Thursday, August 30, 2007

Another Texas Epic

Okay y'all, I know it's been a lifetime since I've posted, but a TON of stuff's been happening, both on the farm, and at work. Actually, this posting finds me, once again, in Dallas, Texas, which I'm beginning to fondly call "my second Dallas residence." Once I get you caught up on the happenings of the last month, I'll put up another post about my time in the Big D. But for the meantime, a pictorial of late July and August, Dority Valley-style. Apologies in advance for layout issues, but I really don't have the time or inclination to fix the spacing...sorry.

At the end of July, I started ANOTHER landscaping project on the north side of the house, in prep for a little party I was planning. As you can see, there were some hostas, a juniper bush, snow on the mountain (my LEAST favorite plant in the world) and a little migrated canary grass. Not loverly, to say the least.

As part of this garden party plan, I purchased a gazebo. Nothing fancy or really expensive, but nothing really typical either. We don't have a very big patio, so entertaining in the lawn is as good as it gets at Dority Valley Dairy House #2. Fortunately, Smith&Hawken had an AWESOME summer sale going on after the 4th of July, so I scored some great stuff for really cheap, including the stainless steel ice bucket and tray set just inside the gazebo door, and the cute little glass oil lamps on the table. The ladder is for putting up lights, which I strung through the metal latticework of the gazebo ceiling.

An outside, farther away view of everything, with Ben the Beagle at center.

A picture from the night of the festivities - a celebration on the anniversaries of the births of Cousin Goober (28) and Bother #2 (16). Notice the red item on the chair? Yeah, that's Beezus, in her bed. If she doesn't have the bed to lay in, she'll try to sleep on anyone and everyone's lap. But wherever the bed is, there also is Bea.

A night or two later, we had company again. Here we have Father-In-Law, Niece #3, Mother-In-Law, and Nephew, all enjoying dining al fresco.

Grandma, with Sooper Trooper.

The beginning of the month of August marks a birthday for B's grandma, with this year marking 71. In celebration of the day, Grandma, Mother-In-Law, some of B's aunts, and I headed to Duluth. For the record, summer is about the only good time of the year to be along the banks of Superior. Unless you're skiing, in which case late February or early March is prime.

Grandma and Mom-In-Law at the Glensheen Mansion, one of the attractions we visited during our "day away."

The side of Glensheen that faces the lake (taken from the garden/lawn area). Glensheen is famous for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is the murders that occurred there in the late 1970s, involving the last remaining daughter of the original builders of the mansion. Though unproven in trial, the circumstantial evidence points to money-lust on the part of daughter's adopted daughter. Very suspect - and kind of creepy, especially considering that unless you ask, the tour guides say NOTHING about the murders, while leading you through the very rooms in which the bodies were found.

The formal perennial garden at Glensheen. The quadrangle was set for a wedding the afternoon we were there. They do an average of 3-5 weddings a week during the summer, plus a number of other events throughout the year. At the death of the last remaining daughter, the house was bequethed to the University of Minnesota, which now handles all tours, maintenance, event planning, and historical recordkeeping.

The other thing the grounds crew at Glensheen is responsible for is the farm garden, which originally fed the 8 members of the Congdon family. Today the produce goes to local food pantries. For more on Glensheen, go to the UM-Duluth webpage for the mansion at

For more on the stories of the murders, visit the wiki on Glensheen.

After our extended tour at the mansion, we headed for the shopping and entertainment district of Canal Park. Here's a cool pic of the canal walk and an excursion tugboat headed out to the lake. The bridge in the background is a lift bridge, so all traffic in the area stops when a ship tall enough to need clearance comes through.

After Duluth, it was time to start the planning process for the Threshing Bee. We had the bundles all made, dried, and gathered onto wagons by this time. The threshing is held Labor Day weekend, and is really a family effort. We expect around 200 people, and it keeps getting bigger every year, so this is the first year we've really sat down together and outlined the plan of attack. Here's the step-monster with Goober's baby, Little John, pre-meeting. LJ holds the title of the world's most even-tempered, easy-going baby. Doesn't he look it? :)

Threshing meeting was a Saturday, and the following Sunday was a little cloudy and rainy, so B and I went to lunch in a nearby town. On the way back home, I spotted these Sandhill Cranes, and we stopped to take a look and a picture. Farmers don't like Sandhills, because whole flocks of them can decimate fields, especially this late in the season. For that reason, numbers have plummeted over the past 50-70 years. With a renewed focus on conservation, numbers have been returning. We don't see as many in our part of the country as they do along the Platte River in Nebraska, where they resemble the huge flocks of flamingos one used to see in the opening credits of the Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom series back in the 70s and 80s.

While this busy-ness was happening, I was not getting anywhere on that landscaping project I started back at the end of July. In another form of procrastination, I entertained some of the Sister-In-Law's progeny...

Niece #3, begging for the camera. She LOVES to take pictures.

Niece #2 - what a ham. She LOVES to be in pictures. These two are a natural fit, in that way. Father-In-Law in the background

Finally, I had procrastinated enough. I finished the weeding, bought all the plants, and started arranging. The only thing I kept was the row of hostas, as they are well established and thrive in the corner where they get NO sunlight.

The layout on the southern side of the bed
The layout along the northern side of the bed. The plants along here actually face west, so they get a bit of afternoon sun, especially in high summer. So that makes it tricky to select plantings.

Self-portrait of a dirty, sweaty gardener. It was disgustingly humid the day I decided to do this. AWESOME choice...duh.

And just like every superhero needs to have a sidekick, so does every GG (gardening greenthumb) need a DD...

no, not designated driver...


Miss Beezus, cute as ever, and fitting the description to a T.

For those of you who read this at work - remember Sunday, Sept. 2nd at Noon is Threshing at the family farm on County RD P north of PF. If you feel like swinging by and need directions, give me a call. This weekend should be a busy one again, so I'll have lots of pictures to post next week. Until then, stay tuned!

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