Monday, April 30, 2012

Samson and Delilah

Getting ready for their recital.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Spring Splendor

We are currently experiencing my favorite time of year. It is the pinnacle of spring, when the millions of orchard trees in our valley are erupting with flowers, creating a blooming panorama and scenting the air.

Most landscape vistas in the springtime become verdant and green after a long grey winter but in our valley the trees are not green but white. Sometimes they are pale pink.

I've blogged about this time of year every year since I have begun blogging. I'm sorry to be so redundant but I just never get tired of seeing this breathtaking display of beauty every April. I can't stop photographing it and I feel compelled to share it.

Last weekend was the annual Blossom Festival and this year the blooms popped open right on time. The last couple of years they were late and tourists were disappointed. The big bonus was that for three days, right over the weekend, we had eighty degree weather and sunshine that burned our wintery pallor away.

All that summer foreshadowing just intensified the craving to garden and Blossom Festival is the best time to feed that habit. All over the valley are plant sales that offer perennials, shrubs and trees for screaming deals. I had to get my fix and, after all, I have all this landscaping to restore after our house remodel destroyed what used to be.

One of the places I like to visit is a farm that only the locals know about. It has one of the best views in the valley. It is positively Swiss in charm!

The lady of the farm is a master gardener and in the spring she offers propagations from her own extensive gardens.

I also went to my favorite shrubbery sale and brought home a truckload of possibility. I love it when a truckload of possibility costs only a third of the usual.

I immediately planted some new rhododendrons under the fir tree where overgrown lilacs used to dominate. I also couldn't resist a topiary and a pencil holly.

This was a great find- a Japanese maple with beautiful red colored bark that I'm told looks stunning in the winter with a snowy background. I need to find just the perfect place for this beauty.

The springtime splendor of our valley makes all the waiting through the winter rain and gloom worthwhile.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

No Kidding Around

Springtime on the farm is also 4-H time for the kids. Time to get the animal projects started.

This year Sam and Peter are joining their first farm animal 4-H club. After much discussion and debate, it was decided that the boys would have a market goat project. We would save the pig project for a year when there is a little less on the farm's To Do list. We are still working on the home improvement project so the thought of diverting time and energy to building pig pens and helping boys "train" (ha! HAhahahaha!!! *snort*) the hogs for fair just made our brains explode.

Goats. We can handle the goats. We've been handling the goats, more or less, for sixteen years or so.

So on a gorgeous sunny spring day we headed to the beautiful pastoral goat farm of friends and fellow 4-H-ers so that the boys could acquire their market goat. There were many goats to choose from.

The first application of their goat knowledge meant choosing a kid that was a meat breed (like the Boer goats in this photo) and that showed potential for good confirmation and weight gain. The hope is that they will have a blue ribbon animal that will bring a good price at the county fair auction.

Samuel immediately made friends with this bottle-fed baby. The problem is that the boys cannot pick out their best friend but must choose a goat that will, in the end, get on a truck and head to market after fair and not return home to play in our pasture. It's the sad reality of 4-H market animal projects and the sooner the kids face it the better.

Finally the boys chose two fine little wethers that just happened to be brothers too.

So now the summer will be spent learning all the details of goat ownership- nutrition, grooming, handling and fair goat showmanship.
I'm still glad they're not pigs.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Spring Report

This hellebore is more beautiful every year!

This year it is just full of flowers and I think it is stunning. So glad I splurged on that expensive little start at the garden show years ago.

We did so much outdoor spring clean up over the weekend. The remains of the ice storm still...remain...but mostly in the pasture. It's taken weeks of work by man and boys to clean up the yard with many trailer loads of branches hauled away.
I got the twenty blueberries bushes pruned, as well as the four grape vines and the rose bushes. I weeded and fertilized the strawberries, cleaned flower beds, planted scallions and lettuce and so much more. Pruning the apple and cherries trees is a big job that takes me days and some help from a strong man with a saw. I brought the prunings from the cherry tree in to try to force them to bloom and it worked! Blossoms in the house!

And since spring is in full swing that means baseball has begun and we are spending our evenings huddled in coats and gloves under an umbrella on a wet bench. Fun times!

Happy springtime everyone!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Limitless Legos

During our Easter break from school we made a trip into the city to visit the science museum. The catalyst for a trip there was the special exhibit of Lego sculptures on display this month. Right now the boys are loony for Legos so when they heard we were going to the exhibit they were over the moon for two solid days.

The exhibit was not what we expected. It was much better than we expected!

These were not your kid's Lego creations.

To me this was more of an art exhibit than a science exhibit, though plenty of graphing and calculations went into the creation of each piece. There were dozens of objects, some everyday things like a line up of three foot tall Crayola crayons and a six foot tall pencil, but there were lots of more thoughtful designs with subtle artistic messages.

I was astounded by the level of emotion and life that was expressed through the medium of tiny plastic bricks. These figures were nearly life size.

From these photos you may get the impression that all the objects in the exhibit were based on the human form but there were many themes. I took photos on two cameras. One of my cameras is not working right now and I can't retrieve the photos so I am missing many that would balance out a sampling of themes.

The majority of Lego sculptures were done by one artist but there was a small display by a local man who developed a method of making curves with straight Lego bricks.

This was an inspiring show. An artist can create expressive work even using something as simple as a child's plastic toys. This exhibit is traveling around the country. If you get a chance to see it, we highly recommend a viewing.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ten Years Old

Where are you going, my little one, little one?
Where are you going, my baby, my own?

Turn around and you're two,
Turn around and you're four,

 Turn around and you're a young man going out of my door.

Happy Birthday to my baby, Peter Joseph!

You are growing up too fast.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Glorious Spring

.....has finally arrived here in the Great Northwest.

First in the lower valley near the Columbia River Gorge.

With the distinct differences in elevation between the lower valley and the upper valley (where I live), the arrival of spring begins and lasts for weeks and weeks as its effects slowly spread from one end of the valley to the other, climbing up the slopes toward the mountain, unrolling like a colorful carpet. I can see these beauties in town two weeks before they actually start to display themselves in my own gardens.

At home, in the shadow of Mt. Hood, we are just at the crocus stage, but the hyacinths, daffodils, magnolias and tulips will come, followed by dogwoods and pear blossoms.

This is the most glorious season in my part of the world. All the seasons have their unique beauty but spring has the most color and fragrance bursting out of winter's dull backdrop. I could say April is my favorite time of year but then I may have to change my mind in May when I see the rhododendrons and irises.

I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden. 
 ~Ruth Stout

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter Art

Alyssa made the prettiest pysanky egg this year-

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Pit Stop in the Pizza Shop

My middle son, Seth, works in a gourmet pizza shop in the big city.

Yesterday he treated us and demonstrated his mad dough tossing skillz.

He followed that up by making, baking and serving us some flavorful pizza with a perfectly baked, crispy, chewy crust. The toppings of the three pizzas included chevre, mascarpone, feta and fontina cheeses, carmelized onions, lamb sausage, chicken, tomatoes and one even had shrimp, just for fun.

Next month he starts a new job that is a direct result of practicing his mad people skillz with the clients he has met through pizza making. It involves television production and will be something to propel him forward into new and exciting things.

So it goes to show, you never know where good pizza can take you.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Fool's Report

A sandwich....

(pound cake and vanilla pudding)

....that is not for the squeamish.
(Jello worms molded inside bendy straws)

Several days of preparation went into this little prank.

I guess it was deliciously worth the effort.