Friday, April 29, 2022

Last weekend we went for another visit to Bret and Serena (our landlords) in Sheridan.
It's a beautiful drive south/west along Hwy 18 where you can see part of the Central Coastal Range in the distance with still quite some snow left on the high peaks.

James had volunteered to help Bret install some new electric in one of their barns and I went along to 'get out of the house' and of course for a chance to visit with Serena.

While the guys were working at the barn I got a tour through their newly planted garden after which we prepared a hearty (lentil) soup with cornbread for lunch and blueberry crisp for desert!
This involved a lot of talking and catching up on latest news and gossip as well of course ..

After lunch we went for a walk around their (34 acres!) property. How amazing is that, to go for over half an our hike and still be on your own land?


They have a couple of ponds, one of which houses some interesting creatures ..


These are Rough-skinned Newts, Salamander-like amphibians that can live on land but also in water since they posses gills as well as lungs.
Though they may look cute and harmless, they can be dangerous; toxins secreted through the skin as a defense mechanism could kill a person!

Another interesting fact: they can also regrow lost limbs and organs, even eyes.
(Yes, Shakespeare's 'eye of Newt' comes to mind but apparently that is actually
a pseudonym for mustard seed).

On Tuesday I celebrated my 61st trip around the sun! Now I'm not just 60 anymore, which was already bad enough, but I'm even 'in my sixties' .. Lord help me ..
My mum send me a new jigsaw puzzle, a library with cats, two of my favorite things, how difficult can it be .. right!?


The pop-up card that came with it was truly a work of art! Besides that there were more cards and a nice bottle of red wine from Doug and Brenda ..


That evening we went for dinner at Red Lobster.
James had given me 'carte blanche' and I was fancying Lobster so why not, let's splurge a little!

We actually split their 'Ultimate Feast', which included snow crab and shrimp .. and those sinful Cheddar Bay biscuits!


And although we seldom have dessert, we went for their famous Chocolate Wave as well!
Hey, you only turn 61 once .. I think .. well, who knows?

OK, moving on .. although quite slowly after all that food (I won't go into all those calories, which Red lobster has listed on the menu card, but it's definitely not the healthiest meal).

With all the rain still coming down on an almost daily base, my vegetable garden is sort of at a standstill.
Nothing is dying but nothing is growing much either. I see quite some yellow leaves, a sure sign that the ground is totally saturated and the roots are not getting enough oxygen!
The Lilac at the end of the orchard seems quite happy still and is putting out a whole bunch of beautiful, sweet smelling flowers ...

I always forget that the RV is just too small for their strong smell which tend to give me a headache, so I cut some and put them in a vase, only to have to move them outside to my patio table after a couple of hours .. oh well, they look good there as well.

Here's a few pictures I took in between the rain-showers of the different tree-buds I see emerging around the RV ..

Work has been a little calmer lately, winter is always a more quiet time in the appraising-business but Covid and it's effect on the economy have slowed us down some too.
Fortunately we still have more than enough to do though, but we've taken the opportunity of the down-time to install some of the programs we work with at the office on our home computer as well.
We can now both, albeit partial, 'work-from-home'!

I still have to go into the office to collect the paper files/dossiers for the orders that come in and to download a few things that are only available on the computers over there, but than I can take the whole shebang home and work when and how as I please from the comfort of my own, cozy home.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Despite a wet and cold weather forecast Easter was a beautiful, sunny and rather warm day here in the Northwest!
It felt very spring-like. Finally!

Eostre, the Pagan Goddess of fertility, new beginnings and growth. 

We were invited for lunch/dinner at Doug's and enjoyed a delicious ham and a very tasty celery-casserole. Brenda had made the overnight salad both Doug and James grew up with and love, which is a staple in our house for Easter as well, and I brought a Rhubarb Strawberry pie for desert.

As usual, nobody took a picture (seriously, we all have cell-phones with us and the young 'uns at the table constantly make selfies, but nobody thinks of making a group photo?) ... so all I have a is a pic of that pie.
Shows you what's most import in the Hess family right there .. 😁

Now the rain finally seems to have stopped for a while I managed to take a walk to our, still very soggy, 'back 40' to see if any of the wildflowers I saw there last year had come up already.

And lo and behold, the Trilliums were not only 'up' but flowering as well!

So pretty! They actually all open white and turn pink/red when they age ..

Also present .. the Glacier Lily!


The Ferns (actually these are called 'Bracken') are simultaneously shooting up and unfurling and I came across one lonely Common Camas Lily (on the right), at least I think it is ..

I've lost some regulars at my bird feeder over the last couple of weeks.
I've not seen 'the flock' (of Titmice) for a while and the Nuthatches have also disappeared. The House - and Gold Finches are still here though and are changing slowly in their much brighter Spring/Summer colors ..


Both were rather drab looking during the winter but now mating season is here, they definitely 'dress to impress'!


I'm afraid that's about all for this week, I've racked my brain but really can't remember doing anything else noteworthy ..
I mean, sticking the butt end of a used up celery bunch in some water and watching it re-grow is rather exciting for me, but is probably not for everyone .. oh well, I'll show it as a 'filler' :


I actually have to move it over to another area because the yellow color indicates it's not getting enough light, but other than that it's growing real fast. Fun!

Friday, April 15, 2022

In 2016, 'our' town Newberg was proclaimed as "Oregon's Camellia City" by a City Council resolution and the move was echoed a year later by the state Senate.
So, by no small wonder of course, the Camellia is the official flower in this town.
And while most cities have official flowers, not many have their own registered variety but Newberg does:

'The City of Newberg' is the common name or 'C. complex reticulata hybrid seedling of ( x 'Purple Gown' x x 'Guilio Nuccio') x 'Narumigata' if you want to go all fancy!

Also of no surprise, the city boosts an annual all-day festival in April celebrating its official flower and its Asian origins at the Newberg Camellia Festival.

The day kicks off with a 5k and 10k Run/Walk coordinated by Chehalem Parks and Recreation District (CPRD) followed by performances, kids activities, vendors, and more at the Chehalem Cultural Center and of course (Camellia) plant sales run throughout the day.
The festival also host to the Oregon Camellia Society’s annual statewide bloom show; a camellia bloom competition judged by size, color, form and condition.

We went over after lunch, when the sun came out for a little bit.
I was blown away by the variety of single camellia blooms in any possible iteration and color on display, each in it's individual cup:

I never new there were so may varieties!

Look at this little cutie, named Baby Bear!


There was a 'sprig' category as well ..


We briefly stopped at an Ikebana demonstration by Nana Goto Bellerud, a very charming Japanese lady ..


And we sat down for a while to watch a very powerful demonstration of the Japanese Taiko drumming group 'Monmouth Taiko':

Followed by a delightful performance of a Dragon and Lion Dance by the Lee's Association Dragon & Lion Dance Team.

They even brought the Dragon and Lions through the public on the floor ..



One thing I learned that afternoon, which came as a big surprise to me, is that (all) tea is made from Camellia Sinensis!
How come I never knew that? James and I were both into the landscaping business, heck, I've been to real tea plantations in Malaysia, and I never realized this? Duhhh ..

They actually grow them here in the Willamette Valley, we might go for a visit one of these days.

Any-who, we checked out the vendors and I managed to only buy a few samples of .. tea ..  they had some interesting, very different, ones from locally grown plants that I like to try out.

Since the forecast mentioned a nice and sunny afternoon  I had, rather optimistically, bought some hamburgers so, although it quickly cooled of in the late afternoon, we did fire up the BBQ!
As you can see James was a little on the cool side out there ..

I made a big steaming batch of 15-Bean Soup the next day, which was more 'in sync' with the weather situation which had turned back to wintry temperatures of 33F that night and 42F for a day-time high!

In my own (orch)yard, a fourth raised bed has appeared:


And since it's so bloody cold right now, I am covering my seedlings up at night. They look like alien pods in the fading light ..

I'm starting to run out of seeds for the birds .. again .. and was debating if I should stop feeding them, it being Spring now and all, but after some googling if you should, and why, I've decided to keep at it for a while longer.
Migrating birds, coming back to Oregon, tend to be rather exhausted and hungry, than they have to do their whole courtship thing which takes energy and than there's the laying of eggs and raising of chicks .. if anything I should double their feed!

This pretty Golden-crowned Sparrow probably agrees ..