Tuesday, January 29, 2013


This is a photo of our friend Jay and his wonder dog Dewey. Too cute!
Jay adopted Dewey from the Jackson County Animal Shelter and they are quite the pair! Jay and Dewey reside in Ashland where Jay bakes delicious stuff, including a mean lemon meringue pie. Jack calls this pose a real "Norman Rockwell" moment!  

Monday, January 28, 2013


 Okay, we'll admit it...we're addicted to the story! This season is already full of twists and turns and we've only seen 3 episodes of Season III so far.
The story thus far confirms what we suspected all along but brushed off...that Lord Grantham is really a pompous, controlling and incompetent man who has managed to muck up many lives, put the place into financial ruin by ignoring his advisers and now is partly responsible for his daughter's death! We can see that his ship is heading into rocky shoals in the 1920's. His wife, Lady Cora, has finally had enough of his bumbling (she forgave his financial stupidity) but she cannot forgive his hiring and siding with Sir Phillip (the even more pompous society doctor who ignored the local village doctor who had it right)...Lady Sybil was suffering from eclampsia at the time of childbirth and subsequently died.
Lady Mary proved she is a bitch and her father's daughter...we hoped she'd grow out of it, but she gets more like him every time. 
The Dowager Countess can see the shipwreck coming too and tells Matthew that there is no way he can overhaul the mismanagement of Downton without getting most noses out of joint about it. Ooooh, rough seas ahead. 
Lady Edith was left at the altar by the Lord she wanted to "make her life's work." We know he did her a favor and she is seemingly growing out of her title as "Head Bitch" and striking out for independence, even if most of the family pooh-poohs her abilities. She just wants to be useful.
Branson (the chauffeur who married Lady Sybil) could be forgiven his Irish idealism but he also is partly to blame for Sybil's death, keeping her from medical help in Ireland and having to flee Ireland during "The Troubles." We figure he'll leave his infant daughter at Downton and go back to Ireland to cause more hate and discontent among the English landholders there. 
And that's just the upstairs! We'll all stay turned!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


About this time every year, I re-read the 170 page Garden Guide for the Rogue Valley. It's published by the Oregon State University Extension Service and the Master Gardeners of the Rogue Valley. It's a great resource guide and a good reminder of the reality of gardening here in this inter-mountain region of the West. 
It keeps me from getting ahead of myself with starting seeds too early in the greenhouse. 
One of the most valuable parts of this guide is the table showing the variance in length of growing season between Ashland (151 days average) and the center of the valley where the US Weather Service at the airport is located (174 days average). It shows the difference that elevation makes! (Ashland is 2500' and the airport is at 1330.' 
It also shows the annual rainfall averages which tend to be dramatically different:
Ashland & Medford 19-21" while further west,  Grants Pass is 31" and Cave Junction is 62"! 
At 1900' we are in the "thermal zone" where many times the winter temps are warmer at our elevation than at the valley floor. That is because the cold air drains down off the foothills into the bottom of the valley. It also means that we get less fog since the fog zone is typically below us.  
This information is probably more than you ever wanted to know about the Rogue Valley or as some call our area around Medford the Bear Creek Valley.  

Sunday, January 20, 2013


It's been a while since I had anything published. But I decided to submit the blog I wrote called "My Gun Story" to the local paper...the Medford Mail Tribune. And since it was timely, they published it today in the Sunday Opinion page as a "Guest Opinion." I did alter it slightly for public viewing by leaving out some personal references. I'll be interested to see if I get any feedback!
In a way, writing this piece was liberating and therapeutic. But getting it out there in public is a bit challenging for me since I've carried this story around in my head and heart for so long. The good thing is that I've let go of it for good! Who knew I'd be right next to Paul Greenberg and MLK!   

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I like to think that I'm a fairly normal person. And I've always thought that normal people don't go around carrying guns.
However, in my "former life" as a separated and then divorced person, I was advised to protect myself due to threats made by my former spouse. I carried this gun (a .22 semi-automatic pistol capable of firing 8 rounds). Yes, I had a concealed weapon permit issued by the Sheriff of Jackson County, Oregon. I took a couple of gun safety lessons from Jack and visited the firing range. My hands shook every time I held it and fired. The sheriff (who was a personal friend) told me that with this small caliber weapon I must fire every shot to stop someone from getting to me. 
I hated carrying this gun in my purse. I hated everything about it. I really didn't believe that I could have ever fired it at a person, especially the father of my children. I hoped that if I ever had to pull it out of the holster, someone looking down the barrel of it would stop. But the sheriff assured me that a "perpetrator" bolstered by drugs and alcohol can think they are super human and keep coming even after I had fired a shot. Could I have done that? Luckily, I never had to find out.
But I DID carry for several years. I always wondered about what I would do if I ever was in a situation where someone was pointing a gun at someone else. Would I have the courage to even pull mine out? I was especially uncomfortable in the bank or any public place. You never know what might come your way. I figured by the time I pulled it out, took off the safety, put a round in the chamber and aimed, I'd be dead anyway.

I quit carrying when my ex-husband killed himself with one of his many guns. He had first aimed it at his wife. Luckily, she escaped. He then turned it on himself. Did you know that one-third of all gun deaths are suicides?

I had asked for help from his family for years but they didn't believe me. In fact, they were convinced by my ex that I was the nut case. (It cost me the friendship of my former sister-in-law, whom I loved dearly). I've always wondered if she re-evaluated after my ex's suicide. I reached out to mental health professionals but they told me there was nothing they could do although they suspected my ex husband and was a borderline manic depressive who used drugs and alcohol to self-medicate. I'll never know how many times he aimed a gun at my head while I was sleeping or contemplated shooting all of us in our beds. I'm fairly certain that he did these things.

Of course, if I had thought that my children had been the target, I would have not thought twice about using the gun! But that's the mother instinct kicking in. 
I apologize here to my dear son and daughter-in-law for having to read this. But in light of recent events, I wanted and needed to speak out. 

I can't imagine a teacher being able to carry a weapon or use it with any effectiveness. And obviously any pistol is no match for a military style assault weapon. Guns are not the answer. If I had it to do over again, I don't think I would have gotten a gun. But when you are under stress and forced by circumstance, you do things that aren't what you think of as "normal." 

I have to think that if my ex hadn't had guns, he might be alive today, have sought professional help for his mental problems and not have hurt his children and family by his actions. Yes, guns really do kill people. If folks didn't have so many of them, this country would be a better place to live. 

But you want to know what  the strangest thing that has happened? Right now, in real time as I am writing this with shaking hands, I am realizing for the first time that I and my children ARE VICTIMS OF GUN VIOLENCE!  It honestly never occurred to me before this!  

Please support the President and Vice-President and all those who have lost someone to gun violence. There are no easy answers to this dilemma but we need to come up with some common sense ideas.  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Breath deeply as you enter and fill your lungs with oxygen rich, lemon scented air!
My mini greenhouse is cozy in the winter. The ceramic heater keeps the ambient temp at 58 degrees day and night, but the solar gain on sunny winter days takes the temp to a plant loving 65-75 even when the outside temp is in the 20's. Right now in January, my Meyer lemon has about 20 lemons ripening while the geranium is blooming. You can see the silvery backed builder's foam behind the lemon that helps keep the heat in on the north side of the greenhouse. On the lower shelf the hibiscus is blooming and soon I'll have a few lovely gardenias as well.
The sweet bay is just happy to be inside since it would not like the temps in the low 20's so much! 

Monday, January 14, 2013


 Did I mention I love reading seed catalogs? And this winter, I started getting them in December! Burpee, Gurney, Park, Territorial & now Seeds of Change. Interestingly, heirloom seeds are really making a comeback. I have always planted at least a couple of heirloom tomato varieties. In past years I've grown Brandywine, Mortgage Lifter, Persimmon, Amana Orange, Gert's Gold and a few others I can't remember. All have had better flavor than the hybrid varieties. The downside to heirlooms is that they are not bred for disease resistance. Burpee has a hybrid Brandywine/Big Boy combination that I used one year...the idea was that you'd get the fabulous taste of the Brandywine with the disease resistance and the abundance of the Big Boy. Not so much, in my opinion. 
 Tempting & mouthwatering photos of herbs & tomatoes get me every time! 
This year (as in past years) I've vowed to simplify my efforts by reducing the number of varieties I plant. It never works! I always seem to end up with more plants than places to put them, so things get too crowded. And the truth is that I don't want to open a veggie stand up at the road so I just have to figure out how to get a grip this year. My strategy will be to order from just one source (Territorial Seed) and limit my trips to the Grange Coop. I do have a $100 Grange gift card that Chris & Susan gave me for my birthday that I've saved for my spring buying pleasure...