Monday, November 12, 2012

Learning the Ukulele Update I

   I have finally managed to commit to memory the the first verse of the Hawaiian War Chant. I've also managed to pick up enough ukulele chords to play the song.  What I can't do yet is sing the song and play the ukulele at the same time.  However, I still have about 8 months before cousin camp to work out the bugs.  The other Hawaiian song I'm learning right now is Pearly Shells. I can play most of that song, but I still have three bar chords I need to master. The goal is to actually have somewhat of a Hawaiian repertoire by the time we do cousin camp.

   I enjoyed a day off today and spent a good part of the day raking leaves and spreading wet leaves and straw onto my garden beds. I was so pleased with the results of sheet composting this past year that I have sworn off roto-tillers.  I've never had such an easy time keeping up with the weeding as this past summer. I didn't have to spend all summer pulling up grass in my vegetable beds. Sheet composting involves a layer or two of heavy cardboard, covered with 3 inches or more of leaves, straw, spoiled hay, and other organic matter. Then I spread dolomite lime and or bone meal before I cover the whole thing with a few inches of well rotted horse manure. The nice thing is that I can do all of this soil prep during the fall and winter when I have more time available.  When spring rolls around all I have to do is rake the soil into raised rows and plant. The worms do a pretty good job moving the organic matter around and loosening the soil such that there is no need to roto-till. I do the raised rows so I'm not compacting the soil where the veggies are growing.

   I'm planning on progressing from "pseudo" to semi retired this coming year. If it works out well I will be working part time at the bee store and hopefully spending more time with grand children and  puttering in my garden. I hope to be able to work only one week per month except for the busy season at the bee store, namely March, April, and May.

   I baked two pies this afternoon, one apple and one heavenly hazelnut. (The recipe for Heavenly Hazelnut pie is included in my blog post dated 5/31/2010.)  Linda and I had been invited for dinner and Family Home Evening with my son's family in Monroe. We brought the pies for dessert.  My daughter-in-law fixed a wonderful dinner featuring a marmelade chicken dish that was so good that four year old Lucy dubbed it as dessert chicken.  The chicken was served with garlic mashed potatoes from the Julia Child cookbook. Two entire heads of garlic and a whole cube of butter made the potatoes much more that a mere side dish. Apparently the recipe contained a warning from Julia that if less than two heads of garlic were used it would be regretted. If the chicken hadn't be so yummy, the garlic potatoes could have qualified as the main attraction. We definitely experienced no regrets. After a lovely dinner we enjoyed a great family night with 6 year old Britton teaching the lesson. She told us the story of Daniel in the Lion's Den. A good time was had by all.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

More Fun Times in Oregon

   Linda and I drove home from Oregon yesterday.  Its always a good feeling to be home, but we had a great time with grandchildren.  Shortly after our departure, Elise was complaining to our daughter Sarah that she wasn't as much fun as grandma and grandpa.  I guess that  means we can declare victory. Yet, I don't feel like we were particularly indulgent while Elise and Lilly were under our care. I hope we didn't spoil them so badly that we'll be fired as babysitters.

    During our stay in Forest Grove we also got to spend some quality time with Lance and Luna.  In the photos below they are modeling a Griffindor scarf my mother knitted for Lance. I guess Lance wore it two days straight after I delivered it. As soon as he took it off, Luna started wearing it. One of the reasons it is so rewarding to make something for a child is that they really seem to appreciate it so much.  It warms my heart every time I see one of the grandkids wearing something I helped make for them. When we first arrived in Oregon on Halloween Elise was wearing a sweater Grandma Cozy had knitted from yarn I had spun. As we stopped by to say good bye to the Arnett's, Luna was wearing Lance's Griffindor scarf and a tam hat I had knitted for her. The weather had turned cold enough that I knew she hadn't just put them on just to butter up her grandpa.

Luna wearing Lance's scarf

Lance modeling his Griffindor scarf

               As we were leaving Forest Grove we stopped by Jossy Farms near Hillsboro to pick up some hazelnuts.  They have a website at  We bought two 25 pound bags of hazelnuts at $2.00 per pound. They run them through a cracker at no extra charge so we only have to sort them rather than crack them ourselves.  Its very fun to buy them straight from the grower in 25 pound bags. They had a nice little handout with instructions for storing and roasting hazelnuts, along with a few recipes and interesting facts.  My favorite interesting hazelnut fact was that 97 percent of the entire U.S. hazelnut crop is grown in western Oregon.  We have several hazelnut bushes/trees but the squirrels always get every last nut. They seem a lot more attentive to that fact of the hazelnuts being are ready to pick. I think I would have to either grow a lot more hazelnuts or implement a serious squirrel eradication program in order to harvest any hazelnuts for myself.

I can only imagine how much hazelnuts it would take to fill all of these boxes.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Halloween and Other Fun Times in Oregon

    Linda and I went south to visit the children and grandchildren living in the Portland area this past  week.  We arrived in time on Wednesday in order to accompany grandkids trick or treating. Since Elise and Hannah were dressed in bee costumes, I simply wore my beekeeper outfit. Fortunately I had washed it recently so my bee suit wasn't speckled with bee poo. The analogy was appropriate as I tried to keep track of them while they ran hither and thither gathering sugar.  Lilly went as a Raggety Ann "mini me" with her mother.  Chloe was Audrey Hepburn, Autumn was Hermione Granger, and Rachel simply borrowed a football jersey from a friend and called that a costume.  Rachel and Chet showed up with Lance and Luna before we finished so it ended up as a little family Halloween party.

   Thursday morning I went with Sarah to check out her chickens and to gather some apples from their friends' trees.  That evening Linda and I drove to Hillsboro and went out to eat with Rachel, Lance, and Luna at one of the local McMinnamin restaurants. It was a fun time.  I'm very grateful that I have Quentin as an employee who makes it possible for me to escape the bee store for family time.

    I took my sour dough starter with me and enlisted Autumn as my "Pancake Paduan". She made sour dough pancakes from scratch twice before I came home, the second time without any help from me at all.  If they have pancakes several times a week it should be pretty easy for her to take good care of the sour dough starter. I also spent Friday canning apple pie filling and apple sauce with the enthusiastic assistance of Chloe, Hannah, Elise, and Lilly.  The older two girls were attending the "Time Out for Girls" activity in Portland so did not participate in the canning. We ended up with seven quarts of apple sauce and 5 quarts of apple pie filling.
Hannah peeling and coring apples

Elise working Sarah's apple peeler 
   Saturday morning involved two soccer games, Chloe and Hannah being on  one team and Autumn on another. Fortunately they were at the same time and on adjacent fields so I could simply reverse the direction of the chairs as we were sitting watching one game and we were then watching the other game.  In spite of all of the flip flop spectating I managed to watch Chloe score a goal.  Both games ended up as 4-4 ties. I have to admit it was less fun to watch Autumn's team as Autumn was playing defense. Whenever she was really active it meant things weren't going well for her team. When her team was doing well, Autumn was standing in the middle of the field watching the action on the other end of the field in front of the other team's goal.

    Sadly, all good times have to end sooner or later, and I had to leave at about 1:00 in the afternoon on Saturday to drive home.  However, this trip home has a short turn-around as I'm going right back down Tuesday morning in order to help Linda babysit the younger Kanglings while Chris and Sarah go on a trip to Mexico without children.