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Friday, May 28, 2021



This last week we finally got some 'normal' Oregon weather .. cool, overcast, cloudy and even some good rain! Oh well, it had to catch up on us someday ..


But the biggest news for this week has, off course, to be this:

                                                               

Yup! Those are tickets! To Holland! Yahoo!
I'm finally allowed in, but only because I have a dutch passport, and I don't need a 'compelling' reason anymore.
I'm flying with Iceland Air, who has very cheap tickets on certain dates, and I will have a 1,5 hr lay-over in Reykjav√≠k, before landing in Amsterdam after a total flight of 12 hrs. Not bad! And because I booked with the airline itself, I can change my ticket (if something happens) for free! Better safe than sorry these days ...
So, great news off course, and fortunately everybody in Holland seems to be happy that I'm coming so that's always nice too!

I also don't have to go in quarantine anymore when I arrive because I'm no 'fully vaccinated'!
Yes!! We got our second shot of Moderna yesterday:

                      

In two more weeks we will have reached full immunity and we will be invincible! Well .. sort of ..

OK, all other news is just peanuts of course, but I'll still show some stuff from this last week, just because ..
Here are some more pics of what I come across during my daily walks here in the neighborhood:



Lots of pretty 'little' farms and quite some bigger ones .. and I'm getting to know lots of cute and pretty livestock too ..


Quite a few come over to the fence by now to get a scratch behind the ears. Maybe I should  start carrying some treats and I bet I'll be really in demand!
Although, once you start ..

This guy often hangs out at the barn on our property:

Red-breasted Sapsucker

For some reason he likes to hammer not on the wood on the left, but on the metal pipe on the right! It's very loud and I can't help thinking that it should hurt his beak, or at least his head!

Everything seems to flower at the moment, especially the roses and the early clematis:
   
      

And how about these Peonies?

  

Perfection!

Encouraged by my bread-baking succes of late, I baked some more. This is a half wheat/half white 'normal' kneaded sandwich bread and a sort of braided baguette:


Again, they came out pretty good! Just for the smell you will want to bake your own bread ... absolutely heavenly! James couldn't resist (of course) to steal the two end-pieces right away!

He himself made breakfast on Sunday. Now he has such a nice new guy-toy, he's totally getting into this. I'm not complaining!
Pouring eggs for scrambling ..

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Red Clover field near Sherwood

We went for a drive through the country-side to the North of us last Sunday. The weather was (still) beautiful and the scenery equally so.
We drove part of the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route which mainly winds it's way through the rolling hills and fields of
the Tualatin Valley.

              

It's a 57-mile/92-kilometer route of wetlands, tidy farm fields, orchards and hazelnut groves, and towards the hills the tidy lines of the vineyards.




As I said, we only drove a short stretch of it, but we're certainly going back for the 'full' tour one of these days.
My main reason for the drive that day, was going up to the viewing point at Bald Peak State Park, just 9 miles to the north of us.


                             

A windy road winds it's way to the top of Chehalem Ridge. It's a very pretty drive, especially right now with the bright green leaves of spring ..

           

It's a very small 'park', basically only a parking area a toilet and a few picnic benches, but after you make your way through a little forest of huge Douglas Firs the view is quite nice.



There were great views to the south across the Willamette valley and it's beautiful farming country ..



OK, moving on.
Closer to home the blueberries have done their flowering, and the bees have done their fertilizing, and now the berries have appeared and (hopefully) will start to ripen ..




So far it has been a very dry spring and James has repaired the drip-lines so we can give them a few blasts of water in the coming weeks.



We'll also start to cover them with netting soon in the hope of saving them from the birds!

He also got rid of another item on the 'honey-do' list. We had bought a 38 gallon portable waste holding tank for our black tank, aka a 'poop-cart' ...

            

The plan was to empty our RV-tank once a week and haul it over to Doug's house, where we can drain it in the sewer clean-out in the yard next to the house.
Which was a fine and dandy idea, but it turns out that the whole shebang, the tank including it's smelly continents, weigh way to much for me, and actually also for James, to handle.
It turns out that we're not the only one that has that problem, and Camco has made a gadget to make this a lot easier ...


They sell this 'steerable wheel kit" for $72 at Camping world. Ha! Too much for us cheapskates of course!
Leave it to James to come up with a similar contraption and after some shopping around and a little bit of cutting and welding and painting we now have a much easier time of dumping our s**t!

                                      

I didn't do that much this week, mostly because I threw my back out .. heavens now with what .. but I did, and I'm still not moving too smoothly these days.
It was a perfect time to work on one of the new puzzles I got for my birthday:


And while I made some fast progress in the beginning it has turned out to be quite a difficult one. Which is good. It will give me more time to enjoy it!

O, and I baked a bread again. It had been some time but I'm ready to get back 'into it'.



This is a no-knead whole (or actually half) wheat bread.  Despite not wanting to rise very much over-night, it did raise during baking and came out fairly good.

It tasted fine, especially with some good liverwurst ..

And look-ie here .. we also christened our new (yes, new!) outside Blackstone gas-griddle!
We made a 'Grand-Slam' for breakfast ..



And hamburgers and sweet-potato fries for dinner ..


So far, we absolutely love it! No more food falling through the rack of the grill and no more flames burning the food. Everything gets cooked much more evenly, you can cook almost anything on it's surface and, best of all, you can cook everything at the same time!

Well, there you have it. Life is good!


Thursday, May 13, 2021

 

I 'shot' this hummingbird in the early evening. He was very busy defending 'his' feeder and snatching little bugs out of the air, and barely sat still for a second, hence the blurry picture.
I think it perfectly captures how fast and busy these little birds almost always are ..

               
           Although sometimes even they have to rest for a bit ..

We're already halfway May and almost all the trees have suddenly turned green.
Funny how that happens almost overnight each year. At first you see this faintest haze of green of the barely unfurling leaves, and next you look and .. bam! .. green!


I love my morning walks through this pretty rural neighborhood, talking about green ..


The grapevines are so pretty, neatly lined up in their rows, and they're starting to get some leaves too!
And how about this wisteria:



Or these spectacular Red Buckeye tree (left) and Jacaranda tree (right) flowers :

My own hanging basket is also flowering profusely ..

                                   

And look! The cosmos (right) and the sunflowers (left) I sowed, are coming up!


My vegetables are growing also, but I really hope we will ever get to eat them, because look what came walking through the yard a couple of days ago ..

She acted like she didn't see them, but she might be baaaack!             

           

And while we're in the yard, here's another addition we added to our compound this morning:



 


A gas company out of McMinnville installed this large gas tank next to the RV.
Since we're going to stay put for a couple of years, it's much more convenient to have a larger tank instead of the 2 smaller ones that we normally use.
They will come and re-fill it when we're getting low, for which service we pay $25/yr (plus the gas of course). Nice!

OK, let's see, what else? Oh, we drove the 15 miles to McMinnville the other day, to do some shopping and getting acquainted with the town at the same time.



It's a cute little village, especially the 'historic downtown' area, where we had a nice cup of coffee at the Union Block coffee ..


And that will about sum this week up me thinks. There's a few other small things but I'll save it for next time. Just in case I won't have anything to talk about. like that will happen. Ever.

Here's a last pic of James burning the burn-pile. Or actually watering the burn-pile.
Or at least the grass surrounding the burn-pile, in case it will get 'out of hand'. You can see it tried to creep away from him a little there ..



Thursday, May 6, 2021

Num Num Na Num Nam Na Num Na Num ...

So far I haven't seen much of any 'large' wildlife, like raccoons or coyotes, but there are lots of these grey/buff squirrels around.
Turns out, these are actually non-native, and invasive, Eastern Gray squirrels. They were introduced from the eastern U. S. and have played part (along with habitat destruction/development) in the decline of the native Western Gray squirrel through competition and disease.
Bummer. They're still cute though ..

On my walks through the neighborhood, which is wonderfully rural with small farms everywhere, I mostly come across more domestic critters, like chicken, turkeys and Alpaca ..



So far we've also had 3 cats show up around our property, whom we're keeping a careful eye on ..

                                           

They look well fed and seem friendly enough, but Merlin can not stand having other cats around, and will go on the attack as soon as he spots them.
Unfortunately, he is a lousy fighter and always gets beaten up, which usually means another trip to the vet!

And will you look at this! I started a 'raised bed' vegetable garden'!



It's totally pathetic qua size of course, and won't feed anything but perhaps a family of  those squirrels, but it's so much fun to see some of your food grow, and hopefully we get to taste some of it too!
The boxes are 'self-watering', meaning that the bottom 1/4 is filled with water which is 'wicked up' through a grate on which the soil is placed.
I hope it will work!


            

I'm also going for the 'square foot gardening method', which lets you plant your veggies very close together, thus, hopefully, eliminating weeds and allowing for more plants.
So far I have herbs (cilantro, basil and rosemary), a red and a green bell-pepper, rainbow-chard, and one (yeah, that sure is pathetic!) broccoli, in one of the boxes, and I've sown Mesclun, Arugula and spinach in the other.
And look! They're coming up (after 5 days)!


 

The two pots on the left and right of the bench are holding sugar snaps/snow peas and yellow squash in the left one and zucchini on the right. I'm waiting for some bean seeds I ordered on-line to arrive soon and they will go in after the peas and with the zucchini.

Looking good!

And let's not forget the strawberries, they're hanging in a strawberry-pot from the awning:

                                                                                             
I haven't mentioned it yet, but one of the first things we did when we got here, was to reacquaint ourselves with the local golf course. Of course!
We'd played it before, years ago, and really liked it, and since this is going to be home for a couple of years, we're going to sign up for a membership.

 

It's a challenging course, and some holes might even be a little too 'much' for me, but I'll make it work (read: I'll cheat at the hard parts).


Part of what makes it challenging ... the ups and downs. See those golf carts way down there (and the hills in the background) ..?


                                 
Lots of long shots over deep gulches ..

Since even talking about all that gardening and golfing works up an appetite, I made an apricot crisp with the last (!) apricots from Idaho ..


As usual, the kitchen looked like a bomb exploded, but hey, I really don't have much of a counter space!
The result is (almost) always good and that's what matters ..
    

                                                                      

 
And there you have it, another week in the life of the Hess's. 
Nothing earth-shattering, but it's a good life, and (most of the time) we like it.

See you next time!