is in bloom as with this dreary weather it is hard to make anything outdoors look cheery.  No cute photos of the creatures of Menagerie Manor.   Just a trip to my long time dentist for my six month checkup and cleaning.   Dr. H has been our family dentist since the very early 70’s.  Now I’m getting old but that makes him really old.  After my hygienist removes her hands and equipment from my gawb and our long one sided conversation about house painting has come to an end, Dr. H comes in for the final inspection.   He stops at the door, a very meticulous white haired gentleman, tall in stature and always a gentle smile.  “Well now I thought you would have been retired by now."  I turn to him with an incredulous look on my face and say in return “You're one to talk."   He chuckles and takes a seat alongside me as he performs the final inspection.  As he is gently prodding around I think why should he retire?  Here is a man who has made his mark on life, runs a very successful business with a large staff that has been with him for many years and who basically do most of the work.  All he has to do is show up for these final inspections and his day is done.  Oh sure there is the little surgeries here and there, but mostly it is those final inspections and then back to his plush office until duty calls again.  MaryKate my hygienist leans in to tell me, “Always clean your paint brushes and they will be with you till the end!"  I look at her with puzzled look until I remember her, er our one sided conversation. “Thank you.  I will go and do that straight away." I smile and walk out the door knowing I don’t have any paint brushes but I do have the marvelous Lee’s, the ninjas of the paint world who do all my painting for me.  On my drive I remember Dr. H’s question as to my retirement and I think of him sitting in his plush office with his gentle smile.  Why should we retire or give up something that “fits” into our lives? If it makes us happy, keeps us motivated and doesn’t keep us from doing familial duties or hamper our health.  Why should I or Dr. H retire?  Tomorrow I will drive to my office sit down at my desk and eventually one of our many employees will walk in needing this or that and they will ask “Doc….when are you going to retire?", and I will smile and think of Dr. H.  

Monday, December 3, 2012

We Have Babies

In my recent post titled "Priority Mail" I documented the arrival of my true strain Endler Guppies.  A rare little fish that has become extinct in the wild and nearly impossible to find in the aquarium trade.  Last night I was greeted by six new little faces at feeding time.  One of two pregnant females gave live birth at some point during the day and the second one is due soon.  I have circled two of the six and blacked out the glare of the flash.  Sorry, I never professed to be a photographer.


We now have sixteen and two exhausted mums.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Winters Approach

When one is responsible for keeping up with a large and high maintenance garden one really must get off his arse and get out there and get things done. So that is what I have been doing for the last few days of unexpected sunshine.
The bubble wrap insulation wisely installed before all the large container plants were brought into the greenhouse for winter storage.

And I have put Thanksgiving away and am sorting through Christmas lights and decorations.  Every year I tell myself that I will only put out a few lights but when I pull the boxes out of the garage attic the little boy comes out in me and before I know it I am putting them all up again.  It is getting quite harrowing to decorate the Monkey Puzzle tree and I have the punctured fingers to show for it.  The "Crazy Cat Lady" hissed from her front porch that I really should have someone hold that ladder to which I declined any of her involvement, only to have a gust of wind blow just as I stepped away and the damn thing came crashing down.  C.C.L. hissed and growled something and retreated into her dark house.

There is a reason why this tree has survived through the millennia.

After that I cleaned up a few flowerbeds raking leaves and debris and depositing it into my composters. There is still a bit of color to be found in the gardens.
These sunny faced chrysanthemums,  I don't know the variety as they were just some cuttings
 I rooted from a neighbors yard.

This chrysanthemum is called "Emily" a very hardy long time resident at the Manor.

The last few zinnias have now been removed leaving the Purple Beauty bush to show off its fall glory.

Picked this little gem up at a flea market. I plan on pressure washing the blue paint off.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Innocence of Youth

Four year old "Little Terrorist #2" Brooklyn is not imparting any philosophies of life or ill thoughts toward the camera man.  He was simply showing his latest boo boo to daddy who could not resist a photo on his cell phone.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Missing Drawer

A while back MeMa brought this single wooden drawer home knowing that her husband has a thing for cool boxes and drawers.
It was left on the school's loading dock just outside the library windows when she noticed it, and knowing that this is where things are placed prior to being dropped into the trash dumpster she placed the drawer into her car and sent me a photo.  When I got home I carried the drawer out to my tool shop.  It has all these lovely dividers which will work great for little odds and ends that I never know what to do with.
About three days later I received another picture message from MeMa titled "recognize the missing drawer"?

I immediately text back, "Are we in trouble?" To which her response was, "No, they just were slower getting this monster out of the building, it's headed for the trash."  I quickly closed up the office and while running to my van I text that I was on my way and that I wanted the "monster".  Well built is the only way to describe this piece of furniture as now days items such as these are made out of that imitation wood in order to make them in mass quantities and made so they can be easily moved. Problem being they are also made to easily get rid of in this throw away society that we live in.  After arriving I immediately started making room for it in the van, while MeMa and the school custodian stood shaking their heads telling me it was too heavy to lift.  I told them one way or the other it was coming home to my tool shop.  I started pulling drawers out and loading them up on the back seat when MeMa said she would go sweet talk the other custodians into helping me load the box.  It took myself and three others to lift it into the back and even then I had to drive the short way home with it hanging out the back of the van about a foot.  After getting it home I placed my appliance mover at the back of the van then shoved with all my might and dropped the beast directly in place.  I then strapped it on and moved it into place were my old roll around tool box currently sat.

The back of the box is angled allowing each drawer to be a little deeper in length than the drawer above it.  Some drawers are also very shallow while others are deep making it an excellent tool box.  There are twenty four drawers and each one has from two to four wood dividers giving me plenty of room for tools and other instruments that are usually stuffed in the three tool boxes and the roll around that are now empty and have found new homes.

My shop is complete with this addition, everything is organized and has its place.  I guess I have no excuse for not getting some of the projects done that clutter my work bench.

With Thanksgiving's Approach

Regardless if you celebrate this holliday or not Menagerie Manor would like to wish you all a wonderful start to the holiday season.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Day In The Garden

It has been a mix of rain and sunshine this past weekend, unseasonably warm which found me out in the garden planting next summers garlic crop.  I put in three rows of Hood River garlic and four cloves of Elephant Garlic for roasting.

MeMa's Ladies all stood at the chicken yard fence watching me plant each and every clove, probably thinking that they would go back and dig out all of them as soon as I let them out to free range.  I did a major water change on the pond and then dumped a twenty pound bag of salt into the mix.  After losing one of our favorite and oldest Koi last winter I am not going to take any more chances.  I cleaned all the rain gutters and cut the grass down low as with this warm start to winter it was starting to look like elephant grass.  The orchid house is bursting at the seams with winter storage plants and I have started all of my grandfathers geranium cuttings setting two flats on the potting bench for next summer. Orchid number 21 Cattaleya "Tangerine Imp" has bloomed for the second time this year.

And blooming for about the fourth time this year is Orchid number 44, Vanda "Murphy's Gold"

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fourth Annual Giant Pumpkin Parade

As community spirit goes.......well lets just say it was high with squealing children, barking dogs and laughing adults.  Five pm was the witching hour on 62nd Avenue.  All the side streets were soon filled with droves of residents all walking down to neighbor Ann Storrs large courtyard, the gathering place for marchers in the parade.

Most everyone wore a costume of some sort including this butterfly duo.
 A bit of brown nosing when the Royals showed up.

It took some bribes but we got our family to pose before heading to Ann's.

This years Pumpkin was hidden away in Ann's studio, so as the drive and courtyard in front filled with marchers as the behemoth made its unveiling.


First a Kodak moment and then the march got underway.

Everyones favorite MeMa didn't have enough hands to hold and carry parasoles.

Little Terrorist #2 Brooklyn was an impressive Ghost Buster.

There are other pumpkins in the parade but none compared to the giant.

After the parade and before the Little Terrorists were turned loose for Tricks-or-Treats we all headed back to Menagerie Manor for a meal of MeMa's homemade clam chowder and big loaves of her delicious rustic bread.  The weather held out for the children and not a drop of rain until the lights were turned out.
One more picture and then it was time for two old poops to turn in for the night.