Monday, December 28, 2015


It is deffinatly winter here, the garden is in shut down mode. I have been busy winterizing everything starting with the greenhouse.
Most of the orchids have been moved into the house in order to make room for the cacti, palms and other not so hardy plants. The bubble wrap insulation is up and the heater is running at about 50 degrees.
Both of the pond filters have been cleaned and the screens are in place to catch most of the leaves.
I have installed fencing around the Bannana trees and backfilled it with leaves and redwood debris, soon I will cut the trunks of each down to the top of the fence.
I cleaned and re-hung the bird feeders.
I have dug,washed and layed to dry the canna roots for next spring

We have had record rainfall this month, along with high winds that are bringing down many large trees with catastirofic results. The ground becomes so saturated with no break in the rain to obsorbe any of it, that combined with the high winds the trees don't stand a chance. As I type this the wind is pounding against the giant Redwood at the back of the house, "stand firm oh mighty tree."

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Let It Rain

This water storage tank sat in the corner of the driveway for far too long. Before that it sat in my sisters yard, one of two that sat in her yard for several years. Being the generous little sister that she is, one of them followed me home. The idea was I was going to drive it into the nursery behind our property and have some of the employees help lift and drop it over our fence and then have them come round and help drag it into the location you now see it. It is quite heavy with its thick steel base, the cage surrounding it is light aluminum and the plastic tank is feather light compared to the rest of it. Well, I got tired of waiting for help so being the resourceful fellow that I can be on the rare occasion, I got some tools out and dismantled the damn thing. I admit it is not the most attractive thing but at least it is in the utility yard and not out in plain sight in one of the gardens.
For just under fifteen dollars I purchased 25 feet of corrugated hose and an attachment for the downspout.

I then attached it to the rain gutter and used zip ties to attach it to the fence line running behind the greenhouse.

All the while rain clouds threatened to dump the expected record rain fall.

The whole set-up took about 45 minutes and just as I was gathering up my tools the rain started to fall.
At 10:00 pm I braved the rain to check on the water level. Completely full and running off the top of the tank. 300 gallons in seven hours......good old Oregon rain.
I have a small electric pump that I will pump the stored rain water into the greenhouse where I have a 55 gallon tank that I use to water my orchids and seed trays.

Rain water can make for some happy orchids

Monday, November 16, 2015

A Check On The Project List

Since my retirement I have started and not finished several projects, I have lists of big projects and lists of small projects. Now I need to sit down with both lists and decide an order of importance and then work my way through the lot. Of course there are all the interruptions......Since I retired several people I worked with announced their retirement so the first two days I returned to the office in order to attend retirement parties and then Wednesday I had to attend my first "retiree's" luncheon then another retirement party for my ex boss who actually retired on the same day as I but had a late party yesterday evening. Then today we had an early supper out with friends and then returned to Menagerie Manor to watch the game (Portland Trail Blazers) and sample some of the many fine scotches that I received as gifts. So you can see how difficult it has been to get any one project done.
One small project completed was sorting the boxes of seed packets that I have collected and received from other gardeners. I  love marigold's and have several varieties that I save the seed from. Not only are they easy to grow,have tantalizing fragrance, their colors are bright and cheery. They look great in any kind of planting, mass planting or singly, in borders or pots and they produce plenty of seed for the next growing season. MeMa and I were at a local shop when a beautiful pot of French marigolds caught my attention. I knew it was late in the season but there were plenty of flowers that I could save for the seed so it followed me home.

It was the only one and was missing the tag so I call it "Burnt Orange"

Saturday, November 14, 2015

"Hey Doc, How Is Retirement?"

"So how is retirement?" I have been asked this question so many times since that event that I have lost track....not that I have been keeping track. Quite frankly I have been so busy that it still feels like one big long weekend and before I know it I will be going back to the office. Except there was that office party and all the congrats. 

Office party with staff


After 37 years in the business the district Manager had plenty of stories to tell all who were gathered and since I trained him many years ago I had a few to tell of my own, I also trained his late mother before he started working.
From left: Granddaughter Taeya, MeMa holding Granddaughter Lucy, retired boss Jim and Rail Maintenance Manager Jean

I received this engraved clock along with a handsome gift card

That cake says it all, does it not?

Among other duties I was the Transportation Department Cartographer and the logo on the bottom right was on every map I created. Yes, that is Vivian the Volvo who carried me safely to and from every project. Happy retirement Vivian!

Then that next Saturday my lovely wife planned a wonderful retirement party at the Rail Heritage Museum with catered dinner and adult beverages included. It was a lovely evening with friends, coworkers and family.
Don't remember what I said but it got a big laugh out of the Executive Manager of Rail Transportation and long long time friend Denis Van Dyke
He presented me with a shadow box he built and put together with some of pins and awards that I received over the years including the last brass belt buckle that I designed for the National Rail Rodeo.
It was a wonderful evening that was made possible by my lovely wife, from the incredible venue to the food and drink. I think the 60+ in attendance had a fun night out as well.
These four grew up together and still draw giggles and laughter when they get together.
From left to right: Our youngest son Ian, our eldest son Nathan and their sisters in every ounce of trouble they caused us in their growing up, Tori and Lora

I know this old man and the "Little Terrorists" had a blast. The museum volunteers were wonderful and allowed us to have a photo taken on board the old 700

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Miracles and Good Times

Four weeks ago I was going to post this photo of "the miracle plant" in full bloom in my greenhouse, in actuality it is a white ginger plant. Our friends Jan and Brian Barlow brought one of those little shriveled up tubers in a little plastic bag that are sold by the thousands to tourists in Hawaii. They usually don't grow and get tossed in the end but as they always do, they gave it too me to grow for them and it did wonderful. A short while after that Brian and Jan were the victims of a drunk driver that landed both of them in the hospital with life threatening injuries. Miracles happen and both recovered for the most part. Brian came home first and the next day or so showed up at our door with what was once the white ginger plant but now just a dried up dead pile of nothing. Brian handed me the pot and said they needed one more miracle. I took it to the greenhouse and said a few prayers as I worked on the plant. About three weeks later a small little green shoot peeked out of the soil and another a few days later. When I dropped the plant back off at the Barlows I said, "Here is your miracle plant."Although it once again resides in my greenhouse it is still that "one more miracle" and the fragrance is amazing.
That was four weeks ago and I am just now posting for the first time since then. Life has been a bit of a whirlwind since I announced my retirement. My sister flew down to help my twin brother who unknown to me was having some major health issues and had to be hospitalized. After being released she drove him and his two Corgi's from Phoenix Arizona to Portland to spend some time close to family. After a week here I drove him and the dogs back to Phoenix and remained with him for another week before flying home to Portland
My brother's home is very large and is an eclectic museum that I love to spend time just wondering about looking at all the many treasures. He has a gift for decorating that rivals the best.....including  Martha Stewart.
After a week there, I flew back to Portland for a week and then MeMa, myself and Jan and Brian Barlow flew back to Phoenix to stay with my brother again. This however was a planned trip which included attending a football game at the University of Arizona where our Oregon State Beavers unfortunately played poorly in the scorching heat, losing to the Arizona Wildcats 7 to 44.

After the loss of the game we decided to drown our sorrows at the local casino were we had a nice dinner and actually walked out with a sizable win on the slots.
During the heat of the day when it was just too hot to do anything else we suffered quietly floating in the pool.
While Mema and Jan gave the house a thorough cleaning Brian and I completely emptied the pond which had gone stagnate. The previous owner had filled the bottom of the pond with lava rock which made it impossible to scoop debris from the overhanging mesquite trees. Over the years the muck had turned black and was about six inches deep and destroyed the pump. I purchased a new pump as a thank you gift for putting up with four crazy seniors.

The rest of the trip was very enjoyable making day trips to Sedona and Cave Creek. My brother who used to have a catering business is a wonderful chef and made sure we all dined like royals.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

It's Happening

Going to retire?
Yep, that will be me....I guess.
October 27th
37 years and one day.
It went by quickly.
The 37 years.
One day?
I chose that because I wanted to be sure the records read a full 37 years.
My job is record keeping.
Or the job I have been doing that has now been divvied up to five people, yes I said five.
What am I doing now that five other people are doing my old job?
Sitting at my desk looking at all the stuff I have to take home on October 27th.
Lots of stuff.
37 years and one day worth of crap.....stuff.
Two years ago holding my 35 year pin, that's my boss Jim on my right. He retires on the same day I do. Good thing, as I always had to tell him what to do.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Little Ninja

 We sadly said goodbye to one of the dearest little dogs that came into our lives. 
Ninja or Ninjie as our granddaughter Lucy called her, had a wonderful life with our son Ian and daughter-in-law Jill. Ninja came into our lives when she attended Oregon State University with Jill and Ian, she loved the early years on campus attending class out of view inside Ian's jacket.
While she attended college was when we introduced our Betty to her and they became immediate friends. Many a time Ninja would come home on a break and spend time at Menagerie Manor playing with Betty and the other animals. She loved playing chase with Max the cat who was so gentle even being at least twice her size.
A few years later life as Ninja knew it changed, nap time with her boy suddenly included another little soul that soon won her heart, Taeya our first granddaughter.

 Among her life changes was when Ninjas mother QP and sister Rhonda came back into her life.
 That bed was getting darn full.

There were trips to the park and Ninja loved to ride in the wagon with Taeya.
Sometimes she would be joined by our Betty
Ian and Brooklyn playing games
Ninja accepted changes with grace, she knew no matter who shared snuggle time with her boy she always had her spot.
Lucy was soon added to the fold
Morning Kisses
Sharing peanut butter sandwiches by the fire

Babysitting Hector while Lucy was busy
October 7th
I have been corrected, the dolly is Hector's sister Isabelle 

Ninja loved our family stays at the beach

I will miss my little jacket buddy

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Avalon

After no rain since June the heavens have opened up for the day. A much needed relief as so much of Oregon and Washington have been devastated by fire. The rain did hold off enough for an afternoon trip to Clatskanie, MeMa's home town. From 1951 to 1971 MeMa's parents owned and operated the "Avalon Theatre" and in a town with only one traffic light that was pretty much the hot spot of the town. One could take a break between movies and go have a bite at Humps Restaurant which is still in operation today.

After the Avalon closed several developers purchased over the years but none were successful and the old building soon became an eyesore.

 A few years ago the City purchased the old building and turned it into the Clatskanie Cultural Center and reopened the old theater as the Birkenfeld Theater........ when big money is donated that is who you name it after. As a thank you for folks that donated they held a special opening night event. 

As a young girl MeMa spent many nights working in the ticket booth or selling candy and popcorn.

Her mother Lela used to patrol the seats with her flashlight in hand and any trouble maker would receive a bonk on the back of the head.
MeMa sitting in her seat

In memory of her parents and an important time of her life, not to be forgotten.

 "Dale & Lela Johnson Avalon Theatre"

Along with the theatre the upstairs houses City Hall, judges chambers and the old ballroom has been completely renovated with a kitchen and bathrooms added for local events.