6.17.2009

My Garden

I love having a garden. Growing up, my parents always had a large garden, and during the summers, we had to weed the vegetables, pick and snap beans, and kill as many of the bad bugs that we could find. The bug part was the only fun part because we got paid a penny for everyone we got. Actually, I don’t even remember getting the money…just adding it up. Anyway, we all dreaded going out to the garden to weed, even if we only had to do two or three rows. So, now that I am an adult, what do I do? Grow a garden…when I am the only one to weed it. But I love it!

Last year we planted our first real garden. Andrew built a box so I could do a square-foot garden, although we really just followed the box idea, not the soil. It was fun…but only 5 feet by 2 feet, although we did have some other plots that I filled with wildflowers. This year, we have a lot more room…and we filled it up! And here are some of my favorite things about it:

Pumpkins. This is our first year ever growing pumpkins, and I love them because they grow! Cucumbers don't seem to like me although I love them. I just can’t get them to grow…I bought plants this year. But the pumpkins are already getting huge…I can’t wait until October!

Chives. Don't they look great? I hope they keep doing well. I love having them! I planted them in the pot, because they will keep growing back, and I never want to be without them.

Marigolds. Okay, these aren’t vegetables, but I needed another color besides green. But, I love these flowers; the bugs do too, which is great…because they are attracted to them instead of my vegetables. Also, I love them because last year, I bought some seeds, and planted them. And you can harvest seeds from every flower, and save them for the next year. I had a lot of marigolds last year, and was very diligent in my seed collecting, so now, I planted even more, and I still think I have a ½ cup of seeds!
Broccoli. This is also a first and we are growing cauliflower too, but it isn't as big yet, and it is covered by leaves, so it is harder to get a picture of. But, the broccoli looks great…and in fact, I cut some today, and we steamed it for dinner…and it was so good. And so green!

Tomatoes! I love tomatoes. Andrew doesn't, which really is too bad, because I think I planted 6 plants. Four of the plants are Beefsteak and two are Cherry. Last year none of my tomatoes did very well...which is why I had to have 6 plants this year, right? Just in case.

Lettuce. The best for last. Really. I love growing lettuce. It is my favorite, because, like pumpkins, it always grows. At least for me. When the bugs attack everything else, they stay away from the lettuce. Unfortunately, you can't really stock up on lettuce or can it, dry it, or freeze it; but it grows fast. And you can plant more for a fall crop. I love lettuce.

Our New Old Place

In November of 2008 we had to move to a new town for my work and there are some nice things about our new place. Well first I should mention when I say new…it is not a new house/apartment by any means, but it is new to us. This place was built in the 50’s and has plaster walls, nine foot ceilings (which I really like because I’m 6’5”) and a crawlspace underneath that I wouldn’t even want to go in if there was a tornado! The problem with plaster walls is that when you want to hang up a picture you have to really work to get the nail through the wall. Then once the nail makes it through you can hear the crackling of plaster chips falling on the inside of the wall…it was real interesting the first time that happened. Our place is small and cozy, but we like it and we are happy.

There is a small fenced backyard with a clothesline and some kind of tree in the corner; we think it might be an apple tree. We have some raspberry bushes, strawberries and rhubarb that were growing here already and that has been nice. I always thought that I didn’t like rhubarb…it just didn’t sound good or look good. Brianna was really excited about the rhubarb however and said she was going to make a pie or something out of it. I told her she could, but I wasn’t going to eat any of it. A funny thing happened. When she started baking this stuff it smelled really good and I thought, “how could rhubarb smell that good?” Then when it came out of the oven it even looked kind of good. Well to make a short story a little bit longer, I tried it and liked it! Now I like rhubarb. It is crazy. I never thought it would taste good. The only thing that is not good about rhubarb is if you try to eat it raw. I felt so brave after eating rhubarb crisp that I decided to try some raw rhubarb…not a good idea. I don’t recommend it.

One of my favorite things about our new place is that it has a garage! Not a garage for a car, but a garage for my tools and a little storage space! Gone are the days that I have to use the drill press in the kitchen! Although anytime I did work on a project in our old place I would always clean up with our Shop-Vac…Brianna is glad too that I can set up my wood shop in the garage. I really enjoy working on projects and building things. When I was a kid I use to go in my dad’s workshop and tighten random pieces of scrap wood in a vice and cut them in half with a small handsaw. When things break I like to find ways of fixing them. I suppose I got this from my dad. Well Brianna and I are happy in our new old place and now we call it home.

Most Amazing and Fun Vacation

I love the ocean. There is something about the sound of waves crashing or rippling water lapping at your feet as you walk across a beach barefoot that I just love. I didn’t grow up anywhere near the ocean. I grew up in Utah and was nowhere near real beach (the Great Salt Lake doesn’t count). Now we live in Colorado and are even further away from the seashore! I served a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Canada, Vancouver Mission and spent some time on Vancouver Island. While I was there I got to see the ocean just about ever day as we were out and about contacting people on the streets and such. I think it was from the time I spent on Vancouver Island that I really learned to love being by the ocean. Watching tugboats pull huge barges from Pulp Mills across the Straight of Georgia or just being able to see the ocean. Anyways I love the ocean.

One of my favorite vacations I took with Brianna we went to Seaside Beach in Oregon. We rented a car and drove from the Portland Airport out to a little motel a couple of blocks from the beach. We stayed there for about three days and it was great. We were about one mile from the main part of the town because it cost a lot less to stay there than at the huge hotels right on the beach front. It was so nice! Every night we would walk along the boardwalk to the main part of town and then walk back on the beach. In Seaside there is a shop that sold real saltwater taffy and we got a bunch of different flavors, it was amazing how many different flavors they had! When you walk in, there are all of these tubes full of saltwater taffy that pour into wooden bins. It was fun in that shop!

Each morning we took little day trips to different beaches in the area. We went to this place called Hug Point (it was called that because the water hugs the beach and nearby cliffs) and explored around the shallows. We also spent a day at Cannon Beach and walked probably three or four miles down the coastline towards Haystack Rock. It is strange how when you’re walking on a beach time slips by and you don’t realize how far you have gone until you look behind you and see where you started way in the distance.

A funny thing that happened at Cannon Beach: When we finally got around to eating lunch that day we were starving. Luckily we had packed a lunch in our backpack. We found this nice big log on the beach and sat down and started pulling out sandwiches and crackers. No sooner had we done this then a whole flock of curious, persistent and crazy seagulls had us surrounded. Nothing we could do would get them away from us. We didn’t know what to do. If we had our backs turned for just a second they would fly up just a little closer and then perch next to us on the log. We found quickly that we would not have an enjoyable lunch unless something was done. Then inspiration struck! Just in front of us there was this huge family eating lunch with huge ice chests and a few blankets full of people and food. If we could only introduce our seagull friends to this great family! By this time the seagulls had gone into relentless mode and nothing we could do would keep them away from us and our lunch…it was time to carry out our plan. All we did was causally gather up our stuff and walk nonchalantly towards the family in front of us.

Things worked out perfectly. No sooner had we started walking, and then all the seagulls in perfect unison started following us in the air and on the ground by the dozens. Then the critical moment came as we passed by the huge family party on the beach. As if by magic or a stroke of luck, one of the little boys in the group tossed a piece of bread to a seagull. This gesture was done in all sincerity, but none of the other members in his family appreciated it. As the bread was flying through the air they all cried out “NO!” But it was too late…all of the seagulls shifted their interest from our meager meal, toward the great smorgasbord that was strewn out in front of them. It was really funny to watch as we munched on our sandwiches and crackers a safe distance off. All of a sudden the people were waving their hands trying to get rid of the pesky birds. There were a few younger kids there that got assigned the task of chasing the birds away, which they did with a smile. Anyways, that was a fun lunch and much more enjoyable when we relocated!

One of my favorite memories I have of that trip was our last night there. We walked into town (Seaside) and got some really good ice cream and ate it on a bench over looking the beach at sunset. Then we walked back to our motel along the beach. I think I'm ready to go back to Seaside Beach again!

6.16.2009

The Orchard House

This is a story dedicated to our favorite home thus far in our married life: the Orchard House. When Andrew and I were first married, we were blessed to be able to rent a home from his aunt and uncle. It was a beautiful home they had recently purchased and fixed up. The house was built on a hill, and we had mountain views all around us. You can see some of those views throughout this post. We named it the Orchard House because it was on a small apple orchard with a few peach trees as well. It was built in the 1950s and hadn’t been occupied for the last 20 years. We were excited to be able to live there…and we loved it; especially our many adventures that happened during that first year.

All houses seem to have strange sounds that you have to get used to, and this place was no exception. There was an unfinished basement that we closed off and only used to store boxes or our Christmas decorations. Sometimes I think some of the noises came from the basement…but it was a big open house, so they felt like they came from everywhere. Soon after we moved in, we were informed that there may be some mice in the house, and it might be a good idea to get some cats. Andrew worked with someone who needed to get rid of some kittens, so it worked perfectly. We brought home Frank and Heffe (which means boss in Spanish). They were brother and sister…but looked and acted nothing alike. Heffe was white, and looked a little Siamese; when we brought them home, she was bossy. She would always beat up on Frank. And then they changed, and she became a wimp! It would take her hours to get the courage to go outside. Frank, the black cat, was the smartest cat I’ve ever known! And he was crazy, and would take off outside as soon as we opened the window. He loved sitting in the kitchen sink…and everywhere else. Most of all, Andrew and I loved that their new home was the basement. We loved having them there because from then on, anytime we heard some weird Orchard House noise, we said, “it must be the cats.”

After we had been in the house for a few weeks, my parents came into town and stayed with us. While we gave them a tour of the house, my dad noticed that some water was leaking in the basement around a drain. We also noticed what we thought was mold on the floor. We cleaned it up, and checked on it, but it kept leaking, so Andrew asked a few people from Church to help us with it. Fortunately, they figured out what was wrong. Unfortunately, the problem was not a leak, but a backed up septic tank. His uncle didn’t know where on the property it was located, so we searched for it by pounding rebar into the ground, hoping to hit some metal. We did…but that one was actually an empty septic tank the original owner had installed as a backup. We pulled out the rebar again and searched…for over a week! During this time, we couldn’t use any source of water at all, so we were staying somewhere else, and just working there in the day. Finally, thanks to Andrew, his uncle, dad, and cousin it was found and uncovered. But now we had another problem…we couldn’t get a septic tank company to come to empty it. The driveway was filled with bushes, and they had to drive under some tree branches, and onto the yard, between two large hedges. The septic tank was down the hill from that position, but that was the only way they could get to it. Everyone turned us down, but finally, we got somebody to come. It was a wonderful day! Then, all we had to do was clean up the basement. We didn’t want to take any chances during the clean up process, so luckily Andrew had some weird painting jumpsuits and rubber gloves.
Our next adventure was all my fault. And Home Depot’s. Andrew was on a winning streak for awhile; he won a snow blower at Home Depot (but traded it in for store credit), and then he won a $20 gift card from them as well. We were baking a turkey for dinner that day, and I was boiling the neck meat to make broth for the gravy. I had been simmering it on the stove, and then Home Depot called. We were going to go pick up the gift card, but Andrew decided to call his family first to share the news. I didn’t feel like putting the broth in the fridge, so I turned it up on high to get it nice and warm, and then planned to turn it off, and let it sit out until we got back. Well, his family wasn’t home, so we left right away. And we decided to look around after he got the gift card…so an hour later, we got home.

We were talking in the car, and kept hearing this beeping noise, but we thought it was our neighbors. After a few minutes Andrew realized what it was…the smoke alarm! I left the stove on high the whole time! He went running into the garage, opened up the house, and smoke poured out the door. Then, he ran into that smoke! He turned off the stove, grabbed the pot that was red on the bottom from all the heat, and ran out the other door. I was freaking out, so I followed him; but I forgot to breathe, so I got a mouthful of smoke and then couldn’t stop coughing or crying. There were no flames…only billowing gray smoke. Andrew opened all the windows. I tried to help, but I just kept coughing, and I was not much help. The smoke left quickly, but the smell stayed for awhile. It did finally leave, but we had to clean everything, and air out all our clothes and blankets. My pan was ruined and Andrew had to throw it at the ground to even get the lid off. Our turkey dinner was great…just without gravy.

Because we were on an orchard, we learned about irrigation ditches. Andrew would sometimes take care of it, and open the gate of the ditch for the water to flow into the orchard. Our last Sunday before we moved to Colorado, we went to his family’s house for dinner to say goodbye. We got home at about 10:30 that night and for some reason, I went to the basement to check on Heffe and Frank. Then, I thought I heard some water dripping. We had had some problems with the bathtub dripping, so I thought it was that, but I went down the hall to check. I’m glad I did…because there was water all over the floor. I looked into the back rooms, where there are two window wells that face the irrigation ditch. They were filled up with water! They looked like aquariums, and because the windows were old, they were leaky aquariums…dripping water onto the floor! (Remember, this was an unfinished basement fortunately…that had concrete floors and a drain in one room). I yelled for Andrew, who came running down, and then went running back up to take care of the problem. We were still wearing our clothes from church, and he went outside in his slacks and white shirt. I changed out of my skirt, and then followed.

Now, I have to explain a little background. The irrigation was flood irrigation, and some water wouldn’t make it to the orchard, and would go down a ditch in the yard, about ten feet from the house. We never got too much water flowing through it, but we thought it would be a great way to water the lawn…or at least a small amount of the lawn. So, we created a small dam to try to get the water to build up and flood the lawn. It really only worked one time…barely, but for some reason, that night, the water came with a vengeance, and there was more water than we had ever seen! It wasn’t even our night for irrigation water, so the gate was closed. Back to the story…

The window wells were so full, and there were bushes growing in front of them. Andrew, who doesn’t like spiders, crawled behind them with a bucket, and started scooping water out, and throwing it onto the lawn…which was already pretty wet. This went on for awhile, until finally, they were emptied. Then, we were able to clean up the mess in a dark basement. We were so grateful for that drain in the floor! Finally, at about 1:30 in the morning, we went to bed. A week later…we moved from the beloved Orchard House. Even after all that happened, we loved it and his aunt and uncle still thought we were good renters!

A little poetry

Here are some acrostic poems we wrote about each other. (We didn’t know what these poems were called so we had to look it up online to find out.)

A-amazing
N-nice
D-dances with me in our kitchen
R-really funny
E-entertaining
W-working with wood and tools

B-beautiful
R-right person for me
I-intelligent
A-animated
N-nice
N-never forgets birthdays
A-always smiling