Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fresh fruit, summer storm and frolicking fawns

This week we start with some fresh fruit.


Sherman Creek Orchard is a familiar stop for Donna and I because later in the season I will buy lots of their "deer apples. The orchard is about 12 miles from the house so it's a pleasant drive to see what's "in season" at the time.


These apples are bruised, which makes them unfit for local markets, but the deer have no problem scarfing them down. My  little lawn buddies and I are waiting for October when a fresh supply of deer apples will be ready.


We have been here in the fall when the changing leaves of the orchard go from green to gold, purple, orange and red... it is stunning.


The family that owns the orchard told us the cherries have another week or so until they will be done for the year.


The cherries here are Bing and Rainier, not shown were the pie cherries which Donna said are tart. 


You can buy any of the varieties of cherries for $1.75 per pound out of the bin, or you can pick your own for just $1.25 lbs. Quite a difference from store bought ones at $3 or $4 a pound...and fresher too!


Besides cherries, apples and pears still a month away, now ready are these beautiful apricots. This variety is called "Tom Cots" (must be a local name because I couldn't find reference to it on the PC) and sell for $1.00 a pound. 

video

I was sitting on the back porch yesterday afternoon when some thunder clouds rolled in, bringing wind, rain and lightning. Very quickly the power went out so I thought this would be a good opportunity to go into town for some groceries.


Right where Corbett Creek meets Gold Creek (there are a lot of creeks up here ☺) my progress was blocked by a Stevens County fire truck.


Looking down the road, a fairly large tree was toppled in the wind storm, right across Gold Creek... my way into town.


Besides blocking the road, the tree brought down power lines. This is as close as I got, especially when the fireman told me to be careful because they were about to cut the branch laying on the power line and it could whip in any direction...he needn't have told me twice!
Bill, my neighbor who happens to work for Avista, was on the ball and had our power was back on within 30 minutes.


The family that plays together, stays together...right?


Papa's antlers already have good growth going on this summer and if he plans on being with the group next spring, he'd better be adept at hiding this coming hunting season. 


Donna and I are pretty sure this is the doe's little fawns and if we are right, they are the first twins this year to grace our yard.


Frolicking fawns were in the title and frolicking fawns it is...just another wonderful summer day in Northeast Washington.







Saturday, July 19, 2014

Garden update...mid-season

This is my first blog on a "Windows" PC because I'm not home and am using an old Dell laptop at the campground. I was surprised when I viewed the blog from the laptop that the font looks much bigger on a PC than it does on an Apple computer.


For the last few weeks I have been watching a rather delicate type of onion plant shoot up in the central landscaped area of our front yard. These vibrant purple flowers finally exploded
with such a beautiful deep purple color.


What I failed to notice as I walked by these plants was that nearly every one had one, two or sometimes three bumble bees, seeking the Alliums pollen. Anyone within a reach of a TV or newspaper should know the plight of the honey bee but the bumble bee, who is also an excellent pollinator, is at more of a risk than our honey bee's. When I was a kid I can remember screaming when I saw a bumble bee, I thought it was coming in for a "kamikaze" attack... while in actuality it was so less concerned about me than I was of it.


Our yellow banana, crookneck, scallop and zucchini squash have all just started producing this past week.


I can see a baseball sized beet peeking out just above the surface with a couple mushrooms in the background as a bonus.


Talk about a beautiful flower? These "volunteer" sunflowers (volunteer meaning I didn't plant them) started
coming up all over the garden early this spring. I must of pulled 50 or so out of the ground before I thought to see what they were. I usually only see the black and yellow sunflower...this one is outstanding.


We also have some very nice Walla Walla onions coming to fruit. My big fat size 12 foot is only there to judge the width of the onion. Pretty nice flip-flops, eh?

Lots of potatoes are being grown in two of my ten foot long rows, only problem is I have to dig up a plant just to see how they are coming along. Donna is planning on making a potato salad with these today.


I wouldn't say my Anaheim peppers are doing great, sort of a small anemic plant with only a couple peppers each.


This is a large group of garlic plants with  twisted stems on top that  are called garlic scape. I pulled three of the garlic plants out but they looked a little small so I will hold off till fall in order to get a larger bulb. We have grilled the scape before to eat them like you would a sauteed green bean and have also made a paste to put on bruschetta. Donna loves it when I combine, great amounts of garlic, onions, potato and peppers and top it off with an ice cold beer. I am then politely asked to leave the house for a while. haha

These raspberries are so sweet when freshly picked. Donna likes them in her morning cereal while I will pick and eat them right off the stem. I also have a few blackberries stems but I am trying to eliminate them because they are so darn invasive.


Tomatoes anyone? I have dedicated three of my rows just for the many different types of tomatoes that we planted, all of which are starting to bear fruit...but still green. Along with the tomatoes, some cilantro and jalapeno peppers are being grown and we hope to preserve some salsa in mason jars for a little homemade winter heat.
Because there is a real good possibility of us being uprooted to Seattle for up to four months in the next few weeks or so, I may miss some of the late ripening fruits. If that does happen I'm happy to leave the gate open so our mountain critters can clean up the garden for me.


Since we will be going to Seattle soon, I had the damaged bay-doors (caused when a diesel pump guard attacked the coach) repaired in Spokane last week and I am testing all the equipment on Roosevelt Lake for two weeks. It's a rough job and someone has to do it! Donna was supposed to join me but the heat and these terrible fires in central Washington have cause the air quality to become a problem for her. It's only 18 miles from home so I jet back and forth everyday.
Speaking of jets, yesterday two fighter jets came around the corner in the upper photo at about 500 or 600 miles an hour and only 300 feet above the water...it was awesome. The air above is zoned as a military  training ground and I was told that at times the Canadians will join them for maneuvers. 


While the fires are a terrible consequence of the lightning storms a few days ago they do provide a hell of a photo-op. 

UPDATE
 The smoke is now getting very bad. I think I'll lockup and go home for a day or two and maybe this will blow away. It may look like an evening picture but this is near noon!





Sunday, July 13, 2014

An amateurs view of the Southwest drought.

When we left Las Vegas back in 2011, Lake Meads water level was about 100 feet below full, and it is now 137.7 feet below full levels and only 39.3 percent full with no outlook for improvement any time soon. 



I hadn't been to Nevada for a while so I had to find photos of Lake Mead on google so I'm guessing this may be considered plagiarism. There is no date on the picture, but an assumption on my part believes it could be from 2013 or 2014. 




The reason for my interest in the southwest drought is because  my brother Joe, who was visiting, showed me some photos of Lake Shasta and Mount Shasta as he drove over the bridge on Hwy 5. During our college years, Donna and I spent many days relaxing on Lake Shasta, fishing, water-skiing and houseboating but never saw it in this condition. It's so sad to see the devastation from the lack of rain and snow in California.


Here is a photo I took in 2012 with the lake in the background nearly full at the time. We did a tour of the power plant inside the dam, without any inkling that just a few short years from then the lake would be in such a critical shortage of water.



While doing some "light" research on the drought (I am retired you know) I ran across this google photo of the California snow pack for January 2013 vs 2014... quite dramatic.




This is the marina at Folsom Lake near Sacramento, and it use to be a very popular spot with the water-skiing crowd. 




This is a photo my brother took of Shasta on July 6 2014.



This is a photo Donna and I took of Mount Shasta in April two years earlier, hardly recognizable? 



An all too common sight, trucks pulling houseboats out of the lake water because, really...who wants to spend $2500 a week floating in a mud hole!

 I am surprised that there hasn't been more of an attempt at replacing millions of acres of lawns with XeriscapeWithout trying to politicize the drought, we need food grown by our farmers more than grass lawns. 
It may not be too late to help with some strict conservation measures aided by some massive desalination plants for drinking water. Unfortunately the plants won't help the agriculture industry because of its enormous costs attributed to desalinating ocean water.
This spring I watched the Wenachee roar down the mountains, full of melting spring snow and as a former Southern Californian, I was amazed at the amount of water from just this small contributor into the mighty Columbia River system.
My brother who is from Southern Cal, jokingly said they'd love to have just one days flow of the Columbia River for the state of California. As best as I could figure out, the Columbia dumps 500,000 acre feet of fresh water into the Pacific every day...I  think you'd need nearly a solid month to help fill all the nearly empty reservoirs of California and none of those figures include the water from Lake Mead or Powell, which combined have a capacity of 50,000,000 acre feet  when full.
If you care to browse through the Department of Water Resources in California you might be shocked by the lack of rainfall, snowfall and low percentage of capacity within all of California's reservoirs. Without nitpicking my calculations, I figure a total capacity of 26,000,000 acre feet of water when full, but now holding much less than 50% overall.
When you look at how much fresh water is available on earth, you'll note that of all the fresh water available, 68% is either locked up in glaciers or the earths icecaps, 30% rests as underground water but only .03% (yes, .03) are found on surface lakes or rivers. 
Now if you add up the populations of California, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico we would be talking about 70 million citizens. I have no doubt whatsoever, that the U.S. Government or Supreme Court will one day, if this drought continues, grant eminent domain on the fresh waters running out to sea in the Northwest for the parched Southwest. 

Donna and I were able to move to the Northwest, but if Southern California's drought continues at its present pace I can't see a scenario where property values stay stable enough in the Southwest and thereby allowing folks to economically migrate to wetter areas of the United States.
Sorry this is one of my "doom and gloom" blogs, but it's all my brother Joe's fault for making me aware just how bad it was in the south. I saw on TV recently, one of the weather experts predicting that even with the possibility of an El NiƱo this coming winter, it won't provide enough relieve from the drought.





Tuesday, July 8, 2014

It's visiting season!

My brother Joe and his lovely wife Cindy (she is a wonderful woman, but since she forgets my blog there is really no reason to compliment her...she'll never see it☺) drove two days from Southern Cal with a quick stop in Bend, Oregon, to see us.
I love having company, but if they really loved us, they'd come in
January. LOL


After 1300 miles, my brother and "twisted-sister-in-law" were more than happy to just lounge around the patio, feeding deer and quail. Joe and Cindy last visited us two years ago in Oregon and our motorhome fridge imploded.  Wouldn't you know it, same thing with our house fridge when Joe said they'd come up to visit...very odd. No matter, I would rather see family than have a cold beer.:-)


Speaking of refrigerators... Joe left the mason jar of moonshine in the refrigerator when which should last at least a week, thanks Joe.



I still call Joe my little brother, which is so wrong, in height and maturity.
I sent this photo to our sister in Colorado and titled it "The Blues Brothers" for obvious reasons, her response was that one was missing. Yes Teri, Jack is missing, but it was in reference to a movie which you might be too young to remember...hehe


Kerri, the barkeep at the local Elks Club and golf course kept us supplied with drinks and popcorn. Kerri was a hoot who spilled the inside scoop on all the happenings around town. 


Cindy is eyeing whether she can get this bird house to her car without me spotting her. Fine, you want the birdhouse, then you take Benji too...that ended that.


Joe and Cindy, what a great looking couple.


After 31 years and 4 wonderful kids you'd think they would give it a rest for a couple of days.


Their final night here in Northeastern Washington, Cindy wanted to see a moose. We took them to the Little Twin Lakes area where Donna and I have seen them in the past but...no luck. We did talk to the only couple camping there and they saw two moose last night (that's their canoe) and one stomping around their tent late in the evening scaring the girl to death.


Here is a short video of our visit to Little Twin Lakes.




Donna and I have to say goodbye to Joe and Cindy for now, but our hope is to see them this coming winter if we travel down to California. Thanks for coming up!





Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What day is it?

I woke up this morning very confused about what day it was and even after looking at the newspaper I still kept thinking it was Saturday. 
After taking the car down for a tranny flush I still thought it was the weekend. My brother probably started it all by saying recently, "I can't wait to retire, then every day will be Saturday"! (Thanks Joe)
Actually, if you think about it, being retired means you no longer have any days off?


Last fall, I neglected to mention my argument with a large metal pipe protecting the diesel pumps at one of our local gas stations. It was a total "brain fart" on my behalf as I pulled in to top the tanks off before storing the motorhome for winter.



Do you ever get that queasy feeling in your stomach when you do something so stupid and so easily avoided? That's exactly how I felt when the motorhome came to a shuddering stop as I rounded the fuel pumps. I kept muttering to myself "Oh, Tom, oh Tom"! It's such an ugly scar and not being washed in last 10 months didn't help the looks of our 12 year old baby.


So, this morning (being whatever day it is) we have decided to take the motorhome down to Spokane in two days to have it repaired...but first a little weeding before it heats up.


A nice bath after 8 months is a welcome sight for the old girl. She could use a good wax, but I'm not up for that much work at the moment.


Wow...for 12 years old, she's a beaut. Tomorrow will be "cleaning the wood floors" day for me before we take her to Spokane.
I for one hope we don't have to put her in mothballs again this coming winter, it would be a real shame. 


Donna helped me back the motorhome out of its winter shed and when I parallel parked the beast on a dirt road, Donna was in my mirror waving me to the back of the coach. I'm like "oh, crap...what's wrong"
"Look at our license letters"? I'll be damned if it wasn't the initials of her illness, acute myeloid leukemia, or more commonly called... AML! Feaky to say the least.
Tomorrow is another day... which day that is I don't know, but if the sun comes up and goes down 16 hours later, I'll be satisfied.