Wednesday, October 24, 2007


The neatness gnomes have struck again.

Three cargo nets neatly folded and hung on the wall.

The barn is not even safe from their mischief.


This morning a blue heron was hunting in the field in front of the house. Having previously been banished from the Koi pond by some well placed but obviously not lethal buckshot he was standing as still as a statue. I watched him as he hunted for his morning breakfast. I assumed he was searching for frogs.

He spent nearly two and a half hours standing, watching and carefully stepping about the field. I went about preparing for the day, organizing tasks to be accomplished, showered dressed and prepared to eat my breakfast. And, he was still there.

Fortunately for me, I saw him cock his head sideways and intently look at one particular spot in the field; watched him approach it carefully and then stand still again. I grabbed the binoculars just in time to see him grab a small rodent from its burrow. He shook it a few times; dropped it; picked it up again and then swallowed the struggling critter whole.

I wish I had had the camera to record the event.

Specter, watch out…

Saturday, October 20, 2007




We moved to Pullman Washington about 2 1/2 years ago. Anyone who has moved before can understand that often times some boxes are left unopened for a period of time until one decides just where they want to put the stuff. Sometimes the box(es) will sit for weeks; maybe even months before the contents is emptied and/or tossed out.

We've had our share of that in our household. Though most things (over time) have been placed in their permanent locations or tossed there are still a few items that just don't seem to have a place to call home. So, they remain sitting about in the garage, the barn or the house.

Recently, we have made great headway in the items in the barn and even have cleaned up a little in the garage. The house (being mainly my domain) was pretty well put in order shortly after the move. However, there is one room in the house that has remained off limits; The Office.

I am and have been affectionately called a 'neat freak' (a place for everything). Roger, on the other hand, is not (shoot them all down). In this respect, we're rather like oil and water. He doesn't mind a mess and I can't stand it.

Currently my dear sweet husband is away at Solar School (photos below). He is learning a lot about uses, manufacturing and marketing of alternative energy. It is our intention to use some of the technology to improve the efficiency of our home and workshops. He is excited about it and I think it is something that may keep him entertained for quite a long time.

.........Roger's view..............His classroom..........Student Installers..

Right now I have a painting block so I'm not painting except to teach. Since I don't teach every day I have been doing a thorough cleaning of the house (you know stove, refrigerator, cabinets, behind couches, under beds, etc.). I've done what amounts to spring cleaning; only its fall isn't it. Well I either have a great start on next years spring cleaning or I'm terribly late for this year. Either way my house is clean and with all of the cleaning out of the way it is my hope that I will be inspired to work on my Palouse painting again. We shall see.

Below are several boring photographs of our office. When we first moved in Roger put some boxes of 'stuff' on the floor. But, not just boxes; there were cables and cartons; papers and books and a multitude of other items that I cannot name. Last Wednesday was their last day to reside on the floor.

(Roger: They're all perfectly safe and I know where they are if you need them.) There is still more work to be done but it looks sooooo much better. I sort of forgot what the carpeting looked like.

I've been working on other projects too (don't panic) but I'll not go into that now because I don't want Roger to have a heart attack while he is gone. (Roger: FYI: I did not touch the desk...though I wanted to). I think I've done all the damage in the house that I can without help. However, if this does not break my painting block, there is always the garage and the barn to tackle.

Or, maybe I’d better quit here…

Friday, October 12, 2007


Roger and I keep chipping away on the unfinished projects. Hopefully we'll have most of them complete before the really cold weather drives us indoors.

Roger finished connecting the electricity to the new greenhouse. He put the light fixture on a double switch so the lights can be turned off and on from either entrance to the greenhouse.

He put in three boxes along each side wall and three across the ceiling. I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do with the 18 outlets. I suppose I could hook up all of the Christmas lights we got last year but maybe not. The neighbors already think we're weird. On the upside, we won't need to use surge strips.

I bought three of these barrels at auction last month ($5.00 for all three... Yippee). We're going to use them as a source of passive solar heat for the greenhouse. Once four of the cypress blocking the greenhouse are cut back it should work well. It stays surprisingly warm in the greenhouse. The barrels get even warmer on sunny days. I'll be moving some of my hardier plants into the greenhouse this next week. The test will begin once the thermometer really starts to drop.

I finished insulating two of the outer walls in the barn. Even with the ceiling insulation still to be done, it seems to be a bit cozier in the barn or possibly I've been breathing too much fiberglass. The wafer board walls will go up in the next couple of weeks.

Roger put up racks to hold some of the lumber we had cluttering the floor. I put up shelves; with the wrong screws of course. I think the ones I used would have worked (at least they were working). We replaced all of the screws the next day. I do try you know.

We're hoping to get the floor clear enough that we can move the trailer indoors for the winter. We just might make it. At least we can see the floor now.

The Art Studio is one step closer to being finished. It's really working out well for teaching classes (when I have any students). In the interim it costs us very little to maintain.

I used the scroll saw to cut out the edges of the door sills. I had forgotten just how much fun it was to use the scroll saw.

Roger will be attending Solar School next week. We'll then know what we're going to do with the solar panels.

We've done a lot of work on our little piece of paradise this last year. It is exciting to watch it all come together.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Happy Fall Update

I know it's been awhile since my last post but, we folk here on the RJ Ranch have not been idle (just a little slow).

Roger and I are still working on completing some of our 'projects' before it becomes too cold to work outside. There are a few being deferred until next year.

Clean up on the barn was helped along a little by the WSU Rowing team. Our three Rent-a-Rowers made the mess a little more navigable. They also helped us with some of the yard work; dug a trench between the greenhouse and the pump house (for the electrical hook up); did a little heavy lifting and, received a lesson in window washing from Roger.

Roger will probably finish the electrical hook-up to the greenhouse today (or tomorrow). Once we have a little heat to the greenhouse we should be able to maintain some of the plants in the greenhouse throughout the winter (that's our hope anyway). If it gets too cold or too expensive to keep the greenhouse above freezing we will use the alternative method for keeping the plants healthy (an arboretum inside of the house).

I have installed more shelves in the barn so some of the floor space is available for... MORE CLUTTER [I hope not]. Roger built some bins for holding the excess lumber and pipe we have in the barn. The lumber will be used to complete enclosing his work area and some of the pipe will be used to support the solar panels (one of the deferred 'next year' projects). I completed grouting the veneer on the greenhouse (PLEASE don't look too closely).

Last year I planted my garden three times. Only the third planting survived. This year I planted the garden too late because of the greenhouse delivery.

From last years experience I surmised that many of this years plants would be just reaching maturity just about the time the first frost was expected. They were and it did. The growing season here is just too short.

Covered Vines............................... MGH.............................Unprotected Vines

In preparation for next year's planting (because this year is a loss) I am conducting the experiment. Before the first frost hit a few weeks ago I made some 'mini-greenhouses' (MGH) and placed them over the plants the night of the expected frost. The covered plants were unaffected by the frost. The zucchini did exceptionally well. Plants left exposed to the frigid night air were severely damaged (especially the tomatoes). I have removed all but one of the MGH now and am still maintaining one on a few of the tomato vines just as a 'test'. The thermometer has dipped to as low as 27 degrees in the last few weeks but the protected tomatoes (though not doing particularly well) seem to be surviving. All the MGH needs to do is keep the young plants in the spring from being 'bitten'. I think this just might work. I guess I'll need to wait until spring to find out.

In spite of any killing frost we may have had in the past few weeks some plants don't seem to know that it's fall yet.

I wonder if they're waiting for the bees?

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