Sunday, June 28, 2015

WHERE'S THE FIRE?



Mike and I took the dogs for a short walk to the top of Plank’s Pitch and back at 4:30 Saturday afternoon. The dogs expect a constitutional at that time regardless of what their humans think. For instance, I thought it was way too hot for a walk, the temp registering at 100. The dogs stood the heat well, but on the return trip, Nellie moved from one patch of shade to the next, and when we got to the yard, she hurried to the pond.

Anyway, at the top of the Pitch, I said to Mike, “There’s a fire over there. . .” – toward Teakean Butte. At first he wasn’t sure he agreed, but eventually it was readily apparent. I surmised it was on the other side of the river, but it proved to be a brush fire on the lower end of Orofino’s Riverside – not all that far from us here. Apparently a car fire (how does a car catch on fire?) spread to the brush, but that’s about all the info I’ve been able to glean.

As suppertime approached, Mike mixed ice cream and I whiled away the time on Pinterest, dreaming over crocheted Barbie outfits as I waited for him to finish in the kitchen. Suddenly the attic fan went off, which was unsettling because it shouldn’t have. We thought there was something wrong with the fan. It wasn’t until Mike tried to start the ice cream freezer that we grasped the situation. At 5:40, we just plain lost electricity.

“Maybe it has to do with that fire,” I said, and long story short, it did! Mike called Clearwater Power to report the outage, and when the electricity was still off an hour later, he called again.

“They had to turn off the electricity while they fight that fire. It will be off another hour,” he reported to me.

With that we decided to move to Plan B for supper. I had already made a hearty salad and to that we added cold cuts for sandwiches.
 
When the electricity is off, our water is limited, too, because of the electric pump. Mike had just decided to take a brief shower anyway, when the electricity came back on – about two hours after it went off --  allowing us to finish up the evening routine and watch a little tv before bed.

This morning the temp was 71 at 6:15. As noon approaches it’s 92 in the shade and 96 at the pond. And I can hear lots of airplane activity, so I wonder if they’re still fighting that fire – or another. KW

[UPDATE: You can read about the fire here. They're calling it the "Canoe Camp Fire." As I post this, apparently they are still fighting it, at least by air.] 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

CRITTERS


Central Ridge on the other side of Little Canyon

It reminded me of a scene out of “Blondie.” Blondie sits up in bed and says, “Dagwood! Dagwood! Wake up. I heard something downstairs. Get up and check. . .” whereupon a sleepy and bleary-eyed Dagwood gets up, finds the burglar (or not), and of course, raids the refrigerator before going back to bed, sometimes making a sandwich for the burglar, too.

Well, it wasn’t exactly like that. Mike would never raid the refrigerator. But I was awakened by quiet commotion accompanied by dog whines on the kitchen porch. “Mike,” I said. “Mike! Bess is doing something on the porch. I think “we” should check on it,” whereupon a very tired and disgruntled Mike got up to check the dogs. (I secretly delight in this – retribution for all the years I got up with the kids.)

Coming back to bed, a now wide-awake Mike reported that both dogs were working together to capture a wood rat behind his toolbox on the porch. He eventually went back to assist them so that we could all get some sleep, but it was not to be for Mike, who was wide awake the rest of the night. Ah! Such is life in the country. The neighbor’s noisy party or barking dog won’t bother you, but there are plenty of other nocturnal disturbances.

The other day as I sat in the living room, I looked out to see what appeared to be a chipmunk dancing along one of our raised beds. Surely not, I thought to myself. But, then I saw it again, sitting on the supports of Mike’s metal shed. The chipmunk was apparently taunting Bess, who was watching it closely. I expect that Bess knew what the chipmunk knew – that he/she could be under that shed before Bess made her first move. But, the stand-off gave me a chance to study it with the binoculars and confirm that it was indeed a chipmunk – apparently a rare sighting.

Then in the evening I just happened to look out the living room window again and catch sight of a bunny racing past the raised beds towards the barn. And as if to complete this pastoral scene, a doe was standing just outside the yard near the bramble bush watching the house – probably wary of Bess.

These pictures are of a doe we see every morning in Plank’s field. She lives in the draw just below, and she will disappear, always through the same bushes, as we get closer. I suspect she’s raising a fawn. And she might be the same doe that occasionally skirts around the farm yard, probably hoping for a drink from the pond without attracting attention.
 
 
The hummingbirds were slow to come in this year but appeared to be here in full force now. We do lose hummingbird momentum when we leave for a few days. And the hollyhocks are in full bloom, so they have something else to drink. KW

Thursday, June 25, 2015

CROP DUSTING

Crop dusting is a fact of country life. I don't know how many times fields are treated during the growing season, but it seems to be a frequent event. I hear the plane often -- sometimes close, sometimes in the distance. It's an unsettling noise, perhaps made more unsettling by that scene from North by Northwest.
For several years I've tried to capture the crop dusting plane with poor results. Yesterday, though, as I walked the dogs, I spotted it at work over a field on Central Ridge. Since they were taken at a distance with a zoom lens, use of a tripod would have resulted in clearer shots. However, I don't carry a tripod when I walk. I just tried to make the best of the photo op. KW

BUILD-A-BEAR CREATIONS

Staff member Annabell models two outfits recently mailed to granddaughter Emmy for her Rosabell. Both bears are Build-a-Bears.

The lavender "baby doll" pajamas were made from a "Cabbage Patch Kid" pattern. No modification was required.


And the sundress is an idea I copied from another blogger (here).

There are not patterns especially for Build-a-Bears. I guess it shouldn't be so difficult to create clothes for a model who's shape is basically square, but I appreciate those who share their ideas. KW

Monday, June 22, 2015

GARDEN NOTES


Hi Hallie!
Dog food sacks, opened flat, provide needed shade for plants. This seems to be working well.

And this product is a help, too. It's called a "Plant Nanny," and I purchased it through Amazon. The clay spike accommodates a recycled bottle of up to 2 liters and allows water to slowly seep into the ground. I was sufficiently pleased with my initial experiment to order another set. KW

Friday, June 19, 2015

SEARS DOESN'T GIVE SATISFACTION





The tech from Sears came at 4:15 on Thursday. He said that he comes over from Walla Walla once a week to help out here, specializing in "lawn and garden" and "refrigerators."

First, by means of a magnet, he checked the doors and asked if they had been removed during installation. Yes, they had. He said they had not been properly re-attached, and the delivery crew should have checked it for correct operation. With that, I stepped away to let him work.

Then he called me back into the kitchen and told me that there was nothing wrong with the refrigerator. He said the little thermometer we were using was faulty – that actually, the fridge was cooling properly and by means of an “expensive” infrared gizmo, he showed me the actual temp of everything in the fridge. He said those little thermometers are useless. Get only mercury thermometers he said, adding that I should check Goodwill for those.

“But you said the doors were improperly attached,” we reminded him, to which he responded that he was wrong. He had the magnets backwards, he said.

Well, the fridge just hadn’t seemed that cold, we said. The milk wasn’t as cold as we like, for instance. So he shot the milk with his infrared gizmo which showed it at 33 degrees. (Hmmm – that’s nearly freezing, you know.) He said that the refrigerator as a whole was sitting at 33 and keeping it at temps that low would cause the produce to freeze. We pointed out that our produce had never frozen despite the fact that we had the refrigerator at its lowest setting, a response he ignored. In fact, he never gave us any explanations – just kept the dialogue shifting.

He pointed out that the unit, although it says Kenmore, is actually an LG, which we had discovered on our own. Diagnostics he took on the fridge were transmitted to LG, not Sears, he said. I questioned that LG is a good product. He said he wouldn’t have anything but LG in his home. (I've heard that from several sales reps but find plenty of dissenting opinions from consumers online.)

He said the only thing wrong with the refrigerator, according to his handheld diagnostic unit, was that the ice maker is slow because of low water pressure. Yes, the water dispenses slowly, Mike agreed, but was not at all slow in the old refrigerator, meaning we have decent water pressure to the house. So, the tech pulled the fridge out and said that the valve lacked a quarter turn of being fully opened. He declared it fixed. Mike got a cup and tried the dispenser. “No, it’s still slow,” he said, to which the tech did not respond.

The bill for the call was something like $268, for which we were not charged.

“Well,” said Mike, after the tech left, “we’re stuck.” KW

Monday, June 15, 2015

ROSES AND SNAKES AND LAWNMOWERS, OH MY!


This picture does not do the stand of roses justice.

ROSES
Yesterday afternoon, we were walking past the Plank home site – you know, right there where the wild rose has overgrown the old equipment – and something red caught my eye. “Wow!” I said, and then stepping closer, “WOW!” Why had I never seen this before?

There, growing close to the ground, semi-hidden behind a screen of tall grass, was a profusion of red roses in various stages of maturity, buds to blooms. It was dramatic, like when the scene goes from black and white to full color in The Wizard of Oz. The fragrance was wonderful.

So, I messaged my sister Harriet, my “go-to” authority for all things vintage and country, as follows: “On our walk this evening, I noticed a profusion of wild roses at Plank's that I have never seen before. You know how the ordinary wild rose is a bramble, but these are close to the ground. The blossoms are red and quite large. They were spread through quite an area there at the Plank home site. Do you know anything about such roses?”
And she wrote back that she had never seen wild roses that were red. “That sounds like a domestic climber that might have survived in the wild,” she said.
I was curious as to what I had said that made her think it was a domestic climbing rose, and she replied: “You gave me good clues on the rose.  It was on a home site and was growing along the ground.  Climbers do that if they don’t have anything to climb.” 
I assumed they were wild because I just couldn’t imagine that they have been there blooming all these years without my spying them. And I didn’t think a domestic rose could survive without care. It appears they have been spreading in that place for some time.

So, this morning Mike and I went over and dug out a clump and transplanted them to the front of the farmhouse. Yes, I know – this isn’t the time to transplant a rose, but we’ll see. If it doesn’t work, we’re not out anything but effort. We can try again if we want to.

SNAKES
“Bark bark bark -- bark bark bark.” It was Bess and the tone was urgent.

“It could be a rattlesnake,” said Mike, and we both dashed for doors.

Bess was beside herself near Mike’s shed, and then I could hear it rattling. Being a hunting dog, once Bess knows the master’s presence, her instinct is to creep closer, so our first effort was to control her. Then Mike spotted and removed the snake.

We have seen nine rattlesnakes this season, beginning May 10. Never have we seen so many snakes in one season, let alone just one month. On Thursday, the girls have a date with their vet for rattlesnake vaccinations.

LAWNMOWERS
Once Mike heard about Dan’s John Deere X300 lawnmower, he had to have a John Deere, too.

Well, it’s fun to say, but in reality, we didn’t shop for this mower. Mike didn’t like some of the features of the re-built Yard Machine of two weeks ago, so discussion ensued with our lawnmower mechanic, resulting in this old re-built John Deere 180 coming our way. The rest is Mike’s story, but he did say, “It was the Cadillac of its day. It will get me through this summer, and maybe you’re right that I should get a new one.” Yes!!! KW