Sunday, April 26, 2009

Possum Tails

Emily and I had a few people over for one of our regular bbq’s when I noticed a small creature crawling along the fence. To my disbelief it turned out to be a baby possum. When I approached it I noticed that it had a torn up snout, probably from a cat attack. Emily and I decided to take care of it for the night until we could figure out what to do with it. We put it in a cardboard box for the evening and in the morning I called a wild animal shelter and was told that because it was an invasive species (introduced in the early 1900’s) they could not take it. I was forced to let it go again in the backyard knowing that it probably would be quickly picked off by a cat. Possums are very nasty looking and have nasty attitudes as adults, but honestly, as babies, they are pretty damn cute, especially when they curl up in a ball in your hands looking for warmth and protection. I hope he’s still out there alive somewhere.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tumalo Ski Descent

Emily recently bought a full AT Ski setup consisting of the Black Diamond Joule skis, Marker Baron bindings and Scarpa Diva boots. After I got out of bartending friday night Emily and I headed over the pass towards Paulina Peak of the Newberry Crater
intending to ski it in the morning. When we got to the area we were met by a closed gate and after calling the fishing lodge up at Paulina Lake under the peak we found out that the road would not be opening the next day. Unfortunately for us we only had ski boots and not sneakers that would have allowed us to walk the dry road to where we met snow. We didn’t want to walk in ski boots over 3-5 miles of pavement even if they were flexible AT boots. Instead we decided to drive towards South Sister based on on reports that the Cascade Lakes Highway was open so we could get to the S. Sister trailhead. Unfortunately again, those reports were about the south entrance to the highway with the north entrance still blocked by a massive wall of snow. With Bachelor across the street and us not wanting to spend $65 to downhill ski and it being too far to attempt S. Sister our only option was to head up Tumalo Mountain which we had climbed over Thanksgiving last fall.
We first headed down the snowed-in road towards S. Sister for practice because she had never been on AT
skis before. Almost immediately she learned the very painful lesson of wearing socks that are too thick inside of thermal-lined ski boots. After she lost circulation she learned how painful it is when the blood returns to the feet! After we fixed that we headed up Tumalo through the woods, not following any particular trail. Emily was fantastic on her first ascent with skins. We quickly made it to the top and had wonderful views of the Sisters and Broken Top.

After a quick lunch Emily got ready for her first AT ski descent of the back Northeast Bowl of Tumalo. It was a bit icy and cold so the snow wasn’t very forgiving. After about two turns her skis slipped out from underneath her and she slid a little bit down the slope. I thought it all pretty amusing and without her knowing I got it on film. I skied down to meet her at the bottom and then decided it was time to teach her some steep slope mountaineering skills with crampons and an ice axe. It took her a while to get up the slope but we took our time and I think she really got the feel for it. It was a wonderful day and Emily really loves her new gear!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Building Raised Beds

Our new next door neighbors Kevin and Alexa have been really excited this spring about building raised bed gardens in our backyard. Alexa, in particular, had been busy for months measuring out plots, reading about how to plant certai
n vegetables and the proper growing arrangements for them in the gardens. She had quite the plans drawn up for the project. With Kevin at the coast with his visiting mom in during the day the girls recruited me and my truck for the job. Our good friend Doug DeGrosse (our friend with the Black Butte Ranch House) brought over a rototiller for us to churn up the area in our backyard where a previous in-ground garden looked to have been. I was out when he dropped it off but he showed the girls how to operate it. Little did I know but the girls quickly forgot everything he told them about the speed control for the tool! When I turned it on it seemed to be at full power and it took all my strength to hold
on to it as it churned up the thick clay that is common in the Willamette Valley. The girls had measured out the 5‘x11’ plots with sticks and I did my best to stay within the boundaries with the bucking machine. It didn’t take long to churn up the area of the three plots.

After dropping the rototiller off at Doug’s we headed over to “The Bark Place”, a business on the way to Philomath to check out the different soils available
for our garden. We picked out one at about 25$ a square yard and I told the guy he could put 75$ worth in my truck for us to take. Laughing, he said I would only fit one. He was right! When the backhoe came and dumped the first load into the back of my truck it overflowed off the sides and piled up almost to the height of my cab dropping my truck about 6” on the suspension!
We quickly realized that we needed a wheelbarrow to move the soil from the truck to the backyard so we picked up a cheap one at Bymart where Alexa had to buy a 5$ membership with me as the spouse so Emily and I could use the other card for our membership.

After dropping off the first load of dirt at our place we decided we needed to buy wood for the raised bed to keep all the dirt together. We ended up going to Home Depot and spending about another $100 on wood that we dug trenches for
and dropped into the clayey ground. We nailed the corners together with wooden blocks to make it all very secure. The rest of the afternoon was spent getting two more truck loads of dirt with my truck and one with Kevin’s when he returned home with his mom who was amazed at what we were creating. Just before dark we had built all three beds and buried within them about 8-10” of rich compost infused soil.

The next morning we got up and made one more trip back to The Bark Place to pick up red wood chips to surround our plots and make them look professional. We spent the rest of the beautiful afternoon gardening and pruning flowers out front and in the back. We realized that we really do have an amazing yard with tons of flowers that were once hidden behind weeds as well as an apple and pear tree in the backyard and Himalayan Blackberry bushes in the backyard.

That evening we all invited friends to come over and Kristen, Peter, Jason and Hartz stopped by with their dogs for some BBQ action. Everyone really seemed to be impressed by the work we had put in over the two days. Although Emily and I didn’t go anywhere special for the weekend I think we both felt a great feeling of accomplishment when we looked out our window at the beautiful raised beds we had just built.