Thursday, January 30, 2020

It's a Concre-ature! (Ha!)
As you can see we had a wild week. 
Concrete was poured in the Styrofoam forms .. and James got covered in the meantime!

This was the first time the concrete company was using this conveyor-belt system, and it worked like a charm. 
The whole contraption could effortless reach the walls on the far side of the house!


Still, it was a rather messy job, that shirt James was wearing could not be saved.
The guys worked their butts off to get it all done in one day, they had three trucks coming and used it all!

Now the 'building-up' part can start!


An enormous order of wood and beams and screws was delivered, and a start of placing the beams that are gonna hold up the floors, was made ..

We were very fortunate that the weather had been so warm and dry, and the concrete trucks had no problem coming up the driveway.
Lucky indeed, since the next couple of days looked more like this, and the drive way turned muddy and slippery:

Grey, rainy and cold .. yikes!
I went for a short walk to the river on Sunday, just to get some fresh air in my lungs, but was happy to come back in the nice and warm and cozy RV, and enjoy a nice cup of hot chocolate in front of the fireplace!

Fortunately, we woke up to a beautiful morning again on Monday, just in time for work to be able to continue ..

I went for a longer walk, up and over the hills this time. What a difference a day makes!
Sometimes I have company these days in the form of Tody, Steven's dog. 

He's such a sweet and fun little guy (the dog).
He really loves, loves, loves it when you throw him a stick and never tires to chase it, but he likes to go for a walk too. 
I guess he gets bored with the guys ..

And than for something totally different .. I've been trying my hand at making sourdough!
James loves it, but I've never been a big fan of the American sourdough. I've always liked the German-style bread though.
Any-who, James' niece Bethanie is 'doing' it, and reading about her trials and tribulations on Facebook, I decided to give it a go.

Well, let me tell you, making this type of bread is not for the faint of heart! It is a very interesting process, to say the least!
First you have to 'make' a starter, aka mother/leaven/chief/sponge. Which can take 5 to 7 days or, if you're un-lucky, up to 2 to 3 weeks! It's easy enough, just combine flour and water, let it sit at room-temperature and 'feed' it every day until it starts to ferment ..
Mine took 12 days (I started to get a little nervous there!), but finally I had a beautiful bubbly, melted marshmallow-ish concoction. 
If a teaspoon of dough floats in a glass of water, it is 'potent' enough to rise a bread-dough!

I mixed part of the starter with bread flour, salt and more water and let it rise overnight. The next morning I had a beautiful risen dough. Phew, so far so good!


After forming it in a ball and letting it rise for another 2 hours, it went in a hot cast-iron pan, in a 425F oven, for about 30 minutes ... and voila!

A beautiful crusted bread, lightly (just enough) sour and pleasantly 'chewy'. Wow, I did it! How about that?
The only thing I forgot was to 'score' the bread so the crust didn't break open as it should to form a nice, rustic looking, 'ear' .. minor detail ..
I actually dusted some flour on the crust, using a quick, hand-cut-on-the-spot template, so I think it looks nice enough.

Now to keep the starter alive! It sits in the fridge until next time. There are people that have 100 year old starters that originate from their great grand-mothers!
I named my starter, as is tradition, Beth, for Bethanie, who inspired me and is as bubbly, sweet and nurturing/mothering as this starter!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Unfortunately, this beautiful snowy landscape is NOT around us!

James had to pick up materials in La Grande, Oregon, about 5 hours away from us so he drove up on Thursday and came back on Friday.
He was very surprised to encounter nothing but snow as soon as he passed the town of Pollock, only 19 miles to the south of us!

Look how beautiful! This was just after sunrise, it still has a little pink glow to it ..

Past New Meadows ..


Up over the mountain range ..

And down on the other side towards Fruitvale, Cambridge and Ontario ..


I know it's good for the job that we don't have any, snow that is, but I'm still rather bummed about it! It's so beautiful!

We'd learned this spring that Riggins is situated in the so-called Idaho Banana Belt, as in:
A banana belt is defined as any segment of a larger geographic region that enjoys warmer weather conditions than the region as a whole, especially in the wintertime.
Shielded from storms by the eight- and nine-thousand-foot peaks of the Seven Devils to the west, the low elevation and the canyon with black rocks, which absorb heat from the sun and radiate the heat down into the canyon, Riggins boasts a “Banana Belt” sub-tropical climate.

Go figure! I guess that means little snow indeed!

Any-who, James spend the night at a hotel in La Grande, and after loading up the materials and picking up some groceries at the local Walmart, he went home the next morning. 
It had been a freezing cold night there (19F), and there was some snow on the ground but the roads were all clear and he made it home safe.

Which was fortunate, since it so happened to be that it was his birthday that day!
We celebrated the next morning with a belated birthday cake:

I left out the other 60 candles .. they didn't fit!

That Sunday was a beautiful day, 51F and sunny and we went for a little drive to Slate Creek, where James had to pick up a water tank from Don. 
We decided to do some sightseeing afterward and drove up Slate Creek road for a few miles ..

It's a pretty drive, and a decent dirt road leads you into a deep canyon .. 

After 4 miles you enter the Nez Perce National Forest, where there was a sign that the upcoming road was partially washed out, so we turned around.
Back into 'town', we turned onto Nut Basin road and followed it all the way up .. look at this view!

We drove over the hill to the other side where you enter a large open basin .. Nut Basin, I presume ..

And back up again across the basin, towards the snow!

 You look towards Grangeville here, but can't see it ..

As you can see, there's snow all around us, but not down below at the river where we are .. oh, well! 
Let's see, what else is new .. one of last mornings I discovered this herd of Elk on the hill towards the back of the canyon. I could actually see them from inside the RV!

This time there were a few males among them!

The work on the house is progressing nicely. Like I said, no snow, or much rain either, and the temperatures are much better than last week and it looks like they'll stay that way for a while longer.
So far it has been a much milder winter than normal, but that's what you get when we're in town!

After the concrete was poured and cured and all the trenches for pipes filled back up, it was time to install the new material that James had brought from La Grande.
It's called   , made of Styrofoam and very light weight and easy to work with ..

It's like building with Lego blocks!

The only problem is that when the wind blows (and boy does it blow!), it has a tendency to get airborne, so they have to make sure to hold onto it and anchor it down quickly ..

Starting to look like something!

Looks like we had a busy week doesn't it? Except maybe for Sunday ..

The guys are watching golf and I'm puzzling .. 
life is good!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Last Sunday we went for a short hike a little further up the gulch. 
It was a grey day, and as you can see there was still some snow on the hills around us from earlier last week ..

I took a picture of these same ponds last June .. hard to believe it will ever get green like this again!

We had some snow again that Sunday night, just an inch or so, but nothing like that forecast that I posted last time ..


Merl' was so 'not amused'! 'Not again', you could hear him think ..


The guys are happy of course that they didn't get any more snow, but it has been very cold lately, which isn't nice either.
James is wearing his thermal underwear and an insulated Carhartt coverall, which keeps him fairly warm, but despite the 2 or 3 pair of socks he's putting on, his toes are still freezing!
I'll better find him a pair of thermal socks and gloves, there's likely more winter still to come ..

Here he is, moving some piles of tree branches from the trees in the front of the house that they cut down a while ago, to the burn and firewood piles in the back.
They've also been digging more ditches and trenches for the sewer lines, and filling them back up with gravel ..

This is Tody (Steven's dog), their supervisor:


Well, that's about all for this week I'm afraid, there's really not much else happening.
We went for a coffee to Riggins on Saturday, just to get 'out and about' a little, but we spent much of our free time inside at the moment where it's cozy and dry and, most importantly, warm!

Here's a picture I made a while ago. Now the leaves are off the trees, I spotted this nest hanging from a branch in a tree near the river, I think it's from an Oriole:

Besides it being extremely beautifully made, I thought it was interesting to see that they've used a lot of fishing line in the 'design'. I guess it's nice and sturdy!

And this is a butt-shot (or end-shot, as my blogging friend Judy used to say) of a Ring-necked Pheasant. 
I was in the car when I saw him and he just didn't want to turn around ..
So, there you have it .. the End (for now)