Sunday, August 4, 2019

In The Garden ‘Hydrangea aspera’

In the garden - Hydrangea aspera ‘Hot Chocolate’ - our daughter-in-law’s mother Debbie gave this plant to me in 2016 and it has quickly become one of my favorite Hydrangeas. The flowers are oddly beautiful but the leaves are what really get me. I am always looking for leaf color other than green. When it leafs out they are a rich chocolate color that adds a nice variance of not only color but depth to the garden.
Large chocolate almost burgundy leaves.

Oddly beautiful flowers.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Friday Garden Favorite

Friday Garden Favorite - Rose “Apple Blossom”. Nice little rambler hybridized by Luther Burbank in 1932. While “following” MeMa and a friend around at the annual Laurelhurst neighborhood garage sales in 1999 I discovered this rose growing on a long stone wall. I was told by the homeowner that it was her mother’s favorite flower. When her mother passed from cancer her father started cuttings for each of his daughters so when it blooms they would think of their mother. They were thrilled when I asked for a cutting.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

(Belated Post) Memorial Day Outing..... In The Rain

Headed to Clatskanie in the morning to decorate MeMa’s families’ graves. It poured down rain like a cow p- - - ing on a flat rock, as MeMa’s Mom would have said. MeMa had packed a nice lunch knowing that our adventures might take us longer than anticipated. Our eldest son Nathan rode his bicycle from his home in Milwaukie to Astoria which is 102 miles, last Monday. On his return trip the next day he stopped in Clatskanie to put some flowers on his grandparents grave. Then instead of taking highway 30 back he took old highway 47 straight up Mist Mountain and down to Scappoose.

Murryhill Cemetary
I voted her winner of the wet sweatshirt contest.
So Nathan, we don't see any shoulder let alone a safe bike lane. So many blind corners. The road nevr goes down, only up and up and up.
See the elevation sign with all those bullet holes Nathan? Sasquatch doesn't carry a gun, only crazy residents from Mist out looking for bikers do.

Nathan while your frazzled parents stopped for lunch at 1400 elev. on a gravelly log truck side road, I told your mother this why parents drink.

Thursday Garden Favorite

Thursday Garden Favorite - Acanthus mollis “Grecian Pattern Plant”. In some cases this plant might be considered a bit invasive but for years I had planted dozens of different plant material under my giant Sequoiadendron only to watch it fail. I purchased one of these plants back in the 80’s, dumped it out of the nursery pot and it hit the ground hard breaking several sections of root off. I planted it at the base of the Redwood and then dug two more holes dropping the pieces of roots into those. In no time I had three plants. The flower spikes appear every other year. They give the garden a bit of a Jurassic Park look.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

In Bloom

This Weeks Garden Favorite - Sisyrinchium striatum, or satin flower. It’s foliage looks just like iris foliage and the flower stalk reminds me of hollyhocks. Got mine last year from a pile of yard debris while going for a walk with the granddaughter. I saw nothing wrong with it, she was totally embarrassed.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Wisteria Or.......

If you want wisteria make sure your structure will support it. Last March I cut twice as much out and it’s already showing me who’s boss.

If you can’t put up a super structure that will hold a wisteria, then clematis might be a better choice of vine. We currently have five different species. This spring bloomer is Dr. Ruppel.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

A Little Sunshine Needed

 My seed potatoes have been chitting three weeks, another week and they are going into the ground. We will be leaving for Arizona so in they go, ready or not.
 Had to bump the heat up in the greenhouse because my seed trays are looking sparse.
I’m hoping Mother Nature will turn on the heat because the only thing showing in the dahlia beds are the blue bottles marking each tuber I planted.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Busy Busy

It has been one of those busy weeks that makes wish you were retired.......damn it, I am!
 For the start of spring break MeMa surprised the two youngest granddaughters with tickets to the stage play, Aladdin. I stayed home with the canary.  MeMa treats each of the grandchildren to an individual night out, beginning with dinner out. An event that would enlighten that particular grandchild. Then due to the late night out, a sleepover, in the morning a hardy breakfast. Then take the excited child home for the parents to deal with.

 In the early morn we roused the sleepy headed little darlings from their slumber treated them to breakfast on the road to the lovely coastal town of Manzanita. Mom and Dad were there waiting to spend the last few days of their spring break with some fun in the sand. We had a lovely time enjoying the fresh salt air and lunch before heading back to Portland.

 The next morning we got up early and headed to the cabin, as with the heavy snow the gutters needed some repair.They are plastic and very lightweight, probably not a good product choice for a home that gets locked up and unattended for the entire winter. I have had to rehang them every spring.

 This is how I found them, either off or nearly off or twisted on their brackets.
This is one of  the brackets damaged by the snow, it is supposed to be U shaped.

I have installed new brackets, but then on either side of plastic bracket I attached metal L brackets for more stability.

Back home we busied ourselves decorating for Easter. MeMa decorates for every Holiday, but Easter is one of her favorites. I found these lovely "Fairy Primroses" at a local nursery that add a great splash of color to the front porch.
And of course spring just isn't spring without the bright cheerful yellow of my Oxlip. A fond memory of my home in England. Happy Easter my friends. 

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Their Happy Place

A while back MeMa and I took over ownership of the family cabin. My father was having a tough time returning to it after my mother passed, it was their happy place. Back in the early 80's they purchased the trailer and had the cabin built on the side of it. MeMa and I have so many fond memories of family vacations and weekend getaways. Since my mother passed we have been taking care of the cabin making it available to other family members but doing all of the upkeep ourselves. when my father decided he was going to sell the property, we decided we just could not bare to let it go. So after paying the fees, taxes and other expenses the title is now ours and the cabin will remain in the family. December we winterized and locked the doors.
We have been having some wonderful weather this week in Portland, average daytime temperature in the upper 60's. Today it warmed to 69 degrees. Last weekend as members we had to go and vote for different ballot measures that could increase the annual expenses of members of the gated community. This activity took place in a nearby town which is at a lower elevation than the cabin.
The plan for the day was to leave Portland early so that we could drive up to the cabin and check it out and then drive back down off the mountain to the voting station.
The drive was beautiful, Mount St. Helen's was stunning under her blanket of snow. Outside temperature was much to warm for there to be snow on any roadway.

Once we drove through the gate we could see snow in the forest but roads were clear. Unfortunately as we drove deeper into the forest this is what greeted us. I was able to park under a heavy canopy of old trees that prevented snowfall under them, but we had to walk through heavy snow to reach our cabin. Everything was just as we had left it in December.
While we stood on the roadway the sun was out so it shouldn't take long before the snow will melt away. I was relieved to see there was no winter damage to clean up.

Unlike our neighbor to the north of our cabin who had a large tree blow over and rip a portion of their roof off.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The New Kitchen Floor

About 30 years ago a very good friend of mine gave me a partial container of imported Italian tile. My intention was to put it on the kitchen floor. MeMa loves her old farm style kitchen with its old cabinets. So personal feelings aside I will never suggest that they make new ones that look just like hers. 

The first time it was decided that it was time to replace the floor I started pulling out the boxes of Italian tile. MeMa suggested I install this nice vinyl she picked out. So I pushed the boxes of “imported Italian tile “ back into storage. I have never laid vinyl before. I have however laid tile,  just not in the kitchen. I started by making a paper pattern of the entire kitchen floor. I then laid the vinyl on the garage floor. I recruited my youngest son, he was going to learn how to lay a vinyl floor.  I just didn’t tell him that his father was in a complete fog. We then laid the paper pattern on the vinyl and cut happily away with our box cutters. We then spread the glue on the kitchen sub floor, hauled the new vinyl into the kitchen. Hauled it back out, turned it around so the correct end of the vinyl was at the entrance. We laid the vinyl down as we stepped into the kitchen pressing it in place on the sticky glue. We used a wooden dowel to push out the bubbles as we laid the single piece of vinyl and after exiting the other end of the kitchen we stood up and admired our handiwork.
A couple of days later MeMa was making popcorn on the stove, she left the kitchen just long enough for the pot to catch on fire. When she returned she panicked, instead of smothering the flames she grabbed the pot and  threw it across the room to the sink. Molten metal fanned out leaving burn marks were it landed.
I made a feeble suggestion that "imported Italian tile" would look great, and it doesn't burn. MeMa tossed a long area rug down, stood back and said “done”. And that’s the way it remained for the last fifteen years.
A good friends son passed after a rough battle with leukemia and she asked if we could organize a memorial here at Menagerie Manor in June. So once again the kitchen floor was back up for discussion. I was taking care of my brother in Phoenix at the time so when the discussion started it was on the phone. I brought up the fine "Imported Italian tile" squirreled away in garage. MeMa ended the discussion with "I've picked out the floor I want, you will see it when you return."

This is Shawn, the floor guy, he did a wonderful job installing the new floor. It's not imported Italian tile but heck, I didn't have to install it. Burnished oak looks great, good job Shawn the floor guy.
I loaded my "imported Italian tile" into the trailer and donated it to Habitat for Humanity, they were thrilled to receive it.

Doing My Part To Save The Human Race

“Without them the human race would not survive”. That was the mantra of the bee keeping class I attended a couple of years ago. I was all set to get a nice bar hive and get busy doing my part to save the human race. That was the same time the big "C" word crept its ugly head into my life, surgery and then the waiting game forced me to make decisions about my busy life. I had no doubt that I would survive but it still makes one rethink their priorities. I have my work cut out for me in the gardens and and the maintenance of Menagerie Manor itself. At 102 the old girl has to be watched for bits and pieces that might sag with age. So with all that the idea of raising honey bees was pushed aside. Also our local government requires permits and the hive cannot interfere with the safety of neighbors. As much as I enjoy raising the fur on the "Crazy Cat Lady" I just don't need those battles this late in my life.
Then just the other afternoon while doing some unnecessary shopping at Costco I stumbled on this little gem, it is a Mason bee box. Mason bees are not hive builders and no honey harvesting involved. They lay their eggs in tubes and then pack the end with mud. The larva hibernate till spring and then the tiny new bees emerge and are off to pollinate.

There are many different Mason Bee boxes available, but this one is the largest and most inexpensive one that I have seen, and anyone can have one no matter the size of garden. Mason bees are harmless little bees that can be handled without being stung. 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Up And Running

It has been the better part of two years that I have not been able to use blogger consistently. I could not make comments on blogs that I followed. Once in a while I would get a free pass and be able to comment for a short while, then the blogger devil would catch up and shut down my privileges.

Before retiring when I had a tech problem I just called the help center and within 15 minutes the problem went away. Here at Menagerie Manor we only have Apple  products and no help center. We have two ancient desk top computers, a laptop Pro, two iPads and our iPhones.  When I had tried everything to personally get Blogger to work to no avail I took my queries to the Apple folks but still the problems persisted. When I am constantly defeated like this I basically ignore them and move on to some other project. MeMa makes it a policy to never ignore the elephant in the room. The other night we were sitting by the fire talking and I mentioned my blog and told her that I missed it and wished I could get it to work. She said that she wondered why I had not been posting anything. The next morning we went to our local computer store and told them we had a house full of Apple computers that could no longer be updated and that our printer had given up as well. Several hours later we returned home with a new printer and a new MacBook Air. We left the establishment with the assurance that even novices as ourselves could get these up and running in a jif. I didn't know that MeMa knew all those swear words and that's when we called the Geeks.


One hour and my blog is working, the printer works from laptop to iPad to iPhone. MeMa had a full page of problems and queries that were all addressed. 
Thank you Geek Squad.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Waiting For Spring

Today we had more snow and then rain and then more snow. We are supposed to get more snow tomorrow but the temperatures have been fluctuating so much I believe the snow will disappear quickly. Yard work has been kept to the minimum, in fact today’s foray into the garden was to fill the bird feeders. I keep hummingbird feeders on the front porch so they can feed without being distracted by the seed eaters.

I intended on getting a photo of the seed eaters gorging happily in the back gardens. But the “Crazy Cat Lady” has stopped feeding the squirrels, so they came into our garden and knocked my feeders to the ground. So I took a few photos of what blooms even with the snow.

Camellia sasanqua “Yuletide”

Daphnia odora 

The diminutive hardy Cyclamen 

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

A Well Timed Gift

Todays mail delivery brought a wonderful gift that MeMa and I will cherish for many years. Joanne Noragon from Cup On The Bus contacted me through e-mail concerned with my absence from the blogging world. She also asked if we would like to receive a gift of her beautiful hand made towels. We received them in todays post and they are truly beautiful. Thank you Joanne you are very sweet and we shall cherish them. For some reason I am unable to post comments on any of the blogs I follow so I hope you Joanne reads this, I tried several times to comment but nothing.

Oh well, regardless of my computer problems life is pushing on. My 86 years young father had a knee replacement and I had been driving him to his physical therapy appointments. They call him Superman because he is so far ahead of any patient recovering from the same surgery. He is walking without “that damn cane” and he is now driving himself to his appointments. Two weeks ago we received a call that my twin brother collapsed at work and was in intensive care at the Phoenix hospital. MeMa purchased tickets for me and by the following afternoon I was walking into the hospital. I spent two weeks getting things done around my brothers house and garden. He has acute asthma and COPD. I came home to snow and ice and the sad news that a good friend of ours needed our help with her son who had been fighting a very rare form of leukemia. Unfortunately the treatment had failed and wanted to spend his last days at home surrounded by family and friends. MeMa and I were asked to be legal witness for the signing of his will. He was very weak but the job was done and three days later he had passed.
So dearest Joanne Noragon the arrival of your very beautiful gift brought joy to our day and we thank you very much.