Friday, July 3, 2015

Now, instead of wind... we have fires!

Well, I guess the stupid season is upon us. Someone playing with fireworks (according to the radio) started a pretty big fire on the opposite side of the valley from me.



The fire is five or so air miles from the house, but things are so freaking dry this year, I am surprised fireworks are even legal.




As I drove down the hill to investigate (being noisy) I can see that this may be a serious problem for firefighters as the fire raced up the hillside.





Some of the flames are much taller than the 80 foot pine trees nearby. 


Besides racing up the hill, flames are bursting out at a much lower level fanned by winds.


I have to say that this is the first time I witnessed a Chinook Helicopter dropping water.


This poor guy had trouble finding a deep enough place in our drought starved Colville River to fill up. There was also a tanker and small single engine with pontoons that I suspect glided over to the Columbia to fill up.
Wish us luck this weekend.






Thursday, July 2, 2015

Colville Wind


I have never been in a hurricane or tornado, but some of my neighbors across the valley described the wind the other day as such.
I was up at the Elks last night, having my usual sarsaparilla, when I asked Butch about the wind. He suggested I drive up and see for myself. Butch and a bunch of folks live on a hill, just like ours, only on the opposite side of the valley, about 10 miles from me.     



My first indication of trouble was when every few hundred feet I saw guardrails crushed, by fallen trees.


For miles I would see hillsides unaffected by the wind and others absolutely devastated.


Some trees, 20 to 30 inches in circumference, were snapped 8 feet above the ground...like toothpicks.



Many larger trees had been uprooted and were leaning on houses.


    While looking up what kind of wind does this type of damage, I found "downburst". This or a microburst seems to best describe the storm. Thunderheads with light rain are a common source, same as what we had that day.
Either way it looks like tiddlywinks to me.


Yep, still practicing my panorama on the phone. As you can see, if the wind doesn't snap a tree, it uproots the whole thing.


In the middle of the damage is Black Lake, a place I have gone many times to view moose.


I've been told by a few neighbors that if you drive dirt roads (which I love doing) always carry a chainsaw in case you run across downed trees. Do you think I'd ever heed their advice? Even after Donna and I had to turn around one day after traveling 15 miles on a dirt road, I still haven't bought one.


Lucky for me the vacation home folks on Black Lake beat me up to the lake...lol


The resort lodge at the lake took quite a beating. This damage and three other trees crushed the lodge.


This tree on a ridge fascinated me. Not only snapping it 20 feet up, but also partially stripping the bark. I think to myself how awesome it would be to watch this unfold, but then my common sense starts to say things like "are you out of your freaking mind"!


As I came back into the Colville Valley, I see some of the smoke from the Wenatchee fire about 200 miles south of here starting to drift into our area. Bummer!







Saturday, June 20, 2015

Krois hay and grain farming


As I continue my blogging, I will start with a family that has farmed in the Colville Valley since the '40's. Andy and Bobbi Krois are the parents of Ange who happens to live on the property across the street from me. 
I had once said that I would be interested to know the in's n out's of hay farming at a party about two months ago at Ange's house. Andy remembered and invited me down to his fields while they worked this week. 



Andy first explained that today they were cutting triticale grain, which is a hybrid of wheat and rye, but were only baling some left over alfalfa they cut a couple days ago.




Andy's son Steve, is cutting the grain with his John Deere Powr-Reverser 890. They cut it and leave the grain to dry for a day or two before baling. The moisture has to be just right or they must use a drying agent on the baler.


  
Steve took me for a round of cutting. It was a rough ride caused by gopher mounds, but air conditioning and stereo did help, although I asked where the 27 inch flat screen was...never said I was a farmer.


The triticale grain is slightly larger than wheat grain and is used exclusively for forage and feed.




The tall grain is grown alongside a field of alfalfa, also belonging to Andy, that was cut three weeks ago and being watered for another cutting this summer.



Andy's machine can bale hay as small rectangles, large square bales or in this case round bales...called big rounds. The inside of the tractor had as many dials, knobs and handles that a small plane might possess. From the inside the operator can control size, moisture, weight and more with the controls.


Close-up of the baling (or bailing according to Websters) machine.


Here is the net that wraps the "big rounds" much like you would use Costco Stretch-Tite that I use for a cob of corn that is going into the microwave.


The big rounds run between 900 and 1100 pounds, depending on what crop is being cut. With the 4-5 big rounds per acre and Andy's 500 acres...that amounts to quite a bit of forage.


Andy wanted to take my photo and had me back up into the shower from the pivot...jeez it was cold.



The 1/5 mile center pivot nearly cover 1/2 mile in diameter area. Andy draws straight out of the Colville River and is worried that he can only do it for one or two weeks more. The warm winter gave us the correct amount of annual precipitation, but no snow pack to speak of, which is what would of carried the river well into September. Each section of the pivot is independently motorized and a little computer box tells the wheels when to catch up to the section in front.


Free car wash, but after driving the 1/2 mile dirt road leaving the field, the car was a mess!



Andy used another tractor later in the day to move the recently rolled bales off to the side and out of the way of the pivot. In a day or two a semi will come and start loading the rounds for sale. 
I live on the hill behind the tractor.


If you look up and down the 20 mile Colville Valley during this time of year you will see thousands of "big rounds" sitting in the field just waiting to be taken away.










Thursday, June 11, 2015

Life continues...Just at a slower pace in Colville, Wa.


I will keep blogging whenever I come across something that may be of interest, to at least one other individual in the world.


Ah... The circus is to coming town! The Culpepper and Merriweather Circus (I've never heard of them) plopped down at the Northeastern Fairgrounds here in Colville. It's interesting that in our travels we saw a lot of fairgrounds but most were, at the edge of town...not Colville, dead center!


I saw a group of mothers and children gathered around listening to one of the workers so I investigated. It was the lions and tigers they were watching.


But of course, a mainstay of any circus are the lions (which they had) and tigers. It looked big, beautiful, but seemly docile...not that I would pet it. I know this is an experience people in small towns don't get to see often, but I still think the tiger would look even more beautiful...in the wild.



I think every kid, when he is 5 or 6, would dream of the exciting life working in a circus. After watching these three pound over a 100 stakes in the ground I'm kind of glad my childhood dream disappeared. 


The local paper stated that the circus would raise the "Big Top" between 9 and 10 am. Not! By 11 it was just laying there and I had to get home to the dogs. This did give me a good opportunity to try out the panorama feature on the iPhone 6 because I plan on using it in Europe at the end of the summer.


Of course, as soon as I left ...the top was raised so I still have no idea how it's done, darn!


As far as I can remember I have never been to an "actual" circus so I am tempted to go this weekend. Of course I've also never been to a rodeo either and one is here in town on Fathers Day...guess I've lived a sheltered life.


Ok, back to Colville. I really can't say or express enough just how much I love the area. I've always dreamed of living in a vibrant small "Podunk" town and it finally came true. No Costco or Home Depot, but instead we have a lumber company, Ace Hardware and Wally-Mart to take up the slack.


Up and down the main street of Colville are these huge, up to 4 feet across, flower baskets filled with mostly Columbine. I liked them so much I asked the Chamber of Commerce where they purchased them. I was told and called Spokane but was informed they were $79 per basket.


I have 4 baskets at home that are no where near as large as the ones in town, but they also only cost $15 each from the high school horticulture class. Donna made the beaded hangers that all 4 are equipped with.


Come around town any noon and have a blast...no really, have a BLAST!


The cost or inconvenience, of living in the country.


I'm doing a little experimenting with video on the blog so if any of them don't work as they should feel free to mention it. Sometimes the video work on my PC, but only because they are in my PC, I'm trying to use YouTube. 




Sunday, June 7, 2015

Donna's Memorial Service in Las Vegas


No guarantees, but this should do it for the memorial portion of the blogs. This is not to say it will be the last of Donna...not by a long shot, but I hope to dwell more on the good memories after this blog.


This is the fun loving soul mate I remember most, someone who pushed away thoughts of herself to make sure I'm doing ok. "Of course, " I said, lying through my teeth.



Duane, my best friend, was gracious enough to allow me to stay the week at his house...in fact had I not, he would of been angry. Here Duane is dressed for work, but off the next three so we could get organized. (and bar hop) 

I guess now I am a real "Lone Wolf" so the tee shirt is appropriate. 



One of our first stops was at PT's on Eastern Blvd. It was a hangout for Duane, Donna and I and brings back so many fond memories. It's wonderful to sit out and have a beer...when it's not 110 degrees of course.




Here is beautiful Sierra with her mother Anna at the memorial. Anna was Donna and my barmaid for years at PT's. We must go back at least 5 years or more. Anna was much more than a waitress to Donna, she loved her and acted like an expectant grandmother while Anna had her pregnancy. Whenever we went to PT's it had to be Anna who took care of us, none other would do. Donna liked good people, always did, always will.




While landing in Vegas I noticed this huge bright light from thousands of feet up in the air and at the center of a solar energy field. I foolishly mentioned to my brother Joe that it would be so cool to see at night...he just kind of looked at me and reiterated, "it's a solar field". Duh!

Anyway, my grandson and I had the day to ourselves so we drove out to get a closer look. Wow, that is one bright ass light coming off all those mirrors. (my words, not Riley's)



Next stop was the Shelby Museum and Riley picked the exact car I would of picked, and it was for sale. I told Riley that he had the wrong Opa with him if he wanted to buy this GT40.




I couldn't have accomplished putting the memorial together without Donna's girlfriends. Each and every one of them were an immense help, from picking the site, food, decorating, drinks and posting notices for me.

I believe that Carie was instrumental in pushing the city of Henderson to plant this tree in Donna's honor. It will never come down, but if a storm damages it, the city promises to replace the tree.



Good Dutch stock here. I enjoy getting together with my brothers and sisters, but lately it always seems to be the sad occasions that draw us to one another. One sister is missing and I'll give her a pass because her husband had an operation the day before, and also because she came up and spent time with Donna in Seattle...which I very much appreciate.



Next will be some photo's of people at the memorial. I didn't get all but was able to shoot a few. Here are my cousin Suzy, sister-in-law Dayle, brother Jack and cousin Janis.



Our very, very long time friends, Nona and Sam. ��




Sister Teri and husband Randy. Teri was with me the last days in the hospital and it was such a big help to have a shoulder to cry on, thanks Sis.




Brother Joe and his wife Cindy, with Nona. Joe and Cindy came up to visit Donna at our house last summer after her first bout of chemo.




Cathy and Kathleen, two of Donna's best friends and part of the lunch bunch.




Anna and myself.




Duane and his beautiful daughter Tiara.




A whole bunch of Donna's co-workers with the lunch bunch mixed in. There were many more that stopped by to pay respects, among them were her bosses Michael Kennedy, Jim McCluney (sp) and my boss Alan Mehr with his lovely wife.




This was a gang of people that worked with Donna in Reno some of which either flew or drove quite a ways to attend.  There is Gloria, Carol, Judy, Mike and Kathy. Two that drove from a long way off, but were not in the photo are Dave and Wendie Catron, also ex Reno folks.




My sister Chrissy was another sibling that came up to Seattle for a few days to spend time with Donna. Chrissy was also my "go to gal" when it came to medical questions. I've got the best family...just saying!




Mychael Powell was the only "Kansas" family member that could make it to the service, it did help that he lives in Vegas.

That's our son Jason opposite of me. 


A beautiful assortment of photo's and a Zebra wood box built by hand for Donna by her son.



Carie, standing up, was a huge help in acquiring the site for the memorial. Cathy among other things brought Donna's and my favorite concoction, Sangria.


Charlene in the middle, single handedly wrote the obit for me with information gathered from Donna's friends. Donna's sister, then put the obit to work with lamination and tulips in the background for the memorial. Kathleen was one of Donna's co-workers. This Kathleen, plus lunch bunch Kathleen and Donna all gave up some vacation time to work at a children's underprivileged summer camp.



Charlene and Trish's handiwork. 

I feel bad that I don't have one photo of Donna's sister at the memorial, but she did fly in for the day from Sacramento. 


Our son Jason and grandson Riley.


We had balloons from Kathleen and marking pens from Anna so it was decided to write messages to Donna, then release in mass.


Donna's nieces, Eleanor and Mallori, got into the act with some extraordinarily good handwriting abilities for such young'ns.


One, two, three...let fly!


Without regard to possible environmental issues with the release of the balloons, if there are any... it was such an emotional tribute.


After a long debate with myself on how to end this blog, please know that I am not trying to shock you, I just want Donna's family and friends to see how cancer can beat you up.
Even with all the pain and suffering evident in this photo, all I see is my beautiful bride of nearly 40 years.