Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Night at the Theater

   Tuesday evening I went with my grand daughter Britton to attend a concert at the Triple Door, a dinner theater in downtown Seattle. Linda had arranged this as a Valentine's treat then ended up being out of town. Britton was gracious enough to fill in for Grandma Linda and we had a great time.  We had great seats as our table was only thirty feet away from the performer, Led Kaapana, a well known Hawaiian vocalist and slack key guitar virtuoso. The concert was very fun. It was obvious that the performer was having a good time as he told a lot of jokes and laughed a lot. Britton's reaction to the concert and the whole experience was also a little entertaining at times.

A view of audience at the Triple Door dinner theater

    The dinner was wonderful and yet not outrageously priced. Our dinner ended up costing less than the concert tickets.  However, part of that was due the the fact that Britton turned out to be a pretty cheap date. There were all sorts of wonderful things on the menu, most of it Southeast Asian.  I ordered the wild ginger fragrant duck, while I had just about persuaded Britton to try the Phad Thai noodles with chicken. At this point the waiter advised Britton that they also had chicken nuggets although they weren't listed on the menu.  Britton's eyes lit up and she was on that like the proverbial duck on a june bug. Kid comfort food easily carried the day.

   Britton enjoyed her chicken nuggets and even remarked how much better they were than normal chicken nuggets. Since we had paid a bit more than one would pay for chicken nuggets at McDonald's I was glad to hear we had gotten improved quality as well.  Britton ordered a root beer to go with the chicken nuggets. My only mistake of the evening was allowing a refill on her root beer. My penance for this error in judgement was to escort Britton to the ladies room three times before we headed home.
I enjoyed the duck immensely. It was a bit hard to eat the salad that came with it as it was in rather large pieces and they had turned the lights pretty low by the time I got to the salad.  The duck also came with steamed buns, brown rice, and a sweet plum sauce. The steamed buns were to bread what marshmallows are to candy. They were extremely light and fluffy.  I also had my favorite fancy beverage to accompany a nice meal, San Pellegrino Sparkling Mineral Water.

   I wasn't sure what the dress code might be at a dinner concert like this so I had settled on dressy casual.  When we arrived at the Triple Door I noticed that there were a lot of Hawaiian shirts in the audience. I remarked to Britton that I had missed a good opportunity to wear an Hawaiian shirt. She responded with sage advice that I shouldn't be worried about what I was wearing.

    Led Kaapana explained that the Hawaiians picked up the guitar from Spanish cowboys who came to herd cattle on the islands. When the Spanish left the islands they left some of their guitars behind. What they didn't leave was any kind of instructions for tuning a guitar. The Hawaiians were thus left to their own devices and made up their own tuning for the guitar. This resulted in the Hawaiian slack key guitar style. He also told how he ended up playing the guitar.  He grew up in a large family of about ten kids. They had only two instruments, a ukulele and a guitar. He originally wanted to play the ukulele but he had too many other siblings fighting for the ukulele. Since there was less competition for the guitar he ended up a guitar player.  He had an ukulele on stage with him and he did play a few numbers with the ukulele, but he mostly played the guitar.
Led Kaapana playing the Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar
   I enjoyed the concert very much. I felt badly that Linda missed out. Maybe we can do that another time. I liked Kaapana's music enough that I bought one of his CDs that they were selling at the intermission.  He was pretty amazing with the guitar. I'm sure a real guitar player would have been even more impressed than I was.  However, I have no plans to take up the Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar. I think I have enough on my plate trying to learn half a dozen songs on the ukulele.


Garden Update and a Smoothie Recipe from Martha

    I've actually made some progress on the vegetable garden the past few weeks. It gives me a good feeling to have some things in the ground even if they aren't doing much yet. One thing I like about our maritime climate is that fact that I can plant stuff in February

    I've planted about 20 feet of Cascadia Sugar Snap Pole Peas. I'm assuming with the term "pole" in the name that these peas climb higher than most peas. I planted most of the peas along a welded wire fence so they have a built in trellis. I also planted some of them along a cedar trellis leaning up against the chicken pen near the bamboo and the new raspberry patch. One thing I like about snap peas is that you harvest the entire pod so the harvest is significantly greater. I think I have planted enough so we can freeze enough  to use in stir fries throughout next winter.
Garlic poking up through the straw mulch

   Technically the garlic is something I planted last fall. After several years of harvesting smallish heads of garlic, I read up on the subject and learned that garlic should be planted in the fall, like tulips.  I was pleased to see the garlic has sent up new little shoots. I'm anxious to see how much bigger the heads  turn out to be with a fall planting. Also they are planted in a nice full sun area in the front in soil that was given significant improvement last season.
The onion bed is looking good while the surrounding garden area looks pretty neglected.

   I took advantage of my time at the Seattle Flower and Garden Show to pick up some red onion starts from one of my favorite seed companies, Irish Eyes.  They were only a few booths over from the one I was working at.  The variety I chose was "Red Zeppelin". I'm sure they will do better than last years red onions. I was forced to move them when they put in the access road for the water right a way. Obviously they were too far along to move. I ended up with a fairly meager harvest of smallish bulbs. Linda loves red onions so hopefully she will have a good supply of them this year. The goats made a significant contribution to the fertility of the onion bed. That is probably not the thought you're looking for when you're putting onions on your hamburger.

    I planted parsley in a portion of my cold frame. I direct seeded it into the ground but I will transplant it to other locations after it emerges. I want to leave some of it in the cold frame as a winter salad crop. I would like to have our own fresh parsley for tabouleh this fall.  I am also going to use the cold frame for starting seeds this year. I bought a bunch of jiffy pots and filled them with potting soil so I'm ready to start cabbages and other early vegetables.
The last two tires in the row have rhubarb while I planted shallots in the first three.

    The rhubarb plants I had dug up from my mother's house in Sunnyside died this past year. It made me a little sad that my Dad's rhubarb died on me. I was forced to buy new rhubarb plants to start over.  I bought some good sized rhubarb roots and planted them into some tires on the north side of the duck pen.  These are old tires where I have cut out the sidewalls. They make pretty good little planting beds as they last forever and the black color absorbs heat from the sun and warms the soil.  I also bought both red and yellow shallot bulbs which I also planted in tires near the duck pen.

     About that smoothie recipe...Whenever Linda leaves me unsupervised for a while I start getting the urge to cook.  I've tried two new recipes since Linda flew back to Maryland. The first was quinoa, inspired by a few packages of seeds at the West Coast Seeds booth at the Seattle Flower and Garden Show. I asked Jeanette, the owner of the company, if the quinoa seeds were intended to be ornamentals as they had two varieties which both appeared to be fairly colorful. I was surprised to learn that quinoa (pronounced keen' wa) is fairly easy to grow and harvest. They had apparently grown quite a bit of it last year and she enjoyed eating it.  Since Linda already had a package of quinoa at home I decided it was time to try cooking the stuff. It turned out to be tasty and no more difficult to prepare than rice. I was so impressed that I decided to buy some seeds, but alas they were fresh out of quinoa seeds the next day I was at the garden show.  However, Jeanette promised to send me some.  Happiness is having a friend who owns a seed company.

    My second recipe I got from a little booklet attached to Linda's newest issue of Martha Stewart Living, entitled "Everyday Food". They had three smoothie recipes a few pages into the booklet, one of which was a Mango and Yogurt smoothie. The mangos caught my attention as they were on sale at a nearby grocery store and I had already picked up a few.   The smoothie recipe consisted of 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt, 2 1/2 cups frozen mango chunks, 1 tablespoon honey, juice from 1/2 lime, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. I had some fresh lemons on hand so I squeezed out the juice and used it all in the smoothie. I didn't see the point of storing a very small container of lemon juice. I also used a little less mango than the recipe called for as I only got a little less than two cups of mango chunks from the mango I peeled. I used two cups of yogurt in order to make the final amount of smoothie closer to the original recipe.  Even with all of my modifications it turned out very well. I get the impression that smoothie making is not an exacting process like making bread or pie crust where following the recipe closely is very important.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Family History Friday #4 - Jacob Stoner

    This past week I've spent time researching my great great grandmother Arthelia Isabel Darrah and her husband, Jacob Stoner.  I never met my second great grandpa Stoner as he died 12 years before I was born.  According to my grandmother, Sylvia Lee, her mother, Lulu Stoner, had described her father as having an itchy foot. What she meant was that he was never very content staying too long in one place. This was certainly confirmed as I located him in census records in various locations.

    Jacob Stoner was born in 1856 in Iowa.  I found him with his parents on the 1860 census living in Mercer County Missouri. Since he was only three years old at the time of the census we can hardly blame him for the move to Missouri.  He married Arthela I. Darrah on September 11, 1879 in Appanoose County, Iowa.  I located him one year later on the 1880 Census in Appanoose County, with his wife and young daughter. They were living next door to his father-in-law, W.P. Darrah. So far he had reached the age of 24 before his wanderlust kicked into high gear.

    We next find Jacob Stoner in 1889 living on the Kitsap Penninsula in the Washington Territory in the little town of Port Gambel.  I have driven through Port Gambel on numerous occasions en route to the Olympic Penninsula via the Kingston Ferry and the Hood Canal Bridge. I was stunned to find that my gggrandfather Jacob Stoner used to live there. Port Gambel is very small now, consisting of a small cluster of restored houses.  Many years ago there was a large lumber mill in Port Gambel. I assume the logs were floated to the mill as it was located right on Puget Sound. I would have expected that Jacob would have been working at the sawmill, but the census records list his occupation as farmer. That would mean that Jacob Stoner tried to grow crops in the same peculiar maritime climate that I have. I'm very curious as to what sort of farm he had and what he might have grown on that farm. In 1889 Jacob Stoner had 5 children, Lena age 9, Lula age 7, Nellie age 6, Josie age 3, and Lucias, the youngest child whose age wasn't legible on the document. The older four children were female while the youngest child, Lucias, was a male. The older three children were born in Iowa which means they would have stayed in Iowa until at least 1883. Josie age 3 had been born in Dakota (it didn't specify North or South but maybe there was only one Dakota then) in about 1886 while Lucias was born in Washington.

    About sixteen years after his marriage to Arthelia Darrah, Jacob Stoner married Lydia Ann Shaeffer on January 25, 1894 back in Appanoose County, Iowa. I'm not sure exactly when Arthelia died, but appears that they had moved back to Iowa shortly after the Territorial Census as they had an additional child born in about 1889 in Iowa. I can only imagine how hard her life might have been as she followed her husband from Iowa to the Dakotas and out to Washington State and then back to Iowa with their ever growing family. I wonder how much of that they traveled by wagon. I imagine they might have taken a train to the Washington Territory and back to Iowa. I wonder what sparked each of the moves. Maybe there was the opportunity for cheap land elsewhere that spurred some of their moves.

    I haven't found Jacob Stoner yet on the 1895 Iowa State Census but I'm pretty sure he should have been in Iowa at that time as he remarried in Iowa in 1894 and then had three children in Iowa in about 1894, 1897 and about 1898.  That represented a long time in one place for Jacob Stoner as I found him on the 1900 Census with his second wife living in Gypsom Township in Sedgewick County, Kansas.  This time they had nine children, six from his first wife and three from his second wife. The 1900 census lists Josie as having been born in South Dakota while Roy L. Stoner was now 13 and was listed has having been born in the Washington Territory.  The children from his second wife are three daughters, Laura E. Stoner, Bessie K.Stoner, and Martha A. Stoner. They are listed as being 6, 4, and 2 years old respectively. I was actually able to find birth records in Wayne County, Iowa for Bessie K. Stoner (born 31 March, 1897) and an unnamed female baby Stoner (born 22 December, 1898). I presume the unnamed baby is probably Martha A. Stoner.

    I found Jacob Stoner on the 1910 Census living in Grady, Oklahoma, still with his second wife,"Liddie" and six children. the census shows that "Liddie" Stoner had five children, all five of which were still living. The two new additions were daughters Olive Stoner, born in about 1903 in Kansas, and Marie Stoner, born in about 1906 in Oklahoma. His son, Roy Stoner, born in Washington, was also living with the family. Roy Lucias Stoner was the ultimate middle child with five sisters ahead of him and five half sisters behind him.  Jacob Stoner must have tired of moving around at some point as he stayed in Oklahoma until he died in Nowata, Oklahoma in 1940. I found Jacob Stoner and his second wife Lydia on the 1930 census living in Nowata with their daughter Olive and her husband Edward Stand. Jacob Stoner's path in life, as far as I can determine started in Iowa, then moved to Missouri and back to Iowa. Then he moved to South Dakota then to the Washington Territory, then back to Iowa, next to Kansas, and finally to Oklahoma. He and his family would have been difficult to locate, but for the recently indexed census records. I feel like we should give a big round of applause to all the indexers.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Cousin Camp Music Update

    I just wanted to provide a little information regarding the music we are working on for our upcoming Cousin Camp.  The hula lessons are going well. I can't say enough wonderful things about Ann Tom, our very gracious and patient hula instructor. She has the hula girls working on several different numbers. I thought it might be nice to make sure everyone has the music available to them.  So far I think I have been able to download all of the songs Ann has suggested. I would like to provide them to everybody else, but I'm not sure how to buy a song on iTunes for someone else.   I've decided instead to simply make sure everybody knows what the songs are so they can download them for themselves. In some cases you may want to download the entire album as some of them are quite wonderful. However, it only costs 99 cents to download one song so the entire repertoire of seven songs shouldn't break the bank for anyone.

   Kanaka - This is a song about gathering seaweed in the surf.   The particular version Ann is using is sung by Amy Gilliom on an album entitled "Pu'uhonua". I found some lyrics on the internet for any hardy souls who are up for learning the words.  I found it relatively easy to sing the words when I could follow along and read the lyrics. Hopefully I will outgrow that crutch soon.

  Pupu Hinuhinu -  Ann is using this song for a simple sitting dance for the younger girls. ("sitting dance" sounds like a serious oxymoron). This song would be very easy for the kids to learn to sing. The version we are using is sung by Tia Carrere on an album entitled "Hawaiiana".  That album also includes a beautiful Hawaiian version of Silent Night.

   Lovely Hula Hands - This song is in my ukulele book, "Jumping Jim Goes Hawaiian".  I downloaded a version from an album entitled "Blue Hawaiian" by the Polynesians.

   My Little Grass Shack - also in my ukulele book and also on the "Blue Hawaiian" album.

   Mele Kalikimaka - Chloe is learning to play this on the ukulele. I think I should let her pick which version she likes. iTunes has numerous versions from which to choose. This song is also in my ukulele book

  Pearly Shells -  I downloaded a version of pearly shells sung by Randy Lorenzo on an album entitled "Na Mele Hula". One reason I like this version is that he also sings it in Hawaiian. I can play this song on the ukulele if I cheat on a few of the harder chords.

  Hawaiian War Chant - The version of Hawaiian War Chant that I like best so far is by the Don Ralke Chorus.  although I really like the muppets version on YouTube. I can play this song on the ukulele and sing the Hawaiian lyrics although I doubt I am pronouncing all of the words correctly.  Those are all of the songs we have selected so far.  I hope the kids will learn to sing at least some of the songs in Hawaiian.  Pearly Shells, My Little Grass Shack, and Lovely Hula Hands are all in English.

      We're still planning to use the Hawaiian War chant as the basis for our cousin camp theme song. Everyone is welcome to submit verses. If you don't make up a verse for your family prior to cousin camp you may get stuck with the verses I make up at camp. A grandpa with idle time on his hands can be pretty dangerous. Annika provided some very helpful assistance with the lyrics while we visited the Romeros over Christmas.  We came up with the second and third verses (of course subject to ongoing revision). The first verse will be the actual song in Hawaiian and we will use the real song's chorus. Lilly and Elise both have the chorus down.  The finished verses thus far go as follows:

     Here we are once again at Cousin Camp
     On the beach, though the weather's kind of damp.
     We don't care what the weather's gonna be
     We're gonna go Hawaiian all the same.

    Romeros came all the way from Maryland
    Kangs and Wessels driving up from Oregon
    Tunnells and Veatches practicing their hula dance
    We're gonna go Hawaiian all the way

  We're also counting on a very active percussion section to liven up our music.  In the mean time keep checking the thrift stores for any suitable Hawaiian clothing.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Family History Friday #3 - Guy Dudley Tunnell

   Last week Sarah wrote about my grandparents, Guy Dudley Tunnell and Linnia Sylvia Lee.  I thought maybe I should add some of my own memories.  We only lived near them for a few years, when I was about eleven years old.  We lived in Centerville, Iowa, for several years while my dad "boomed out" to work as an ironworker back east and then briefly tried to make a living as a painter (house not portrait) in Iowa. The down side of our stay in Iowa was that my dad was gone a lot. The up side was that I got to spend a lot of time with my grandparents, who lived on an 80 acre farm just west of Mystic, Iowa. I'm not sure just how much time we spent at home, but I have relatively few memories of Centerville compared to the memories of my grandparents and their farm.

     My Grandpa Tunnell may have looked a little scary but he was generally a very kind grandpa.  There was however, the "checkers" exception to his kindness. The main thing I remember about playing checkers with him is Grandpa frequently repeating "A jump's a jump" every time I stumbled into another of his snares on the checkerboard. This was usually followed by him jumping three of my checkers in return for me having taken one of his. I'm sure he didn't have unkind intentions and was probably trying to go easy on me. He just happened to be a very good checker player. He actually had won the Iowa State Checkers Tournament one year. Iowa happens to be a place where they take their checkers pretty seriously. I did learn to be a more cautious checker player from that experience.

    There were two reasons my Grandpa Tunnell may have looked a little scary. First of all, he had lost an eye as a consequence of working in the local coal mines. I asked my mom if she recalled whether he ever had a glass eye as I don't ever remember him wearing one. She told me that they had sewn his eyelids shut when they had removed the eye so there was definitely never a glass eye.  He never covered it with a patch either so there was just the sunken socket. Apparently he wasn't going for the pirate look.  Secondly, he had false teeth that fit so badly that he never wore them.  He was a wonderful old man with a great sense of humor and I really enjoyed the time we spent there.  I remember playing cards with him.  Two card games he liked to play were Auction Bridge and Pitch. Both were bidding games where you played with a partner. He also liked to play cribbage. My mother played cribbage with him,  but I never learned to play that game until I was an adult. Grandpa also enjoyed listening to baseball games on the radio.  I don't recall a television set at their house.

   At the time we lived in Iowa, Grandpa Tunnell was in his early seventies but was still actively working his farm.  He mainly grew corn and soy beans. His fields were surrounded by hedge rows of Osage Orange. That is a native tree that grows so thickly and has so many thorns that it makes a very effective hedge row. It also produces a lot of hard sticky hedge apples which were great fun for kids to throw. I remember Grandpa's corn and bean fields but I don't remember seeing him plow, plant or harvest them. He did have an old tractor. I think most of the serious farm labor must have happened while we were in school. They had lots of chickens and sold the eggs. They also had a milk cow that provided milk for their family,  They had a old barn that leaned to one side and a few other out buildings. I remember Grandpa had what seemed to be a good sized corn crib, but I don't remember anything about where he stored the soy beans when they were harvested.

    The farm house was very old. It had no indoor plumbing, just an out house in the back yard and a well in the front. The well water had a very metallic taste. Mom tells me that the water had a great deal of iron in it. They actually had to bring water from Grandma Stoner's house in nearby Mystic in order to cook beans. Their well water was so hard that the beans just wouldn't cook very well. There was also no central heating, just a potbellied stove in the middle of the living room and a cook stove in the kitchen. They burned coal in the potbellied stove for heat. I don't remember a large woodpile so they may have cooked with coal too. My Dad replaced the windows on the farm house while we lived in Iowa. The house was so old that the nails he removed were all square.  Dad also build a new outhouse for his parents.

   Grandpa's farm had a small pond south of the house where I used to catch crawdads with a piece of meat tied to a string. There was also a section of woodland just to the north of the house and fields. I'm not sure if the woods belonged to Grandpa or to his neighbor, but they were my favorite part of the farm. There were lots of oaks and black walnut trees and there was a stream that meandered through the middle of the woods. It was a fun place for a kid to play. There was a gravel road that ran north and south to the east side of the farm. There was also another section of woods across that gravel road to the east.  I don't remember exactly how big the woodlands were but they seemed pretty substantial to an eleven year old boy. I do remember the whole family collecting morel mushrooms from the woods across the road.

   Mom tells me that we went out to the farm every day during the summer.  She would serve as Grandpa's chauffeur as he didn't see well and didn't like to drive if he could avoid it.  She would drive Grandpa Tunnell to the auctions and other places while we stayed at the farm and played. Grandma Tunnell was always happy to have us there. I remember spending the night at the farm on occasion and sleeping in one of the two upstairs bedrooms.  The stairs were very steep. Grandpa and Grandma slept in the downstairs bedroom.  The house had an "old house" smell that was distinct but not unpleasant.

    Grandma Tunnell was a very sweet and kindly woman. I only ever heard her speak ill of anybody just one time.  The subject of my grandpa's first wife came up. Grandma just couldn't understand how a woman could ever abandon her children. That was all she would say on the subject so it was a very short conversation.  When my Grandpa finally went blind in his remaining eye, she took very good care of him. When we lived in Nebraska when I was serving in the Air Force we were able to visit her a few times. When she talked about caring for Grandpa Tunnell she talked like it was a privilege for her and how easy it was to care for him.  It seems to me that the best thing Grandpa's first wife ever did for him was to leave him so he could end up married to my Grandma.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Shearing Goats

Linda working to make Buster more presentable
    Linda decided we really needed to shear the goats this past week. I put them onto the shearing stand and she did most of the shearing.  We didn't get much useable fleece from Buster as he gets so badly matted during the winter. I really need to shear him in the early fall so he won't get so ratty looking during the winter. Buster has a lot of skin problems when his fleece gets longer so he should have more frequent shearing than just once a year.  We did get a lot of useable fleece from Black Jack, but it wouldn't hurt to shear him twice yearly either.  Linda was impressed with my shearing stand. It does make it a much more manageable job and probably less of a hassle for the goats as well. It also makes it much easier to trim their hooves.  My inspiration for the shearing stand was a class I took several years ago at the Country Living Expo.
Newly sheared goats
   I addition to helping Linda shear the goats and trimming their hooves, I also mucked out their little barn so they have a much cleaner place to hang out. Hopefully that will also help with Buster's skin issues.  He gets a serious case of "cradle cap" whenever his fleece gets too long. When the weather is colder or wet the goats will sleep in their little barn.  During the summer months they often sleep outside on the big rock

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Visit to Portlandia

    I thought I'd write a little more about my recent visit to the Portland area.  I spent most of this past visit hanging out with my daughter Rachel and her sweet family. Portlandia is a really funny TV show that makes fun of the rather liberal inhabitants of Portland. There are a few aspects of Rachel's lifestyle that might make it into a Portlandia episode at some point. The fact that almost all of their backyard is one big vegetable garden and their city chickens are two possibilities. Although, I personally consider obsessive recycling and organic gardening to be pretty conservative behaviors. "Waste Not, Want Not" has been around a long time.  Besides, I'm not making fun of her vegetable yard as I am trying to convert a larger share of our yard into vegetable garden. If anything I'm a little envious.  I doubt that Linda will ever let me turn the entire yard into vegetable garden. Besides, we do need some yard for all of the grand children to roam.

   I was able to help set up some hoop houses for Chet and Rachel.  This involved using some metal electrical conduit as a framework and covering it with plastic. It makes a nice temporary greenhouse to extend the growing season in our cool wet maritime climate. Chet had helped me bend the ten foot lengths of conduit with a pipe bender some months earlier at my house. I managed to fit the bent conduit into our Saturn to transport it to Portland.  Rachel and Chet have two planting beds built into their patio that were there when they bought the house.  It just so happened that the concrete curbing that surrounds each planting bed had three holes on each side that were just the right size to accommodate the ends of the bent conduit.  All we had to do was to add a little twine to stabilize the structure and cover it with plastic. Chet improvised clamps to hold the plastic cover in place by cutting pieces of plastic water pipe and reshaping them a bit with the help of a propane torch. I thought that was pretty ingenious on his part.

One of the two hoop structures not yet covered.

Finished hoop house
   I also spent some time helping Rachel in her garden. We pruned grapes, black currants, and raspberries.  Then I assisted Rachel in digging up extra raspberry plants so I could take them home. I've let our raspberry patch fall by the wayside the past few years so it needs considerable renewal.  That is one of those full circle things as Rachel originally got her raspberry plants from me. This past week I was able to install the raspberries into their new home. I don't have them trellised yet, but I did get them surrounded by a cardboard mulch. I then covered the cardboard with wood chips left over from our cedar tree removal project. That should result in a relatively weed free and tidy raspberry patch.
Our new raspberry patch. It looked much nicer after I finished adding the mulch

   Rachel's garden has also inspired me to try something new this year. I noticed that her broccoli had not only survived the winter but had gone to seed like crazy. While broccoli has never been my favorite vegetable, I don't mind eating it once in a while.  One issue I've had with home-grown broccoli is the fact that it never seemed to produce enough to make it worthwhile.  After the initial harvest of one decent sized head, the broccoli produces lots of smaller shoots.  I have never managed to keep these secondary shoots harvested in a timely manner. The result is that the broccoli goes to seed. In the past I've viewed that as wasted garden space.  However, Linda recently purchased broccoli seeds for sprouting and that has changed my perspective on the broccoli going to seed. Maybe the side shoots going to seed could actually be a benefit.  A significant harvest of seeds could be used to produce fresh vegetables throughout the winter in the form of broccoli sprouts.

   There was one near tragedy associated with the trip to Portland.  Shortly after we had left Rachel's house en route to the hike, I received a call on my cell phone. It turned out to be some nice man driving a pickup truck who had seen my violin and ukulele fall off the top of our car. He happened to be just two cars behind me at that point so I pulled over and he returned to two errant instruments to my custody.  Sadly, the violin suffered a broken chin rest, but that is minor damage compared to what I expected to find. The ukulele escaped with no damage at all. If ukuleles have nine lives mine is now down to eight. I expressed my gratitude by mailing off some honey to the good Samaritan who saved my instruments.

    Another item I transported to Rachel was another sour dough starter.  Chet has taken official responsibility for the care and feeding of the starter.  He made my day when he left me a voice mail on Sunday to tell me how much he loved the sour dough pancake recipe.  

Friday, February 8, 2013

Family History Friday #2 - William P. Darrah

    I've been working on the Darrah line this past week.  William P. Darrah is my third great grandfather, the father of Arthelia Isabel Darrah, who was the mother of Lulu Frances Stoner, who was the mother of my grandmother, Linnia Sylvia Lee.

    According to a book, The History of Appanoose County, William P. Darrah moved from West Virginia to Appanoose County, Iowa in 1856, acquired a large tract of land in Walnut Township, and held all of the principle township offices. He lived there until his death in 1887. I've located his death record and learned that he died in Mystic, Iowa on December 18, 1887 of apoplexy.  He is buried in the Scheffer Cemetery near his first wife, Mary, who died August 2, 1863 at the age of 42, and his daughter, Mary J. V. Darrah, who died April 6, 1865 at the age of seven.

    I found William P. Darrah on the 1870 census with his second wife, four children from his first marriage, two children from his second marriage, and three step children.  It seems like he had a serious blended family experience. As I reviewed the information on the census I noticed that my second great grandmother, Arthelia Isabel Darrah, appeared to have been born the same year that her mother died.  I can relate to the difficulties of their circumstances as I compare them to our own losses.  A husband mourning for the loss of his wife,  while trying to help his children deal with their grief over the loss of their mother. Then a few years later he loses a child and experiences the challenges of a blended family.   I don't believe life has never been easy in any era. I'm very grateful for the understanding I have that these losses are temporary.

   I've not yet located William P. Darrah on the 1860 and 1850 census records. He should be in Appanoose county, Iowa in the 1860 census and in Monongalis County, Virginia in the 1850 census, However, I was able to locate a record of his marriage to Mary Varner on September 4, 1845 in Monongalia County, Virginia (now West Virginia). I spent several hours pouring over the 1850 census on Thursday night. I've found four Darrah families thus far (spelled Dorrah on the census) but not William P. Darrah. I also found three or four Varner families.  I guess I've caught the genealogy bug again as I stayed up until 1:30 am looking at the census records.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Oregon Trip

   I took a few days off this past week and drove down to the Portland area to visit family.  Its probably the last opportunity I'll have to do that until after the package bees are over. I started my bee classes in the store this week.  Combined with the Monday night classes for Snohomish County Extension I'm teaching bee classes three nights a week for the next month or so. At least I'm not doing the mason bee booth at the Seattle Flower and Garden Show this year and I have a full time employee at the store. I'm not feeling as much stress as past years.

    Linda wasn't able to come with me so I got to take my six year old granddaughter Britton as a travel companion. That is one of the great advantages of home schooling. More flexibility when it comes to family trips. Britton is quite talkative so we had a lot of interesting conversations. A little reminder to parents, no secret is safe when your young children spend time with other adults. We also made a lot more stops than I would normally make. Smaller bladders and smaller tummies need both emptying and filling more often.

    One particular stop was actually planned.  A good bee store friend had given me both a deer and an elk hide this past fall. The frozen hides had been occupying a significant portion of our limited freezer space since then.  This was the first opportunity I have had to drop the hides off at Centralia Fur and Hide to be tanned. I think Britton enjoyed the stop because they had a lot of interesting things in their little store.  They had tanned  raccoon, otter, fox, and skunk furs, along with rawhide drum kits and turtle shell rattles.  A large stuffed moose head dominated one wall and several raw hide canoes hung from the ceilings. Their main customer base are folks who are into Indian and mountain man stuff as a hobby. Their customer amenities left a little to be desired as their restroom was just a portapotty out back behind their building. Britton was a trooper though and didn't blanche at their primitive facilities. She noted that it didn't smell nearly as bad as she had expected. The skunk furs were actually reasonably priced in case any of my children think they have a little stinker who needs a skunk skin hat for Christmas this year. I definitely have no plans to  do a skunk fur as a home tanning project.

Enjoying a little rest break during our hike through the "Wildewood" with Britton, Lance, and Luna.

    While in Oregon we had a great time. Britton got to spend time with cousins and I got to spend some quality time with Rachel, Sarah, and grandkids.  Highlights of the trip included gardening with Rachel, Chloe Kang's birthday dinner, and a hike through Portland's famous "Wildewood".  Like all such trips it was over way too soon and we were headed back to Snohomish.

Not quite the right shade of blue. I think she would prefer baby blue.

I'd rather she have a really bright color for better visibility.

   On our way out of Portland we happened to drive past a Vespa dealership. I know Portland is a little different, but I still suspect that they only have one Vespa dealership.  It was quite serendipitous that I found it. I stopped to take a few pictures to show my sweetie. I'll definitely have to take Linda by there the next time we go to the Portland area. She wants a little Vespa so bad her teeth hurt.