Saturday, August 13, 2016

Gold In Them Thar' Hills?

Gates? Niagara?? Mill City??? These three towns have one thing in common, our good friend Debbie C. grew up there. It's all a bit confusing, but all that exists of Niagara is the land and now that is part of Gates. Population is estimated to be 475 and to most of those residents Niagara is a place that their grandparents talked about.
Debbie's family all still live there, with the exception of herself and her younger sister who lives in Vermont. Her late mother and father's land has been handed down to another sister and her husband who are renovating the old home and plan on living there eventually. The property during the gold panning and logging years once had an old hotel and other buildings on it which like Niagara have all disappeared, but the whole area is great hunting ground for relics of the past.
I inherited a very nice metel detector from my mothers estate that I have been itching to try out, so last week this old gardener and his three fellow explores traveled down to the Gates property to see what sort of riches we could unearth. Our base camp was Debbie's nephew's new home which he built himself on the family land. No digging latrines or trying to eat a meal whilst batting swarms of mosquitoes for these explorers. The house was gorgeous and all very stunning facilities for our comfort. After a bit of exploring, Debbie provided  a wonderful lunch on the patio for us. We dined while listening to the sounds of the SantiamRiver below us and MeMa giggling with glee while jumping on the trampoline with Debbie's great nephew and niece, Tennesee and Liberty.


After the lunch and entertainment was finished, the happy band of explorers continued their search for buried treasures of the past. Debbie's family have several parcels of land so we left base camp and drove on down the road to try our luck elswhere. This next property was in the middle of the woods with only the sounds of birds and insects. We followed old logging roads that are now just part of the woods.

Indiana Jones has nothing on this merry band of senior explorers
I brought up the rear with the "machine" making all kinds of blips and beeps.......

Whats this???? Pirate ship? Blip blip beep beep
With a great deal of excitement I shouted "Dig here, it's got to be coins or gold!"
1. two rusty nails
2. one iron pipe tin can lid 
Really? What kind of moron puts a boat out in the middle of the woods with no water.
The life of an adventurer is not without perils, such as these humongus ant hills. I was gazing at this very wonder of nature when I discovered I was about to be carried away by this massive army of ants. I was about to yell, "Run for the river, they can't get to us there!" but discovered like the moron that put the boat in the middle of the woods, there is no river. So we just stepped over the line of ants and everyone went their merry way.
This little log cabin looked very promising but the machine made nothing in the way of blips or beeps

Even this house left by the previous owner and now Debbie's family to go back to nature. The forest is all but swallowing it up.

MeMa insisted it was the home of  "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs". Some people have to be treated more gently than others so we waited until she was sure there were no dwarfs. That's right dear, no dwarfs and no gold, it's time to leave.
On our way home we stopped and enjoyed the view of the Santiam River before heading back to Portland.
From a safe distance of course



If rusty iron was valuable the days, booty might have made us rich. Eight railroad spikes, leg off a pot bellied stove, old tractor wheel and a very heavy "O" ring destined to become yard art.
The only gold brought back were golden plums

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Sand Cure For Computer Problems

Unable to do anything with my computer for about three weeks, I gave it to my father to figure out, MeMa and I headed to the beach. At 83 my father is still the first person I call when it comes to techie problems and if he can't fix it then my sister's eldest son is half human and half computer. Computer problems frustrate me to no end so a trip to the coast was a must. With the loss of our Corgi, Betty and most recently our Boston, Popeye, traveling with dogs became a singular adventure. The "Little Nazi" Sophie, who was always quite opinionated in the doggie group setting, has changed a bit. She refuses to do any bidding by MeMa and has taken to howling when I leave her sight. She has never been a good car canine and has always had to have her happy pill for any excursions. With all the nice weather we decided to stay at the beach for four days and just forget life in Portland. Packing for one small dog was a breeze, a small wicker hamper with all her necessities and her new pillow basket we just purchased for the trip. MeMa worked a half day so I got the car packed up, two hours prior to leaving I popped Sophie's happy pill into her mouth. Two hours later we were headed to the coast with a very relaxed Sophie in the back seat. We were very happy with the suite which had spacious living room that offered a commanding view of the ocean.


The first couple of hours were spent making the place home, at least for the next four days and nights. Besides our Sophie needed a couple hours to sleep off her happy pill.

We do enjoy relaxing mornings with books and coffee, but we are not the type to sit and do nothing .We enjoy the coastal weather and so as soon as our Sophie had her walking legs back on we headed for the sand. Sophie has two attributes that can make a walk difficult, the first is the fact that she is fifteen years old and the second she is one of the most stubborn dogs we have ever had. The trek to the beach is a bit long, the wind was gusting at times and there was a fine mist, at other times all things dear sweet Sophie finds disgusting. With a bit of cajoling and a bit of picking her up and carrying her we made the trek, flopped her down in the sand and just let her free to wander at her own speed.
There has never been a trip to the beach I recall that my lovely wife has not put bare feet in water. I don't know how she can stand the cold it makes my toes cramp.

I walk the entire time properly attired in both socks and shoes .........

While she runs splashing around in the surf and sand getting covered in both....and,  "No, you can't take that log home, put it down."
A palm tree would be nice but I'm not complaining
The tide pools are always teaming with life.
As I said earlier we are not the type that sit and do nothing so after a bit of shopping we headed into the neighborhood were the Connie Hansen Garden Conservancy is located. The beautifully maintained garden with its winding pathways is open to the public and survives on donations and plant sales.

 For anyone who enjoys gardens I would recommend a visit to the garden which is teaming with plants that survive our cool wet coastal climate.
 By evening we are back in the suite with a fire going and watching the sunset

Monday, May 2, 2016

Spring In Portland

Global warming at it's finest? Don't know what it is exactly, but two years in a row of unseasonably warm winters, early springs and long hot summers have had amazing effects on the gardens. In March I removed twice as much growth from the wisteria hoping to reduce the amount of bloom (crazy I know) because MeMa claims it makes such a mess of the patio. Well it is still loaded with blooms and more coming on. The large green leaf in the photo is Acanthus Mollis or Grecian Pattern plant, it normally dies down in the winter but for the last two winters it has not.
I was just going to post the photo of the wisteria but after walking through the gardens I decided to share some more of what else has decided to show up early.

The first rose to bloom in the garden is 'Cecile Brunner' the diminutive light pink polyantha rose from 1881.

And the second to bloom (for Grouchy) is 'Francis dubreuil' a gem from 1894

Euphorbia and pink flamingos
Spring blooming Clematis montana 'Marjorie'

Clematis 'Dr. Ruppel'
Golden Chain tree doing a good job of competing  with the wisteria in showmanship
Pink Dogwood 'Cherokee Chief' is one of the original plants on the property and the house is 100 years old this year.
Pincushion plant, Scabiosa columbaria 'Butterfly Blue'

Bachelor button holding up the fading hellebores
Geranium maculatum album
Hosta 'Fire Island' with its chartreuse leaves and red petioles encroaching on heuchera
'Snow Angel'

I am running a bit late getting the tomatoes potted up for the neighborhood tomato give away, this is just a few of the many that take up the bulk of the greenhouse.

Sunday, April 17, 2016


"Bull in a China Closet" I'm sure most of you have heard that description and it was usually used by a frustrated parent whilst issuing a verbal scolding to a clumsy offspring for breaking a cherished memento. Here at Menagerie Manor it was quite frequently describing Popeye, MeMa's Boston Terrier. He could never just walk into the house, he would stand at the door with the other dogs and then when the door opened he would bolt through knocking the other dogs out of his way and sometimes the unlucky human that opened the door and was not privey to his great need to enter quickly. If one were to thumb through their dog book and come across the page devoted to the Boston Terrier they would be welcomed by the pleasant description of said dog as " the American Gentlemen among dogs" ???????
He was our eldest son Nathan's dog for the first few years but came to live with us when he and his wife seperated. I tried to rant my way out of it saying "Nathan can come live here but that dog will not step foot in this house.....he pee's on everything......he is not a normal Boston, he is rude and that farting could kill one of us."
Soooooo, when Nathan and Popeye moved back home there were alot of adjustments to be made mostly on my part because MeMa was in a state of joy not only having our Nathan back in his old room but our grandson Brooklyn as well and Popeye to boot.
The other animals were in the same camp as myself when it came to Popeye. There were several skirmishes between the other dogs that very easily could have ended badly but I was fast on my feet to break things up. Betty was very tolerant and I chalked that up to her earlier training as a therapy dog, no it was usually the "Little Nazi" Sophie who has no patience for rude behavior.
A short while later Nathan told us he was taking an apartment but would not be taking Popeye because of a no pet policy. MeMa assured him that Popeye would be fine living here.....and that I was in complete agreement.......?
I have to admit he was no dumb, dumb, every rude or unacceptable behavior that was met with a stern verbal reprimand was usually never repeated but there were a few times that he was banished to the sunroom to spend some time alone thinking about his bad behavior.
Soon he was part of the crowd at Menagerie Manor and a fare amount of peace and tranquility was returned to the house.
Popeye loved to go for rides in the car and his favorite treat was going with MeMa for her cup of coffee because the nice people that worked there always gave him a dog treat. When his MeMa was away he would sit and watch the door for hours anticipating her return.

Once in a moment of weakness I felt sorry for him so I drove him out to the airport in MeMa's litttle Volkswagen Beetle to pick her up and he watched every plane land with great interest.
As I wrote in an earlier post he developed Cushings disease, we knew that his life would be cut short. His vet advised us that we should make him comfortable as the treatment for the disease was dangerous and only prolonged the life of the dog by one year. We tried several natural remedies and nothing worked as the disease progressed. As it is a canceer of the pituary gland he was ravenous at all times resorting to eating his own feaces and anything else that had an oder to it. Most of his hair soon vanished forcing him to depend on his custom jackets that we had made to keep him comfortable.
 His vet told us that we would know when it was time to end his battle, that happened last Wednesday. Nathan joined us to say goodby and see that his life ended peacefully and with some dignity.
After, MeMa and I returned to Menagerie Manor so that our Sophie could see that Popeye was at peace before taking him to be cremated.

5/18/07 to 4/13/16