Saturday, May 30, 2009

Memorial Weekend 2009

The sun has been shining all day, and I have been inside almost all day, ignoring my lawn, now badly in need of its third cutting. For anyone interested in the saga of Lawn Mowing 2009, read * below; otherwise, it's fine to skip it.

The almost annual Memorial Day Ranch Meeting Gathering at the Blanchet Ranch last weekend was full of chaos, drama, fun and family, with kids running around, the lawns turned into tent cities, the ATV in high demand and cameras heating up from overuse. I personally (with the help of two nieces, Susannah and Clementina, and 4-year-old apprentice granddaughter Lily) logged about 600 photos over the weekend.

There were several babies in various stages of growth, the youngest being seven-month-old Elyssa, who was the same age as Lily at her first ranch meeting, as well as growing kids at every stage. Little Addie, who's creeping up on age 2, weighs about the same as Elyssa, Marley (almost a year) and Colton (just over a year) do now. Lily and Addie seemed to love their time camping out on the lawn with their folks and running around at the ranch.

I trimmed my hundreds of photos down to about 100 for the Best of Ranch 2009 to share on Snapfish.
There's a some really good ones, but most are just a snapshot of time, the Blanchet Ranch family getting together for fun, food and business. Yes, the Blanchet Ranch meeting LLC took place Sunday afternoon and lasted over two hours; none of us are great at Parliamentary Procedure and getting to the point in a hurry.

This year's Blanchet Ranch auction had lots of stuff – kids books, photo collages, candles, a homemade sox monkey (which I bought for my monkey-loving granddaughter), handmade leather books, an antique cheese grater and egg beater, and on and on. It brought in around $220, which we voted at the meeting to have old movies my dad took when we were kids onto DVDs.

I won't even talk about all the food, though thanks to niece Rose's husband Rod I ate salmon instead of hamburger at the barbecue; however, it was hard to resist Marianne's homemade pies and all the other goodies I've been avoiding to the first of the year.
During the whole month of May I've lost .04 lbs. -- not very impressive, but not bad considering Memorial Day weekend. I was afraid to get on the scales for several days.
Drama included a one-car rollover a few miles away on the neighbor's ranch; luckily Mike (Elyssa's dad) was not seriously injured, but the poor old car of which he was so proud (it used to be his grandma's) didn't look so good when it hobbled by.

Though I pitched my tent, I ended up taking advantage of the surprising opportunity of a real bed in the house ... Since there was no rain this year, everyone else was camping out instead of packing the house. I was the last one to disperse early Monday afternoon, and brother Larry and I took a tour of the wheat fields. Except for some extra rye, they didn't look bad, but already we need rain; fantasies of a bumper crop fade away quickly in Coombs Canyon.
In addition to the photos I took, trying to capture everyone on one weekend in time, mental images of sun, kids, siblings, nieces and nephews also remain.
My next family gathering will be much smaller – with Jenny, Lawrence, Lily and Addie in Tigard for a week's vacation (one night at the beach), starting in just over a week. Next Sunday I get to go see the Lipizzaner Stallions in Portland with my sister Caroline!

(* The first one I did get done on Mother's Day weekend, though my lawn mower – which I did get started with the help of the lawn cutting man, Jerry, who was working across the street – only lasted part of one day.
Then I made the mistake of thinking I'd finish on Mother's Day. Couldn't get it started again (the rubber primer is now good); neighbor Paul got it going for a little while, then I ended up borrowing his to finish the rest. I mowed the front again the Wednesday before Memorial Day, once again borrowing Paul's mower. Jerry is planning to fix mine (he ordered a new rubber primer), but it's still broken, and my grass is growing like crazy.)

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Sun finally shining again

May 9, 2009

The sun is finally shining again, and I'll be going out in awhile to do my first yard work of the year, which involves going to the gas station, getting new gas and hoping against hope that my lawn mower will start.
It usually doesn't at the beginning of every lawn-mowing season, and I end up paying a yard care guy I know a bunch of money to mow my by-now overgrown grass, and also to fix my lawn mower so I can try to try to keep up with it during the late spring/summer.
Right now my grass is just middling long, and will be easy enough to mow if the mower starts. A couple of years ago I wrote a“It's All Relative” column about the trials and tribulations surrounding mowing lawns I may pull out and publish here.

Why am I writing my first blog in a month and a half while the sun is shining?
Call it inertia or writers block or putting off dealing with the lawn for just a little while longer.
I mentioned coming out of hibernation on March 23, but I went back in, as best I could with life happening around me. Well we were still getting sticking snow as late as last week, and this week was crazy, with a combination of blowing (not sticking) snow, rain, wind, cold, and finally today a warm day with sunshine (though I see clouds creeping in).

We lost another editor at work again, he left immediately after the paper was done last week, moving back down to the southern Oregon coast to be close to his 5-year-old daughter who lives in Eureka, Calif. He drove 600 miles all winter every couple of weekends to see her ... I think originally he thought she'd be able to live with him up here at least part of the time. Anyway, Andy is going to go back to being a free lance outdoors writer ... The fishing scene in Wallowa County never had such good coverage as when Andy was here, a much too-short five months.
Anyway, so now we're short-handed again, with Kathleen and Hector and I laying out the paper by ourselves Monday and Tuesday (I also came in for a few hours Sunday). The hardest part was that I was sick with a bad cold; took Wednesday off (except for an interview I almost forgot about at Vali's at Wallowa Lake for a story about their 35th anniversary), and by today am almost well, though I still look like Rudolph.
Ironically, the cold started coming on with a sore throat last Friday, the day they announced on Channel 8 news from Portland that of five “probable” cases of swine flu in Oregon, one was in Wallowa County. And I'd been scoffing at the international swine flue hysteria! Anyway, I didn't really think I had it, but it was a miserable cold with a fever at least one day, and I immediately started feeling better – mentally at least – when I found that probable case turned out to be negative.

The high point of spring so far was definitely the Easter visit of the Herman family, and especially time spent with my granddaughters. I scrapbooked with Lily, read books, cuddled Addie after her nap, played barn, went to their first Easter Egg hunt (Addie was in the Chieftain – Kathleen picked out the photo as one of the cutest, no even knowing it was my granddaughter), etc etc.
I'm really looking forward to a June vacation with them (though I'm still not sure how the Chieftain will get by without me; our interim general manager from John Day, who could conceivably fill in the lay out part, is expecting her third child in June, and child birth -- or at least imminent child birth -- may slow her down a bit).
Anyway, Jenny will be between nannies and it's a very busy time at work for her and I already planned a vacation the second week in June before Andy said he was leaving.
Jenny and the girls may be able go to the coast for two nights with me; that would be really fun, if it works out, but in any case I'm expecting a week of quality Grandma Time.

The Next big event will be the annual Blanchet Ranch LLC meeting (and mini-reunion of all my siblings and as many of our kids and grandkids that show up) over Memorial Day weekend. Lawrence and Jenny are coming with the girls, and it'll be Addie's first time on the ranch; Lily loved it, but it's been a couple of years, so she probably doesn't even remember.
Hope the weather's decent since they are planning to pitch their tent, as am I (despite wet feet the last time I tried it). Looking forward to seeing everyone. My sister Laurie estimated at least 30 there at one time or another during the weekend.
I've almost – but not quite -- mastered the collage feature on newly installed picasa.
Other news: Matt's in school at Lane Community in Eugene again, and will be off for two-weeks worth of National Guard sergeants school in June. I'm down 15 lbs., give or take a pound depending on the day of the week, since the first of the year; I'm still working at it; it's an awful slow-paced battle.

Enuff for now, after bloggering on and on and on and on ....