Monday, January 30, 2012

Look what happened to the filberts when I wasn’t looking! Or rather, when I couldn’t see them because of the torrential rains or impenetrable fog.

They sprouted flowers! Hazelnuts are one of the few trees that bloom and pollinate in the late winter before the leaves emerge. They have both male and female flowers on the same plant. The male flowers on a hazelnut are the long, yellow catkins you see in the pictures I took. The female hazelnut flowers are tiny red, purple flowers that are nearly hidden by the buds which I haven’t detected as of yet but I also couldn’t get too close to them so they might be there, I’ll have to look for them next time!

I must say it’s rather heartening to detect some spring-like signs in this miserable winter weather.
The field behind our rig shows the tiniest sprigs of something, I don’t have a clue what?
They sowed it in late October; maybe it’s just some winter grass to try to keep the soil from eroding. I can fully understand the need for something like that now!

I have only one more week of work ahead of me before I leave for Holland! Wow, time goes so fast. It’s time to go looking for a suitcase. I think we kept one but it might be kind of small for my bulky winter stuff. Since you can only take one suitcase for free these days I might borrow a carry-on from Doug. That should do it, I only go for 2 weeks after all and I don’t think I’m going to bring stuff back with me since it’s expensive for us over there!

James has painstakingly re-organized a couple of cabinets for his computer business. He neatly hang some tools on the inside walls, they're actually velcro'd-on,  and even installed a rope light to be able to see what he’s doing in there.

Our big (and heavy) copier and printer that is located behind the TV is finally going to bite the dust (that should lighten the load some) and in its place come a few shelves to hold client’s computers that are in for repair.
When all cabinets and drawers are closed you should not have the feeling you’re in a work shop, everything will be neatly hidden away.

James is almost done with the BBQ and will move on to pave the pathways and terrace with cobblestones.
I hope for him the rain will let up some!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Heavy rain and wind that slammed into Oregon and Southwest Washington caused a lot of damage and flooding in the Willamette Valley this week.
Some Portland-area roads flooded because of the Yamhill and Hood Rivers overflowing which even caused landslides in some hilly neighborhoods.

At the Park we found out where the low spots were; Sadie and I had to wade through some overnight developed lakes on our walks

During one of the storms one of the clamps we use to keep our awning from flapping broke and one of the Velcro straps got ripped off.
The wind gusts are pretty bad at times but the awning is kept firmly in place so far by the 2 pull straps we attached to the corners which are secured to the ground by heavy duty screw anchors. I know it’s a little risky but I do like it to have a dry ‘porch’ in front of the RV.

Saturday brought us once again to Doug for brunch. This time to celebrate Sarah’s and Bethany’s Birthdays which are both coming up this week.
As usual the food was delicious, leave it to the Hess’s to bring it on big time, and the girls had requested Blueberry Buckle to be the ‘birthday-cake’ afterwards.

We were all pretty much stuffed in the end!


For Sunday we had planned a perfect rainy-day activity.
James is looking into doing some part-time work as a computer repair ‘geek’ so we had to move some stuff around in the RV to make room for him to set up ‘shop’.
We spent the whole day going through several of our cabinets to throw out things we had not touched in a year, scan more papers and throw them away afterwards and we also changed my work area into James’s and his into mine to give him a little more storage space that will put things behind doors and out of sight.

James is looking forward to a nice and dry ‘inside’ job after weeks of Oregon rain and mud.
Since practically everybody has a computer these days and almost everybody seems to run into problems with them on a regular base this seems to be a job with a future!
A local repair guy has agreed to take him under his wing for a while to ‘show him the ropes’ and advise him on what to get and what to read and study.
It looks like you don’t need too much equipment to do the basic repairs so it all will fit in the RV (with some pushing and shoving) and we can probably find clients wherever we go.

We’ll see how it will work out!

Easier said than done...
Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 16, 2012

Yesterday morning we woke up to snow! They had predicted some on the Valley floor, and much more in the hills off course, but hey, they said that before and nothing came from it so I didn’t really believe it would.
Sure enough we had a thin dusting and it even snowed some more off and on over the morning. The temperature rose too though so it all melted pretty fast to a soggy mess.
James quickly tried to snap some pictures only to find out that the battery went dead after making only one! Great! One of these days we’ll get us a second one (if only they weren’t so ridiculously pricy!). Fortunately his Blackberry makes fairly decent ones if you don’t need to zoom in to much; the colors were a little off though.

Merlin slept through all of it.

We forgot to bring the awning in the night before so it started to sag under the weight of the snow! All these things you have to think about! James went out to freeze his butt off by knocking the snow down and bringing the awning in while I made a sunday morning 'grand slam' to warm him up when he came back!

We also got some great news this week.
Since our plan is to go to Alaska this summer we had started to look for a workamping position since after Christmas.
On Monday we got a phone call from a hotel near the Denali Park in Alaska that saw our resume on and wanted to know if we would be interested in helping them over the summer.
In return for 60 hours a month, split however we want between the 2 of us, we get a free sight plus utilities and a $500 bonus if we stay for 3 months!
They need us for the office /front desk, driving a shuttle to the Park entrance and maybe some maintenance work. If we want we can work more for $10/hr but we’re not required to. They’ve hired one more couple.

Well, 60 hrs a month comes to only 7.5 per person per week, the work seems quite easy, the people sounded very nice and claim to be easy and laid back, the hotel is apparently a little away from the hectic of the park in a quiet and rural area and we’re right in the middle of the most beautiful nature in Alaska. Seems like a no brainer to me!
Alaska, here we come! (and yes, we will all sign a carefully detailed contract!)
It’s nice to have a place secured so we don’t have to worry about it anymore. So far we haven’t had any problems getting a job, something we weren’t completely sure about when we started this RV-adventure but it has worked out fine so far.

Now it became a lot more ‘real’ I immediately spent a couple of hours on the web to find out what we should see while we’re up there!


I also crossed off another item I had to do off my list this week. I’m on a roll here!
I bought a ticket to Holland for February where I’m going to visit my family and attend the wedding of my oldest niece in the meantime!
I’m excited to go, only a couple of weeks left! I’ll fly out of Portland on the 7th and will come back on the 22nd.  I fly with KLM, the Dutch Royal Airlines, which I really like and it is a direct flight so no layovers and hanging around for hours on an airport somewhere.
It’s insanely expensive these days to fly but there’s no alternative so what do you do? At least I earned the money for it myself this time by working for Doug so I feel a little less guilty to spend so much.

James is staying here and will finish the job at his brother and take care of the animals while I’m gone. I wish we both could go but we just cannot afford 2 tickets and still have enough for our drive to Alaska this spring. Oh well, we’ll survive!

Talking about work, he tiled the top of the outside kitchen-counters with help from Doug this Saturday. Very pretty!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Our first outing of 2012 was to Mt Hood this week. We had been admiring it from our back window ever since we arrived here in October and saw it getting whiter every week after each storm that hit us! 

We borrowed Doug’s 4x4 Jeep with the chains, just to be prepared, and took of on a beautiful clear morning. We didn't want to hit any ugly weather while we were up there!
It took us about 2 hours to get to Government Camp at an elevation of 3950 feet where we had a cup of coffee at the ’high mountain cafĂ©’. Sadie got to stretch her legs and roll in the snow which she loves!

I’m always nervous when things get anywhere close to slippery, whether it be water, snow or heaven forbid, ice, so I started to feel a little uncomfortable during the last half an hour or so when snow started to build up in the side berms.

On our way to our ‘highest’ destination (5960 feet), Timberline Lodge, the road was covered with snow but also graveled and fairly easy to drive if you took it slow.
Timberline Lodge is a National Historic Landmark constructed between 1936 and 1938 as a ‘Works Progress Administration’ project during the Great Depression.
It was built completely by hand from large timbers and local stone, and workers placed intricately carved decorative elements throughout the building.It is a popular tourist attraction, drawing more than a million visitors annually. It is noted in film for serving as the exterior of the Overlook Hotel in ‘The Shining’.                                                            
I remember that movie; utterly scary!

In the height of winter, the ground floor of the lodge is typically fully buried in snow, with entry through a snow tunnel, or directly into the second floor.


We had a delicious lunch at the lodge; cheese fondue accompanied by some good beer!
We had a great view of the ski slope and for most of the time the sun was out. It was absolutely beautiful!

Mount Hood, I learned, is considered the Oregon volcano most likely to erupt, though based on its history, an explosive eruption is unlikely. It is Oregon's highest mountain at 11,249 feet and the peak is home to twelve glaciers.
We descended via the North slope ending up in the  Hood River Valley below which is one the largest fruit-growing regions in Oregon with apricots, apples, blueberries, pears—even wine grapes.

We took a left at the Columbia River and followed the ‘Gorge’ towards Portland and home.

After a couple of nice and dry days the rest of the week was pretty nasty again, just dreary, wet and cold.
James managed to stay dry enough under some plastic sheets he hang over the side walk of Dougs house so he could weld some custom made frames for the BBQ and kitchen area together.
The guy is pretty handy, don't you think?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


We had such a busy week this last week that I didn’t even have time to update my blog!

First of course there was Christmas. Not that I had much work to do because we were invited by Doug to come over for brunch at their place again around 9 am.
We made some Russian Tea or ‘brew’ for the occasion which was a recipe from James’ Mom. It’s a delicious fruity and spicy drink, served hot, made with several (fresh) juices, rinds and cinnamon. Perfect for any ‘wintery’ occasion.
The food was delicious, especially Brenda’s French toast made from home made cinnamon bread!

The pics were taking with my cell phone since we managed to forget the camera again, and they came out looking terrible. I 'doctored' them as good as I could in Picassa but they're still pretty lousy.

The week leading up to Old Years I was working my butt off at the office. No slowing down this year around the holidays!
The computer connection between mine and the one at Doug’s still has problems. To say it’s driving me nuts is an understatement. I’m ready to blast the bloody things into a thousand pieces! I don’t know what it is but computers bring out the worst in me.
Or maybe it’s because I’m not sleeping very well since I’ve started to ‘enjoy’ some of the ‘perks’ that come with hitting 50 if you know what I mean? Think ‘night sweats’ or ‘hot flashes’. I wake up 5 to 10 times a night and don’t always fall back to sleep that easy.
No more monthly 'inconveniences' but I don’t know what’s worse?!

Sadie is worrying me too. She’s still very itchy and I’ve thrown anything at her that I could think off or find on-line so far.
She has no fleas, it doesn’t look like ringworm and I finally gave her some Ivermectin (heart worm medicine) that is supposedly taking care of mites that cause mange although I don’t think she has them either.
I’ve sprayed her with peroxide and a peroxide borax mixture, apple cider, used gold bond medicated powder, tea tree oil, Neosporin and a horse wound spray and I bathed her with  oatmeal shampoo.
She also gets benedrin 3 times a day and she still itches, it’s driving all of us nuts!

My last resource is changing her diet so I bought an outrageously expensive brand of dog food for her that contains no corn, no wheat and no soy. Supposedly those cause most allergies.
If this doesn’t help it’s of to the Vet!

Sadie and her Christmas present

James had lots of fun this week in Doug's yard. He was most of the time up to his eyeballs in the mud because of the steady rains and I even found him in the pond one day! He reminded me of the guy in the add for Ocean Spray Cranberry juice!

It’s looking good though:

New Years day we celebrated with our dutch neighbours and as always James baked oliebollen. It’s a dutch treat traditionally eaten on this day and they were delicious this year! Because there’s yeast involved you never know quite how they’ll come out but these were perfect. Well done honey!