Monday, July 27, 2020

Rhapsodies in blue

I thought about titling this post "Strong enough bend;" ha. While we were eating Sabbath dinner, Rick said, "Oh, before I forget: blueberries have to be picked tomorrow." His client who grows blueberries commercially had told him the hand-pickers were coming Monday, so if we wanted to pick, Sunday was the day. So much for all that I was planning to accomplish while Rick and Brian were on the combine all day. The forecast was for at least two days of triple digits, so I was going to work my horses early, then hole up in a relatively cool house working through an indoor to-do list. Time to bend, figuratively and literally!

So after my guys left for a day on the combine, I gathered up buckets and bowls and headed to the fields. The berries were plentiful, but it still took me four hours to fill all my containers.

Then I set to washing all of them. I don't always wash blueberries, but Rick had mentioned the bushes were sprayed Friday, and I didn't fancy insecticide residue. After roiling them around in a sink of clean water, I rinsed them and rolled them on a clean towel to dry, picking out debris and subpar fruit. It took me all afternoon, but I ended up with 17 five-pound gallon bags in the freezer, plus four pounds in a bowl to eat fresh.

That should do us for the year on blueberries. Now I have to face peaches; my neighbor called Saturday night and said an orchard we have both purchased from before (remember, our favorite local orchard was bulldozed😩) has a limited number of boxes available. That will probably be tomorrow's task.

After running around in the heat yesterday, Poppy was happy to relax on my bed. She's such a supermodel!

I got up early this morning and watered the parts of the garden I didn't get to yesterday evening. I also picked two cups of sugar peas for Rick's lunch, since I'm out of oranges and apples irritate his stomach. Poppy was busy hunting ground squirrels; she saw her first one last week, and is now rather obsessed, which is fine with me.

That's it for my weekend at . . .

Friday, July 24, 2020

Earth and sky

It's cool and quiet and all I want to do is take a nap. The nights have been short; Brian is getting home late and leaving early. Not early enough, mind you; he's been late to work a few times and has threatened to skip his chores because they're going to make him late. I corrected his narrative; it wouldn't be chores that would make him late, it would be sleeping in too late. Personal accountability has become an endangered species; it doesn't help when the person holding the highest office in the land exhibits none, but it will not be allowed to go extinct in THIS house.

Back to the weather (sorry; once a mom, always a mom). Yesterday and today a push of ocean air has given us cloud cover for much of the day and a delicious break from the heat. We lose it tonight; tomorrow will be 'normal' summer weather and then we climb into triple-digit extremes for at least two days. If we had a bigger well, I'd be running hoses 24/7 to give everything a good soaking, but I have to prioritize. The rest of the marionberries will probably burn up. I picked earlier this week and got two more boxes; they were showing the effects of the heat then. Poppy came to see what I was doing – and joined me!

I caught this bumblebee napping on a golden raspberry leaf:
This is one of my cherry tomato plants. It's foliage is affected by herbicide carryover, but it is COVERED with flowers! 

My Red Kuri squash hill is looking good, although there are no blossoms yet.

I am admitting garden envy here. I drive by this house on my way to work; this is the front yard. Two tall beds in the middle, surrounded by lower beds with walk-through gaps. I love the design and construction; so beautiful, so manageable, so productive!

Poppy is in the doldrums again. Her agility class Thursday evening was cancelled (it will start next Thursday), the neighbor boy got 'tutored' this week, and her sister is still in quarantine with her COVID humans (one tested positive, one negative). She needs a good romp! This morning, however, she did get to hunt a mouse in the tack room. She didn't catch it, but it kept her keenly interested for awhile!
How many of you have gotten out to see the comet Neowise? Rick and I drove up the hill to an unobstructed spot last Saturday night to spot it. We had to wait awhile for it to get dark enough, then I used my binoculars to locate it. Once I did that I could spot it with my naked eye. Rick took a ton of photos with his big camera, but I don't know if I'll ever get copies of what he shot. I don't know how Sara captured such a great image with her iPhone; mine sees nothing.

Last night, I decided to see if Neowise was visible here at home. I walked over to the other side of our island bed, found the Big Dipper, looked lower, and there it was, over our woodshed. With the binocs I could see that it had moved; there was a star visible in its 'tail' that wasn't there Saturday night. Fun!

That's it for now from . . .

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Just the three of us

Rick and I took our pup and went to the coast on Sunday (Brian was at work). Rick had to work on a couple of horses, and then we drove om to Pacific City for a snack from The Grateful Bread (great scones!) and a walk on the beach.

The main beach access points were swamped with people, with no social distancing apparent. But we drove to a small state park where there fewer people, they were respectful of distance, and quite a few wore masks as well. This new park was once private property where we rode horses and hiked a couple times, observing river otters and belted kingfishers. There's a lovely long walk down a dike between tidal flats to scrub forest and dunes before you get to the beach, which was sparsely peopled. Perfect!

On point for a flying seagull

There is no better escape in the summer, when the Willamette Valley is an oven. It was 30 degrees cooler on the coast, with a bracing wind. Poppy had a great time, and dreamed of catching every seagull she saw. When one flew low over the incoming surf, she headed out to sea after it, only saved from her silly single-minded focus by the Flexi-Lead. The wind blew detritus across the sand, which also kept her busy chasing and pouncing. We walked south down the beach with the wind, then crossed the barrier dune and walked back along a more sheltered trail, stopping at a viewpoint and taking in the view on the way back.

After a cooler than average first half of July, we are having a hotter than average second half (which, when averaged out, will probably put us at . . . average). Even Poppy finds it hard to be energetic in this weather:

The garden is starting to produce a little as long as I keep watering; this afternoon I was able to harvest enough to make a pasta salad for supper.

Rick and I were awakened a couple nights ago by what sounded like a brief clatter at our bedroom door. We laid in bed trying to figure out what made the sound and heard nothing more, so drifted off to sleep again. The next morning on my way to the barn, I figured out the source. An exterior light fixture outside the basement door below our bedroom window was hanging by a wire. Blame the heat?
A fixture like this, without the wind chime

The Tour de Fleece wrapped up on Sunday; I spun every day of this event on my Jenkins spindles. I have a bit more of this fiber to spin up and then I can ply it. I think it will make a beautiful scarf!

That's it for now at . . .

Friday, July 17, 2020

Sheepy smiles

My Shetland flock has been getting short shrift here on the blog, and I do have to admit to not spending as much time snorgling the girls as I used to. Part of the reason is that they are shut up in the fold thanks to the dry foxtail awns in the pasture, and the fold has gotten deep and in serious need of stripping (the strong-arm help I need has been unavailable). But yesterday I stood at the half-wall and pet all comers, realizing that I've been cheating myself out of something special.

Also yesterday, Poppy got to play with the 'neighbor boy' for the first time in over a month. It was hot (at least 90°) so they tuckered out pretty quickly, but enjoyed themselves while they lasted. Rick got home shortly after we did, and Poppy demonstrated her good co-napping skills with him. 😉
Poppy has been limping more the last few days than she has in weeks. I suspect both the sprinting she did chasing Stella and the fact that last week while working away from home every day, I forgot to give her the daily turmeric/curcumin supplement. I got it to see if it would help her bad leg and wasn't sure it was doing any good; now I'm thinking it has. She's back on it now. Also, it was clear yesterday that she has grown since last playing with Toby. So I weighed her this morning, and she's 26.1 pounds! Next week she starts her agility class, but we won't be enrolling in the next session following. She's got an appointment in September to get spayed, and will need some recovery time after that.

They may not be as fast, but the bumbles are just as busy as the puppy these days.

This morning Rick helped me pick berries before going to work. We lost some to the summer heat this week, but still got a box of boysenberries, and four boxes of marionberries in the freezer for our efforts.

While out in the garden, I noticed that all three eggplants are blooming now. Jeanne wondered what the blooms on the third one would look like, so I took photos of two of them. I think the first photo is of the lighter purple one I showed before, and the second photo is of the one that just started blooming. Just look at all those blossoms and buds! If all those produce fruits, this will be a variety worth planting again.

So far, this 'forcing' myself to post more often is working. We'll see if I can keep it up. My neighbor has asked me to help her out a couple days a week; she has rheumatoid arthritis that is affecting her eyes now, so she can't see to read or even drive. I took her to a haircut appointment and the grocery store today. Do unto others....

Have a great weekend! That's it for now from . , .

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Disaster averted!

(Thanks be to God who answered my shouted pleas.)

Rick fixed our electric entry gate – again. (It's old.) Yay; Poppy could at least go outside, if not yet play with the neighbor boy (but SOON; very soon). She had been out for at least 30 minutes, sniffing around, playing with Chuckie, looking through the fence longingly for her friends. I thought I heard the recycling truck so went out to see. Poppy started running over to me when she spotted Stella in the middle pasture, apparently for the first time. I haven't been turning Poppy loose when the horses are out because she acts like she wants to 'play' with them. (She obviously wasn't permanently traumatized by Lance stepping on her.🙄) When I had taken her out earlier on the leash, she seemed to notice the geldings without taking interest, so I had turned her loose. But as soon as she saw Stella, she streaked towards the fence – and I streaked after her, calling for her, yelling "No!" Before I could nab her, she found a gap under the fence to squeeze through, and the chase was on. Stella startled and bolted, but wheeled on Poppy when she got near. Poppy would reverse course, then turn to chase Stella again. Once, when Poppy got close, Stella fired with both hind feet – fortunately missing Poppy, but underlining just how dangerous this game was. After all three of us had sprinted back and forth for a few minutes, Poppy stopped for a breather. She wasn't going to come to me or let me catch her, but perked up when I said "Cookie?" Seizing the possibility that she might follow (I didn't have treats on me), I jumped up and ran for the gate to the yard, saying, "Let's go get you a cookie!" And hallelujah, praise the Lord, she did.

She was pretty tired after that, and just wanted to stretch out and rest. She did get up on my bed, which has a new blue spread on it thanks to her 'unstuffing' the old, tattered comforter, but the photos below were taken earlier this week.

As demanding and exhausting as she can be, it would break my heart to lose her. She's beautiful, smart, and the best little napping partner I've ever had. (I think I've needed more naps since getting her!)

Yep, I think I'll keep her. Which means not turning her loose again when the horses are out on pasture!

Sometimes I call her "Sweet Pea," like the wild ones blooming along the roadside.

That's it for today from . . .