Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for May 2017

Our feature photo for May is of the line of apple trees near the house, earlier this month when they were all sporting a profusion of blooms.  This particular day opened with an assortment of cumulus, cirrus and altocumulus clouds painted in textured strokes of white mixed with the pastel colors of dawn on a canvas of early morning blue.  The scene continually shifted as the day progressed on into evening: thin, high cirrus clouds, towering cumulus, developing stratus and distant nascent nimbus.  The scent of earth and new vegetation clung to moisture-laden air moisture as flashes of lightning appeared to the southeast of us over the Cascades, followed by the low roll of thunder. Although no storms passed directly overhead, the quiet stillness gave one the feeling that the evening was waiting for something.

Feature photo for May 2017. Click on any photo in this post to enlarge for detail.

News from the farm

The month of May arrived, cold and wet, at our little farm in the Cascade foothills. Pacific chorus frogs provided nightly music, the annual symphony to accompany life continuing in all it cycles.  The days grew steadily longer, punctuated with sunshine and dry days, even as the temperature fluctuated. Seeds that had been started earlier in the season under plant lights and on heating mats in the old garage grew steadily, and most of them have now graduated to life in the greenhouse on the porch, hardening off before continuing the next phase of their life in the main garden. The apple trees were particularly showy, adorned with more pink and white blossoms that I can remember. I recall a poem by Robert Frost“Good-bye and Keep Cold”. Perhaps the long, cold winter has been good for them, and we will be rewarded with a good harvest.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/44265

Crab apple tree covered in blooms.

Developing plum.

The brightly colored trumpets of daffodils slowly gave way to the deeper and quieter colors of irises. Roses and daylilies are now assuming their strategic position as color guards in the garden, standing tall above ox eye daisy, dandelion and buttercup growing wild in the yard.  The roses still show signs of black spot fungus from the cool wet spring; later blooms will be more exuberant, ruffled skirts flaring wide like flamenco dancers.

These many irises of this type are all descendants of a few given to us by friends. Hardy souls with a light, sweet, musky scent, I manage to divide and move some around every year, expanding their territory.

The first daylilies of the season

Clear mornings bring a creamsicle colored eastern sky as well as the deep lavender and rose colors of receding darkness in the west.  Mists begin to rise and coalesce, and either drift away up over the mountains, or very quickly spread like spilled milk into an overcast sky for most of the morning. Sun breaking through the cover stirs up a good breeze that sails us into the afternoon, and the daytime temperature may reach into the 80s on some days.

Blooming chives add color and seasoning to the kitchen garden outside the door.

Work in the garden can continue after dinner during these longer days. I feel the air temperature drop as the sun sinks further behind the hills to the west, which has now taken on the hues of early morning.  I stop and observe the color change unfold above as the night progresses. The growing moon with its thin, bright crescent and illuminated silhouette, appears like a giant eye trained on the greater universe, set against the Maxfield Parrish colors of last light. All is as it should be at this time, a moment to record in mind’s eye, a memory to cherish.

Table grapes in progress.

Pinot noir in the test block on rope trellis.

Pinot noir in the main block on conventional wire trellis.

We have a short row of a mix of Early Muscat and Gewürztraminer. So far, all vines are doing well and progressing nicely.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Our resident feline correspondents are busy this month working diligently on their assignments, although in their case, it is often difficult to distinguish working from loafing.  Correspondent Nano has contacted the Sicilian feline correspondents regarding a story they have been working on this spring, the story of Lucky, and how he came to live at the olive farm there.

Correspondent Nano, always watchful.

Before turning this section of the newsletter over to Sicilian Feline Correspondent Lucky, Mr. Nano would like to introduce readers to editor, author, teacher and musician Lorraine Anderson.  Lorraine can be found at Earth & Eros, http://earth-and-eros.blogspot.com/   Lorraine updates Earth & Eros twice a year at the solstices, and can also be found at http://www.ecoeditoronline.com/

Without further ado, Mr. Nano presents Sicilian Feline Correspondent Lucky, who has filed the report for May.

A view of the Sicilian countryside. Photo credit MG/JP.

There are times when sheer luck and circumstance save the less fortunate of us from an untimely demise.  My own astute and compassionate human rescuer spied me stumbling about on the streets of our little town here in Sicily. My odd behavior having caught her attention, she observed me as I repeatedly fell off the sidewalk into the street, noting that I was hugging the curb as a reference point.  This determined angel, whom I was unable to see or appreciate, swiftly came to me and lifted me up, saving me from certain death. I was so frightened, however, that I scratched and clawed her, trying to escape. Fortunately for me, she had an iron grip as well as compassionate heart.  I found myself incarcerated, although I later learned that I had been rescued and instated on their farm as Lucky, Prince of la Casa delle 36 Zampe, as the House of 36 Paws is known in Italian.  And Lucky me, I have not one, but two doting humans!

Lucky in younger days. Photo credit MG/JP.

After several trips to a medical facility and two surgeries to remove my eyes that had been damaged beyond repair, I am now free of chronic eye infections. The kind veterinarian, now known to me as my Auntie Rita, took very good care of me as I learned to adjust. It has been more than four years now, and I am quite acclimated to my indoor and outdoor surroundings; I have even climbed trees!  Lulu, my house-mate and fellow correspondent, is the most attentive and playful of my fellow feline companions, and is an expert at the game of Cat Rolling, a game where Lulu rushes me and makes me roll over. I am aware there are at least four or five other feline correspondents living outside on this farm, and I have a hard time keeping them straight.

Little Lulu as a new refugee at the House of 36 Paws. Photo credit MG/JP.

My duties as the Prince of the House are many. My most important function is napping in one of my many favorite spots, followed by making demands of my humans as only a cat of my ranking can do.  Keeping Bob, Hilda and Little Girl, the three big dogs, properly respectful of me requires more energy, resulting in additional napping. Little Girl and Hilda have learned to give me a wide berth; Bob, however, knows that he must greet me quickly then retreat before I give him the royal greeting, a stiff nose-biff.   In my spare time, I oversee tending of the olive trees and the garden, investigating the many fascinating sounds and odors outside.  The bees are having a go at the second batch of blooming lavender, among other things. The olive trees are loaded with blossoms this year and we hope nothing goes wrong before the fruit is set. A bad rainstorm would really impede the pollination.

Lucky investigating an olive tree! Photo credit MG/JP.

Although I am blind, my hearing is highly acute; the many sounds of the farm, including birds as they call and flit through the trees and lizards and small mammals as they rustle in the grass, paint a detailed acoustic image of my world.

Lucky, hard at work investigating the garden. Photo credit MG/JP.

My fellow correspondents take me on short excursions through the fence to land they tell me is owned by a neighboring human. My own people watch over me as best they can.  I am, however, very good at hiding from them. Not a day goes by when I don’t hear their plaintive cries of “Lucky, Lucky where are you?”  I have a very good life and I am indeed Lucky in both name and happy circumstance.

I would like to close my report by introducing readers to our friend and house musician Patrizia Capizzi.  She is a dear friend, talented musician and animal lover. Readers can find her at https://www.youtube.com/user/MyBlueBossa

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

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

Readers, please do take a moment to visit Patricia Capizzi’s site listed above.

For those readers who are new or catching up, the Salmon Brook Farms YouTube channel now has content, and our first Tiny Farm Concerts one song music video was posted at the end of March.  I am 14 years older and a good bit more grey since my first and only CD was released back in 2003, but still in the saddle.  It has been an interesting ride, with more to come!  I have received a request for a video of “Believe in Tomorrow” from the “Keepsake” CD, so that task will be in my work queue.   Having just come through Memorial Day weekend, I opted to post a video of “Remembered Goodbyes”, which is also on the original CD.  The CD version of this instrumental also features Jim Lamontagne on fretless bass.

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.   Depending on what country you live in, the music placed on YouTube by The Orchard may be blocked.  Readers can also access some songs from the CD via the old IUMA archive site.  See https://archive.org/details/iuma-lavinia_ross

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

http://home.earthlink.net/~redwine5
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

The month of May brought many storms, and many rainbows. This particular rainbow lasted a good 30 minutes.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for April 2017

Our feature photo for April is of a honeybee coming in for a landing on an airstrip of crabapple blossoms.

Our feature photo for April 2017. Click on any photo in this post to enlarge for detail. The bee is just to the left and above center.

Her baskets will soon be loaded with delicious, nutritious pollen, like her sister shown in the photos below.  The crabapple trees in the front gardens were alive with the sound of these industrious little sisters; the lighting and breezes were cooperative in capturing their beauty.  Nothing says spring quite like bees happily sipping nectar and gathering pollen on a soft, blue sky day marbled with cirrus clouds.  “Gather ye pollen while ye may” the sisters say, with acknowledgement to poet Robert Herrick, and to any other bees who may have expressed similar thoughts on such a fine day.
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/46546

The bee in the center has loaded pollen baskets.

Same bee, but I loved photographing her, as she was one of my more cooperative subjects. Here she is again in a side view.

News from the farm

The skies of April 7th were the theater for this year’s epic battle between Old Man Winter and Spring as Warrior Princess.  We were awakened around 5:45 AM by strong winds ringing the alarm in the chimes, a call to stations; by 7:30 AM we had lost power and phone service.  A double rainbow appearing in the west against a dark, heavy sky indicated more was coming our direction.

Double rainbow in the west as the storm approaches.

Many rounds of high winds and heavy rain were fired throughout the day, lifting the neighbor’s tarp-covered metal frame shed from two doors down and smashing it up against the fence next door.  Their chicken coop, still under construction, took a direct hit; I watched as the tar paper on the roof was ripped off and blew away.  Considerable damage from falling trees, loss of services and some loss of life occurred in this unusual storm for April in western Oregon. We were fortunate not to have sustained any damage here on the farm other than downed limbs; the greenhouses held to their anchors, although the contents were found dumped on the floor.  By the end of the day, Spring emerged victorious, as she always does, leaving a Rainbow of Peace in the eastern sky.

A rainbow in the east at day’s end. A storm of this magnitude is unusual for April in Oregon.

She was quite shaken, though, by this unexpected intrusion into her time and place, and has shown restraint in unleashing all the green growing things in her care, unlike the previous April.  Yet life is driven by the growing light levels as much as warmth, and will not be denied access to the world for long; leaf buds and blossoms have opened, leaving the farm soft, green and full of color.

Sun-dappled vinca blooming along the north border.

The cherry tree garden in bloom. This grand old Black Tartarian cherry tree produces a soft, dark and very sweet, flavorful cherry.

Ladybugs are out and about on the farm. This one has found a pleasant sunning spot on a lemon balm leaf.

Chive blossoms preparing to open.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Correspondent Nano volunteered to cover the April report, and has provided an interesting ghostly selfie of him watching over the farm.   Not much escapes Correspondent Nano’s sharp eyes!

Correspondent Nano, hard at work keeping an eye and an ear tuned on the farm and all its residents.

This April, he sent the resident photographer on assignment to investigate particular areas of interest and bring back photographic proof for his report.

Without further ado, we present Mr. Nano, Resident Feline Correspondent of Salmon Brook Farms.

The days have been steadily growing longer and brighter as the season progresses.  Sunrise and sunsets have been been particularly colorful, although the photographer must be available and prepared to catch them in the rapidly changing light that occurs at the beginning and end of the day.

Sunrise on April 2, 2017

Pruning of the vineyards was completed in March, and bud break has finally occurred. These tender buds are now at the mercy of spring frosts, especially multiple spring frosts which can kill secondary bud development.

Bud break in the table grapes.

Although more typical of weather patterns over a decade ago, the unusually cool, wet spring has not only delayed the time of fruit tree blossoming in comparison with recent years, but also appears to have extended the bloom time of daffodils.  The scent of so many different blossoms can be intoxicating on days when it is sufficiently warm enough to open the windows.

The ancient lilac on the northern border.

Daffodil “Thalia”, I think. There are also “Mt. Hood”daffodils planted in that space.

I have since forgotten which variety this one is, but it is a particularly long bloomer.

The fig tree, started several years ago from a cutting provided by our friend Lyn, has grown tall, and finally had to be planted outside. It appears to have survived the winter in its sunny, sheltered location, and has produced new growth.

The fig tree lives to see spring outdoors!

As April comes to a close, we wish our readers a pleasant month ahead, good food and the warmth of family and friends.

– Mr. Nano, Resident Feline Correspondent reporting from Salmon Brook Farms

Thank you Mr. Nano!

Correspondent Nano, off-duty and relaxing as only a cat can.

Postcards and Letters

We received a beautiful postcard from our blogger friend Doug and his cats Andy and Dougy over “Weggieboy’s blog – surviving retirement with two cats”.  Doug is an inspiration; I admire his fortitude and cheerful wit in the face of adversity. He has a disease called  Wegener’s granulomatosis – now called GPA– that attacks the small and medium-sized blood vessels in the body, hence the “Weggieboy” part of the name of his blog. His Persian cat brothers Andy (named after the patron saint of Scotland, St. Andrew) and Dougy (named after Doug himself; Douglas is about as Scottish as you can get) provide plenty of material for a daily blog about life with his two feline companions, my two favorite Persian brothers.  Readers can visit Doug and cats Andy and Dougy at https://phainopepla95.com

Willow enjoying the card from Doug!

“Turn it over and let me read it!” she says.

A wonderful postcard!

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

For those readers who may have missed our post last month, The Salmon Brook Farms YouTube channel now has content, and our first Tiny Farm Concerts one song music video was posted at the end of March.  I am 14 years older and a good bit more grey since my first and only CD was released back in 2003, but still in the saddle.  It has been an interesting ride, with more to come!  I have received a request for a video of “Believe in Tomorrow” from the “Keepsake” CD, so that task will be in my work queue.  April has been busy month on many fronts, and I expect to be catching up on this project in May.

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.   Depending on what country you live in, the music placed on YouTube by The Orchard may be blocked.  Readers can also access some songs from the CD via the old IUMA archive site.  See https://archive.org/details/iuma-lavinia_ross

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

http://home.earthlink.net/~redwine5
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

Sunrise over Salmon Brook Farms on April 22. There is only one Earth upon which we all go about our separate lives. Treat her kindly.

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Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for February 2017

We indulged in a short trip this month to visit family.  Our February feature photo of Mount Hood was taken through the airplane window as our plane approached Portland International Airport.  Mount Hood, an active stratovolcano, is the highest peak in Oregon at 11,249 feet, and the 4th highest peak in the Cascade Range.  The honor of highest peak in the Cascades goes to Mount Rainier up in Washington at 14,410 feet.  Mount Hood last erupted in 1865, and has been quiescent since then, for which we are grateful.  For more information on Mount Hood, please visit the U.S. Geological Survey and Wikipedia links below.

https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/mount_hood/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Hood

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Mount Hood as seen from our plane on the way back in to Portland International Airport. As with any photo on this blog site, click to enlarge. You won’t find any gremlins on the wing, I promise you!

The Multnomah tribe knew this mountain by the name Wy’east.  Please visit the links below for more information on the history of the Multnomah people.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multnomah_people
https://www.pdx.edu/magazine/news/chasing-the-multnomah-myth

A Special Thank You

I would like to take a moment to thank the many wonderful people I have come to know through this blog since it began in 2013. They come from many different countries and walks of life, each with his or her own unique view of the world.  As in the non-electronic world, some people will touch your life more closely than others.  Nia Sunset, feline photographer and author of several blogs including “A Cup of Tea With This Crazy Nia”, “Photography Of Nia” and “IsTAnbuLY”, takes readers inside her Turkish homeland and introduces them to her history, culture and the many things of great beauty to be found there.  Many of those items are hand-made by Nia herself, and I was the grateful recipient of some of her handiwork recently, which I will share with readers in the photo below.  Those of you who craft, knit, crochet or weave will appreciate her talent.  Thank you, Nia, for being a part of our world!

News from the farm

Old Man Winter has still been lurking about on our little farm in the Cascade foothills.  Although he and his companions Wind and Storm have not dealt us truly bad weather this season, his continual presence has grown wearisome to all who reside here.  The days have steadily grown longer since solstice, triggering daffodil, iris and crocus to awaken and send forth shoots and buds from the dark, cold earth below.  The cheery faces of dandelion and ox-eye daisy can be found keeping a low but watchful profile amid the green grass, while the new leaves of lemon balm hug the soil in the garden beds.  I, too, am feeling restless now, still enjoying the dark slumber of the season, yet anxious for the return of Spring with all her colorful, frantic activity.  Winter will eventually give way to her, grudgingly, as he always does, and he will find his own way down the road to the southern hemisphere.

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Snow irises emerging through clumps of low profile lemon balm.

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Same irises after sleet and snow on February 27th.

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Patiently waiting for spring and bud break. Rick has finished pruning the table grapes pictured here, and has moved on to working in the pinot noir vineyard.

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A bashful ox-eye daisy in February.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Our Resident Feline Correspondent this month is our own Mr. Lucio, who would like readers to know about his superior grooming services before he gives his report on the photographers excursions about the farm.  His associate, correspondent Marcus, was willing to provide a demonstration.  Mr. Lucio will be 12 years old this summer, and his sharp-eyed observations out the window and continual commentary have been invaluable to our understanding of what goes on here at the farm.  Without further ado, we present Mr. Lucio, Resident Feline Correspondent of Salmon Brook Farms.

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Grooming commences with the chin.

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Includes the ears.

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And the face.

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Not quite done yet.

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All clean and sparkling! A satisfied customer.

And now, his report for February.

Days are still relatively short at this time of year, even though the increase in light is quite noticeable as the calendar moves forward.  It is the wet season, with mostly cloudy to overcast days and grey, misty pall, contributing to the feeling of winter’s dark cocoon in which we slumber through our days as much as possible.  Pruning of the vines, which commenced in December, is still underway at a leisurely pace; it has been completed in the table grapes, and has now moved on to the pinot noir vineyard.  Old vines wait patiently for bud break, having been pared down to two canes from the previous year.  From the many buds along these two canes, new shoots will grow, giving rise to leafy canopy, flowers and finally fruit, if spring frosts do not cause too much damage.

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An ancient Cascade table grape, waiting for spring. These vines were planted by the previous owner’s parents.

The birds have come through the worst of the winter, and have started preparations for spring themselves.

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The photographer stalked this plump male American robin (Turdus migratorius), and finally got within range. The bird cast an annoyed look down below before taking off for more private surroundings. As with any of these photos, click to enlarge.

Cold tolerant flowers can be found in more protected places, while lichens and mushrooms cling to their supports.

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Primroses in the front garden bed, snuggled up against a small log for protection.

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This grouping of what I believe are turkey tail mushrooms (Trametes versicolor) on the east side of an old hazelnut tree seem stained a bit green with what looks like algae.

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Interesting fungal growth on the trunk of a hazelnut tree where a limb has ripped off in past years.

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A patch of crocus planted out in the hazelnut grove many years ago. They have miraculously escaped the attention of the gophers, and have come back every year, purple gems among the grass in the wild area of the farm.

Life is everywhere engaged in its various cycles, living, breathing, returning to earth, even as the winter darkness still reigns in our part of the world.

As the our new day unfolds, we wish our readers a pleasant last day of February, good food and the warmth of family and friends.

– Mr. Lucio, Resident Feline Correspondent reporting from Salmon Brook Farms

Thank you Mr. Lucio!

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page

GuildJumbo

Three views of the Guild 12-string guitar, one of several guitars I used on my CD, “Keepsake”. The back and sides are flamed maple.

The new year is already flying by!  I am still working on projects which are long overdue.  Until I can post some of that work, 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.   Depending on what country you live in, the music placed on YouTube by The Orchard may be blocked.  Readers can also access some songs from the CD via the old IUMA archive site.  See https://archive.org/details/iuma-lavinia_ross

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

http://home.earthlink.net/~redwine5
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

sbf-sunrise-02142017

Early morning on the farm on Valentine’s Day. The colors change quickly! Wishing all of you pleasant days ahead. Be kind to one another. We are all neighbors on this one Earth.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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Rosebush leaves sporting miniature icicles.

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

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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.

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The only place you will see this sign!

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Bears inside the diner appropriately dressed for Christmas.

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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.

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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. https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/mount_shasta/

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A closer view of the mountain.

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Mount Shasta as seen from the City of Mount Shasta.

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

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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.

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

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

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

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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.

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Olive farm at the House of 36 Paws, Sicily.

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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.

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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!

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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)

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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

http://home.earthlink.net/~redwine5
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

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

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for November 2016

Our feature photo this month is a of a cluster of wild blackberries that bloomed late and were attempting to ripen in the latter part of November. Any cane fruit found at this time of year has little to no flavor, and little to no hope of fully ripening.  They did provide a colorful centerpiece amid the ambient tans and browns of autumn in this photo.

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The apple tunnel a week earlier in November.

The apple tunnel, that magical gateway to the wild area of the farm, still has some very tasty apples hanging from it, although a few less now since this photo was taken on November 22nd.  Formed by an old feral apple tree that fell over but did not die, this old tree is one of my favorite denizens of the back lot.

News from the farm

Another day retreats into the shadows on our little farm in the Cascade foothills.  The high pressure sodium and mercury vapor lights on the barns and utility poles of neighboring farms are already glowing softly in shades of orange and greenish-yellow, colored stars on the hillsides as the light fades, and the still air of early evening has taken on a pronounced chill.  After days of rain, mists and damp, the sun’s warmth and soft, low-angled light prevailed today.  Only a few cirrus clouds are present to witness daylight’s end.  In the southwest sky, a single, bright star appears on the celestial canvas of Maxfield Parrish colors.  I stand in awe of the Universe, and in unity with all its creations.

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Sunrise on November 26th. Sunrise and sunset, the bookends of the day, are my favorite times.

 

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A different sunset I was more successful capturing on camera. The sun appeared briefly though an opening in the clouds long enough to generate a rainbow in the east in the next photo. My favorite black locust tree, the same one seen on our “About ” page, adds a lacy dimension on the backdrop of multi-layered storm clouds.

 

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The fleeting rainbow in the east at sunset.

For those readers interested in following up on our winemaking experiments from last month, I cautiously ventured into the refrigerator where the stock pot of nascent wine had been cold stabilizing and sedimenting.  I ladled a sample into a glass, and was quite surprised to find that although light-bodied, as expected from late in the season Cascade table grapes, the wine actually had some character to it, a fruity nose reminiscent of golden apple and was perfectly healthy!  Being a resourceful and thrifty soul without standard winemaking equipment, I ladled the remaining liquid into jars and returned them to the refrigerator to finish sedimenting.  The brown goo left in the bottom of the stock pot consists of sedimented grape solids (grape lees) and sedimented dead yeast (yeast lees), which was promptly composted.  Rick was served a glass after dinner tonight, for proper evaluation purposes.  Our test wine, at roughly 10% alcohol fermented dry, was against all odds dubbed a successful “Cascade Kabinett”.

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October’s Cascade table grapes were used for winemaking experiments. Quail, Inc and other avian as well as hymenopteran friends happily ate our pinot noir, which was not netted.

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The clearest wine is in the half-gallon jars on the right. They will continue to sediment in the refrigerator until ready to rack off again. Jar #1 is headed for immediate consumption.

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Grape and yeast sediment headed for the compost pile.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

The Three Sisters filed a report last month, and left this month’s report to our other correspondents Miss Abby (Eleanor of Aquitaine), Mr. Lucio, Mr. Marcus, Miss Hope, Mr. Nano and Willow, Calico Matriarch.  Unfortunately, all our remaining correspondents listed above were found sleeping on the job, with nothing new to contribute this month.

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Correspondent Abby, who prefers the title Eleanor of Aquitaine, catching a nap. She said it must be Mr. Lucio’s turn to file a report.

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Correspondent Lucio, who says he thought Mr. Marcus was filing this month.

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Correspondent Marcus, blissfully asleep. Now who would want to disturb him? We turned to Miss Hope.

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Correspondent Hope looking warily at the camera. Surely I must be mistaken? Ask Mr. Nano. He may have seen something out the window worth reporting.

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Correspondent Nano, looking groggily at the camera. Would prefer to go back to sleep. Ask Willow, Calico Matriarch. She’s always watching the neighbors.

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Correspondent Willow, not even bothering to look at the camera. Call Otis!

Fortunately our Northeast Regional Correspondent had a report ready and waiting, so without further delay, we present Otis, Northeast Regional Feline Correspondent, and his report on late autumn in Connecticut.

The dreariness of November has settled upon us here in Connecticut. It is a transition month along with March where Mother Nature is caught between trying to decide if she should bestow upon us rain or snow, sun or clouds, warm temperatures or cold ones. It is a fickle month and one that I am not too fond of! December is closing in quickly and will hopefully be more consistent weather-wise, although last year it reached over 60 degrees on Christmas Day!

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A November snow in Connecticut. Photo credit C. M.

I spend much of my time now settled happily in my basket by the woodstove or snuggled into the sheepskin throw on the window seat.

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Mr. Otis, Northeast Regional Feline Correspondent. Photo credit C. M.

On days where the temperatures are mild I will leave my creature comforts and venture outside to the “man cave” to watch golf with my master or up to the barn to lurk between the hay bales for rodent activity, of which, sadly, there is little due to the “Reign of Izzy”.

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Mr. Otis in his loft. Nothing escapes his attention! Photo credit C.M.

The ponies now look like woolly mammoths with their winter coats. They are arctic animals, so they love it when temperatures drop! They frolic and play, leaping in the air and rearing up, spinning and galloping through the pastures. They are bug-free and the heat of summer is long gone and so they are the happiest in these cooler months! I make sure to stay clear of their flying hooves, so I never enter their playground!

The vegetable garden has been put to bed with the picking of the last of the kale and the trimming back of the blackberry canes. The flower gardens are awaiting frozen ground before their perennials can be cut back and mulched. All the fragile houseplants have been brought inside to the sun room where they will spend the cold months basking in the weak winter sun. Speaking of sun, I am now looking forward to the Winter Solstice. It is my favorite winter event since I know the days will become longer and longer once we are past December 21st. Come February I will relocate my naps to the sun room couch and happily soak in the sun’s warmth there. I am definitely a solar kitty!!

My master has yet to put the snow blower on the tractor. I think he is afraid that if he does we will not have any snow this winter. I wish he would just put it on! No matter whether it snows or not, humans and animals all agree that the best place is by the woodstove. Sadie and Rosie always insist on front row seats

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Sadie and Rosie enjoying some heat from the woodstove. Photo credit C.M.

and Izzy stretches herself out on her back to capture as much heat from the stove as possible.

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The lovely Izzy! Photo credit C. M.

Even my master will stretch out in front of the stove with us making it quite a challenge for my mistress to get by without stepping on body parts!

Well, I hear my master making the fire now, so I think I will curl up in my fireside basket and warm my old bones. Stay warm all and may your winter months be peaceful and restful.  All my best to each and every one of you.

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Mr. Otis, wishing all readers a pleasant evening. Photo credit C. M.

– Otis, Northeast Regional Feline Correspondent.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

We have come through our surgery that was scheduled for this month, and I look forward to December to focus on moving forward with my projects.  It has been a difficult year health-wise, but I can say things are looking up now.

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Album cover photo credit Sharon Mayock.

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Photo credit Mike and Liz Santone of Meadowlake Studios and McMinnville Community Media TV.

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Photo credit Rick Ross.

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.

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I believe these might be Turkey Tail mushrooms I found growing amid moss on a hazelnut limb. Beauty is everywhere, from the shaggy carpets of mosses and lichens to the vast blackness of the heavens above. It is there for those who seek it with an open heart and open mind.

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

http://home.earthlink.net/~redwine5
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for October 2016

Our feature photo this month is a colorful autumn view through the south row of table grapes.  The grass in the background has turned a lovely emerald green, as it always does at this time of year when the rains begin again.  Although we do not experience the vibrant colors of New England here except for where ornamentals and other non-native species are planted, our grapes, blueberries and hawthorns provide some red and orange hues to the predominantly green, yellow and browns of the season.

News from the farm

The days have grown noticeably shorter on our little farm in the Cascade foothills.  As Autumn wearily trudges on towards Winter, her traveling companion Wind has grown restless.  Sometimes playful, sometimes angry, but always on the move now, driving the herds of wandering dark clouds before her, leaving a cold, fragmented sky in their wake.  She shakes tree, shrub and vine, demanding them to release spent leaves and overripe fruit.  Come January, she will call like a Banshee in the night, and I will wake and listen for a while, the sound of her wailing striking some momentary primordial feeling of dread.  Her siblings Storm and Mist visit much more frequently.  Mist is a shadowy figure, stealthily creeping in at times when the afternoon sun is warm and the air is still.  The breath of the mountains slides down into the bowl in which this farm sits, and I feel the cold dampness on my neck.  I turn to face this amorphous stark white entity, who soon envelopes me and all my surroundings.  I find myself ingested.  At night, her fingers curl and probe under the lights, attempting to find a way into the warmth beyond the door which shuts her out.  Waiting for me to leave the safety of the house, she knows I will eventually have to come outside for various reasons.  She will meet me on her own terms in this dark time of year.

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October sunrise in progress over Salmon Brook Farms.

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These intrepid little dandelions still bloom at this time of year.

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A nasturtium plant snuggled up against the garage provides color as well.

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The persimmon tree lost many leaves during the last storm.

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Falling rain at sunset, Nature’s fine filigree of black locust tree against the sky.

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And a rainbow to the east at sunset. Storm leaves a present for those who take time to observe.

Rick was busy rolling up netting today where all the grapes have been harvested.  We had a good year in the vineyards except for where quail and other birds robbed us clean in sections that were not netted.

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Rick, busy collecting netting this morning. Those are pruning shears at his side, for those who might be wondering.

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We still have table grapes!

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And a fine patch of kale, liking the cooler wet weather.

Earlier this month I had Rick collect four trays of Cascade table grapes for me to experiment with, as out Pinot Noir vineyard had been stripped clean by Quail, Inc.  Sorted and crushed by hand, I decided they might at least make a good vinegar, as I had done back in 2014 when the vineyard was also stripped clean.   Feeling adventurous, I decided to add a packet of Red Star Epernay II yeast that had been in the back of the refrigerator since last fall.  I wasn’t sure if the yeast would still function, so I decided to find out!  The stock pot was happily bubbling away within a couple of days, and the juice fermented dry to about 10% alcohol, based on the starting sugar content measured in the initial grape must (freshly pressed juice) and post fermentation juice.  Cascade grapes on their own don’t make great wine, but they are sometimes used for blending.  The “wine” is sitting sur lie in the refrigerator, before I rack it off and decide what to do with this experiment.

For more information see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lees_(fermentation)

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4 trays of Cascade grapes ready for crushing!

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First load in the “press”.

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A makeshift press. Any good colander will do!

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Grape pomace – skins, stems and seeds ready for composting.

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Grape must, or juice ready for fermenting. The wild yeasts present 2 years ago were not sufficient to go the distance, and so we had great pinot noir vinegar that year when acetobacter took over.

And then there are those unpleasant events that occur.  We woke to find a large buck had expired out in the back yard.  The ODFW was called, and they indicated there was nothing to be done unless the animal had died of gunshot wounds, in which case they notify the State Police.  Rick and I rolled the buck over and could not find any signs of bullet wounds, so we dragged the poor fellow out of the way.  A shallow pit was dug, and I covered him with dirt and sod as best I could.  He will return to the earth from whence he came.

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John Doe, a handsome buck, expired out back from unknown causes. Not what one wants to find in their yard. Most likely cause according to ODFW was internal injuries from and encounter with other males during the rutting season. It is possible he was hit by a car, showed no external damage, and managed to wander back this far before falling.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Miss Wynken of The Three Sisters wanted to file a report this month for the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms, as she had plenty to say.

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Miss Wynken files her report.

Miss Wynken would like readers to know she is well again, having stopped eating on us.   She was treated for a possible urinary tract infection, but we suspect the real culprit or at least an additional problem was her catching a front claw in something and ripping it out.  She received antibiotics, special food and lots of TLC.  The nail is growing back in nicely, she is eating and playing with toys again.

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The lovely Wynken, all recovered.

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Miss Nod, also known as “Sister Bertrille” or “The Flying Nod”. She is the most talkative and most adventurous of the Three Sisters.

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Miss Blynken, the Quiet Intellectual. Studies people.

Miss Wynken would also like readers to know old Willow, the Calico Matriarch is doing well, and is still enjoying her window seat.  She is up there in age, although we are not sure exactly how old she is.

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Miss Willow, Calico Matriarch. She is somewhere in the vicinity of 20 years old, we think. Only she knows for sure.

Music News (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

I am looking forward to the dark time of winter as a time of creativity, and getting fully back on my feet.  Stay tuned!  A few more tests and some surgery to get out of the way now.

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Photo credit Mike and Liz Santone of Meadowlake Studios and McMinnville Community Media TV.

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Album photo credit Sharon Mayock

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Photo credit Rick Ross

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.

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One of the last roses of autumn to survive all the recent rain. A sweet reminder of summer, and a promise of good things to come.

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

http://home.earthlink.net/~redwine5
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for September 2016

Our feature photo this month is of one of our red roses from the garden in front of the house.  Sunlight coming in at low angle caught the backside of swirling red petals, detailing the ruffled skirt of this cheerful, flamboyant blossom.  Depending on the weather, we may have blooms into late October or early November, a final farewell to this year’s growing season.

News from the farm

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The Apple Tunnel, formed when a very old and very tall apple tree fell over long ago, but did not die. The tunnel entrance is facing west in this photo looking back toward vineyards and house. On this side of the tunnel is the wild area of the farm, including an acre of hazelnuts.

Autumn has settled in on our little farm in the Cascade foothills.  Her arrival, unlike that of her maiden sister Spring, comes without the fanfare of golden trumpets and bright colors bursting forth from winter rain-damp soil and emerald green fields to meet her.  No, Autumn is a slow, stealthy traveler, preferring to keep her own counsel as she stalks the farm.  She is first seen out of the corner of one’s eye, cloaked in dessicated shades of yellow and brown, in the dry grass underfoot and stark white cirrus clouds overhead, foreshadowing much-needed rain.  The land and all its rooted and mobile inhabitants begin a slow shift towards the inevitable as they become aware of her growing presence.  Garden, orchard and vineyard race to ripen the fruits of their summer-long labor, and wildlife wait to feast on whatever they can before what all creatures know as the Hard Time sets in.  Jack Frost will not be far behind now, his icy brush painting the way for Old Man Winter.  It is the time of transition.

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Strands of cirrus clouds marbled the sky today.

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A sunset photo from last week. The depth and color of the clouds is beautiful to behold.

Plums have been dried and put away for the winter, and we are canning as many tomatoes as we have time for, since there are so many! The table grapes have done exceptionally well this year, and are providing us with copious fresh fruit. Since grapes can tolerate a light frost, we leave them on the vine until we are ready to pick.

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Ripe Cascade table grapes, fortunately protected by netting.

Our pinot noir which was not bird-netted was completely stripped clean by quail.  I had postponed harvesting the pinot since there was a lot of uneven ripening this year.  This proved to be a mistake.  The quail, not seen all summer long, launched a stealth attack on the vineyard, where there were many grapes hanging from the vines only a few days before.  Caught red-footed among the vines, they ran quite a ways before they achieved lift-off.  No wine this year, but I will make some vinegar from the Cascade table grapes of which there are plenty, and are covered with netting.

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I see a lot of applesauce in our future.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

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Abby “Eleanor of Aquitaine”. Holding court in her personal bookcase.

Our feline correspondent this month is our own Miss Abby, who would prefer to be known as Eleanor of Aquitaine.  Miss Abby would like readers to know she will be 15 years old next April, but has not let age slow her down!  Well, not much anyway.  She is sleeping in later these days, and enjoying that.  As one of the dominant female cats of the household, she feels it is her duty to keep the younger cats in line, especially Mr. Lucio whom she feels is always out of line, even when he is doing nothing.  They have established a truce during the nighttime hours so that all may sleep, mostly.

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Lucio, Alpha male, 11 years old. Has learned, mostly, that Abby is one of the Alpha females and commands respect.

Music News (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

The end of all the medical testing this year is in sight, and I made a good bit of progress.  After what I hope will only be minor surgery later this fall, I should be back in the saddle.  I have put the studio back together again, and barring any unforeseen problems, will have something going soon, including some videos. I am looking forward to the dark time of winter as a time of creativity.

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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.

keepsake1

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

http://home.earthlink.net/~redwine5
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

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The white rose of remembrance in our garden. Planted in memory of my own mother, and shown here for all who are remembering someone today. May you find peace.

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