Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for December 2016

Our feature photo this month was a difficult choice, between our visit this month to California, the grandeur of Mt. Shasta, and the beauty of the farm under snow and ice.  I decided our own black locust tree in all its frozen, jeweled elegance was impressive enough, as we almost never see the tree with ice on it.

an apple in winter

An Apple in Winter – a solitary apple hanging on into December was coated in ice, providing an unusual seasonal ornament in the orchard.

As we come to the end of 2016, I would like to thank all of you who have stopped by our corner of the world, laughed and cried with us, offered their kind comments and “likes” or supported us in some fashion over the 3 1/2 years this blog has been up.  And welcome aboard, new readers!  The cats and crew of Salmon Brook Farms wishes that everyone have a healthy, happy, bright and prosperous New Year ahead.  If I may quote the final lines from Desiderata, “With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.  Be careful.  Strive to be happy.”


Every season has its own beauty to behold.

News from the farm
December was an unusually cold, wet month on our little farm in the Cascade foothills.  Old Man Winter descended in the form of snow, sleet and freezing rain, breaking branches, toppling trees and disrupting power in the area.  His traveling companions, Wind and Storm, gave voice and form to his presence as he passed through the farm, touching all within reach with icy breath and freezing fingers.  For all the death and destruction left in his wake, in the morning there stood before us a glittering Ice Kingdom, a symbol of his strength and dominion over this time of year.  Tree, shrub and vine found themselves encapsulated, temporary prisoners of the storm.  Grass, still green but covered in ice, gave way with a crunch underfoot, leaving tell-tale impressions of our wandering about.  Below freezing temperatures prolonged the frozen scene until the 18th, when a short visit from the sun accompanied by rising temperatures resulted in sounds of dripping that could be heard everywhere, exposing the resilient, green winter grass of Oregon below.


Rosebush leaves sporting miniature icicles.


Blueberry bush coated in ice, caught in the camera’s flash in low lighting.


A spider web, frozen in time. We observed a spider on the web several days later, after the thaw.

We took a short vacation to visit friends, entrusting cats and farm to our sitter and headed for California on the 19th in freezing rain. The cloud ceiling started lifting down towards the California border, and we stopped in Yreka for lunch at one of our favorite places, The Black Bear Diner.


The only place you will see this sign!


Bears inside the diner appropriately dressed for Christmas.


A bear for little ones.

We arrived at our destination in time to see a most beautiful sunset.

On the way down we noted a strange apparition around Yreka in the form of a large metal dragon sculpture on the opposite side of I-5.  Farther down, we found Mount Shasta cloaked in cloud, bidding us to wait until our return trip, at which point both the mountain and Yreka Dragon would reveal themselves, in different ways.


Mount Shasta, located at the southern end of the volcanically active Cascade Range. Thought to erupt roughly every 600 to 800 years. The last eruption was 200 – 300 years ago.


A closer view of the mountain.


Mount Shasta as seen from the City of Mount Shasta.

The dragon was a bit more mysterious, preferring to be viewed through freezing mists.


The famous Yreka dragon, created by Siskiyou artist Ralph Starritt. He is also known for the equally famous metal cow-calf pair which can also be seen from I-5. This photo was taken from the car window as we passed by.

Clouds and rain descended upon us again as we came up through the Willamette Valley, prompting the thought that this region could be known as “Land of the Long Grey Cloud”.  I feel certain that I am not the first one to entertain this thought.

The ice now gone, Rick has started pruning the vineyards.  We look forward to a good harvest this coming year, and perhaps some of our own wine made from our own pinot noir.


We had some sun today, which Rick took advantage of to make some progress in the vineyard.


Working the table grapes before moving on to the pinot noir vineyard.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms


Correspondent Lucio engaging in favorite activity.

Since our Salmon Brook Farms feline correspondents are still spending the majority of their time in holiday hibernation with nothing new to report, Mr. Lucio has agreed to wake up long enough to introduce our readers to our new Foreign Feline Correspondents, Mr. NewDude and his brother Mr. YouTube of the Fratelli Mandorle, or Almond Brothers, who hail from a very beautiful olive farm in Sicily.


Olive farm at the House of 36 Paws, Sicily.


Correspondent YouTube (left) and Correspondent NewDude (right)

Ciao meow! I am NewDude, one of the Fratelli Mandorle, or Almond Brothers, as our fur resembles the burnished color of almond shells.

My life here at the House of 36 Paws started about ten months ago. I arrived at the farm looking for work, skinny, infested with fleas, infections and begging for food. The humans kindly fed me and befriended me, but I soon found myself transported up and away to some sort of facility where medical procedures were performed.  I must say after my return trip in the transporter I went into hiding for a few days, but the lure of consistent kibbles and human caresses lured me back to this establishment. There is a large terrace here where I can bask in the sun, and plenty of covered spaces where I can keep warm. Being a nice, easy-going fellow, I am an amiable companion of the two house cats, Lulu and Lucky the Blind Kitty, who is now an honorary Almond Brother.


Lucky, honorary Almond Brother. A box with a view!

Because the accommodations were so agreeable to my lifestyle, I insisted that my twin brother should abandon his peripatetic ways and come live here with me, in spite of the strange transporter activity and things that happen there in the medical facility. Brother YouTube has since joined the crew, and will write of his own adventures in our next report from Sicily.  Simon and Dexter have also taken up residence relatively recently, and keep things lively!


NewDude and new arrival Dexter.

There are olive trees to climb here, gardens to play in, lavender and rosemary plants for shaded afternoon napping. I even made friends with the three resident dogs, Bob, Hilda and Little Girl.  I have found Bob to be the most affectionate. The food is outstanding, and I am healthy now and receive lots of attention. Life is good at the House of 36 Paws!

Olive harvest in a previous year

Olive harvest in a previous year.

Sadly, our humans did not harvest any olives for oil this year.  Our spring was very dry, and when it was time for the flowers to bloom and be pollinated, most of them died.   We had a total of possibly six trees sparsely populated with olives.  Correspondent YouTube and I only saw ten trees in the spring with olive flowers, which are tiny. Luckily the humans have enough oil to last until next year.

 – NewDude, Sicilian Feline Correspondent, reporting from the House of 36 Paws

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)


I am looking forward to the new year, and stepping up the pace on current projects which are long overdue.  Someone kindly pointed out to me that The Orchard, our distributor, has placed some of our music from the Keepsake CD on YouTube.  Anyone wishing to see the entire track listing and stories behind the songs should visit my personal page under MUSIC in the menu at the top of this post.

In the meantime, in your area, wherever you may be, please do all you can to help keep your own local music alive. Go out and see someone you don’t know, host a house concert, download songs or buy CDs. Or even just stop for a minute to hear someone at a Farmers’ Market. Live, local musicians provide a wealth of talent most people will never hear about in this age of iPods, Internet and TV.

Bookings and home-grown produce:
Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms


For Angela1313 at Kimchee and Catnip, who wished to see the entire painting itself. The painting was made by Rick’s father.


85 thoughts on “Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for December 2016

  1. Timothy Price says:

    The feature photo is stunning. I like all the frosty, icy photos and the dragon in the mist is great. Mount Shasta looks majestic with its snowcapped peaks. Of course, the kitty correspondents from Sicily are purr-fectly adorable.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Tim, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! That locust tree is a beautiful one, and we hardly ever have an ice storm to coat it like that. We had our own winter wonderland here for a short while. Shasta is is another one of those places one has to see in person to really appreciate it. Mt. Lassen National Volcanic Park is also on our list of places to see, and is down there in the general neighborhood of Shasta.

      That dragon gets one’s attention when driving by!

      I’ll let M & J know you enjoyed their kitties. Cats (and dogs) seem to find them wherever they go.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a beautiful photograph, ice on tree… it is standing like a New Year tree. So beautiful. It is always so nice to hear news from your beautiful farm, land, home dear Lavinia, you are one of my special blogger friend. The mountain with snow standing amazing. But of course you know what I love most 🙂 cats… cats. They are so lovely so adorable, and welcome to the new one. Thank you so much, still I am so exciting to hear your songs, when I have receieved I will inform you. Happy New Year, and Blessing to you All, Love, nia

    Liked by 2 people

    • A Happy New Year to you and your family, Nia! Thank you for stopping by and the kind comments! You are a special blogger friend, and I always enjoy your photographs and stories of your Turkish homeland, and especially the Cats of Istanbul. The CD is still processing its way through the system, and hopefully you will receive it before too long. May 2017 only bring good things to all of us!

      Liked by 1 person

    • A Happy New Year to you and Rod, Maureen, and little Bert! Thank you for stopping by! That is a beautiful locust tree in any season. In summer, it has long clusters of creamy white, fragrant blooms that the bees love.

      Liked by 1 person

    • A Happy New Year to you, Anarette, and Benji and Mrs. Zulu! Thank you for stopping by and the kind comments!

      Yes, the transporter is a small price to pay for life in a good home. I’ll let my friends know you and other readers are enjoying the Sicilian correspondents.

      I am not getting all the email notifications I should be, so bear with me as I catch up with people.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Your Easy pup will get perennials planted for him here in the spring, along with Sammy and Fiona. It is so hard to lose our companions, especially at this time of year. I was gladdened to see you take on “Da Phenny”, and give that pup a wonderful home with all the love in the world in it. May you have many, many happy years with him. Such a sweet-eyed, bright little face! Yes, let us hope 2017 only brings good things to all of us.

      Yes, that little apple all by itself was rather lonesome, but photogenic! I was surprised that the birds had not gotten to it yet.


  3. Herman says:

    Hi Lavinia! Thank you for this wonderful post on the last day of the year. As always, we enjoyed reading your stories. Mr. Bowie sends his regards and asked me if he could join the cat crew for the holiday hibernation…

    Wishing you and your loved ones (and the cat crew) all the best and a very happy New Year!

    Liked by 2 people

    • A very Happy New Year to you, Herman, and my favorite British Shorthair, Mr. Bowie! The Boys of Salmon Brook Farms have a spot all ready for Mr. Bowie to join them for the holiday hibernation.

      May you both have a wonderful year ahead, filled with cat treats, dark chocolate, espresso and vanilla ice cream! Looking forward to hearing some of your work that has been going on in the studio, too! I’m sure Mr. Bowie has been a great studio technician. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • So good to see you, Gallivanta! A Happy New Year to you and your family, and may 2017 be a better year for all of us.

      The Ice Kingdom is beautiful, but eventually becomes difficult to work around. We are back to our normal “winter green” here now. I am enjoying seeing blogs from you and others in the southern hemisphere who are now in the summer season.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your photos of the ice storm are amazing! We never welcome ice but it can produce such spectacular sights–great if you don’t need to go anywhere on the roads. It sounds like you’re busy and content, and the cats are VERY content! The Italian cats are excellent correspondents!

    Liked by 2 people

    • A Happy New Year to you, Kerry! Thanks for stopping by and the kind comments. The Ice Kingdom is the one ephemeral gift left behind by Old Man Winter, for those who can safely enjoy it. The rest is destruction and chaos. There are a lot of broken limbs to clean up out there, but I am enjoying the holidays first. 🙂

      Yes, those cats are very content! I’ll let our friends know how much you enjoyed their kitties. 🙂


    • A Happy New Year to you and your family, GP! I am honored you like the writing, and it is my goal to paint a picture with words.

      That is a great GIF image! Thank you for all your posts on WWII in the Pacific. It is a real education to learn what soldiers on both sides of the conflict, including my own father, had to endure.

      Liked by 1 person

    • A Happy New Year to you, Doug, and my favorite Persian Brothers Andy and Dougy! Thank you so much for the kind comments! Give the boys a good scritch behind the ears for me, and tell Andy he has to take his medicine like a good boy. 🙂


  5. Thank you Lavinia, for this beautiful newsletter to cap the year. The photos were exquisite. I enjoyed your new foreign correspondents too. Wishing purrfect health, happiness, and security to you and Rick and all the kitties. Happy New Year.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I totally approve your choice for feature photo. While the volcanic mountain is lovely, as your correspondent above says the iced tree is stunning.
    It sounds as if you had a lovely holiday break.
    I’m wondering if the House of 36 Paws was 28 Paws before, though the epistle from NewDude mentions only 20 other animal feet.
    I’ve enjoyed listening to The Keepsake.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Musiewild, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! I (and probably my friends) have lost track of how many paws are over there. 3 dogs (Bob, Hilda, Little Girl) + 6 cats (Lucky, Lulu, NewDude, YouTube, Simon, Dexter) = 36 paws. The others will make an appearance from time to time. 🙂

      We hardly ever see that tree coated in ice, and in the morning sun, made a beautiful scene. Every season has its beauty, some of it lasting but a day. I have tried to slow down this month, and just enjoy the farm and all it offers. And thank you so much for listening to The Keepsake. It is the title track on the CD.


    • And a Happy New Year to you, Jill! Thank you for stopping by and the kind comments! That apple was an unusual find, hung like a frozen ornament on the tree.

      Let’s hope 2017 is a better year for all of us. I’d like to start with World Peace, but that is a tall order.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Good to see you, all the way from Scotland! Thank you so much for stopping by and the kind comments. We don’t get many ice storms, so this was a rare photographic opportunity.

      I look forward to seeing your posts in my mailbox. All the best with your studies in Physics and Astrophysics, and a Happy New Year!


  7. Such beautiful photos of the ice Lavinia! I don’t think I’d like to see it hang around too long though. I am pleased you had a nice trip to California – that dragon in the mist is really something special!
    I bought a digital copy of your album a few months ago and have been meaning to tell you how much I enjoy listening to it. You are a very talented lady. May you and Rick have a very happy new year 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for stopping by, and the kind comments, Arlingwoman! Glad you like the locust tree. we don’t have many ice storms here, so it was was a rare photographic opportunity.

      It is our friends in Sicily, and their cat correspondents that have olives, not us. I am thinking of trying Arbequina olives here in Oregon. Our friends, who used to live not far from us here in Oregon, went back to Sicily to be near relatives. I hope all our feline correspondents on both sides of the Atlantic have good mews in 2017. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Baz and Janet! So good to see you! Thanks for stopping by and the kind comments. Glad you enjoyed the song!

      That apple was a lonely little fellow, the only one that had evaded the birds and was still hanging in the tree. It made a wonderful photo of the season.

      We’re having an earlier, more prolonged period of cold here this winter, with more frozen precipitation in various forms. January arrived this morning under a thin coverlet of snow, and we are hopeful for this youngster, that it will grow to be a better year for all. Have a peaceful and prosperous 2017, and give our best to TomO. And keep those stories and photos of the Australian Bush and Outback coming!


  8. I so enjoyed your post and a very happy New Year to you! Your photos are divine, I just love the first one. And the kitty correspondents .. looks like a fab place to live. Rick looks like he is doing a fine job at pruning .. one of my favourite tasks. Stay warm lovely .. 😃Julie

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Julie, thanks for stopping by from new Zealand, and for the kind comments! We don’t see many ice storms here, and the tree all decked in ice in bright sun was something to behold.

      I will let our Sicilian friends know you enjoyed their kitties. Seems there is a sign out someplace near their farm that says “Wayward Cats This Way”. 🙂

      Rick does a great job at pruning the grapes, and gets his start in December. I tackle the apple trees in February.

      Wishing you and your family all the best in 2017. May it bring only good things for all of us! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Love it all, this newsletter. The locust tree, the single frozen apple in December, your voyages — including the one into and out of the ice kingdom and the report from the new feline correspondent.
    Once again, your nature writing is luminous, and always a joy to read.

    Best to you and Rick and the feline friends for 2017!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for stopping by, Cynthia, and the kind comments! The frozen apple was a lucky find. Nature often leaves something beautiful or unique to behold along with the destruction she brings.

      The Sicilian correspondents will be back again this year, along with Mr. Otis from the Northeast. I hope our own felines are awake enough to file a report at the end of January! They have been sleeping off the cold weather or watching birds out the window. 🙂

      All the best to you and your family this year!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Inese Poga Art plus Life says:

    I really loved the iced tree picture, so majestic, so sparkling! Such a great photo! It’s good news and you’ve gotten away, too, for a while. I always think your farm is amazing. I am wondering whether you’d ever want to live somewhere else. Reading your newsletter, it seems wouldn’t. Cats are always lovely.
    Happy New Year to your big family!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Inese, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! As much as I enjoying seeing other places, I feel firmly rooted here. No, I would not want to live anywhere else! 🙂

      The cats and crew here at Salmon Brook Farms send you best wishes for a Happy New Year! May 2017 be all that you want it to be. 🙂


    • Steve! Thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! That frozen apple does look like a candy apple, doesn’t it? 🙂 The ice storm did indeed give me a chance to play with the camera. The light changes rapidly at this time of year, making it both easier and harder to get an interesting shot.

      I finally caught up with your blog today, and was showing my husband your site. We may go visit the beehive rocks at some point when we travel again.

      Readers, please visit Steve Schwartzman at Beautiful photography and stories about the areas he visits on his site.


      • Thanks for your referral, Lavinia. I do envy you your ice storm, at least photographically.

        Valley of Fire in Nevada is well worth visiting, maybe via one of those occasional bargain flights to Las Vegas.

        Happy 2017.

        Liked by 2 people

  11. Hi Lavinia! I, like you, am way behind in visiting the sites I most like to visit, but have finally arrived. What beautiful photos of the ice-encrusted trees and plants – sorry you had so much below zero weather. I’m sure you were glad for the thaw. That is one kind person who operates the House of 36 Paws, and the Almond Brothers are indeed lucky to have found their way there. The description of the transport and strange medical proceedings remind me of a book I read (just now released as a movie, I see), “A Dog’s Purpose”. I suspect you would really enjoy it.
    Thanks for the updates on your farm; keep warm and keep making music! :o) Jeanne

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for stopping by and the kind comments, Jeanne! I enjoy visiting your world back east. Hope to see more of your artwork, too. I loved the owl.

      Have a bright and wonderful 2017! I looked up the book. It is also a movie now, which will be out soon.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Hi Lavinia and all the very best to you, Rick and the cats for 2017 – may it be a fabulous one for you.

    Good to see you’ve started work on the vines already. We’re leaving it a little later this year and hope that works out.

    Hope that’s it for the cold, wet weather. We’re having cold and dry and would love to have some rain!

    The cats are very sensibly hibernating. Lovely to meet NewDude and Co – doesn’t seem like they have any need of hibernation 🙂

    Sadly your video isn’t available in this territory 😦

    Re the trouble you’re having following the AC blog – I’m really sorry about it. I’ve filled in the subscription form on our site with your email address and hopefully you’ll start receiving them. Hope that wasn’t too forward of me? Going self hosted is something I’ve regretted all 2016 and it just got worse and worse!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Annie, good to see you! Thank you for signing me up. no worries there! Let’s hope that works. Email notifications have been sporadic across the board. Roll-outs and some blog owner changes to themes, etc, seem to not play well with subscriptions. Sometimes it can be as simple as re-selecting the delivery frequency (instant, daily or weekly) but that doesn’t always work.

      I’ll let M & J know NewDude and YouTube have fans! No, they have no need of hibernation. 🙂

      Rick wants to get his vine pruning done early, but we are still in sub-freezing temperatures, so I will wait on pruning my two test rows.

      Eventually I will have some video up on YouTube on the farm’s site. You may be able to get at the old IUMA archive.


  13. Good Morning Salmon Brook Farms, Sending my tardy but sincere wishes for a very happy 2017. It’s been an odd winter here too. Unlike Salmon Brook, we always expect snow and cold. But this year, by our standards, winter has barely shown up. We don’t have the usual build up of snow, but certainly nothing is green or will be for months still. I loved all your wintery scenes.

    I really enjoyed reading all about Newdude and Youtube. How wonderful they’ve found such a loving home and now have new friend Simon and teeny Dexter too. Heavens, what kind people. Blossum and Petals are very happy and continue to sleep the winter days away. This past week, we enjoyed above normal temps and had the screen door open for a change of pace. Those were happy days. Saddly, I couldn’t watch your music video. A message says, “This video is not available” 😦
    Maybe it’s because I’m in Canada? So nice to visit, take good care xBoomdee

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good morning, Boomdee, all the way from Canada! Always glad to see you! Our weather has been all over the map, and this winter colder and more prolonged than I’ve seen before here. The ice storm provided an opportunity to play with the camera.

      I’ll let M & J know that the House of 36 Paws has fans in Canada. They are very, very kind people, taking in many 4-footed waifs over the years. Friends who used to live not far from us, they emigrated to Sicily to be near family. Their olive farm looks so beautiful. They were farmers here, so they were ready to take on the olive farm over there, and produce some very tasty oil.

      The Orchard, our distributor, probably does not have an agreement with Canada. You can try the old IUMA archive site at There are some songs from the CD there. Keep an eye on the farm’s YouTube site. Right now the content is empty, but you can check in at

      All the best to you and your family, and Blossom and Petals, from the cats and crew here at Salmon Brook Farms. Have a great day Boomdee!

      Readers, for those fans of Canadian living and especially crafting, please visit Boomdee at and

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Wishing you a wonderful 2017 Lavinia! I am listening to your lovely song as I type this. It is so peaceful and beautiful. I apologize for not having stopped by sooner – sometimes life just gets in the way and I was a little sad as I lost my beautiful garden assistant the grey tabby, Oliver at the end of 2016 😦 I loved seeing your beautiful icy photos especially the frozen tree and I loved reading the kitty correspondence! Such lovely furry reporters. Hoping for you that you will have a fantastic grape harvest this year!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. A belated Happy New Year Lavinia! What beautiful photos of the temporary ice kingdom that you inhabited – especially that first one of the framed apple. Enjoyed your new ‘foreign feline correspondents’:-) Unfortunately I couldn’t get any of the links to work for your music – may be blocked to Canada or something like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Carol, a Happy New Year back to you! Good to see you! The icy apple was an unusual find, and I took advantage of the moment. We don’t get many ice storms here. Along with the crystalline beauty comes broken branches and downed trees. I will be cleaning up after this one for a while yet.

      I will let M & J know you enjoyed their kitties. They are good-hearted, hard-working people, and have taken in so many waifs over the years.

      From the reports coming in, The Orchard’s YouTube link is probably blocked in Canada and some other countries, unfortunately due to digitals rights or something along those lines. The old IUMA site should still be accessible, and has some songs from the CD, including Keepsake.

      Give Ivy a scritch behind the ears for me. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Good to see you Quercus! Thanks for stopping by from Nottinghamshire, and all the kind comments! We don’t get many ice storms here, especially ones leaving ice in the trees for so long, so it was a great opportunity. It was good to take a short trip down into California as well, just to see some different country. That dragon is eye-catching! Mount Shasta is breath-takingly beautiful.

      And those are very lucky cats. M & J are good-hearted people.

      Liked by 1 person

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