Saturday, February 21, 2015

Shhhhhhhhh... I Think Spring Is Just About Here

What the Robin Told
I believe this to be a Rose of Sharon

     The wind
     told the grasses,
       And the grasses 

       told the trees. 
         The trees
         told the bushes,
           And the bushes
           told the bees.
             The bees
             told the robin,
                And the robin
                sang out clear: 

Wake up! 
Wake up! 
Spring is here!  

Hummingbirds love the flower of the honeysuckle.

Irises...and just about five feet from this is a little hen who escaped her confinement
and is now setting on a nest.
She sees me but I don't see her...
but I shall gather her egg this evening. 
Flax...A bouquet of beautiful blue flower petals last but one day
only to be reborn the next morning

Oriental Poppy.  Beautiful flame-red color with purple lavender
One lonely little tulip.  The chickens--free ranged--dug up all the crocus
and many of my tulips.
Sometimes weighing which I want--eggs or my flowers--is a hard, hard decision to make.

Daffodils are blooming in the Willamette Valley.
This is a promise that Spring is on its way to the high desert.

And peeking out of the Earth is this peony.

Monday, February 9, 2015

To Hell and Back...Travelling the Santiam Pass

On February 7, 2015 Gene persuaded me to go to the Oregon Lavender Association meeting in Mulino, Oregon.  "No!  I don't travel well," I stated, rather emphatically...several times.  I am most happy in my home sewing or doing needlework or outside playing in the garden or lavender, anything but getting on the highway with the IEDs (Identifiable Empty-Headed Dingdongs).  I don't like facing oncoming traffic which is hurtling towards me at 90 miles an hour texting to their BFF about whatever they think is more important than keeping their eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel.   But, Gene dangled these proverbial carrots of "There's going to be a tea.  They are going to cook with lavender.  There's going to be a potluck"  "A tea? Cooking with lavender?  A potluck?  At a meeting?"  Dang!  That changed things.  I have been to an Oregon Lavender Association meeting where they had a potluck.  The most amazing extraordinary flavorings--some for sweet dishes, some for savory dishes--from this magical herb in the qualified culinary hands of  the Oregon Lavender Assocation's members.

So, early Saturday morning, I put my life into my husband's hands and got into the car to make the trek over the mountain to the valley.  I open and close the gate going out our driveway.  Going on the backroads from our home to Redmond was o.k.  We arrived in Redmond in one piece:  I think to myself, "This is going well so far.  I've been in the car about ten minutes, am not a raving maniac and am still in one piece."  We turned right to head to Sisters.  It's a beautiful twenty-five minute drive, the rain is coming down, making the windshield wipers pick up a nice beat, the heat on the back relaxing the muscles and I start to get into the rhythm of the swipe of the wipers, the warmth of the heater, the nearness of Gene and I in the comfort of our car.  So far, no IED to speak of.  Sisters is a quaint picture postcard town well known for its internationally-attended quilt show.  We drive through this leisurely stroll-friendly town, which is hard, because it's been a long time since I've mosied down those streets and popped into one of those bewitching shops.  Our only saving grace (for Gene) is that it is 9 a.m. and not many of the shops are open.  We pass the ranger station and head the car west only to be confronted by this idiot moron who can barely look over his steering wheel which, by the way, he's clutching as if it was the quidditch from a Harry Potter movie and about to fly away.  We followed the pickup and watched as vehicles started to pile up behind us.  A green Suburban passed us, almost hitting our front driver's side, and hugs the back bumper of the lead driver's pickup.  My stomach starts to churn.  This is not good!  Then, before another expletive can leave my lips, a red Escape tries the same stunt of lurching out into the oncoming lane, shooting passed us while the Suburban erratically swings out and passes the lead pickup and behind us, cars and pickups start to back up.  All the way over the mountain, through Detroit we watch this children's game of in-and-out-the-window being played with three-ton pickups and cars. The highway has many places for people to pull off and we keep hoping and praying for the lead pickup  to pull off  the road and let the rest of us pass in safety. For more miles than I care to talk about, Gene and I watched the impatience of drivers putting themselves and their precious cargo in harms way as they popped into the other lane of traffic, swerving back to not hit an oncoming car, taking chances by hurling themselves into the oncoming lane, zipping pass one car at a time until they were behind the lead pickup and then zooming past him as if they had just escaped from hell.

There was a rest area coming up and Gene needed me out of the car; I needed me out of the car.  Gene quietly surveyed the road through the car window, vigilant eyes sweeping the road as he slowed down and made a left-hand turn into the rest area while the pickup with his captive entourage continued west. Some kindly nonprofit had a motor home set up at the rest area and coffee awaited the weary traveller.  I was not weary so didn't think coffee was the thing for me.  My heart was  racing, my stomach was churning and my mind was in scrambles as I opened the car door and my feet hit the ground.  Gene and I headed towards the opening grassy area lined with trees.  I calmed down as Gene and I walked in the grass, smelled the freshly-rain-washed trees, talked about the upcoming meeting, watched families as they took a "time out", enjoying the freedom that walking on solid ground brings after being confined in a car.  After a while, Gene said we better go if we didn't want to be late for the meeting and we got back into the car and started searching for Exit 13 to Silverton.

The rain abated, the traffic was normal and we turned north towards our destination when we found the correct exit.  I had forgotten how beautiful is the drive to Silverton.  Lots of wineries, berries, small hamlets and farms tucked hither and yon.   We arrived at the beautiful lavender farm hosting the meeting and entered a home filled with friendly faces and cheerful words.  The meeting started with an introduction of the different lavender farms attending the meeting: a healthy mixture of old and new faces.  Then we ate...and ate... and ate... a few nibbles of this, a few nibbles of that... from lavender meatballs and lavender quiche to shortbread cookies and white chocolate lavender fudge.  I suggested we start a cookbook because there were so many good things prepared for us to eat and to enjoy.   With full tummies, a warm, friendly home full of like-minded people, the normal meeting started full of good stuff, led by good people who work fulltime, own working farms and still manage to volunteer their time, experience and knowledge to put together good, educational, informative meetings.  Gene and I were so glad we came (and to think I almost didn't go!)

The tea sampling was a popping eye-opener.  Drinking lavender buds, drinking lavender buds with other herbs, drinking lavender leaves,to drink tea with lemon or honey, how to serve your customers at a high tea, talking about what to serve at high teas, testimonials... I could either hold a pen in my hand to write all this knowledge down or I could sample:  I choose the sampling.  Then, we went to the kitchen and watched lavender being roasted and sampled the different roasted lavender varieties.  We sampled  the different sauces, jellies, jams, salts, seasonings on a myriad of crackers, cookies and cakes.  What a meeting!

Then, it was time to go.  It was starting to get dark and fog was rolling in.  Gene and I had about a two and one-half hour trip back over the hill (Santiam Pass) and I could feel my back starting to tense up and my heart starting to flutter as my mind began to race.  It was not raining, it was beautiful and green and the air smelled good as we said our goodbyes and left.  We retraced our pathway through historic Silverton and the hills of the beautiful, fertile Willamette Valley.  It was peaceful as we entered onto Highway 20 heading home.  Our journey home was uneventful and relaxing; Gene and I talking and sharing all the wonderful knowledge that good people shared with us at the meeting.  While we didn't have the rain and the windshield wipers to contend with going home (and one inconsiderate driver), we did have oncoming lights of travellers coming from where we wanted to go.   I started to get into the rhythm welcoming the beckoning oncoming lights, the warmth of the heater, the nearness of Gene and I in the comfort of our car.   We headed east, passed the rest area with their lights on and the motor home still welcoming wayfarers to warm coffee, providing a "time out" from their travels.  Onward we travel, road conditions good, pavement bare and dry, traffic light, passed Marion Forks Restaurant, over the hill, down the other side passed Suttle Lake.  We see the lights of home:  Redmond, the center of Oregon.  I let out a deep sigh as we pull into our driveway and open and close the gate.  Home!

The next morning over coffee, I asked Gene, " Give me one reason why you were glad you went to yesterday's meeting."  He answered, "The people and their willingness to share their knowledge."  I concurred.  "What about you?" he asked. "What did you like about the meeting?"  "White chocolate lavender fudge", I replied.  We laughed.  Gene shakes his head back and forth.  And to think I almost let one idiot moron ruin a chance for me to have that heavenly lavender white chocolate fudge!  Silly me!  I need to learn to travel well!

Oregon Lavender Association Home

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Most Precious, Most Perfect, Most Pretty Molly: Winter 2015

Breakfast over.  Warming by the hearth on a cold, wintry day while going over the day's chore list.
Constitutional after morning breakfast.  

After Constitutional, nap time.

After nap time comes another day to get chores done.
Hmmm...deer, eight in number, five does, three last year fawns.   Check off chore list.

Checking the lavender...looks good...needs weeded...bad!  Check off chore list:  
 Moving a downed tree from November storms.  Check off chore list.
Day is done.  Waiting for mom to fix dinner.

The Life and Times of a Lavender Farm Dog: Toby in the Long Winter of 2015

Toby Jack Schmidt

Those  rascally varmintss

...footy prints,,

....on my desert again!  

Soaking up the heat...

Left behind!
(Deep sigh!)  This is what "alone" looks like
Waiting for dad's and my day to begin...
Ever vigilant

Lookout Stand!

What a farm dog does best:   farming with his dad.