Friday, July 31, 2009


It's been a blistering hot week.

I think I mentioned that before.

So there's no better way to relieve the feverishness than to head to a mountain lake.

Lost Lake is right in our back yard.

We drove the curvy mountain road into the fir forest and found ourselves a spot along the lakeshore amid the rocks and weatherbeaten stumps.

The crystal clear water was the most refreshing it has ever felt.

Five of The Seven were with us.




Sam and Peter practiced their swimming strokes.
Our house guest helped them.

It was all wonderful with one exception.
Biting black flies and a few horse flies plagued us whenever we were off the water.
I kept reminded the kids- this is the wilderness!

Picnic supper...

...included curried chicken salad sandwiches.

Before sunset

most of the group hiked the four mile trail around the lake.

But I chose peace...

...on the cool, glassy water as the fish jumped and the sun sank behind the mountains.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

If it's July, it's time for lilies...

One of my favorite things at the country fair is the flower building. I love to see the flower arrangements in competition and the blooms that people enter for a chance to win a ribbon endorsement on their gardening skills.

I've previously posted about my love for irises, but I love lilies even more. Right now.

July is lily month.

On the last night of county fair, I always visit the flower building when people are picking up their entries. You would not believe how many people dump their gorgeous fair-worthy flowers into the garbage can and take home an empty vase.

I am not too proud to indulge in the ultimate of dumpster diving- Flower Foraging in the country fair garbage cans. Mostly I am after the multi-bloomed, heavenly scented oriental lilies. These blue ribbon winners usually have 12-14 large gorgeous flowers on one stem. This Casablanca white lily was discarded at the fair!

One long stem with all these blooms was smashed down in the can under other flowers. I couldn't resist it though some of the flowers were rumpled or crushed. I salvaged the rest, cutting the blooms off the stem and placing them in a shallow container. What colors! Such fragrance! People who throw away such beauty should be punished somehow. But if they didn't commit this atrocity I wouldn't get to take them home for myself...

Inspired every summer by these stunners grown by blue-ribbon gardeners, I decided I needed to try to grow oriental lilies myself. I bought premium bulbs at the Portland garden shows and planted about a dozen Casablancas and Stargazers.

The next summer- nothing.

Some underground critter with buck teeth dined on my lily bulbs.

The next year I bought more bulbs and tried again. This time I wrapped the bulbs in chicken wire before planting.

I have had some modest success. I am still waiting for buds to open but I know that there are not the number of stems out there that I originally planted. And each stem has two or three buds, not 12-14 like the giants I see at the fair. But that's okay. These lilies are still beautiful.

The first lilies I ever planted here were these orange day lilies. I did this because I was from Michigan and didn't know any better. These are the standard, grow-in-every-road-side-ditch, day lily in Michigan.

I also planted this much more exotic "Tiger Lily", also ubiquitous in Michigan gardens.

After I settled into being an Oregonian and started doing garden tours and attending garden shows, I realized there is a wide world of lilies out there.

Since I can't have just one of anything in my gardens (see Irises above, also rhodies, hostas, etc.)
you can guess what has happened:

Oooo.... dark pink day lilies!

Red Asiatic lilies...

...yellow ones....

...lemon lime day lilies...

Not sure about this one. I never plant orange things any more but they keep happening to me.
Pretty anyway.

I just looked out the window to see if any new buds had opened. Yes!

An oriental of forgotten name. Only two buds.

I need to remind this magnolia tree that is it July.
It is confused. Maybe it wants to be a lily.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

We're Having a Heat Wave


Torrid, tropical, sultry, sweltering,

Fiery, blazing, scorching, sizzling.

Boiling, steaming, burning, blistering.



For all the ex-Oregonians out there reading this- today it was 106 degrees in Portland
108 degrees in Cascade Locks!
Here in the shadow of snow-capped Mt. Hood- a cool 97 in the shade.

Mr. Dirtywrench says that his shop was 110 degrees today.
They found out that seat belts make good branding irons.
Leather interiors will peel your skin off.
And you can steer adequately using just one finger.

By the way....

There's a new billboard in town:

We've had this great outdoor grill for a couple summers now.
It's one of my favorite possessions.
It has a side burner that I have never used. I thought it was kind of useless.

I broke it in today.
Moved my kitchen outdoors.

I made chocolate custard for some homemade ice cream.
We ate it for an appetizer and dessert!
Double Chocolate Cherry Chunk.

I also cooked some tortellini pasta...

And a chicken.

I stayed in the (cooler) house and barely noticed that anything was cooking.

We had a lovely, cold, tortellini and chicken pasta salad with sundried tomato dressing, artichokes and kalamata olives for dinner.

That is how you do summer.

Tomorrow- picnic at the lake!

Monday, July 27, 2009

As fast as molasses in January...

That's how I'm moving today.

Art fair is over.

County fair is done.

No wedding cakes scheduled for two more weeks.

I have a week that I thought I could sit back and do a little catching up in the garden, pick blueberries, maybe some canning, take the kids to the pool and relax. Slow the pace down.


So this week it's going to really feel like summer and I'm going to get slower than I thought.

Our weather forecast:

Sunny Sunny
Hi: 98°
Sunny. Highs 95 to 100. East wind 10 mph.

Clear Clear
Lo: 70°
Clear. Lows around 70. Light wind.

Sunny Sunny
Hi: 100°
Sunny. Highs around 100. East wind 10 mph.

Tuesday Night
Clear Clear
Lo: 70°
Clear. Lows around 70. Light wind.

Sunny Sunny
Hi: 103°
Sunny. Highs 100 to 105. East wind 10 to 15 mph.

Wednesday Night
Clear Clear
Lo: 68°
Clear. Lows 65 to 70.

Sunny Sunny
Hi: 98°
Sunny. Highs 95 to 100.

Thursday Night
Mostly Clear Mostly Clear
Lo: 58°
Mostly clear. Lows 55 to 60

We are not used to temperatures with three numbers. It scares us.

Actually, we are wimps. We don't have much humidity if any, ever, so we have it good. And look at those night-time temperatures. Getting into the 60's every night helps us to cool the house down before starting another hot day. Or we can sleep outside in the coolness.

But still. I may do some gardening in the mornings or evenings, but otherwise, we'll be staying inside. I'm trying to figure out what we'll be eating without heating the kitchen.

I know, so is the whole country.

So I could declutter and clean closets? Or I can sit around sipping iced coffee and reading. Yeah, that sounds good. No need to overexert. The closets will still be there in January, the official reorganization month.

I found some cool-looking blogs that I may now have time to read while my garden bakes.

I always love to read about Italy and reading blogs written by Americans living there is something I just discovered. I didn't know there were so many blogging expats. This one, Burnt by the Tuscan Sun, has a great post about tipping in Italy. Did you know that employees in European countries get 13 months of pay a year and five weeks paid vacation? I heard this factoid last night at the dinner table for the first time from our Swiss house guest. It was confirmed in this post about tipping in Italy. The bottom line is that the wait staff in Italy (and other countries) don't need my stinking tip. They are already well-paid, unlike American wait staff. I'll need to know this the next time I travel to Italy. Not sure when that will be but I have lots of research to do in the meantime.

Since my local small town library has had its funding cut and consequently its hours (to three hours a day, three days a week- very small town), I guess I'll be doing my hot weather reading on the internet. There are at least fifty links in the side bar of Burnt by the Tuscan Sun that I want to click on and read. And I'm sure those will lead to exponentially more.

Here I am standing at the edge of the Blogosphere rabbit hole, holding my iced mocha. What I need is a hammock and a laptop...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Round Robin

This is my last post about county fair.

Because we are done! So done!

And just in time too, as the mercury is shooting to the sky in the summer thermometer.

This is Round Robin

Take eight sleep-deprived, sweaty, Champion showmen, one from each animal class:
Beef, Swine, Sheep, Horses, Llamas, Dairy Goats, Meat Goats and Pygmy Goats.

Get them all together in the show ring and make them show each other's animals.

Don't forget to smile as you chase, I mean herd, the pig around the ring when all he really wants to do is get his lazy self back to the pen and lie down.

And try not to get zeros on your score by forgetting to back the horse up four steps. And that wasn't a trot but a long stepping walk...

Even if you've never touched a llama before, you must make it obey your every command if you want to win.

But most of all...
Have fun!
That's what it's all about!

Reserve Champion, Round Robin- Alyssa!
Great job!

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Carnival Graduation

Samuel announced to me that this year he was going to ride the Big Boy Rides at the county fair.

He wasn't going to go on the baby rides any more. Though Peter is two years younger than he, that meant that Peter also was not going on any more baby rides.

I decided to get myself a ride bracelet and go with them on the Big Boy Rides.

It's been something like thirty years since I've worn a ride bracelet.

Aside from a ferris wheel ride once in a while and one trip to Silverwood as a family where we rode a sweet roller coaster, I haven't been spending much time in carnival lines waiting for sweaty, gritty carnies to strap me into a gut grinder.

Samuel was just dying to do the bumper cars. It was the first on his list of Big Boy rides.
He still didn't meet the height requirements so Mama had to ride in the butt cruncher of a seat with him. Pete took a turn next. High excitement, those bumper cars.

For centrifugal motion, Peter was broken in on the Tilt-a-Whirl.

Sam called it the "Apple Ride" because of the red paint.

This ride had me begging for mercy and speed-dialing my chiropractor.
I was plastered against the side of the seat like a bug on Mario Andretti's windshield. Peter was plastered against me in the same manner. I spent the whole ride trying to keep my head from flying off my body, which put considerable strain on my neck muscles. Thus the need for my Dr. B.
Peter didn't like it much either.

Would you believe I even went down the big slide? Just last year I used all my sweet-talking skills to get Peter to do it. This year it was his second favorite ride.

I loved this swing. I would have been happy to stay there all afternoon.

I even went on the mini-roller coaster with my boys. This thing nearly rattled all the teeth out of my head. Since I still have about three more years of dental payments to make on the fillings I just had done, I wasn't about to let that happen. Once was enough.

The ferris wheel was Peter's most favorite. Though too slow and sedate for Sam, he compromised so Pete would do the Tilt-a-Whirl one more time.

Small town fair but big time fun for my bigger little boys.