Friday, May 21, 2010

Four Years Ago

Today marks 4 years to the day that we crossed the California border into Oregon. The whole story is on my website (which is WAAAAY outta date but the story is still the same, just ignore everything else, www.morganriver.com) so I won't go into detail here. I tried to put together a kinda pictoral journey to follow, but because I'm not terribly organised with my photos, after about 3 hrs of working on this blog entry, I gave up and just tried to at least put them in some kind of 'then and now' order, kinda sorta. Anyway, we've come such a long, long ways since the first moment we stepped onto the property; a lot of blood, sweat tears and money has washed over the entire place. We did things one way, only to find out that way wasn't the best, redid it, found more flaws, and eventually got it done right. Repeat that over the course of 4 years and too many projects to list (or remember), and you'll have an idea of what it's taken to get where we are today. It never fails; people who know the place and who have known it for years (and in some cases, decades) always comment about how far we've come with the entire property. Many, like our pal Don, kinda get a kick out of Dale's engineer habit of overengineering things, but Dale likes to build things ONE time, build it right, and yes, overbuild it, so he doesn't have to either constantly fix it or rebuild it. Once we get it the way we want it, anyway. And it works for us. Unlike my gardens, which I am constantly redoing, stuff Dale's designed and built tends to age gracefully with few, if any changes needed. Until he figures out a better way, that is.

We don't regret much about moving up here from Southern California. We regret having left our long time friends behind, but they come up to visit and relax from the hectic pace down there. We lived for so many decades in a desert, and yes, don't fool yourself for a moment, Southern California is a DESERT, made lush by landscapers and Colorado River water from out of state, that we don't mind the rain much. Sometimes, it gets tiring, like when there are things we just NEED to do or want to do but can't, not quite yet, but by the end of September, we are more than ready to get wet again for another 8 months. But being able to plant just about anything and have it grow with little or no help makes it all worthwhile. Growing the finest bentgrass pasture for the cows to graze and to hay for winter feed without irrigation. Japanese maples. Rhodies, altho I'm almost over them now. Berries of every kind, and the finest blueberries on the planet. Roses that you literally cannot kill. Wildflowers of every type, colour and style. Conifers, of course. And the clean air - I don't know that I could even breathe anymore if I were to go back to SoCal.

The people. From the crazy, stressed-out rudeness that is the norm in SoCal to the leisurely pace of life reflected in the people of our part of Oregon was an incredible change. Everyone knows everyone. People talk to total strangers in line at the grocery store. If you drop something, someone runs to help you pick it up. The poor man who died in NYC in full view of dozens of people who walked right on by - that would never happen here. Not only would someone have helped him immediately, others would have chased the murderer down and held him for police. People HELP people up here, without fear of being sued or anything else. It's how we do things.

It's not for everyone, the way of life up here. For some, the pace is just too slow. For others, people are too friendly. We have two great colleges within 20 minutes of the ranch, University of Oregon and Oregon State. We have the Hult Center in Eugene, where we saw 'Riverdance' a few years ago, and Ringo Starr is appearing in a few months. 'Wicked' comes to town next April. There are lots of smaller theatres as well, always putting on plays. We're not 'backwater hicks' in Oregon. Our tiny Monroe High School was one of 100 schools recognized as the BEST in the nation. Last year, for only the second time in its history, the Ford Foundation picked THREE MHS graduating seniors for its scholar programme. There is just so much space here and so much to say, that I'll just leave you with this. Come up. Visit. Spend some time. See Oregon off the beaten tourist track. And make your own observations.

And if you decide to become an Oregonian, become one. But actually BECOME one, not just move here. There's a difference. Those that do, stay.



The old red barn late last year


Getting painted in early '09 I think, after Dale literally rebuilt the outside
Fall '06

Back deck/entry, early spring '10

September '06

John and Jane, our best buds from SoCal, helped out sooooo much. They trailered Dale's Viper all the way up from San Diego!

That stock trailer is jammed to the gills with stuff. Over the next four years, I think we tossed out or gave away 90% of what was in it that Dale hauled up from San Diego

Not a great shot of the barn today, but the best I could find at the moment. If it wasn't currently raining, I'd just go take a new shot. What I wanted to show was the difference on the left side, where we now have the cattle handling facility. That includes the sweep and the squeeze we moved into the barn, much to the OSU large animal vets delight

September '06 I think. Still have the old wooden fencing on the left and nothing on the left side of the barn. Squeeze isn't in the pix, it would be behind the cameraman

Early November '06, before landscaping, before painting the house

Spring '07

John and Jazzee relax before unloading the bikes

Our first dinner on the deck. Note that I didn't appear to waste any time finding a bottle of Benton-Lane wine it looks like

East side, spring '07

Front of house, spring '10

East side, spring '10

Homestead, spring '10

West side, spring '10

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