My attempt to move from Southern California and create a happy and sustainable urban homestead in North Dakota, with some musings on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Oregon Tours - End of the Oregon Trail Museum

Over the Labor Day weekend John and I went to Portland, OR to visit a large number of our friends who live in the area or were up visiting. One of the highlights of the weekend was our trip to the End of the Oregon Trail Museum (not to be confused with OTHER Oregon Trail museums). This museum was located in Oregon City, OR about 45 minutes from the middle of Portland and operated by the Historical Society of Oregon City.

John and my good friend Sue accompanied me on this visit. As you can see, the architecture was true to the ideals of the American West.
As soon as we got into the visitor's center, Sue found us some classic (and classy) bonnets that we bought and then wore throughout our museum tour.
We started with a historical re-enactment movie that "followed" a variety of different people on their trips on the Oregon Trail. We also liked that there was a hologram of a guy who interpreted the movie for us periodically.
There were three different sections to the museum: a pre-trail "general store" that showcased all of the things the people left behind and what they took with them, a section that discussed some of the interesting people's stories from the trail, and a post-trail area that contained a land claims section. The Oregon Trail ended in Oregon City, as this was where they could file land claims.
After the movie and our tour through the museum, one of the docents, Missy (who by all accounts appeared to be bored to tears), offered to let me make candles. Sue and I think she was entertained by our enthusiasm and our bonnets. I did not appear to be a very good candle maker as Missy kept telling me to move faster between the wax container and the cold water container. But I did end up with a nice little candle.
While I have not traveled the entire Oregon Trail in life. I did play the game for many years as a child. In addition, I have seen some of the other stops on the trail - notably Fort Laramie and Independence Rock (which is now a rest area in Wyoming).
Perhaps we're not the quintessential frontier couple, but we're modern day Oregonian travelers.
After the End of the Trail museum, we headed to the McLoughlin House near downtown Oregon City. I was most upset to discover that I had forgotten my National Parks Passport book. I had to stamp my stamps on paper for later taping into my book.
We didn't go on the McLoughlin House tour, but instead walked down to the 4th oldest elevator in the U.S. It was made out of an old water tower that gave us a view of the city. It was a bit unnerving that they had a full-time elevator operator who sat behind a plexi-glass shield - we jumped when we first saw him.
The elevator took us to the Oregon City promenade that we walked down to Willamette Falls (in the top left corner of the below photo). Unfortunately in late-August, it appears that the falls are more of a dam than a waterfall. And, the old factories that lined the river did not add to the beauty of the scene. Possibly we'll revisit during the rainy season to see if it's more picturesque.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Clematis Blooms - Better Late Than Never

Our clematis have struggled this year, not sure why.  Most were planted in the last couple of years, so it's possible that they're still getting established.  They've finally started throwing off some blooms in the last week or two.  I'm not sure which variety these are...I think jackmanii clematis.
Hopefully next year will be better for clematis blooms. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Northern Woolen Mills Tour

John's dad and special lady friend visited us in early September and as one of our outings, we headed to the Northern Woolen Mills in Fosston, MN. It was about 1.5 hours east of Grand Forks and is one of only a handful of operational woolen mills in the US. It was recommended to us from one of our fellow Pilates students, who is also a fantastic knitter.

The building was not impressive from the outside, but the young lady who came to help us offered to give us a tour of the facility - starting with the very beginning, when the wool is dropped off at the facility. They work with all sorts of wool, regular wool from sheep, merino wool, alpaca, llama, bison, and even elk. The bison wool was the softest.
The brown wool in the cardboard box below is actually from bison.  Unfortunately it comes from the slaughterhouse as (apparently) shearing a bison down is problematic. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Mugo Pine Removal

These Mugo Pines (also loosely known as Mountain Pine, Scrub Mountain Pine, and Creeping Pine) flank the beginning of the path to our front door where it meets the sidewalk.  I have never liked these things.  They're messy, not terribly attractive, have really sharp needles, and require lots of yearly maintenance.  They also grow out instead of up (much like me really) and block the front sidewalk.
Usually once every winter the heavy snow weighs down the branches and they sag and block the front walk and the mail-lady refuses to deliver our mail.  Then I gotta trudge out in the snow and cold with my loppers and trim them so we can get our mail again.  This makes John angry. 
In my opinion they're not a great return on my investment of work hours. In short, they don't bring much to the table and they take a lot away, especially from me.  But they've stayed right where they are for 5 years now.  I've had other pressing matters to attend to in the garden and I hadn't really found something to replace them that I was really excited about.
That all changed when we were on a garden walk a few years ago and I saw the perfect shrub, the Centerglow Ninebark.  It's 5-6 feet tall and wide, has bright flowers in Spring and interesting maroon foliage.  It also has some interest in Winter as the bark starts to look peeled, much like a birch tree.  It may have taken a few years to find, but this was the perfect shrub for this spot.  

Next year I'll add some more landscaping blocks and trim the area around these new shrubs.  This will create some new planters for flowers and allow me to line the front sidewalk with bricks.  The bricks along the sidewalk should help tame the hostas a bit bring their leaves up off the ground, and give us some sidewalk back.  Goodbye terrible Mugo Pines, hello shrub I'm actually happy about.  

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Is it a pig or a dog?

Shadowfax has become enamored with her Luna ball. We like how it makes her snort. The Luna ball has proven to be pretty durable so far, but we'll see if it's as tough as her Goughnuts stick or Jolly Ball (which has remained an outdoor only toy).

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Deupty Kills Cow After it Twice Charges Him - Local News

We saw this item on the local news last night and laughed pretty heartily.  We felt really bad for the cow though, it possibly fell off a truck, definitely got hit by a car, then got shot...that qualifies as having a crappy day.

From the Grand Forks Herald:

CASSELTON – A Cass County deputy responding to a motorist that had crashed into a cow off Interstate 94 Monday morning had to go to the hospital himself after the injured cow charged him at the scene.

Cass County Sgt. Dean Haaland said the deputy was responding to the crash at about 3 a.m. at mile marker 332 west of Casselton when the cow, injured in the crash, charged him.

The deputy was knocked to the ground and suffered some bruising, Haaland said. When he got up, the cow charged again, and the deputy fired upon the animal to keep from being hit again, killing the cow.

Haaland said the deputy was checked out at an area hospital and is doing OK.

Cass County deputies are now investigating the area to find out who’s responsible for the cow.

So far, none of the farmers recognize the cow, he said.

At this point, they think it’s possible the animal fell off a truck that was transporting it through the area. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Monarch Butterflies

While out mowing the lawn the other day I spotted a Monarch in the garden and stopped to snap some photos.  I've started to see a few more Monarchs around the homestead, though not the profusion that we usually have in late Summer.
He/she wasn't scared of me one bit and I got within an arms' length, snapping photo after photo.  After resettling on the flower (Summer Sun Heliopsis) below, I got this fantastic picture.
Butterflies, and especially Monarchs are one of my favorite summertime creatures to see in the garden.  We're going to continue to plant more flowers that they utilize for nectaring or laying eggs.  Summer just wouldn't be the same without Monarchs flitting about.  What critters do you most enjoy seeing in the garden?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Poweful Pitiful Pittie Pleading

The well known "pleeeeeease stop working and pay attention to meeeee" face.
I know I have like seven hundred toys, but I wanna play with you!