Our First House Sit in Oregon –
We were so happy to be in a new State and such a terrific house with truly fantastic creatures; one dog and three cats. Our host departed mid-day after we visited a while with her brothers and next-door neighbor – characters all and such fun!
On our drive up through Oregon, we had noticed many city names had new spellings for us, and we weren’t sure how to pronounce them. Jim remarked that, for instance, Willamette (the river, the valley) is pronounced with the hard emphasis on the second syllable, not the first and third as most might think.
That got us to wondering, and while speaking with our host, we learned many other funny pronunciations for places in Oregon. So, if you ever come to Oregon, watch what you say, or rather, how you say it.
Our task after acclimating to our new surroundings was to empty the overflowing car! We all know what three days in a car can look like, what a mess. One thing we were euphoric to find – the food in the cooler was still ice-cold! There was a bunch of water to empty, but the food was cold – four hot days later!
A sweet, we mean sweet, big 10-year-old female lab mix. She had some previous health issues (tumors) and still had one large one on her belly. It did not seem to cause her any pain or slow her down. We realized right away that she was extremely well-trained and well-behaved.
When we picked up her leash, she would spin around and around whimpering with pure joy. The only other time that dance of excitement occurred was when her food was on its way.
She was trained to wait for the human to pass through the doorway first, as well as walking on the left of her human. She didn’t bark at anyone or anything, and didn’t ever pull the leash: she just walked and was so happy to do so. Old gal or not, she could still run Jim into the ground.
At meal time she would always dance her jig of joy when we brought her food dish over but would sit and wait for a signal before eating. Boy, did she love to eat and the noise from her metal food bowl clanging on the concrete patio while eating was loud.
When you handed her a treat, she looked at your hand and took the treat as gently as a dog possibly could. A true pleasure to be around.
More About the Dog
She loved affection and being brushed. If we started petting or grooming a cat, well, she was not going to be left out of that. She would nudge her way in every time.
Since it was summer, she often slept in her personal igloo or against the back fence hidden in tall bushes. When she wanted to come inside, she would look longingly through the window, and Angela would open the door, there was nothing else to do.
She had a particular place designated as her spot when inside and only sometimes strayed from it. Why? To sneak the cat food or visit their litter box. That was the only behavior she had that needed correcting, but we had to be gentle with the correction since she clearly did not want to be in trouble.
She showed us her strong, obstinate side only twice: both times in our bedroom when she did not want to leave. She would not be moved! On the fourth of July, we knew to keep her inside with us. It was light until 10:00, so the fireworks didn’t start until our bedtime. She was pretty nervous even with us, but we all finally fell asleep.
Oh, truly a loving, good-natured dog, we really can’t express how much we both loved her.
The Smallest Cat
A female Ragdoll, the shyest of the bunch and strikingly beautiful. Well, the only shy one. It did take her a couple of days to warm up to us. She loved affection but didn’t continually seek it out like the other two. To thank us for petting her, she would lick our hand ever so gently. She was just as her owner had described, “Doesn’t ask for anything.”
She spent a lot of time up in the cat tree watching the shenanigans of the other two cats. Agreeable, laid back and sensitive, she seldom came to sleep with us, but we think part of that was because she didn’t want to associate with the other two cats.
While she spent time in the backyard lying in the sun, the cat tree and her owner’s bed were her two favorite spots.
The Largest Cat
A very friendly and huge 20-pound male Ragdoll also lived here. As his owner informed us, he was a bit needy. He was quirky and affectionate but in a demanding sort of way. He needed the attention and would let you know. The owner also warned us that when he got stressed, he chewed on his paw. He did do that for the first few days but quickly stopped.
For this guy, there was never enough petting or grooming. When the brush came out, he went crazy. He would rub and rub against the brush and wanted us to brush the sides of his face over and over; it was hysterical. No matter what we did, it was never enough.
At afternoon snack time, he would try to eat the food meant for the other two, and we had to stand guard: “Easy big fella!” He loved to sleep on our bed during the day or outside on his back in a flowerbed. The couch was also a favorite spot.
The Funniest Cat
The third cat was also a male. Oh my goodness, what a character. He was extremely friendly and loved affection. He asked for the most but gave the most back (of the cats). We decided his name should be ‘Always on the wrong side of the door.”
He would want out first thing in the morning, and then ten minutes later he was at the front door meowing, “Let me back in.” This procedure repeated throughout the day, every day. The other two cats would go out in the backyard, but never went over the fence and around to the front door.
Every afternoon he would go into the kitchen and meow for his snack. If we caved early, he would just start again a couple of hours later. If we didn’t cave, he just kept making his point.
During his naps, he often slept on the big swing on the patio. Though he wanted to sleep with us at night, most of the time we put him out because we couldn’t sleep with three nocturnal creatures. It was difficult for Angela to do, such a wuss! Jim would take him out – “See you in the morning.”
While the animals were the most important and cherished aspect of this house sit, the yards were a close second. We arrived just as the raspberries were ripening on a six-foot stretch of fence – the raspberry wall! To say I love raspberries would be an understatement.
For the entire three weeks of our stay, my first deed each and every day (after feeding the dog – the cats free fed) was to go out and pick raspberries. It was great fun. We quickly realized, however, that there was no way to eat all those berries each day, so we began freezing them. That way we had homegrown berries for our daily shakes, yum!
Jim’s first task every day was watering the beautiful yard, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. It took a couple of hours and was enjoyable. Sometimes I grabbed the hose and stood and hand watered since it is such a peaceful, reflective task. There were also two lawns to mow each week; Jim couldn’t remember the last time he’d done that.
A Purple Field
Before our arrival, we had agreed that we would get out and see the sights (natural ones like waterfalls, forests, and mountains). On our way to this house, we had passed a lavender farm. I was only able to wait a week before I just had to go.
I didn’t have any plans for the lavender but had to stand in a purple field, breathe in the wonderful aroma and pick a bunch, just because. Who wouldn’t want to go there!
There were also many bees who felt the same way; they were not concerned with us, so that was good. The lavender was pretty pricey, but we still took home a basket full. Oh, the aroma, to die for.
The Plants on the Side of the Road
Since Jim brought his bicycle and the homeowner said we could borrow hers, we did do a couple of short bike rides in the neighborhood. I couldn’t get very far but gave it a shot a couple of times.
We finally found out what all those bushes/brambles were growing by the side of every road: blackberries!
They would be ripe when we returned to this house in August. Apparently, they grow wild and are considered a weed in Oregon! Are you kidding? A weed? A thousand miles’ south, people line up and wait for fresh blackberries and pay a pretty price for 17 berries in a little carton. Weeds indeed! We’ll show them and eat a hundred pounds ourselves.
Trucks in the Middle of the Road
You can live and die and get reborn twice over and never see a logging truck in Los Angeles.
In Oregon, you can hold your breath ‘til you see the next one: it’s big business here. Perhaps they have a few trees to spare, but for us, it’s a challenge seeing the clear-cuts and ever more truckloads of trees heading for the mills.
There are many farms and wineries surrounding Dallas. The trucks, if not carrying logs, were lugging hay bales. Hay is also big business here: harvesting went on all summer in every direction.
Lots of cattle and horses grazing in smaller herds on actual farms, not the giant feedlots we usually saw. We also saw hay stacked up high out in the fields in tight formation or in huge barns for winter feeding.
The New and Improved Nutribullet
One day while watching television I saw an ad for the Nutribullet Rx. I had heard about it before; the motor was even stronger than the one we had, and it could cook hot soup!
Well, I got on the phone and purchased it on the spot. However, the representative said it was back ordered, and it would be about two weeks until it shipped. We’ll just have to wait.
Well, I’m not the most patient person in the world. Jim says I’ve got two time zones: now, or never. I decided we should go to a store and buy it and then cancel the phone order. We found a store about 40 minutes away, bought one, and all was well in the world.
However, when I called the company back to cancel the order; they said, “Oh, it’s been shipped already, and your card was charged, there is nothing we can do.” Now we’re going to have two! Oh, brother. Back to the store we go: they took it back without any problem.
It was worth it; we love this thing so much, it does have an even more powerful motor: it can make hot soup and grind up dog bones! Our pal loves her shakes with bone meal. Okay, maybe it could, we didn’t try.
What’s Next – The last six months
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