Changing The Landscape, Part 1: One Tree at a Time

We love the pine trees that surround our property. During Windstorm 2008 we watched a few of them sway enough to make us consider removing a few more trees. Also, we are continuing with our goal of making our place safer in case of fire. JEJ found a guy that would take down the trees and haul them for free if he could have the logs. It worked for us. Today DH changed the landscape of our property.

Before they began Kit heard there was a big, yellow cat in the yard and he came out to investigate. My important job (while not taking photos) was to secure all animals in the house. This tree was the biggest one to come down. We were concerned because it had to fall between a light pole and another tree. Timber and a perfect landing! DH knew what he was doing! The second tree came down easily and I even caught it as it was falling to the driveway.
All it takes is the sound of a chainsaw or the running of a cat to bring other guys from the neighborhood to see if they can help. The whole crew gathered around this tree in the garden to figure out where it would fall.
Here JEJ is running the chainsaw on the last tree to fall.
The guys gathered around after this last tree went down to solve the problems of the world.
DH moved the slash into a big pile, but JEJ's work is certainly just beginning. Next we wait for the logging truck to come and load the logs.

I fulfilled my duties by keeping the animals in although Annie wasn't too happy here. I also got lots of photos and JEJ presented me with a lovely pine cone cluster that he knew I would want to photograph.

I love the shiny texture of cones fresh off the tree.

The Best Things in Life Are Nearest

"The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life." ~Robert Louis StevensonToday we had our neighbor over for a casual breakfast gathering on the deck. Nothing fancy, no gourmet dishes, no new brunch recipes. We enjoyed simple food, a lovely morning, good conversation, and some fresh picked peppers from the garden to add to the eggs. This is a fine way to start the day.

All Summer Lily Mix: A Cure for the Dog Days of Summer Blues

Planning bloom times is a challenge for flower gardeners. When I used to just plant annuals I was safe because usually something was in full bloom. When I first tried bulbs and perennials I was just happy when things came back the second year and bloomed again.I have tried recently to pick plants that have different bloom times. I hate it when you have June glorious roses to nothing until the mums bloom in September. Last fall I ordered a set of lilies called " All Summer Lily Mix." It was a mix of lilies that had different bloom times so they just overlapped each other. I have loved not having all my lilies bloom in the same week and then be done. This mix has really worked out. I started having blooms in late June and they are advertised to bloom until September. I don't know the names of any of the specific lilies pictured here.These blooms are perfect subjects for my photography 101 sessions I have been trying squeeze in each day as I learn how to do different things with my camera.I found this lily mix in the van Bourgondien catalog. You can find it online at photo was taken by my niece Z2 during her stay here recently. I think we can survive the dog days of summer with these flowers greeting us each day.

Summer Bouquet #2 : A Window Opening Into Heaven

"The radiance in some places is so great as to be fairly dazzling... every crystal, every flower a window opening into heaven, a mirror reflecting the Creator. "John Muir

Dog Days of Summer

dog days of summer
plural noun:
1. the hot, sultry period of summer between early July and early September
2. a period of stagnation
3. the time when you get up early to enjoy the cool breeze or go camp under a grove of trees
4. the time when wading in the creek can feel good in the heat of the dayI am not a big fan of the dog days of summer. I was talking to the librarian today when I dropped books off and she stated, " I hate this time of year... it is so hot and everything is brittle and dry. Fire danger is high, water is scarce.... just give me winter any time!" Perhaps winter wouldn't be my first choice of season, but definitely fall or spring. The dog days of summer keep everyone where I live on edge. When the woods and fields are dry and water sometimes gets scarce it is a time when neighbors watch out for neighbors knowing a cigarette tossed carelessly out a car window could cause a blaze. Lightening storms can create beauty as they light up the sky, but can also spell danger. Knowing we need summer heat for our vegetables and annual flowers to bloom, I also know these plants need that critical cooling off period during the night to gear up for another hot day. Dog day summer nights don't provide that break so plants get stressed and their growth can stagnate. With a sultry feel to the air the dog days of summer urge animals to go undercover. We find our cats in the oddest places during the day. We always try to check before we set a sprinkler so one doesn't get soaked when water is turned on. The dogs can't go for car rides as often and both tend to sleep much more as the temperatures during the day rise.
When I was younger I worshiped the sun. We would lay out and get tans, stay in the water on air mattresses for hours on end and never think twice about any dangers the sun or heat might bring. Now I move through the dog days of summer with more ease by finding that campsite enclosed in the trees, wading in the creek down the trail from out site, reading and writing inside during the hot afternoon, enjoying the animals and sitting outside during the last hours of daylight, or work at getting up earlier to work outside when the air is cooler.

Sometimes I just give in to the dog days of summer and grab a cool drink, a book, and sit in front of the air conditioner. How do you survive the dog days of summer?

Sibling Assignment #70: Lessons Learned at The Oregon Coast

the rental cabin at Yachats

Here is sibling assignment # 70: "Share a memorable family vacation memory that involved all three of us." This is the second time we have written about Oregon Coast memories. You will find Raymond Pert’s here and Silver Valley Girl’s here soon.

For those of you that have read my blog you may know our summer vacations until I left home for college always were a trip to Orofino to see Grandma West and Mom’s family and trips to Spokane to see Grandma Woolum and other family that may be visiting. We loved these vacations. We could swim in the Clearwater River and eat ice cream from the Creamery in Orofino. In Spokane we went shopping at the original Northtown Mall where you walked outside between stores. We also went to the A &W, played miniature golf and played with Chi Chi, the dog next door.

After Raymond Pert had moved to Oregon Mom and Dad began a love affair with that state . They loved the lush green growth along the highways. The cooler weather appealed to my dad. Both of them fell head over heels in love with the Oregon Coast.

Dad and Raymond Pert enjoying the sport page and the view of the ocean.

The summer of 1982 we all gathered in Yachats, Oregon for a family vacation. Raymond Pert knew someone that worked with someone that had a house right on the ocean to rent. ( I don’t quite remember the vivid details of whose house it is… Mom Mary would know, but I am going to resist temptation to call her.) I came from the Tri-Cities via a tour through Washington and the northern Oregon coast. At that time I was married to SDE and we brought along our springer spaniel Nikki. Silver Valley Girl was on summer break from attending college at the University of Idaho and Raymond Pert lived in Eugene.

Silver Valley Girl and Raymond Pert heading to the beach.

As we all descended on the Oregon Coast little did we know we would leave much wiser with lessons learned on that summer trip to Yachats.

Lesson #1: Remember your inside voices!

The place was small and intimate. It had a great view of the ocean, but the house had one room and a bathroom. The sleeping arrangements didn’t allow for much privacy. Mom and Dad attempted to push two twin beds together. Dad explained it was for more room to move around. “Hey kids…. I won’t be getting frisky on this trip.” I don’t think frisky was in the cards that trip anyway because when Dad rolled over the first night the bed separated and I believe he found himself wrapped up in covers or on the floor.

Of course, this was all happening as the siblings were playing a very competitive round of Monopoly. Somehow in the progression of the long game we decided to sing when we moved to certain properties on the board. After my dad heard “New York , New York” belted out Liza Minnelli style about fifteen times he actually shushed us. I think that was right after he took his tumble in the covers.

Lesson #2: Shadow puppet shows don’t cure insomnia!

Off to “bed” we went, which meant we moved from the game/dining room/kitchen table to a hide-a-bed and two sleeping bags five feet away. Who could sleep after being wound up singing lounge songs and stealing Monopoly properties? SDE decided to entertain all of us with a flashlight and a shadow puppet show on the ceiling. Were Mom and Dad asleep by now? If so I am sure they woke up soon as we watched Jaws and many rabbits dance across the ceiling.

Lesson #3: Don’t go fishing on the ocean!

There was a fishing excursion during this trip and to get the whole flavor of that day go to Silver Valley Girl’s very funny blog post here. I stayed home from that trip and got to sleep in and avoid seasickness. I know fish was caught or bought because a whole dinner that included fish was planned for that night.

Dad looking like a north Idaho tourist in search of cronies. RP and SVG are in the background .

Lesson #4: Make sure there are steps that get you back up from the beach after dark!

Mom and Dad just loved to walk along the ocean. Mom also enjoyed collecting driftwood for craft projects when she returned home. He enjoyed throwing food to the seagulls and always had some type of funny hat on and was a crony magnet to other Yachats visitors hanging around the beach. Dad also loved to enjoy a good red wine while on vacation. This trip I believe he found a fantastic deal on Cabernet Sauvignon in a jug somewhere. Dad loved that deep burgundy colored wine, but could never say the word. It didn’t matter if he was completely cold sober, had tried one glass, or “had a few”…. The two words could not come out of his mouth clearly. When the family decided to have a beach bonfire with dinner and wine nobody thought about how everyone would get back up in the dark. Dad did fine getting down. Raymond Pert learned the delicate art of being a designated hill climber as the evening ended with RP easing Dad back up the rocky, steep beach hillside.

Lesson #5 Enjoy the ride!

This was the most important lesson from this trip and many others. Whatever seemed to happen we all enjoyed the trip immensely and can still tell many, many stories about those Oregon Coast trips. The sunsets were beautiful. Nikki loved playing in the ocean. Even though we all were squashed into pretty small quarters I think we all fared well.

My first springer spaniel Nikki.

My first blog post about another trip to the Oregon Coast is here.

Bill’s poignant piece about Dad from this same trip to Yachats is here.

Camera Critters: What Shelby Loves About Camping

On our recent camping trip I finally got some good shots of our Australian Cattle Dog Shelby. Shelby is always on alert and ready to go whenever, wherever. She is tougher to get good pictures of because she doesn't stay very still. Her favorite thing to do is take a walk along the creek. Her look of admiration for JEJ shows lovingly in this shot.She also loves wading in Sherman Creek and learning squirrel obsession from her buddy Annie. To find other Camera Critters go here.

Camera Critters

Sunday Scribblings: Solace

Sherman Creek near Canyon Creek Campground, northeast Washington

Where do I go to find comfort? Where do I find solace? I often find comfort walking along a creek like the one pictured above. Lately I have found solace in reading poetry. After departing from the Writing Retreat in June I have immersed myself in exploring poetry. I have mostly been reading contemporary American poets. Many of the poets I have gravitated to focus on common everyday things in life. I am moved when a poem captures a moment with clarity that is unforgettable. I have explored common themes and topics, use of word choice, the emotional impact the poet's words, and the sound of the language.

I find solace in poetry when I find a specific one that helps me at a time when I need comfort. Judith Viorst's words helped me this week when I read The Pleasures of an Ordinary Life which you can find here. It reassured me that I am on the right track for finding pleasure in my life.

I just read a small volume entitled Poems for Life: Famous People Select Their Favorite Poem and Say Why it Inspires Them. I learned of the book by doing a search of Anna Quindlen online recently. She wrote the introduction. It was compiled by a class of fifth graders in New York City classroom. Quindlen said, "Of all the words that have stuck to the ribs of my soul, poetry has been the most filling." I agree with the statement.
E.L. Doctorow chose a poem called A Blessing for this collection. He knew James Wright when they were students at Kenyon College. This is the poem he chose composed by Wright:

A Blessing
Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her main falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl's wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.

Also in this little volume Geraldine Ferraro and Diane Sawyer chose If by Rudyard Kipling. Yo-Yo Ma's favorite was Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats because " beauty has its own truth." I found solace in reading why each of these New Yorkers chose their favorite poem. I would find it difficult to chose a favorite.
I am drawn to a variety of poets. Lately I have read anthologies so I can get a mix of poets like Billy Collins, Mary Oliver, Jane Kenyon, Ted Kooser, and William Stafford. I have also found poems I like by Carol Muske, Liz Rosenberg, Marge Piercy, and Wislawa Szymborska.
You can link to many poems I have posted on my label poetry to the right.

In closing one poem that always gives me comfort is Billy Collins' Forgetfulness. Who has not drawn a blank on a person's name you have known for years, or the red flower growing in the window box? This animated video reading of the poem uses visuals effectively to reinforce the theme. Take time to listen to his words and watch the video . Again, take solace in the fact that an everyday thing such as forgetting can happen to all of us.

To find other Sunday Scribblings on Solace go here.

Photo Hunt: Hanging

On a camping trip yesterday we came across ripe serviceberries hanging on branches just waiting to be picked. Tasting the juicy berries took my husband back to childhood and memories of picking them this time of year. Here is a cluster of berries close up.

To find other photos with the theme of hanging go here.

Photography 101: Dry Summer Beauty

Yesterday we headed up the Bangs Mountain scenic drive for another photo session. It is off Highway 20 at the Canyon Creek Campground. Easter 2007 I did another post of this drive here. Yesterday it looked quite different as the summer has dried up water sources and much of the foliage. The rock formations through the Donaldson Draw are amazing with the different colors, textures, and shapes. When arrived at the top of the mountain the fields were very dry. I think you can find beauty in most anything in a field... even a dandelion gone to seed. The dogs loved running through the tall, dry grass. You have to look closely to see both dogs as they follow JEJ back to the car.

Photography 101: Lost

I have spent the last few days teaching myself more about my camera. We have also taken time to study how JEJ's camera is different than mine. As I sat in one place at our camp spot I took pictures of my surroundings in different ways. This is what happened.

The collection of pictures coincided well with a poem I discovered last night. There are times when surrounded by trees you do feel lost.


Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
Where you are. You must let it find you.

David Wagoner

JEJ and Shelby out to gather firewood.