A Waterfall in the Rough.

We drove a couple of hours yesterday to Palouse Falls, a place somewhat remote but still of interest. The Dearliest has wanted to see it ever since he learned about a hydroelectric power project that almost happened there but didn’t. I’ve wanted to see it ever since I heard the story of Tyler Bradt, who deliberately went over it in a kayak to set a record (and survived to tell about it).

10 minutes away from our destination I looked around at the plateaus and giant rock tables and tried to quantify in my mind how a 186′ waterfall could possibly hide in this wide, barren landscape.

Then I saw the canyon.

Then I heard the falls.

When I finally caught the sight, my question answered itself.

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The cliffs scared the Dearliest more than myself, mostly because it wasn’t until you got on top that you realized how much of the loose rock underneath you couldn’t see.

 

Needless to say, we were among the few visitors who stayed off the points and edges.

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We did some hiking and discovered the lesser falls a bit upstream.

The photo could also be captioned “Find the Brave Swimmers!”

We kept walking and discovered the world’s shortest telephone pole. The Dearliest became rather enamored with it, and there’s only one thing to do in such cases.

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At the end of the hike, we took brief refuge in a shady spot, and the Foglings actually paused long enough for a group shot.

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And, on the way back we stopped to take photos of a neat looking train bridge.

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We have plans to go back during late winter or early spring, because based on the photos I’ve seen, Palouse Falls will be even more spectacular!

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March of the Elderberries.

On Sunday we drove a little distance to engage in what has become a yearly tradition–picking elderberries. The shrubs are generally 20′ tall or more, and they like to grow over an embankment, so picking is often a bit of an adventure. Thanks to the Dearliest, we have an advantage in the form of an extendable tree trimmer, and especially when used from the bed of his F-350 (like we did 2 years ago), reach isn’t as much of an issue as it could be.

wp-1471985049689.jpgAnother advantage this year is three helpers! Arc did try, but most of his berries ended up in this mouth and not the bowl. Sadly, he ended up greatly regretting that later, although he hasn’t seemed to have learned the lesson because I’m still chasing him out of the few clusters that are left.

I have been processing the elderberries in batches, and I hope to have everything canned and cleaned by tomorrow. It seems elderberry syrup is really popular on the internet, but I prefer to make straight juice. Nothing added but water.

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ELDERBERRY JUICE

1) Fill a pot half full with elderberries that have been rinsed (lightly mashed or not, doesn’t seem to make much difference near as I can tell).

2) Add water to the berries to within an inch or two of the top of the pot. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes.

3) Turn off the heat and let it sit until cool enough to handle (don’t tell anyone, but I often just let it sit overnight if I do the first boiling in the evening when it’s not, you know, 100 degrees out).

4) Using a colander lined with cheesecloth or some other fine mesh, strain juice into a second pot. Wrap the berries in the cheesecloth and twist, squeeze, and squish the life out of them.

5) When you’ve gotten all the juice out that you can, discard what’s left of the berries. Bring the juice to a boil a second time (this is also the time to sterilize/ prepare your canning jars, lids, and rings). Keep juice at a simmer until ready to can.

6) Using a funnel and ladle, fill your hot jars with the hot juice, screw on the lids, and let them rest in a place free of drafts until cool. Label, store, enjoy!

* No, you do not need to use the water bath canning method. Because the juice is boiling hot, it self-seals. I have never had any trouble doing it this way!

* We like to use elderberry juice primarily as a flu deterent, but there are other benefits to it as well.

Swimming in cucumbers.

IMG_2656_resizeAnd other garden tales.

It’s hard to believe how quickly the garden grew over the summer. It seems like just yesterday the Dearliest spent several weekends breaking ground and preparing the garden for all the plants we started in the greenhouse.IMG_2937_resize

 

A few months later we had an established thing going, followed shortly thereafter by the initial harvest of snap peas, which was so prolific I only managed one picture in between pickings. It was kind of overwhelming, and I gave away bags and bags.

During this time a family of quail moved in (one parent is barely visible in the photo). They had 14 chicks, and they took regular refuge in the plants. The kids learned a lot about quail, their sounds, and their habits.

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Shortly after the Great Pea Fiasco, we entered the Age of the Cucumber, which we have been in for several weeks now. Once again, I gave away bags and bags.

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The average daily cucumber haul.

Some days ago the tomatoes and jalapenos decided to join the cucumbers in their efforts to take over the garden, but so far their numbers are relatively minimal.

 (As an aside, the Age of the Cucumber also marked the Rise of the Chicken, and they remind us of it daily.)

 Soon the artichokes and sunflowers will raise their own formidible army, and no doubt a fantastic battle will commence with watermelons and potatoes as the ammo of choice.

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Here’s to the first truly successful garden we’ve had in years!

 

Jumping back in.

It’s difficult for me sometimes to pick up where I left off, especially if I left off a while ago. Hence, I have wanted to write a blog post for nearly a week, but after several starts and deletes, I just gave up.

In such times, there’s only one thing to do: Let the pictures speak for themselves.

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Unless, of course, they can’t.

Humor has been important to me these last few weeks, and the Foglings never fail to deliver in copius quantities.

One day, LK was too busy to deal with a bloody nose, so he improvised.

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Another day, I hit my head on something while taking laundry down to the basement. There, hanging 5 feet in the air, I saw…

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…Pokado had been there and left a calling card.

The now-toddling Princess offered up her own humor by following the dog around commanding “Sit! Sit!” in an attempt to attach a pair of suspenders to his collar as a leash.

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And ever loyal Arc is ever ready to give me his signature smoulder.

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Then there’s the Dearliest’s efforts to humor me:

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I can’t tell you how much I love and hate this.

Until next time!