Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Wish

There are moments in all our lives when life itself becomes rather tiresome and it seems that even the simplest tasks in front of us are difficult to complete. But it is with deep sincerity that the Chambers family and all the tail wagging members of Menagerie Manor wish our blogging friends and family a very Merry Christmas and a healthy and Happy New Year.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Brrr Photo Op

This photo was taken two weeks ago, we are having a warmer time now but with a threat of cold returning next week.
Farmers Almanac said that we are to get a long cold winter, mid November and we had ice everywhere. At least we don't live in Buffalo New York, seven feet of snow with people freezing to death in their stranded cars. And now all that snow is melting they are going to be washed off the map.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Photo Op.

Mt. Hood in her quiet splendour.
MEMA shot this photo the other day using her new iPad Mini.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Dead People Hanging About

My father is passing family mementos down to his son's and daughter in preparation of emptying out his house, the house that he and my late mother shared.  Winter he flies down to Arizona where he has his own room in my twin brothers home.  Summer he flies back to Oregon where he will now have his own room at my younger brother's large house.  When we all lived in England back in the late sixties our neighbor in the village of Ardley became a good friend.  Mrs Bond lived in a lovely thatched roof cottage.  One of her hobbies were brass rubbings and before we moved back to the U.S. she gave my parents two of her rubbings, which they had matted and framed.  The largest one now hangs in the Arizona house, a perfect place for it as it stands at about five and a half feet.

The second one has come to live at Menagerie Manor and is much more manageable at slightly less than four feet tall.
The inscription on both are in Latin and I failed to take any notes on the one in Arizona so I will ask my brother to send me any part of it that can be read by non-Latin speaking heathens as ourselves.  The one here at Menagerie Manor clearly reads Paul and Margaret Dayrell, so I got on the Internet and did some perusing and voila, here is what we have.
Paul and Margaret Dayrell
From the Church of St. Nicholas, Lillingstone Dayrell, Buckinghamshire.
The inscription translates to
"Here lies Paul Dayrell, knight and Margaret his wife; this Paul died on the 29th day of March in the year of our Lord 1491; upon whose souls may God have mercy."
Paul is shown in armor of the early Tudor period and his feet rest on a lion.
 Margaret is wearing a
 fur-trimmed gown, gathered at the waist and a variation of the "butterfly" headdress, in the
 fashion of that period.  Margaret Dayrell (Priest) was born in 1438, married Paul Dayrell in 1473 and died in 1491.
 Unfortunately the guest room that Paul and Margaret will be occupying does not have picture rail in it.  Picture rail is a must in old houses that have lath and plaster walls as when one attempts to hammer a nail into it, the nail will just pop out.

The rest of the rooms have the original picture rail as can be seen in this photo of one corner of the parlor. We have dozens of the fancy little hooks that hook into the rail.

And other rooms have picture rail and plate rails that we can sit some of the unframed photos
of grand kids and cherished pets


So I will be calling those carpentry geniuses that just finished the roof on Menagerie Manor to come in and put picture rail in that room and the Master bedroom as well.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Devastating Loss

It is with a heavy heart that I post this bit of sad news from Menagerie Manor.  Last night I lost all but three of our beloved koi fish from our big pond.  Saturday afternoon I had gone out to scoop leaves out of the pond and noticed one of the smaller fish was not well.  I called the local pond shop and described the fishes condition and then asked if they had a supply of rock salt which is a tried and true old remedy for bacteria infections in pond fish.  The young lady told me they just sold the last one but that she didn't think that that was the route I needed to follow and suggested that I dose the pond with a chemical that they had on hand.  So MeMa and I made the long trip out and picked it up.  While there I asked when they would get more salt in and she once again said that the chemical would most likely take care of things but if I wanted some, the feed store down the street sells it in 50 pound bags.  We stopped on our way and purchased one bag to have on hand.  When I got home I immediately put the chemical into the pond and went indoors hoping for the best.  Monday evening after work the dark purple that the chemical turned the water had dissipated and I was able to see the bottom of the pond.  That is a sight I will never forget as all but three of our oldest and dearest fish lay dead at the bottom and the three remaining looked as though they would not last much longer.  After netting out the dead fish I then grabbed the bag of salt and mixed the entire bag into the pond.  This morning I woke expecting to see the three remaining fish to have died during the night but they seem to be resting comfortably in different areas of the pond and not huddled together in misery as they did the night before.  Koi are like elephants in regards to family members, when one gets injured or ill another family member will stay with them giving comfort and sympathy.  Years ago I had a koi that was blind and the other fish would swim next to it directing it to the surface at feeding time.

Elmer (left) and Minikui (right)

Norman (top) Azul (bottom)

Confucius, the oldest at 28

Shimo the platinum Ogone one of the youngest at about eighteen

The three survivors thus far....

A rescue fish that has yet to be named.


Wednesday November 19th  - I have mixed in the last 50 pound bag of salt and so far they are responding to the tried and true treatment that I should have done from the beginning.  Now I just keep my fingers crossed that these three survive the 21 days that they must remain in this salty environment.  I don't hold a lot of faith in dumping chemicals into a pond and am broken- hearted at the great loss of so many cherished members of our koi family.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Head Spin And On To The Next Holiday

Franklin high school where MeMa works as the Text Book Clerk, is next on the list to be remodeled and updated.  Built in 1914 it still has the original flooring as my late mother once pointed out when she attended the 100 year celebration.

Staff and students will move to what used to be Marshall High for the next three years while the school goes under a complete modernization.  All this meant that MeMa had to inventory and box up the many thousands of text books she is in charge of.  She spent many hours of her own time doing all this because her regular working hours were spent doing.....well.... her regular job.   Then there is life away from Text Book Clerking!  Every Thursday is a busy day with the "Little Terrorists"- Taeya and Lucy that starts with a long drive to their house at 07:00.  After parents dash off to work leaving her to get Taeya ready for school, breakfast, pack a lunch and then walk her to school.  Then stop by the "Dark Park" so that Lucy can swing or slide on the play structures.  Then back to the house were she tidies up the entire house, dishes to wash and put away, vacuum floors and mops the kitchen.  During this time she feeds Lucy an early lunch so that she can nap before picking Taeya up at school.  While Lucy naps she makes dinner for them and a matching one that she brings home for us.  Then its down to the laundry room to do all the laundry.   She rings me at 7:00 or 7:30 pm to tell me she is headed home and to please have a drink ready for her in the half hours time that it takes for her to get home.  At our age exhaustion is nobodys friend.
Friday we are up again at 05:30 for what is usually our longest day of work.  Since we both work all week, Saturday and Sunday are spent cleaning and making things right here at Menagerie Manor.   With thirteen rooms and animals to be seen to its a full two days work.  There is usually not one day that goes by that I don't do a bit of work outdoors as the gardens here are (by choice) high maintenance. Then there is the greenhouse where I could easily spend an hour a day watering, potting or some other job to be ticked off the list.  And it is holiday season and dear sweet love of my life decorates the entire house for every holiday.  This means getting into one of the three attics and pulling out several large storage bins clearly marked for that specific holiday.  She then takes down the current decorations, wrapping each in tissue and boxing things up as she decorates for the next holiday.  We then carry things up and neatly store them away in the attics.  While this is going on I often think out loud how nice it would be to perhaps just put one or two items out and not create so much work to which I receive a stern glare and, "I do it for the grand kids, they love all the decorations."
This week we put away Halloween and now have Thanksgiving up.  Last Friday we had guests and family flying in for Uncle Tony's internment.  Our son Ian who manages the engraving department for Oregon Memorials  has put in long hours designing and engraving the the front of Uncle Tony and my twin brother Don's niche.  Uncle Tony passed just a few weeks after my mother last year.

Guest rooms had all been cleaned and then re-cleaned, I do help some.  Originally we thought there was only going to be immediate family so MeMa volunteered to have a dinner here after the ceremony.  That would have been around ten people....easy?  Well while talking with my sister who is going to be bringing some dishes herself, she informed us that my brother neglected to tell us that he invited all the many cousins and aunts and uncles as well.   I was sitting with my feet up enjoying a glass of my favorite scotch when I caught a look of total defeat come across MeMa's face as she talked to my sister on the phone.  When she hung up and told me I said, "Well I will call Ian up and have him add the date of death to my brothers bit on the stone," but she very calmly told me that "It wasn't like its everyone's last meal, if we run out of food they wont starve."  I love my wife!  So after she got home Thursday night.....late, she and I started making some of the dishes that could be made ahead and put into the fridge.
Friday went well, the gathering at the cemetery was very nice and after, there was plenty of food for all.  I keep reminding MeMa that half of this would never happen if she could just learn how to say "NO", oh there was that look again.  Think I will go pour a scotch and keep my mouth shut, after all Thanksgiving is just around the corner and oh yes, MeMa is making a full traditional Thanksgiving feast.  You can bet we will be back up in the attics the day after putting away Thanksgiving and bringing out Christmas....all twelve crates. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Getting Ready For Winter

Most of the gardens here are in that winter slow down stage with the exception of a few such as this giant banana which is still looking amazingly strong even after being pummelled a few weeks ago by 65 mph winds.

The dahlias and zinnias in MeMas picking garden are still supplying the house with cut flowers.

But winter is definitely around the corner so the Yuma Garden.........

.......is now crowding the greenhouse for winters duration.
And taking up Yuma's residence is my dwarf Ginkgo.
Which is just beginning to show some fall color

After burning up two pumps ($300.00 each) in the Koi pond I built screens out of plastic pipe and bird netting to catch fall leaves.
We also went up to the family cabin this last weekend and while the lovely MeMa climbed ladders and removed all of the leaves from the roof and cleaned gutters I cut this nice trailer load of Hemlock to keep the home fire burning.

Monday, October 27, 2014

List Maker

"List Maker"..... that's me.  I make lists, I even make lists of lists.  Perhaps this came about from boredom while on one of our many many trips across country as a child.  To fight boredom I started writing lists of things to do after a destination was met.  At work, a major part of my job is record keeping for historical accuracy.  Everyone knows if one needs information either past or present, you call Doc.  I love lists!
One of my lists that I caught hell for and snickered at for the first few years, was my "Halloween Record Book".   But now it is a tradition that everyone accepts as part of the experience.  The grandkids love to count out loud as they hand treats to the costumed trick-or-treaters and then make the tally marks in Poppi's record book that MeMa has covered in Halloween fabric.
Once an old used expense record book with the used pages ripped out.  It is now covered in Halloween fabric that MeMa had in her sewing box.

In the beginning years it was just simply tally marks next to the year and a total in the far column.

I still make the tally marks but MeMa has started adding notes on weather or events such as the 
"Annual Giant Pumpkin Parade".
Hope all of you have a wonderful fun filled and safe Halloween.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Balloon Has Landed

The "Balloon" is actually my baby sisters greenhouse with a wayfarers past. It has been moved about the yard in the past to accommodate changes in the landscape so was never really secured in its spot. Then one day as my sister looked out her kitchen window she saw her greenhouse changing its spot in the landscape with the help of a good wind. Over the last year it has blown across the garden several more times. So last Sunday with the help of the "Crew" the "Balloon was forced to land...permanently.

My brother Steve (on the right) and I discuss the foundation while the balloon lurks behind us.

Sister Terri gives it her approval
Last block in place
Foundation built, my father joined the rest of us from his photo taking and we all took a corner and lifted it for one more airborne trip up and over to its foundation.
Secured in its place, there will be no more rolling about the garden for this balloon....er.... greenhouse.

There is still some finishing work to be done such as missing panels replaced and the door will have to be rebuilt. But we all retreated to the house for a very delicious lunch that my sister had prepared and a glass of my favorite scotch....Thanks little sister! 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Gathering Seeds For 2015

Wish I could say it was planned but in reality it was just this gardeners dumb luck! A few Sunday's ago it was clear, dry, warm and no wind. A perfect day for gathering seeds from my few favorite annuals, so the seed jars are full and labeled for 2015. The very next day we had winds that topped 45 mph for most of the day and night leaving the gardens looking a bit of a disaster. I went out the next morning to put a few things right and skim debris out of the pond and  noticed not a seed head left on the annuals.
I much prefer perennials, no seeds to gather. They come back bigger a stronger each spring and then about the third year you dig the clump, divide it and you have enough to put back in the garden and enough to share with other gardeners.  Biannuals are off the list....well except for Lupines, but they are easy enough with their abundant and easy to gather seed pods that I start in the greenhouse every second year. Annuals.....while pretty to fill in pots or those little blank spots in the garden are a fussy bunch of plants that take too much effort for a busy gardener. Over the last forty years here at Menagerie Manor I have had my favorites but have narrowed that list of annuals to just a few favorites that I put the extra effort into saving the seeds to assure their survival.

Peony Poppy (Papaver paeoniflorum)
Burgundy Cosmos
Love-in-a-mist (Nigela)
Blue Honeywort - Cerinthe major 'Purpurascens' or as we call them Bee's Bottoms because they are usually covered in bee's and that is the only part of the bee you see.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Expensive But Necessary

It has been a such a long time since I posted anything that I was wondering if I would remember my password.....obviously I did.  I took a couple of weeks off and spent a great deal of my children's inheritance.  We have talked about and fretted about having the tile roof removed from Menagerie Manor for several years.  When I say tile, people think I am talking about terracotta barrel tile but in reality it is concrete tile with a color glaze on top.  After thirty nine years sitting up there in all of our northwest weather the glaze has disappeared leaving the exposed concrete which is water absorbent.  Each 9x15 tile weighs six pounds but without the glaze when it rains day after day the water soaked tile almost doubles its weight.  A while back I told our family that if Oregon is hit with a major earthquake to just toss some roses on top of the heap because we would both be under it.

Although it gave the house a lot of character, its removal was long over due

A good example of the damage to not only the roof line but the rain gutters as well

 We decided that the company that restructured the sagging porch earlier in the summer would be an excellent choice after getting several bids from other companies.  So Owen from "His Builders" was thrilled to take on this big project.  I decided to stay home from the office to not only monitor the progress but to make available the facilities for the crew members.

The company was started by Owen's father and has now passed down to his two sons Owen and Nathan.         
Crew members are mostly family as well.

Owen's younger brother Nathan (with hat) was the "job boss" and turns out he is a young man in an
old world craftsman's body.  Nathan is gifted also with more patience than any I've seen.  
He handled every hurdle with the ease of someone with many more years of experience.

Once the scaffolding was in place the dirty and noisy job of removing the tile began.  It took four and a half trips to the recyclers and I am sure the neighbors were glad to hear the last tile hit the dump box.

There was no plywood underlayment, only a thin foam board that had a foil moisture barrier on one side, this was also the point of the tear-off that they started looking for damage and dry rot.

Rain gutters that slopped so bad that they spilled rain water out and on the ends of the face boards causing the ends to rot away. Birds nested under the tiles as well.

All of the knee braces were pulling away from the side of the house causing severe cupping or bowing to the face boards that that rested on them leaving the face boards in need of replacement.

The guys got quite the chuckle out of my answer to one corner where the eve sagged badly.  
I had my son Ian use a bottle jack to push the eve back in place and then I jammed a 4x4 under to hold it in place for about the last three years.

Same corner but the 4x4 removed, knee braces bolted back in place and they fashioned metal caps for the exposed ends of the braces. 

New face boards, painted and ready to be installed.

Nathan cut the end off one of the face boards to use as a template in replacing all three sets of face boards 

Years ago when we had the garage and sunroom added to the house the contractor put these two sky lights on the south side of the garage which is the hottest side, so we had this crew move them to the north side were they were supposed to be.  Even though the new parts of the house had composition instead of tile we decided that all three roofs should be replaced so everything matched.

One of our biggest concerns was the overall safety of our Koi fish, so we had it written into the contract that they would build a protective cage over the exposed area of the pond.

The crew built a wood frame over the pond and then layered plywood and then tarp to make sure the fish were unharmed in this whole process.

At the front of the house the upstairs dormer window had a tile covered roof over it that had sagged badly the only way to bring it up level was to add braces to each end.
 Nathan carved them out to look just as though they had been part of the house since 1916

They replaced the tile with this beautiful "Copper Penny"

After two weeks of hard work the crew stood back with this happy homeowner and marveled at the straight lines of the once sagging roof with rain gutters that will now direct water to their downspouts instead of out the ends.

That evening MeMa and I stood back and looked at Menagerie Manor sporting her new look and could almost hear her big sigh of relief.