Monday, May 30, 2011

Flying the Flag

Today, as we all know, is Memorial Day. A day to take a moment between driving and barbequing and quaffing to remember why we are able to do all of those things, and say a grateful 'Thank You' to the women and men who have fought and died to give us the ability to do just what we're doing today.

Having grown up Navy, been in the Navy, married Navy and been a contractor for the Navy, I know some veterans. Lots of them. My dad and his family were all about serving - Army and Navy, all the boys served. My Uncle Jimmy died at Inchon (Korea). I never knew him. He was dad's older brother. My dad passed away 10 years ago this year, and his other older brother, Uncle George, several years before him. Dad retired from the Navy after serving 20 years aboard aircraft carriers as an aviation metalsmith. He caught the tail end of Korea and all of Vietnam. My Uncle Mike is still with us, and I do remember him in his Navy whites coming to visit us often at Lemoore Naval Air Station (California). Both of my little brothers served as well, Jim in the Army and Stan in the Navy. Dale and I met when we were both serving at Submarine Base Point Loma (San Diego), training sailors to drive subs and shoot targets. Dale was a weapons officer on a fleet ballistic missile submarine during the Cold War and beyond. Dale's older brother Dean was a Seabee who served multiple tours in Vietnam. And we have many, many friends who served as well. I don't know about them, but it was a no brainer for me.

So, put down your brew, find a flag (shouldn't be hard to do today) and whether or not you agree with the military and why it exists, say a quick prayer of thanks to those who made this moment possible for you and your family, okay? Trust me when I say, we who served do appreciate it.

The beginnings of the new flagpole. Dale was determined to get it in the ground before Memorial Day, and luckily, we had enough dry days that the hole didn't fill with water when he dug it
Base completed, with 3 60# bags of concrete to anchor it in our sometimes rather brisk winds

Flagpole installed. Made in the USA, from tip to base, flag included

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Mystery Revealed

So yeah, I keep forgetting I had a little thing goin' here with the Mystery Box. My pal in SoCal actually guessed it in one comment. Since we first saw one last summer we've been in love with the MAK smoker/grill from Hurd's Hardware in tiny Harrisburg not only sells them (the grills are made right here in Oregon, just up the road in Dallas), but during the summer cooks stuff for customers every Saturday. We had a London broil that you could cut with a butter knife that tasted like the most expensive steak you've ever had, and chicken that had us singing praises to the almighty Cornish Cross gods (most chicken you buy is CC). We had to have one. So we finally got one. What's the sense of raising the best grass-fed beef you'll ever taste (and grass-fed lamb, and our pal Alex's pastured pork) if you can't really do it justice when you cook it? You might argue that if it's THAT good, then no matter how you cook it it should be awesome, and you'd be right. But there's awesome, and then there's TOTALLY awesome when it comes to cooking really great meat. The MAK takes outdoor meat cookery to a previously unknown level. This sucker could even dress up store-bought meat, I guarantee it.

We went with the Jellybean to pick it up, and then came back home and got Really Big Red. And when we got home, we went out to the barn and got Big Orange to unload it. You know you've got a great grill when it requires a tractor or forklift to get it in and out of your SuperDuty truck. Note to MAK - you might wanna put that little tip on your website

Supervisor Ho Dog, drooling already

Don't let these two pix fool ya. Dale put most of it together

The finished product, awaiting its inagural break-in fire

Dale plays with the Pellet Boss controller

That is one heavy piece o' stainless steel hood, believe me!

The first results. Alex's pastured pork spareribs and Jim's fiancee's sister's pork bratwurst, straight from Keewaskum, in Wisconsin. I don't like ribs. I will eat almost anything except ribs. There were originally two racks here, but Dale's already scarfed one and is coming for the second one so I thought I'd better get a shot before that happened. To me, they were okay, which because of my dislike of ribs, is pretty dang high praise. To Dale, a rib lover from way back, they were phenomenal. I loved, loved, LOVED the brats, however. Tonite we're smoking our own grass-fed lamb steaks, a cut of lamb I've never ever managed to make edible enough. We'll see how that goes, but the survey says.....


Monday, May 23, 2011

And Yet More Mystery

Even the little tools that came in the Mystery Box are American made. Gotta love that!

Ho's Sister Winnie at 11

Ho's black bi sister Winnie, chillin' in California. We Duck fans can forgive the Stanford blanket under her, given last season's stats (need I mention that the Ducks won - again?). For those of you who knew grandma Jazzee well, you'll see a LOT of Jazzee in Winnie in a few of these shots. Don't forget to click the pix!

This Is Where We Live

Last Saturday marked our fifth anniversary of crossing the state line out of California and into Oregon for good. We'd made a lot of trips over the previous few years up to Oregon from the San Diego area, where we'd lived for nearly 30 years, looking for that 'perfect place' to relocate to. We knew that the Willamette Valley area was the right area, but when we crossed the state line, we were driving our home, as the house we'd thought would be ours ended up not being so (long story). A few hours later, we docked The Beast at a nice RV park in Coburg, and the rest, to quote the tired old saw, is history.

I know there are a ton of pictures of the ranch and surrounding area on the blog, so I thought it would be good to shoot some shots from a different perspective, that being Don's place, to the SW of ours in Bellfountain, probably one of the most beautiful areas in Western Oregon.

This is where we live. And, seeing the pictures below and from the blog over the past two years, you'll know why we live here. Enjoy, and don't forget to click on the pictures.

Looking NE. The 'Bart Simpson' looking clump of tall trees in the centre of the pix is the tree clump south of the ranch on the other half of the original property

The logging road back deep into Don's property

Looking NW from the logging road

The creek that runs thru Don's property

Looking towards Bellfountain. The church is about centre of the picture, just below the peak

Looking towards Green Peak, just out of sight to the left

Herb's place, across the street from our ranch and to the northwest

Gizmo's 14th

Sunday was Gizmo's 14th birthday, so of course, another cake was in order, as the pack plus Jan took care of Ho Dog's cake. Pony, aka Dingbat the Wonderhorse, turns 28 on Wednesday, but he's not getting a cake. His feet trimmed, maybe. Cake, not happenin'. Besides, his minion Pepperpot the goat would snarf the whole thing in one gulp if I know her.

His birthday highness and my fave rhodie, which always seems to be in full bloom on his birthday

Ho Dog helps himself, much to Gizmo's chagrin

'Hey, that's MY cake you goofus!!'

Gizmo, 14 years young and still hasn't slowed down

Little Jan at 9 Months

No visit to Don and Donna's is complete without spending some time with little Jan - and yes, she's still little. If I could get her and Sybil to sit still long enough, I could show you the difference in size. But, Jan's still that special little dog to Dale, as you will see, and yes, the bad poodle cut is finally starting to shed out and go back to the correct colour and texture - just in time for at least part of it to get shaved off again when she gets spayed this week!

TOTALLY her momma Cricket here! Notice the flying ear too - it was a bit windy, and you'll see pretty much the same thing in Sybil's post below

Great uncle Ho Dog is NOT amused

Flying Sybil

I know most of these are out of focus (blame the camera, I do), but I couldn't pass 'em up. Sybil at 9 months shows off those flying ears in the puttputt on the way back from Don's Saturday.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Walking in Paradise

It's such a drab and dreary part of the world we live in out here. It's all I can do to drag the dogs out for the morning packwalk and force myself to put one foot in front of the other for the 2 miles up and back. But, somehow we soldier on....don't forget to click the pix!

Crossing Oliver Creek

A magnificent old oak in Don's pasture

Headed north on Foster Road, looking NE. This was originally part of our ranch, before it was split up to sell. This is the southern part of the original parcel

Green Peak from Foster Road, looking over one of Don's pastures

The Wild Ones

Mid spring here in the Coast Range foothills of Western Oregon means purple - camas, sweet flag, and other wildflowers that are in bloom right now. We see them on our daily packwalks, alongside the road, solitary flowers and large clumps. Sybil has finally decided it's too hard to try and sniff each and every one of them, thankfully, so she just enjoys them from a distance.

Sweet flag, a type of iris, that comes in many shades of purple

A good sampling of colour range

Camas. These start blooming just as the last of the late daffodils are fading

I don't know what they are, but they are cute little bells

More sweet flag