Wednesday, July 31, 2013


 A view of the hills obscured by lots of smoke from over 27 forest fires burning in Oregon and NorCal. The air is so thick it's in the VERY UNHEALTHY category today. Our throats and eyes are burning.
Me, kitted up to go water the garden. I'm using sprinklers where ever possible and keeping the pets indoors today. No relief is promised this week so lots of outdoor activities are cancelled including soccer games, football practice, golf tournaments, day camp field trips, patio parties, etc. A real bummer to be cooped up inside! The only folks that seem happy about all the smoke are the wine growers who say they will get an interesting wine this year from the smoky grapes.

Monday, July 29, 2013


 This is all that is left from the old Ashcraft farmstead weathervane so Jack mounted it up on our garden arbor. It now looks over a very different landscape than the wheat covered plains of South Dakota! 
 The Grandpa Otis morning glories are going strong...they're the volunteers from last year's planting. Once you have 'em, you have 'em everywhere!  
 Grow it and they will come? This is a close up of milkweed pods. My neighbor has a yard full of milkweed to attract the Monarch butterflies and many plants have now grown under my fence due to their invasive roots. The funny thing is that I've never ever seen a Monarch in the Rogue Valley in the 43 years that I've lived here. Lots of Swallowtails and Viceroy butterflies but nary a Monarch.
And to quote the famous song "At Last!" I've finally had a Heavenly Blue morning glory vine burst forth...been trying for 3 years to get them to survive and bloom.
Snapped this shot before the skies turned brown with forest fire smoke. Looks like we're in for a smoky rest of the summer thanks to 27 wildfires burning now (all lightening caused) and more lightening promised this week.

Monday, July 15, 2013


 Our 20 year old alder bench (made in Burlington, Vermont...NOT China), was looking sad. You're looking at the finished product above after 3 days of work.
 Mr. A  using nifty spray stain on all the pieces after we took it completely apart and sanded off the raised grain and what was left of the old Varathane.
 This is the back rest, reassembled with fresh Gorilla Glue in all the joints and clamped for overnite drying.
 The next day we attached the frame...sides and front & back seat supports. Mr. A made some custom clamps long enough to pull the pieces together while the glue set. We left it outside on the front porch overnight as the stain is really stinky!
Day 3 and we managed to convince the seat slats to go back on the bench with new screws. Once it finishes off-gassing I'm sure the cat will enjoy it again!

Sunday, July 7, 2013


While we were busy watering and tinkering one day this past week, the Medford PD was chasing a burglar in our neighborhood. Seems our neighbor to the south was robbed AGAIN (3rd time this year) by their low-life druggie relative (her brother). He was able to pry up the garage door which was left A FEW inches open.It did set off the alarm (they finally put a system in because they both are gone all day). So the police arrived and chased the bugger. He went over the fence and hid out in another neighbor's yard. So unbeknownst to us, the cruisers raced around the block and came down our driveway, guns drawn. He wasn't here but they did surprise our new neighbor Steve when they beat on his door and had their Glocks drawn! We only heard about this because he told us later. Don't know if they caught up with the perp or not.
Darn, and we missed it all!

Thursday, July 4, 2013


 Huge freeway reader boards have been set up at the main roads into our mountainous residential area. You can't read it due to the reflection but it says, "NO FIREWORKS EXTREME FIRE DANGER." Now this has always been the case up here in the hills but folks still felt compelled to light off a few flying objects and rattle our windows on the 4th (it's their God-given right after all). So this year the fire department, Medford PD, the State Police and anybody else they can round up are out patrolling. We also have a phone number to call specifically for reporting any fireworks we might hear or see. We're no different from the Oakland Hills except that instead of Eucalyptus trees we have big cedar & pine. They all go up like torches. So we're really hoping for a quiet night. 
Already we've had injuries and a fatality due to a guy who shot off his assault rifle into his ceiling, forgetting that he was on the 1st floor of a 2-story building. He killed a 5 year old girl upstairs and severely wounded her mother(we're told that she'll lose the use of her right arm). Then a teen aged boy lost 2 fingers and part of his hand when a firework exploded. He said, "Oh it's not so bad...I only lost a couple of fingers...!" OYE! Both of these incidents happened in Grants Pass....

 Well, on to better things. Here at Angel Crest Manor we're just starting to pick our crop of green beans, enough so that I could make my famous "4th of July Beans." Now these aren't the al dente, politically correct bright green beans but the old fashioned, well cooked, kinda soft green beans with bacon & onion. I added some white beans and some fully cooked smoked sausage and served 'em up with my famous honey cheddar corn bread. Yummm!

Monday, July 1, 2013


Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium) just happens to be the State flower of Oregon...and for good reason as it is deer & wabbit proof plus it can take the heat, cold and wet or dry. This beauty is growing in my front flowerbed. I think I have under estimated its landscape value in past...yellow flowers in the spring, blue berries in summer, red foliage in the fall and evergreen in the winter! This one is "compacta" so it won't go crazy and crowd out other plants in the bed. The berries are NOT poisonous, so I wonder if anyone has made wine out of them...