Prepping for Beginners

Being from S. Ca I’ve always been aware of being prepared for an earthquake. Now being in rural Oregon I’m more aware of a possible disaster, earthquake, fire, chemical as I’m not far from train tracks.  I am not close to a hospital like I was in CA. Nor can emergency crews get to me quickly. So yesterday I taught a class on Emergency Preparedness.

Yes I am a junior prepper. I say junior prepper because I do not have a bunker, nor live off the grid. But I do stock food and water. A lot of folks ask “how do you get started prepping? I can’t imagine buying all the food at once!” My response is, like any big project, start small so it’s not so taunting.

Benjamin Franklin said “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

So what would you do if you were told you must evacuate in the next 10 minutes? Quick what do you take…clock is ticking….

But first a story because it’s a great lesson on hindsight. Back in the 80’s there was a large fire that started to burn near my home and eventually we were put on evacuation notice. (Sorry mom but the bus is coming….) I watch as my mom’s first concern was to immediately grab pictures off the wall. None of us want to lose precious pictures. But if that were up here, I don’t have the option of going to a local shelter or friends house in another county. I only have one road in/out.

Today I’m going to share with you my ‘Bug Out’ bag. This bag sits by the front door. In this backpack I have what I need to survive for 3 days. When I leave the house this bag goes into my car. Because let’s face it, if you’re on the road and disaster strikes you’re going to need to be able to take care of yourself until you can get to help.

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I’m going to list out here what you see in the picture. In the lower left is an old backpack that I sprayed with Scotch Guard water repellant. On the far left you can just see my hat. I carry a hat rather than an umbrella because I need to be hands free. 3 containers of water. Notebook/pen, protein bars, sturdy gloves, duct tape, water straw. This straw can be used to pull water from a contaminated source and purify to drink. Baggie #1, medication, hand sanitizer, lotion, medical cloves, toothpaste. Baggie #2 sewing kit, eyeglass kit, 2 large trash bags, rubber bands, matches, Leatherman tool with various attachments, can opener. Also those two baggies can be used to rehydrate food. Emergency whistle with compass and inside waterproof matches. Reflective twine, extra phone charger, utility knife, first aid kit, flashlight, survival sleeping bag,hand warmers which can be put into sleeping bag to help keep warm, radio, deck of cards, map of Oregon including BLM roads, list of emergency contacts and copies of our passports, and phone numbers of our banks, medical information, and pack of freeze dried beef stew.

Now time is up…what did you grab? Not a whole lot I bet and some items were unnecessary. But if you have a bug out bag, and you are at home when the emergency happens you will have time to grab some of those luxury items, like pictures,  and be able to take care of yourself.

Remember when the emergency happens the time to prepare is over. I hope you will take to heart that being prepared for even a short time is doable and you too will start preparing…to survive.

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Even the smallest of ‘critters’ can catch you off guard…

I forgot to share this very important event. The other day I got in my car, which was parked outside the garage. I get all buckled in and put my car into reverse. As I look at my display screen a HUGE spider was walking across it. My display screen is 7” and this spider almost covered the screen. I could even see all the hairs on it’s legs. I began screaming and climbing into the back seat, which wasn’t easy as I was seat belted in. Also I was in the reverse gear which made the car jerk violently when I took my foot off the break to save myself. I am cursing that I will never leave my car outside again…and Derek is in the garage just staring at me, because he can’t really hear me, but sees that I’m in distress, or having some sort of fit or seizure.
Then it clicked, the spider wasn’t in my car. It was walking across the backup camera and being magnified on my display screen. The spider, it turns out, was about the size of a lentil. Never had as many spiders in CA as I have now living in Oregon. 

Modern technology in our car’s is wonderful. But it can also cause heart attacks. ‪#‎Oregon‬

Bald Eagle – Wow!

I am continually amazed by the beauty of nature and all forms of animal life.

Today I was so fortunate to finally get some shots of the elusive Bald Eagle. I’ve seen him/her fly overhead a few times, but the time I grabbed my camera it was too late. Well today I decided to sit on my front porch and enjoy my coffee. I took my camera with me because I had seen some lovely butterflies. But then I heard the screech and got totally distracted from the butterflies. I wish my camera settings were a bit better, but I did not dare take the time to change them because I didn’t want to take my eyes off the eagle.

Truly my lucky day!

She’s Home!!

What a fantastic 4 days! Our baby girl got to come home and what a joy that was.

So the back story is, long ago in 1989 Derek and I…fast forward to November and it’s a girl! And what a beautiful and smart girl she was and still is. We decided to raise her to be strong, independent, compassionate and we kick ourselves everyday because of it. (I am joking of course…or at least some).

When it came time for college she moved to San Francisco, 590 miles away! AWAY! We thought our hearts would break. But, they didn’t and lucky for us we got see her 4 times a year so it was great. The third year of college she decides to study abroad, in Spain. This time she’s over 5,800 miles AWAY! I’m sensing something, but not sure yet… She meets a young man and falls in love. She comes home a year later and finishes up her studies and graduates with honors galore and is still in love with Joakim. Guess what?!?! No she didn’t get married, or bring a bambino home. She decides to study for her Master’s Degree. Awesome yes? Yes…but she goes away. To Sweden! (stupid boys – sorry Joakim I do adore you) So for the next 4 years our baby girl will be working, studying and living in Sweden. The good news is she’s 800 miles closer than when she was in Spain.

But last week she and Joakim came back to the states for a whirlwind trip. They stayed with my folks for a week so she could see her family and friends down in California. Then went to San Francisco to see friends there and drove up to Oregon to finally see where we moved to. So we took them around all over and showed them a small slice of our neck of the woods. Below are just a few pictures we all took. Click an image to make it bigger and read the description. Those of you with lives, carry on.

#McMenamins #Oregon #Beer

The Greenhouse Project

Well I must say I was in for quite a shock moving from Southern California to Oregon. I made this silly assumption that after we moved up here, growing a garden would be a cake walk. I was leaving behind a state that got into the triple digits for most of the summer. I was gaining a more mild climate, along with rain. How wrong I was. There were so many factors I never anticipated. For starters the weather. I now live in an area where there are 4 defined seasons. Oh sure there were 4 seasons in S. CA, but down there I called it, Spring, Hell, Wind, and something moderately cool.

That being said, I now have to understand that, you just do not plant anything in the ground before Mother’s Day. Seriously! I thought oh pish, it’s 80 degrees outside the frost is over. It was, for 5 days at which point the temperature was dropping to 24 degrees at night. Lost everything I planted due to frost. So now I listen when I hear folks talking in the garden centers. Heed the wisdom! Which is what prompted me to get a greenhouse. I need to be able to control the weather, on a small scale. I researched this project for almost a year. The choice was made, a Solexx Greenhouse that was 12 feet long, 8 feet wide and 8 feet high was purchased.  Below are photos of our assembly and comments.

I must give a lot of thanks to the folks over at the Greenhouse Catalog. Between numerous emails, going to visit them at their location in Salem Oregon and several phone calls I knew I made the right decision. Michael and Bryen answered all my questions and even provided information I had not considered.  I do not agree with some of their installation instructions, but this does not mean I had any regrets in our purchase. And I think they owe me a bottle of wine 🙂

On to the installation. I will be honest the assembly instructions say it will take a couple of days to assemble. I would say this is not quite accurate. It took us a week+ and we’re retired. Part of this is due to the fact you must prepare your area for where the greenhouse will be. We opted for laying down a gravel base. Get ready for your upper body work out folks. We sprayed the area first with vegetation killer, then put down weed guard.

And then it was time to shovel it all in place. I won’t bore you with those tedious shots. I’m just very grateful for Aleve!

Just a few 1,000 lbs of rock.

Just a few 1,000 lbs of rock.

Here we go...

Here we go…

You look at these boxes and you think, “Ok I can do this. Just one step at a time”. So a show of hands, how many of you have had to assemble a swing set, or a bicycle on Christmas Eve? Uh huh…take that and multiple it times 10. As I said prepping is key to success. You need to know where to place it on your property for maximum sun, you may need a permit depending on where you live. Will you need to run electrical to it, water? How will you get electrical/water to it? You know what they say ‘Love is in the details.’

You begin with the base frame and ribs. This goes pretty smoothly. Here is a collage of the various stages.

Framing

Framing

At one point it started to look like a giant whale bone carcass. Do keep in mind, wherever you build it, if it’s not on the site, you will have to carry it later. (Good thing I joined a gym a month before we started).

It is from this stage on that things got a bit…um…challenging. We carried the assembled frame over to the grassy area near the gravel site. Ribs were attached at the top to form the hut.

Ribs connected over top

Ribs connected over top

Front View

Front View

Panels

Panels

We put the panels out in the sun as they come curled up in the box.  And this is where assembly began to fall apart and we had to adapt and improvise.

You are directed to install the panels horizontally and slide them up and over the top. So panel one will become panel 6, and 2 will be 5 etc. Something like this –

Sliding - not so good.

Sliding – not so good.

You are told to use duct tape to help hold them together while you lift the bottom, add the next panel and slide up. Folks we had some duct tape that was so sticky I still have no finger prints and the weight of the panels (while not a lot) was enough to pull the entire thing apart.  That, compiled with a breeze we have out here all the time would lift the panels like a sail. After the 4th attempt we said “forget it let’s go another route!” First we took 4 cinder blocks and made anchors. We then secured one end and tossed the rope over the top and anchored on the side. Each panel was then slipped under the ropes and secured with a couple of screws.

Anchor 1

Anchor 1

Anchor 2

Anchor 2

Notice no duct tape.

What would have been better was to get the solexx siding the way they show it on the site. In long sheets rather than panels. Note the difference. He’s just sliding his from one side to the other thru the connector. Ah well…

This would have been easier

This would have been easier

Once you get all the sides on and secure you can put in your vents and shelves. Mine has 6 base vents, a front louver and rear exhaust.

One of the instructions on the exhaust fan says “Rough cut an opening 16 X 16”. What they should have said was measure and trace exhaust frame and cut neatly. Because if you don’t the back will look like hell. We had to build a frame out of trimmed solexx panels to seal it.

Assembled

Assembled

Front Louver & Shelves installed

Front Louver & Shelves installed

The flooring I got was a tarp that will also help with weed retardant. You can see the exhaust fan in the back, cords will be dressed up a bit more later. The exhaust fan is on it’s own control. You can set it to come on at a specific temperature. This will pull the hot air out of the greenhouse by pulling cooler air from the floor via the floor vents. But the real cool thing is the solar opener.

Solar Opener

Solar Opener

This little device is set to automatically open the front louver when it reaches 65-70 degrees. Trust me you want it to. Some might think but that’s far too soon the greenhouse will cool too fast. It won’t. This is power free by the way. It’s operated via wax in the tube. Wax gets warm, expands and vent is opened. As it cools the wax contracts and closes the vent. Really neat!

Below the electrical is going in. We hired a certified electrician for this because we needed it to code and pass inspection. Some things you cannot cut corners on.

Wall Switches going in

Wall Switches going in

Overhead Outlets

Overhead Outlets

Ready for Plants

Ready for Plants

So here is the inside all done. I also have 4 light panels of T5 lighting. I do not have a heater yet as I don’t want to try and grow in Dec and Jan when the highs are in the 30’s and lows in the 20’s. It would be just too costly. My herbs were moved in and it’s starting to look like a real greenhouse. Next spring I will update with more pictures of what I’m growing. In January I will be taking the Master Gardener classes and get my certification. I am sure that the knowledge I get there will help me immensely with greenhouse gardening success!

Did I mention at night it becomes a beacon for alien space craft?

Alien Beacon?

Alien Beacon?

Wonderful and Easy Homemade Bread!

Unusual storm blowing thru S. Oregon. A bit of rain, some good winds but not real cold. So with that in mind it’s time for 18-hour No Knead Bread and soup. (Just a note, really takes about 20-21 hours when you add in the second rise) Start it at 10am and it’ll be ready for dinner the next evening. This bread is so versatile! You could sprinkle cheese in the middle when you fold it and maybe some jalapeno’s, or add fresh herbs.

3 cups All Purpose Flour

2 ½ tsp Kosher Salt

¼ tsp Active Dry Yeast

1 ½ cups Warm Water

Combine the dry ingredients together in a large plastic or glass bowl. Pour in the water and stir just until mixed. A shaggy dough should form. Cover the bowl loosely (I use a very large glass bowl) and allow it to sit on the counter for about 18 hours. Keep it away from windows if it’s cold outside. The dough is ready when it becomes covered in bubbles and when you can see the strands of gluten forming when you tip the bowl. Your dough will be very wet and sticky. That is how it should be.

Sprinkle the work surface (I like to use my Silpat so that the dough doesn’t stick) with a mixture of about ¼ cup all-purpose flour and ¼ cup cornmeal. Scrape dough out onto the floured surface and fold it four times like you would a letter-once from 3 and 9 towards the middle and once from 6 and 12. Place dough back into the bowl seam-side down and cover again, allowing it to rest for another 2 hours. (Or leave on the Silpat, just make sure it’s covered and has room to rise again)

Midway through the final rise, preheat your oven as well as the 3 to 4-quart pot and lid to 450 degrees for 1 hour. After the dough has risen for about 2 hours, remove the hot pan and lid from the oven and quickly dump the dough into it. It should now be seam-side up. Replace the lid on the pot and bake the dough covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to bake it for 15 to 20 minutes longer. Be sure to check it after 15 minutes to ensure it isn’t burning. If you have a Schlemmertoph clay cooker it’s perfect for the bread. You can also free form it and slide it onto a pizza stone.

I did a double batch and in the first one I formed it into a baguette and put in some roasted garlic. The other I did in the Schlemmertopf pot.

Out of the Schlemmertopf

Out of the Schlemmertopf

Form into a french baquette

Form into a french baquette

Clay Cooker

Clay Cooker

I wish you could smell this bread. Well you can! Geez get in there and whip a batch up and tomorrow you will come back and say “Thank You, it really was so easy!”

Blackberry Part…oh heck it’s Festival Time!

The weekend of August 16th-18th marks the start of the 25th annual Sutherlin Blackberry Festival. I am so happy to experience this event. Last year we had moved up here one week after the festival. While I did not compete this year, just you wait till next year!

This is a wonderful event. There are numerous booths where you can browse and shop for all sorts of fun things. But before we can get started on that, let’s bring in our flag honor guard.

Representing all Branches

Representing all Branches

I am constantly amazed at how seeing our flag fly makes me feel so proud.

Respecting the Flag

Respecting the Flag

Yep, very proud to be an American. A young lady, Alexandra,  sang the National Anthem and just nailed it. She was 11 years old. So wish I could have gotten her picture.

Come on! Let’s go to the festival.

There are booths set up all over offering food items, clothing, makeup, jewelery, hand crafted items, pet items you name it. One thing I bought that I now love are bowl pot holders for your microwave. I often times heat up soup or a bowl of oatmeal and have to reach in and grab that darn bowl that is hotter than lava hot freshly spewed from a volcano. Well now all I do is put my bowl on my holder and the put it in the micro.

What a neat idea. A bowl holder for the Microwave.

What a neat idea. A bowl holder for the Microwave.Bowl holder with a bowl.Bowl holder with a bowl.

One of the neatest things is the raffle for a car and another for a motorcycle.

2006 Harley Sportster

2006 Harley Sportster

The winner of the motorcycle was Frank Harper of Texas (long time Sutherlin Resident).

1972 Ford Mustang Mach 1

1972 Ford Mustang Mach 1

The winner of the car was Harold Wells of Oakland.

I’m going to do the next set of pictures a bit bigger since they are in a collage form. I didn’t want to make you have to scroll though for days.

Face Painting

Face Painting

These kids were so proud of the art done on their faces. It was just a joy to take their pictures!

Junior Boot Camp with The Body Shop Total Fitness

Junior Boot Camp with The Body Shop Total Fitness

I just love the fact that the gym here in town, The Body Shop Total Fitness, gets so involved in promoting kids to get up and exercise! Well done Terry and Dianna Brock.

A ride for everyone

A ride for everyone

Yes that is a gun holster in the middle picture. Some really nice rides were on display.

Old is always better

Old is always better

There were nicer “old cars” here than I ever saw at Route 66! Just gorgeous vehicles!

Let's Eat!

Let’s Eat!

And of course there’s the food! If you were hungry and couldn’t find something to eat here I would have been shocked. Bad thing is to walk by these taking pictures realizing you forgot to eat lunch. Let’s just say I got to taste a lot of different things. Folks are pretty friendly around here.

And the winner is...

And the winner is…

For the cooking contest which included (but not limited to) – cookies, pies, cobblers, candies, jams/jellies, sauces and savory dishes. Rhonda Seekins of Sutherlin who took home 5 ribbons – three 1st place and two 2nd place! Wow nice job!

There was also a chili cook off. Now the only thing that I thought was ‘different’ were the categories – Men, Women and Texas Style. I didn’t know men cook chili different than women do. I think I would have done men and women together, made a category for junior division (15 and under), kept Texas style (no beans) and had another category for say white chili’s, chili verde etc.

2 winners from each category

2 winners from each category

What a great event this is! If you are ever planning to come up to Sutherlin, do make sure to time during the festival. At night there are bands, dancing and more food. Also you can tour some the best wineries Oregon has to offer!

 

Happy Anniversary!

I cannot believe it has been one full year since we left the big city and moved to the Great Northwest. So much has changed in the last year. We’ve learned so much of what it means to live in the country, and I think our lives have changed pretty drastically, but for the better not worse.

Let’s see…

1. Blackberries – harbor many critters. Always look before you pick. As you may remember it was while trimming these tenacious vines that I freaked out over a bug and broke my foot. You will often be investigated by bees and wasps as your fingers become stained while picking.
2. Foliage -Do be sure to trim blackberry vines back and other overgrown foliage because you never know what you will find. Case in point I have found the following – I have a pear tree I didn’t know I have, along with an apple and 5 cherry trees. Also found – an old VW Bug with no engine. A bumper to another car, a family of nutria, a pheasant nest, a skunk den (kept well away from that!) an old metal trash can and assorted bottles. Man that must have been one hell of a party!
3. Trash – you really must recycle everything you can. We don’t have trash pickup so we have to go to the dump. And everything must be sorted, glass – green, brown and clear. Cardboard – corrugated and non. Aluminum cans, tin cans, plastic bottles over here, and plastic containers over there. Newspapers, metal scraps, wood scrapes on the top side. Batteries in the shed and last but not least garbage.  But that is a lot of stuff to haul to the dump. So come October thru May we burn everything we can, which is a lot. Below are the steps to a bon fire. Which can be a big shindig for some. People will actually ASK you to bring them your clippings so they can burn them. They stand around, drink beer, tell stories and burn stuff. Seriously it’s an event! I’m actually looking forward to hosting one. And I can’t believe I just said that haha.

Must be safe first.

Must be safe first.

Must have emergency equipment available. There is also a hose attached to the well house.

Add a bit of an igniter.

Add a bit of an igniter.

Toss in a burning piece of newspaper.

Toss in a burning piece of newspaper.

And whoosh!

And whoosh!

You can really feel the heat from just this small of a fire.

Time for me to get to work and  bank it in.

Time for me to get to work and bank it in.

Time to feed the second pile to the first pile and bank it.  Now it may seem this takes a while, but if you start piling all the stuff up over a period of time it dries up. So these piles go up like balsa wood. Takes about 3 minutes to burn it all down and if you’re not careful you might be painting your eyebrows on for a week or so. But once banked the bigger pieces on the bottom will smolder for 24 hours or more.

4. Rain. It’s going to rain in Oregon. Not near as much as I thought it would, but much more than down in California. This brings you to proper clothing and an understanding that water will get into things you don’t want it to and thus you have to deal with it. Proper rain attire in Oregon, a light jacket or vest, boots and hat (heavier coat if it’s a cold winter day). If you pull out an umbrella you’re not from around here. There will be large puddles so make sure you boots cover your ankles.

If there is a space for a molecule rain will get in, like a car in places you never thought of.

Innards removed

Innards removed

This is what happens when you hear a sloshing noise as you’re driving. And for a week you’re trying to figure out what is wrong. You go out one day and come home to take your groceries out of the trunk to find them soaked. Seems water had been leaking into a small hole under hood near the windshield wipers. This small stream (not drip) of water has been slowly filling every crevice under the under the carpet panel. When it got to full it spilled over into the trunk, but again under the carpet. It wasn’t until it reached maximum capacity that it started to soak the carpet. We are talking gallons of water. So much so that –

Starting to jack it up on its side

Starting to jack it up on its side

We had to start jacking the car up and tilt it on its side as much as we could to spill the water out. This was as we started the tilt.  So water can be a real problem.

5. Wildlife! And no I don’t mean the cows that live next door. Although, being from CA when we first moved up here they were fun to watch and I did consider them sort of like wild life. Then I learned what a pain in the butt they are. Did I ever tell you about the one that ‘crawled’ under the fence and ran amok in our yard? Well I had to wrangle that POS by myself down to the end of the property, through a large gate and back into his own yard. Boy do their feet cause a lot of damage. Anyway, back to wild life. So far it’s been just amazing to see all the different animals that come to visit us. We’ve had deer, geese, a skunk, a family of nutria, turkeys, a fox, ducks, osprey, a hawk that lives in our giant pine during the spring, a wild cat (that we do not have) and a bee colony of all things. Why it’s like wild country safari around here.

Ducks, Geese and Goslings - Oh My.

Ducks, Geese and Goslings – Oh My.

The Bee Keepers

The Bee Keepers

3 of 7 deer that regularly visit.

3 of 7 deer that regularly visit.

The Turkey Ladies

The Turkey Ladies

Run little Fox

Run little Fox

Stay back from ol' Stinky

Stay back from ol’ Stinky

Nutria Family

Nutria Family

6. And I think this is the most important. Friends. I have been so fortunate to meet new friends and start enjoying their company. We have Kish Doyle and Anne Wickersham, Rick and Velda, Terry and Dianna and some wonderful neighbors Phil and Kimberly.

Life is pretty good up here in the Great NorthWest. Including the views. This is sitting in my chair looking out my living room window. My window is much bigger, just focused on the middle and those gorgeous clouds.

Gorgeous Clouds

Gorgeous Clouds

So often after rain storms I can go out to my back patio and find a rainbow, and in this case two!

Fantastic Rainbow

Fantastic Rainbow

I have finally started to feel like I really live here and not just staying over for a long visit. I no longer catch myself driving to the grocery store ‘remembering’ how I used to go to the store or how I used to shop. Now I think about my day in Oregon distance, uncrowded freeways, no graffiti and friendly folks. I ponder the weather more here than down South and the old phrase “..if you don’t like the weather wait 15 minutes…” has become a familiar saying.

We have been so fortunate to retire here. Here’s to many, many years!

Cheers!

Cheers!