Archive for October, 2013

At the End of the Oregon Trail

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Our 70′s house sits on 1/3 acre up on a mini mountain top above where the Tualatin runs into the Willamette River across from Oregon City, which is historically deemed “End of the Oregon Trail.” Now that we’ve finally purchased a house, I think it’s fitting for me to find a home here, at the end of a long trail of rentals, in that I was born in St. Louis, Missouri, where the Oregon Trail begins. And I have made that convoluted journey over my life to this place, as many others have.

There’s a site where the Oregon Trail passes just south of Boise, Idaho. Many hot summer nights I spent under the stars out in the desert on the trail with my dog and friends when I lived in Boise. In those times I became very interested in the history of the American Indian natives and the early land grabs of the spreading West. But I had no idea I would follow to the end of the Oregon Trail myself.

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were sent forth by President Thomas Jefferson in 1804 to explore and document the uncharted lands west of the Mississippi River which had been acquired by the United States from France via the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Louis and Clark and team started their infamous journey near St. Louis, Missouri, setting out in boats up the Missouri River.

They ended their journey West at the mouth of the Columbia River where it crashes into the Pacific Ocean, paddling past what would become, more than 140 years later, Portland, Oregon at the confluence of the Willamette River.

Along the way they documented extensive facts on the Northwest’s natural resources, including minerals, animal species and native plants. One such plant was a woody shrub with fragrant clusters of white flowers which the expedition found growing and gathered for a specimen as they passed through Idaho. The shrub was later given the Latin name Philadelphus Lewisii, but today it is more generally known as Lewis’ Mock Orange, or the Syringa, state flower of Idaho.

The expedition also met along the way and recorded 48 different tribes of native Americans, peoples who had already long been living in these “undiscovered areas,” who had their own history along with extensive knowledge of the geography, plants and animals of their regions.

Among these tribes listed are the Willamette River Clackamas and the Columbia Chinook who lived in an area which is now Clackamas County, which includes the great Mt. Hood, salmon rich tributaries and surrounding magestic forests.

Thus began a flow of pioneer emigrants West. The native cultures were to face the devastating impact.

Robert Moore left Missouri and traveled the Oregon trail in 1839 and would become the founder of the first pioneer settlement in the area which would become today’s West Linn, across the river from Oregon City. Long ago, this was where tribes of Clackamas Indians lived and fished at Willamette Falls. It is recorded that the natural bounty of the area, game animals, birds, fish and over 100 kinds of edible plants, was so rich that the Clackamas had plenty for themselves and for trading. But by 1857, the few who had not by then perished from the ravaging diseases introduced by the early seafarer explorers, traders, and settlers were displaced, rounded up by the US Government and marched to Grand Ronde Indian Reservation 70 miles away in the Coast Range.

Guess I’ll have to say West Linn is my town now, ’cause that’s where this 70′s house was built.

It’s a long way from Missouri to Oregon, over many roads with varying difficult routes. In my life, as I’ve traveled all over the West, leaving Missouri in 1959, I know my path has crisscrossed those of the Oregon Trail pioneers and wandering Indian food gatherers all along the way.

In the present, one of my favorite people, with the name of Syringa, now attends Lewis and Clark College in Portland. :)

Intriguingly, we found there were a couple of old Syringa bushes growing on the property of the 1950′s era Lake Oswego house we leased for 6 years. Not a common landscaping plant, but there they were. I clipped and pressed the blossoms.


Our 70′s House

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Now that we have finally purchased a house, we are faced with the unique remodel challenges inherent with this typical split entry two-story rectangle. This ubiquitous model is listed in the “History of American Architecture.” Widely popular and afforable in the 1970′s, it is not a favorite design today. GOOGLE “1970′s house” and find many web sites which address new owners disgruntled attitudes fueling all manner of passionate remodel projects.

Now I join the ranks.

This house has alot of potential. But design-wise, it is definitely THAT 70′s HOUSE. Small bedrooms all clustered together, small hallways, small closets, small closed-off kitchen with drop ceiling, big downstairs rumpus room with drafty fireplace! Arrgg! So, first, for me it was more about this property’s Location Location Location. Sweet.

This 70′s house sits on 1/3 acre near the end of the Oregon Trail at the Willamette River in Oregon City. Fitting, in that I was born in St. Louis, Missouri, where the Oregon Trail begins.

The street is named after the beautiful and peaceful Marylhurst University, founded in 1893, which sits at the bottom of the hill at the edge of the Willamette River south of Portland. Sometimes I can faintly hear the old clock tower bells serenely ringing out the hour.

I can also hear the whinny of a horse, the screech of a hawk, the whoot of an owl, the coo of mourning doves, and an occasional coyote howl. And at the top of this hill, our 50 foot tall doug firs heave in a high wind.

My Goat Milk Cravings

Friday, October 11th, 2013

I recently discovered the joys of drinking raw fresh goat’s milk from Fern’s Edge Goat Dairy in Lowell, Oregon. I purchased my first 1/2 gallon bottle in August, drank it lustily in a matter of hours, and have been craving goat milk in my life every day since. Luckily, the store which stocks it is doing well with keeping up with demand. I’m thinking, my body really needs this stuff!

I’ve been researching personal health and nutrition issues for four decades now regarding the potential benefits to my own best health and well-being of eating whole, fresh, raw, chemical-free foods. I do believe in the philosophy of food as medicine. And I do feel strongly that it is anyone’s personal responsibility to eat nutritious food to maintain health. I want to know whatever food it is I choose to buy, was it grown/raised, without the use of toxic chemical pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics or growth hormone additives? Was it raised/grown, packed and transported in sanitary conditions? Produced nearby or shipped and trucked in from far away?

Produce? Eggs? Milk? Cheese? Meat? Fruit? Nuts? Grain? Beer? Wine? Mead? Honey? Cider? Herbs? Mushrooms? Salt? Spices? Granulated sugars? As the buying customer, I want to know! And if I want a chemical-free world, I should step up and support it with my dollars. So I am willing to be discretionary, to search out and possibly pay a bit more for a quality crop grown by mindful producers. And I will own the risks of my choice.

You would think, “Well, duh!” But from state to state, and often at federal levels, heavy government regulations have ordered severe mandates, laws which block the cultivation or sale of many of these favored foods and farm products.

Do you know, in many states, it is not “legal” to sell the highest quality milk of any kind unless it is first pasteurized? In Oregon, the selling of raw cow milk is banned, but goat milk is OK, however, only if you get a license from the state, which regularly tests the product.

It is said that goat milk is almost the perfect food. Easily digested protein. Multi-minerals. Enzymes and more. All nurishing to the human body.

A milk of a different sort. As one example, almonds are said to be highly nutritious and tasty, and you can buy almond “milk” in cartons in almost any grocery store these days. I know that all commercial almonds grown in the US come from California. According to “California’s almond industry grows 100 percent of the domestic supply. Almonds are California’s top commodity and its number one export crop. The industry has seen dramatic growth in recent years, powered by strong demand from India and China.” I also know that the almond industry is one of the most heavily sprayed crops. See: Top 50 pesticides used on California Almonds.

So I shop for organic raw almonds. Small “No Spray” farms are few, but they are out there, mostly selling their products at farmers markets and roadside stands.

Since 2007, the Federal Government has mandated that all raw almonds grown in the US, Canada and Mexico must be pasteurized before export, supposedly to protect me from salmonella, which has reportedly infected small numbers of people who supposedly ate raw almonds.

So, direct to customer is the only way they are by law allowed to sell, unless they pasteurize even organically grown almonds.

One must wonder, when these simple foods have been undeniably consumed as a staple by humanity for centuries, why the fear-mongering?