Summer Rolls Along in Dallas

a magenta-colored gladiolus flower

Another Edition from Dallas!

Yes, we’re still here! It’s always time for a colorful photo of flowers, right! We do have plenty of other things to tell about from our time at this terrific house.

We seem to take pictures either around the house or out on day trips, never just around town running errands which mean we can’t share the ‘feel’ of the city with you. Maybe we’ll get some later further down the road. 

Black Labrador in a house looking at the camera

“Hello, it’s me. Do you have food? I love eating. Maybe just a little something – anything.” At least that’s what we thought she was saying with her eyes. Sometimes we caved and gave her half a carrot as a treat; boy did she enjoy them! She ate more carrots than we did. 

Labrador sleeping on a patio

She slept in the bedroom with us, with the door closed to prevent pilfering. Usually, she slept through the night, but sometimes, like Jim, she had to get up in the middle and go outside. Okay, Jim didn’t go outside, but he did start getting up at 4:30 on purpose! Why would anyone do that? I don’t understand it. 

giant Ragdoll cat resting inside on his side

A Bit More on the Cats

Here are some notes on the cats, so familiar to us (and our readers?) from last year. This guy loved being groomed, I mean he was insatiable.

I would brush and brush until my hand got tired, but he wasn’t done. I worried he’d start bleeding on the sides of his face from the brush; it was unreal. 

When I’d finally quit, he’d try and hold the brush on the carpet and rub his face against it. He didn’t want it anywhere else, just his face, so it was a bit of a battle since his face didn’t need grooming. He did that very well himself. 

close up of a beautiful Ragdoll cat's face

She also loved grooming but wasn’t nuts about it. Cat lovers will recognize this kind of moment: all the chores are done, nowhere particular to go, just waiting. Maybe a nap?

a cat lying out on a patio

The Chores

Being in a home for months at a time entails more than we normally do. When we were here last summer, we watered and mowed the lawn, did some weeding and that’s about it.

This time the chore list was longer with new things like trimming the Wisteria plant that seemed to grow a foot a week, giving the pets the monthly flea meds and some deep house cleaning. In the broad scope of life, it wasn’t that much. 

Jim mowed the neighbors’ yard as well. A funny thing – soon after the mower was cleaned up and back in the shed, delicious treats would show up on the front doorstep: homemade bread, jam, fresh garden vegetables and sometimes even cookies. That was a great arrangement.

lawn and trees in a front yard

Berries and Zucchini

I was getting this much fruit almost every day! Lucious and delicious, well, I found out I’m not so fond of Marionberries. Raspberries and blueberries yes! 

Some days I picked twice, it was incredible. It also meant I was setting baking sheets full of berries in the freezer every day. We had bags and bags of frozen berries.

Two baskets of raspberries and two of Marionberries

We had progress on the garden front, too. The zucchini plants were producing, were they ever. Gardeners know this: when the light is just right, you can almost see them growing. You sleep, they grow. You get up early, they’ve already grown an inch that morning. 

Three zucchini plants growing like crazy

I tried to pick them while they were still small. No one likes behemoth zucchinis, right! They taste like cardboard, and you can strain your back picking them up. I was glad I planted them away from the rest of the garden: since they tend to take over.

We didn’t know if the dog would try and eat the squash since she loves eating so much. Luckily she didn’t go after food when it was attached to a plant.

Garden Progress

The plants in the garden bed were doing great. Swiss Chard and lettuce were the first plants to provide a daily harvest. Soon after, the basil plants got involved. I collected lots of basil leaves and dried them for later.  

a garden bed going full tilt

Below are basil and sweet peas.a few basil plants in a garden

I also planted kohlrabi, and some of the seeds did take. Hopefully, a few will finish the growing process before we leave!

a small kohlrabi plant

The potato plants were getting huge and taking over the bed. Who knows if the potatoes are growing down there, but I was happy to see the plants thriving and producing flowers.

a large potato plant with a few flowers on top

It’s Time for a Break

Friends of Angela’s won’t be surprised at all to hear this next part. We began writing our little stories for the blog around Thanksgiving.

She wanted to have at least 100 posts ready to go before publishing anything. “In the bank – not half done; done! I don’t want deadlines chasing me around.”

She almost made it to 100 before sending out the first “issue” on her birthday in April. She had been working intensely for months and continued into the spring.

a woman writing with a lot of papers surrounding her

Here we were in early summer, and she was ready to let up. The blog and posts had taken over her life, also the table tops, the kitchen counters, sometimes the floor and certainly the computer hard drive. We had read warnings that this might happen. It did.

We put the writing away and went out for some day trips. First, let’s catch up on the house sitting side of things.  

a desk full of papers

New House-Sitting Assignments

We got quite a few new assignments to put on the calendar – six weeks in and around Sonoma and Sacramento and six weeks in Portland for return visits. We also got a couple of stays in Southern California during winter.

My goal was to stay south for the majority of the winter. However, there were not that many listings from that area. I guess a lot of people who live in Southern California don’t leave in the winter unless they have to. Why would they? Yes, that’s what it looks like when I’m planning!

many maps spread out on a table I kept some days open for us after this house-sit for some slower travel through Oregon and Northern California on our way to Sonoma. We wanted to visit the remaining Seven Wonders of Oregon: Smith Rock, the Painted Hills, and Crater Lake. We also thought we’d be able to squeeze in a couple of National Parks on the way.

Of course, the weather always affects our travel plans, and we’d have to play it by ear to a certain extent. It was fantastic to think that for this trip we’d be able to do something besides barrel down the highway towards another house sit: maybe even something way off the direct route.

a large Victorian house

Visiting Deepwood Estate 

It seems to be a rule: every city, town, burg, or village, size doesn’t matter, has to have at least one grand old Victorian mansion. It’s always downtown, built by a city father (always a father? Yes), long since gone, and passed down through the family and later sold to others, restored over time and now operated by a foundation and a squad of volunteers, and owned, at long last, by the city.

The other consideration is that no one can afford to live in and keep up these older houses. Or, if they can afford it, they usually prefer something more modern, on the outskirts of town instead of on a busy street or a couple of doors down from a car dealership. Tastes do change over time.   

a beautifully manicured garden

Someone has to step in and take care of these mansions, protect them from being cut up into apartments or perhaps the wrecking ball. At least that’s what we see. Of course, the great part is that these were some fine homes, built well, usually with terrific gardens all around: a glimpse of another era. We always enjoy visiting these homes.

In Salem, one such home is the Deepwood Estate. Here are some photos of the home and gardens. Salem is large enough to have several of these places. This is the only one we visited. 

an old plant with thick vines around a pole

It was nice to find a few spots in Salem we enjoyed as we realized at one point that neither of us had much of an affinity for the town. Sure we drove in to visit the health food store and for other supplies that were not available in our small town, so it served that purpose well. However, we didn’t feel like exploring much.

ducks by a lake

Riverfront Park in Salem

On another sunny summer day, we decided to visit this park near the river in Salem. We tried once before, and they wouldn’t let us in as it was closed for some event.

This time we had no trouble getting in and finding a parking space. We noticed several pathways, but we chose the one near the river.

life-sized statue of a man fishing

If not for the salmon we wonder if the Pacific Northwest would have attracted so many settlers. Of course, the Native tribes made much of the fishing available in the many rivers. This statue hints at the prime role of fishing in the area, back then, and even now. a river with greenery on both sides

The riverbanks were mostly inaccessible where we were. But we found many walkways further up the bank or in nearby parks. The Willamette runs slow and wide in this area. 

We found the Willamette Queen docked on the East side of the river inside Salem. If you’re going to bother having this big a river you may as well have an old paddle wheel boat too. You can book a spot on board for a day trip up or down the river: brunch or dinner package type of thing. Pleasant time if you can manage it. 

a large and old paddle boat on a river

Salem Capital Visit

State capitals tend to resemble one another, right? The dome, the symmetrical wings, the tall windows, and doors. Oregon’s capital is rather unique: the shape, the construction, the almost mausoleum appearance. The day we went it was all buttoned up tight: official business only.
The Oregon State Capital building

The capital sits in the middle of a huge complex of state buildings. Oh, and we don’t know how or when they did it, but they put the parking all below ground. That’s some rare foresight: keeping the cars out of sight and, letting people stay dry – no easy matter in these parts.   

Oregon State Capital

A Worrisome Call 

We’ve heard of something like this from stories other house sitters tell. But this was new for us. We got a call telling us our host had some potentially serious health issues while traveling.

Of course, the first concerns were about her, would she be able to get proper care in the wilds of Alaska, was she going to be okay, does she need anything, how’s her traveling companion? All that type of thing.


But then we looked at each other, and each of us thought “Shoot, what does that mean for us? Will she need to come home now and what are we going to do?” Well, we can always go camping.

Things moved along pretty quickly considering, (how was that helicopter ride?) and the matter was mostly resolved within a few days. Other than a travel delay to stay close to the doctors, and some discomfort, she was going to be okay. And we were going to stay put and finish our four months with the dog and kitties! That was a good for all involved. Sometimes things do work out well.

Willamette-University in Salem

What’s Next – The great clam chowder fiasco of 2016

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