Friday, November 30, 2018

The Doctors Chickens

My lovely niece Carly was away visiting her brother Nick, my nephew. 
Ottawa Canada or there about. 
My niece is doing her residency at the Hood River Hospital. Hood River is east of Portland with an easy hour drive if the weather is good. It’s usually not, this time of year.
Last night I received a call from my sister.
Calls from my sister are rare so my heart always does this funny little thing, it stops.....until she answers. She wanted to know if I could drive to Hood River with her to check on Carly’s chickens? Relief and heart beat return, I tell her that would be great! Seems our niece is a bit worried about her chickens and is sure one is not long for this world.
When Carly got her chickens I thought how foolish, but I didn’t tell my niece how I felt because Carly has always shared my love for animals. When she was a little girl she loved coming to Menagerie Manor because it was like visiting a zoo. All through life we make and sometimes learn from our mistakes. Carly is a very intelligent young lady, so I am hoping she won’t be in the chicken business for long.
Thanks to GPS we were able to navigate the winding back country of Hood River to find her rented home and the little chicken house. Turns out the chickens were in fine fettle, a bit surprised to see us. They were in late molt which can be a bit of a health risk but all was well.
My sister treated me to lunch out on our way back to Portland. It was a lovely place at the base of the Bridge Of The God’s. You can just see fishing platforms used by the Native Americans on the far north bank of the Columbia River. And commerce is alive and well in lumber country.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Natural Remedy

We have several Anna’s hummingbirds that depend on a constant supply of nectar all year long. These diminutive little busybodies have been a constant source of enjoyment.

The back gardens would be the logical place for these birds to hang out and feed in peace. But logic is something they choose not to indulge in. If I hang feeders in the back gardens they are ignored. Our front porch is where they must be.
Unfortunately the family across the street brought home a cat. I love house cats just as much as the next person, but as the name implies they should be house cats.....indoors. Better for the cat and even better for our dwindling number of native birds. Saturn is a very sweet cat and I’m sure his three little boys love him dearly and would think me a horrible old ogre if I was to lodge a complaint.

The cheeky little bugger was right there sitting on the front porch this morning as if to say, 
“What ya going to do about it? You can’t hurt me, I’ll tell my little humans and they will hate 
you.” This old gardener might be a bit slow at times but eventually I get it together.

My beautiful monkey puzzle tree has needed a bit of pruning for a while. But pruning one of these trees takes careful consideration not to mention a good hard hat and some even better leather gloves.
I made quick decisive cuts with a limited amount of bloodshed, mine that is.

I covered the porch rail with the spiny trimmings, under the watchful gaze of a hummingbird. I went back into the house and it wasn’t ten minutes before Saturn appeared.

And it was about another five seconds before Saturn decided Anna’s hummingbirds are not on his menu.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Fall? No Thanks.

Retirement is a big job! It has been tough to find time to just sit and do nothing or to sit and read or even blog. I really enjoy the summer and am truly not ready for fall, but the garden is telling me that fall is coming regardless of this old gardener love of sunshine. I was out pulling a few weeds and noticed the Japanese anemones are starting to bloom, a sure sign of change. 

The kitchen garden is in its final glory, with a nice crop of beans to be picked and packed into the freezer. Three more heads of red cabbage and four butternut squash will close down the garden for the year.  

This window box is in denial and like this old gardener screams, “Give me more summer!” But most chores now are around the house instead of in the garden.


 The front porch was a week long project that required sanding the majority of it down to raw wood.

MeMa loved the new look and that’s all that matters.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Down Memory Lane

On one of our recent trips to north Portland MeMa noticed the marquee sign in front of Lombard Animal Hospital announcing an open house. In 1972, I had applied for the position of kennel cleaner. As I was being introduced to the staff the surgery door was quickly opened and out popped this little pixie of a girl with long hair and straining under the dead weight of an unconscious dog. When she got to the door leading to the recovery kennels the Doctor doing the introductions said “and this is Marjie,” she turned and smiled just as the dog lost it’s bladder soaking her light blue surgical smock. I jumped toward her asking if I could help, but she kicked the door open and said “nope, you’ll get plenty of your own.” It was love at first sight and still is after 43 years. Our late employer’s plaque hangs next to Marjie’s head in the photo and the second photo is note she received with her first paycheck, $1.80 per hour. The new doctors and staff were thrilled that we took time to come today and gave us a tour of the recently remodeled facility, they also took a couple of photos of the letter.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Madame Caroline Testout or The Rose That Made Portland Famous

Prior to the 1905 exposition Portland city leaders asked all residents to plant roses in their front gardens in hopes of being branded the “Rose City.”

The exposition committee decided on a hardy hybrid tea, “Madame Caroline Testout.” 
Famed French hybridizer Joseph Pernet-Ducher sold his beautiful rose to a dressmaker who named it after herself. The Madame Caroline Testout (pronounced “testoo”) a hardy hybrid tea rose has large pink petals with clear silvery pink edges. 

The Madame Caroline Testout rose was introduced to the U.S. in 1892 and the city of Portland imported thousands that were delivered door to door by the Portland Rose Society members in 1902.
The plan worked and Portland became the Rose City. Historians claim that almost a quarter of the city streets were outfitted with rose hedges. A few still exist in the older neighborhoods. Recently the garden section of our newspaper listed locations to see the roses, one of those was in a nearby historical graveyard.

It is amazingly quiet in the graveyard during a late morning on a weekday, only retired folks are out and about.

Madame Caroline Testout looking very well under glass

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Swearing Off Trees

Kitchen window box

We have been doing a bit of traveling, mostly one or two days at a time. But I have also been spending all my free time in the gardens.
Pruning season is in full swing here.  I start up with the trees and work down. At this time I am still up. Two done, twelve to go. I have sworn off planting any more trees!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Spring Break

Sometimes getting grandchildren together from two households is like herding kittens. So when all else fails chase them up a tree and grab ‘em quick. It’s spring break for this lot and we managed to grab three out of five to spend two days with Poppi and MeMa. 

The noise level alone is amazing, when it’s just the two of us the ticking of our thirty some clocks is almost deafening. But when the grandkids are here we don’t hear a one. Supper was late so that made the big bowls of ice cream even later and bed time........well what happens at MeMa and Poppi’s house, stays at MeMa and Poppi’s house. The next morning for breakfast it was fresh baked cinnamon rolls while we watched the movie  Jumanji Back To The Jungle. After the movie and a whole bunch of giggling and goofing around we loaded everyone into the car and headed to a local pet shop that specializes in reptiles. Our two box turtles Ruby and Elmo were in  need of a nail trim

I used to do this task myself but shy away from it now because of Ruby’s great age (100+) , Elmo is very bad tempered and will bite the hand that feeds him. The manager was very impressed in their overall health, strength and alertness for such seniors. Just as he finished with Ruby, granddaughter Taeya came up to us and frantically told us that one of the shops resident tortoises  was upside down in its enclosure. The manager asked her if he unlocked the door would she mind rescuing it as the ceiling is only four feet high. My granddaughter since birth has spent a lot of that time at Menagerie Manor so she has been introduced to every sort of creature imaginable. I think she handled the rescue like a pro and the manager was very impressed. As she uprighted the poor flailing tortoise he let out a very human sounding sigh of relief that made Taeya giggle.


The now recovered tortoise took an immediate likening to his rescuer, it was as though he wanted to thank her.

After dropping Ruby and Elmo off at the house we headed to gymnastics lessons.

Then back home where Lucy immediately let us know how the rest of the day was going for all of us.

Monday, March 26, 2018


We decided to make a trip up to the cabin and do some work on the place. We left Portland with the fragrance of spring blooms and marvelous blue sky. 

It takes exactly one hour to get from Menagerie Manor to the cabin. The locals are always happy to catch our arrival and if I’m slow with the unpacking they are eager to help with the bags of groceries.
We lazily woke around eight the next morning to an inch of snow.

Large flakes of snow continued until about noon, the trees looked wonderful all dusted with snow.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Field Trip

I absolutely love my grandchildren. They all know that when they ask a favor of their Poppi, they will get one of two answers. Yes, I would love to or absolutely not. One thing I have never....ever done is said yes to a school field trip. At the risk of sounding rather chauvinistic, that is something MeMa does. However when ten year old Taeya told her mother that her next field trip was to a bird sanctuary she neglected to pass all this knowledge on to her poor misinformed mother. When I received the text from my daughter-in-law I didn’t want to embarrass the poor thing so was forced to say, “I would love to.”

Have you ever noticed how much oxygen 30 some children suck out of a large bus? Well I am here to tell you those little devils had no idea that this old gardener was suffering. The bus trip lasted about fifteen minutes. Smith and Bybee Wetlands is a hidden gem completely hidden within an industrial park. The excited students were met by a group of volunteers from the Audubon Society that broke us into smaller groups.

Since it is a wetland I was not surprised that the first bird spotted was our national bird the Bald Eagle, perched high in a tree watching over us. My cell phone makes him look like a dark blob in the tree. If you click on the photo it will make him look like larger dark blob in the tree.

We saw several Greater Blue Herons like this one hunting frogs.

Dead fish in the woods, no water in sight.
An Osprey’s intended meal that got away, unfortunately both hunter and prey suffered. One left without a meal and the other without water to swim away in.

The children were very excited when they spotted this young garter snake.

When this old gardener finally made it back to the student filled bus I was quite surprised to hear my granddaughter Taeya’s (fourth smile from left) voice, along with three of her friends all yelling “Poppi we saved you a seat back here with us.”  

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Well Done Young America

At precisely 10:00 am students and faculty began streaming out into the courtyard 
A smallish band of old hippies. We were told to show our support just off campus on the public sidewalk.

Of course there will always be a few radicals that don’t follow rules like these three old hippies that crossed the line for better view. I’m the one on the left in the blue cap.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Oregon Coast

Should one ever have need for recuperation, whether it be for mind and body or just the need for fresh air, I highly recommend the Oregon Coast. The first thing after checking into the hotel we put on our boots and beat feet down to the sand. It was rather warm and no rain so made perfect weather to look for shells and the most cherished item,”beach glass.”  You know, glass that has rolled around sometimes for years in the ocean and it’s sharp edges made smooth from the sand. So there I am searching fruitlessly for what seemed like hours standing in yet another rocky area of surf which is prime area for beach glass..........nothing! MeMa walks right up next to me and quick as that she reaches down picking up the most beautiful piece of glass that we have ever found.

It is definitely the prettiest piece of beach glass in our collection.

There she is with her little red beach combing bucket, the little pixie has outdone me again.

The casino hotel only has three floors. We always request the third because most people walk as though they are doing jumping jacks. We have a great ocean front view.

Our second day has turned into a wonderful stormy day with high winds and rain. A perfect day to either sit by the window in our room or hit the road and visit some of the sights, we chose the latter.
Boiler Bay

Devils Punch Bowl 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Don’t Insult Her House

Normally I would do all my rose pruning on Presidents Day but this year we had snow. So, fearful of causing more damage than good, pruning was done a week later. Pruning my roses is a job that takes time and concentration. It is a process that is started and finished in one day, so I start by laying out all tools that I may need. Next, I stand back and absorb my surroundings. Mostly I  end up staring at the house and the craftsmanship it took to build it. I only have about 40 roses and and am very well practiced at pruning them. The actual work doesn’t take a whole day, it’s the standing back a absorbing my surroundings bit that takes time. Menagerie Manor is 102 years old, we are the second owners and still share this grand old house with the spirit of the first owner. Most of the time we forget that Lucy Warner never really left the home her father built. Then she will do something to make her presence known. Last month our two youngest granddaughters spent the night. Before bed, but after the huge helping of ice cream their parents don’t know about, they like to play “dark hide and seek.” There are three floors and thirteen rooms in Menagerie Manor, plenty of hiding places that two little girls and MeMa can hide in. That leaves this old gardener as the lucky person who counts to 40, yells ready or not and then stumbles through the darkened house only to get the crap scared out of him when shining his lousy little pencil light into a dark corner and be pounced on by a sugar induced screaming child. Perhaps I should rethink the ice cream? We had just finished round three and were gathering in the parlor. Taeya, the ten year old came walking past us and said, “MeMa your house is creepy”!  She then sat down in a chair, as she looked up she grabbed at her face and yelled, “Ouch!” A cardboard star attached to a wall hanging shot across the room hitting her just below the eye, a distance of about fifteen feet.
Back to the roses......I was pruning the rose we call “Lucy’s Rose” when that evenings events popped into my head.

I think Lucy Warner would have been happy to know her rose has won several trophy’s at the 
Rose Show. Maybe she does know?

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Edgeworthia Winter Bloom

With the coming of harsh winter weather there is not much in the garden that blooms unless you have one of these little winter gems. Edgeworthia chrysantha, or paperbush.

The tubular shaped fragrant flowers hanging down are a welcome sight when winter keeps everything else dormant. It is the kind of nudge that dormant gardeners need to draw them out into the fresh air.

The next week while it was at it’s best, Mother Nature showed her jealous side and covered it in snow.

Two days later the rain returned washing the snow away revealing undamaged flowers. It is truly an amazing little plant that I would recommend to anyone looking for a bit of the unusual. I purchased this one in 2015, it was rather small, in a one gallon pot and it consisted of two eight inch twigs. So it is rather a fast grower.