A Place For The Future Past

Ahhhh…. warm weather at last
June 1, 2008, 6:07 pm
Filed under: Community On The Earth

At last, at last, warm weather has returned with some regularity. Not that the cold slowed us down any, mind you! It’s just that much more pleasant to be digging and hauling and raking and sawing and hammering etc etc etc in lovely warm weather. Of course, the coolness has kept the snowmelt at bay.

Monday will be six months since The Flood.

Let’s stop for a brief dose of local politics, shall we? The good is that the landscapes, roadsides, fields are slowly returning to normal. Many local hayfields have had to be scraped to remove the several inches of caked pottery that used to be toxic flood mud and asphalt and rock. Fences are being repaired everywhere, the remaining damaged homes repaired and rebuilt. I say remaining because the last eight homes of Leudinghaus and River Road that were condemned were torn down Saturday, rubble removed. Eight now empty lots that had homes filled with families six montths and one week ago and were sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner.

Some new homes are coming in. In the fields hay and vegetable gardens started, chicken coops returning, calves being born to the remaining cattle.

Now for the rest.

Apparently, (it was shared to us at a local town meeting) the state paid Weyerhauser $2 million to remove flood debris from the roads and streets. That’s PAID, not invoiced for the removal of. The locals were not happy to hear that. Also, it is remarkably quiet about the removal (prior to the flood) of a hillside of trees — the hillside that is directly above Hwy 6 on the west of Pe Ell (the one that was blocked for a month afterwards and the home next to it destroyed by the mudslide). Apparently that hillside does not belong to Weyerhauser but to the son of the local sawmill. And what about those four new lakes in the local hills? The ones that were created by “natural dams”, that Weyerhauser term for mudslides caused by current logging practices? So the cool, dry weather is welcome around here.

And, we will not be getting our bridges back for some time — an estimate of two years was given us. Apparently, there is some concern of what the receding waters will reveal in the coming summer. A-PAR-ent-ly there is a certain discrepancy with the report of how many animals went missing and what was recoved — alive or dead. Where are the rest? And what else is hiding under the waters of the Chehalis? So, some dredging is being proposed. Divers have been seen checking areas around the bridges.


Now back to the goings-on around Dryad’s Rest…

Emily has been wattling around the place, is is getting quite the transformation job. The blueberries have been completely enclosed, save for the top. The yard fence is getting a wattle treatment, as well as part of the inner yard. And I’ve been busy too — I made an arbor archway over the hole in the picket fence that stretched between thw pump house and the garage. All from salvaged lumber! Not a bad job — funny that the four finial toppers cost more than the whole dang thing — and paint– cost, at $5 apiece.

And the side of the garage that used to have a spiny, useless plant growing across it has had the plants removed and a platform (made from covered pallets) set alongside it. It WAS planned to be a simple patio but once the pallets got lined up and plywood laid it bacame — a stage! It really does command a perfect spot in the yard, with entrances on either side.

And the side yard to the east of the greenhouse had black plastic put down for several months to kill the grass, plans were made to remove the sod and install cement pavers. The only thing stalling that project was the cost of the cement — at nearly $3 a bag, we’d need at least thirty-five bags — and a new mixer. Yuck.

It was when I was out walking the trails, gathering large stones for firepits when I decided to instead use rocks. We certainly have plenty. And most are river rock, with at least one smooth side. Heh, I LOVE FREE!! Work progresses nicely, about one third rock laid, with a pretty trellis set up along the guywire between the apple tree and fence corner, and lights strung in the tree…

And the pool area got it’s drainage pipes covered, more playground sand laid and pretty shells set about. It is now a beach!  And a nice big pile of wood waits for the first bonfire. All we need now is to have the metal sides painted plus railings and stairs installed. Until then I have stretched the plastic cover over it all to keep the cats out.


So, there is no such thing as a day off here at Dryad’s Rest!





April, Then May…
May 7, 2008, 5:33 pm
Filed under: Community On The Earth

then May…

Where did April go? Mostly spent shivering as the weather was truly vile. We got one or two splendid warm days, just enough to tease us cruelly. Then it would turn and with a vengence.

Inside the greenhouse though, we are thriving. Lots of lettuce and spinach, and this seasons crop of beets is coming along great — we should be able to dine on borscht by June. Certainly we will be able to feature it for the summer event in July….

Ah the summer event! The local costuming guild I belong to has regular seasonal costumed events, and this year’s summer event will be hosted by Dryad’s Rest. The theme has yet to be ironed out but it will either be rococco shepardesses or castaway shipwreck victims. I figure I can make my orienteering game fit for either theme. And the hard work beautifying and creating sitting/visiting areas will pay off — we will need places for about 30 folks to lounge about in. And there will be overnight campers — maybe we could prepare the Village area to be a neighboring town ….. oh what fun!


After some delicious egg dishes (courtesy of the guineas and pheasants) most of them were butchered and put in the freezers for future delectable eating. I say MOST because we chose three males and females to release and hopefully repopulate the property. Unfortunately the guineas are entirely unsuitable for free range. They are too stupid to outwit the local raccoons and coyotes. So rather than lose the last to the wildlife, it was decided that the remainer of the flock be rounded up and eaten by us instead of the critters. The pheasants however, are much better at staying alive….

One especially striking male we have dubbed Hercules because he clearly is the most magnificent. And oh my he knows it! And he has been staying close — claiming Dryad’s Rest as his own personal domain. Some folks have peacocks roaming their grounds but no, we have pheasants.

March 30, 2008, 5:18 pm
Filed under: Community On The Earth

Finally, the Equinox has come, though temps are still quite cold. Still, warmer weather has been promised, so we remain hopeful. Brrr!

Many many improvements have been made — from simple (making a simple rainwater catch and drip system for the greenhouse) to more complex (a natural habitat for the pheasants and a BATHROOM for the yurt!). More garden beds have been carved out of the turf in the main garden area, including the patch that had served as the main compost bed since we moved in a year and a half ago. Two new compost beds have been started, when done cooking they will be new beds too.

Emily has been a wattling demon, creating the protective and supporting fences around various beds, and we have enclosed and beautified a small side yard, creating yet another charming gathering space. AND the garage has bit by bit been transformed from mostly storage into a workshop and future boutique and gift shop.

And the pheasants and guinea have been laying eggs!

Plus, I have listed Dryad’s Rest on a movie location site (free for now, I will upgrade to a fancier site once my photos have developed) for consideration as a possible place for shooting movies and videos. As well as a lovely place for a retreat or teaching workshops — anything from a writer’s seminar to bellydancer’s retreat…

Dryad’s Animals
March 18, 2008, 5:59 pm
Filed under: Community On The Earth | Tags: , ,

Donna will be uploading photos — Joanne will comment when she gets some of her Copious Spare Time.

Many Goats

Our Many Goats!


Our new goat.

Roberta and Dog

Roberta Gregory and Batai at the yurt.

Flood, Aftermath
December 27, 2007, 2:32 am
Filed under: Community On The Earth

Christmas has come and gone, and life on Leudinghaus Rd has been struggling to achieve a sense of normalcy. Many homes closest to the river carry the dreaded orange condemned placard and await demolishing and removal. Others have had drywall, insulation and cabinetry removed and are getting rebuilt. Slowly and from the inside out repairs continue — many homes are empty at night, the families living elsewhere while work is being done. Others have RVs parked outside, with portapotties on site as well as giant trash bins. The yards and pastures remain muddy, debris strewn and fence-less — the cattle roam from field to field — today Em and I watched as a HUGE black bull ambled leisurely across his familiar field towards his “herd”, unconcerned that there was no longer fencing to keep him close. Where would he go? All the gardens have been swept away.Here at Dryad’s Rest we are an oasis of calm and normal routine. The woods kept our own rain runoff from getting out of hand and returned to as they were before. The Chehalis River took away part of our driveway but the property itself was unaffected — mostly. On the front door is the only clue — Instead of a pine bough wreath is a printed placard warning folks to disinfect their shoes.

The local road crews have been hard at work — and now we have a replacement bridge in place, where the Meskill Hill (Leudinghaus Rd) bridge had been is now a new one-lane bridge — if possible even narrower than the one before. At last we don’t have to use the long twisty back road over Elk Creek — over a truly scary bridge. Badly damaged and temporarily shored up, it now has to endure far less traffic (whew). And now I can call the Chehalis Post Office to have my mail service restored — a step closer to normal life.

Heavy rains swell the rivers instantly though — signs that damage has been done to the local lowland topsoil, the heavy thick mud not allowing rain to penetrate instead collecting in slimy pools or running straight to the creeks and rivers and fields. Some folks have begun pushing the mud into large mounds, disposal will be an issue. But it is too soon to worry about the mud, first come the homes and making them livable again. Hopefully as spring approaches there will be the opportunity to deal with the ever present mud. Chicken coops remain empty as do many barns. Solstice has come, Spring is long time away.

I did have a rather interesting conversation with the neighborhood fire captain — someone in charge at the local disaster command center — about the nature and timeline of the flood. Approaching as something of a newcomer to the area (which I am) I had a copy of a detailed map in hand — the same one Em and I had been using to mark ways out via logging and back roads, now with a tracery of blue marking pen, marking the route of the Chehalis River. We are located near the middle of the west fork of the Chehalis.
I asked, I know what caused the great pile of wood debris that tore up the south (east) fork of the river — but what happened on our side? Lots of rain, lots of snowmelt was the easy answer.
Too Easy — I pointed out that the morning after the night of heavy rains we had lots of standing water and the feeder creeks were full to capacity but Leudinghaus Rd itself was high and dry. But at mid afternoon we had a surge of flood water that rose ten to fifteen feet — where had THAT come from? He explained that there had been a massive mudslide farther upriver — further than PeEll that formed a ‘natural’ dam in a narrow canyon — tons of earth and dirt clooging the bed of the river. After building for several hours it broke free, tearing out the hillside and moving tons of earth trres brush and muddy water. I asked, where had all that wood come from? From alongside the river was again the too quick reply.

I had heard this exact phrase used before, by loggers who felt the states insistance that several hundred feet of land on either side of creeks and rivers be left alone and unlogged was unreasonably restrictive. Whatever. I pointed out that during our drive across the shattered landscape that was Boistfort, we could see in the acres of wood were many logs that had been cut, not ripped. Also that during a visit to the FEMA office I had the chance to talk with other folks — and one lady had told me that a stockpile up near Stillman Creek had lost part of its collection to landslide.

Meanwhile, an old timer nearby had come up to listen and he confirmed that yes, there had been a stockpile up there. And the fireman we had been speaking with reluctantly assented. So I asked, is there more? Stockpiled wood up there? Yes, many yards full, that they were unable to access because of the washed out roads and unstable terrain (oh REALLY!).
The old timer brought up the next obvious point — that with another hard series of heavy rain, the same thing could happen again, many of the same conditions remained in place. And the fireman we had been speaking with again reluctantly assented.
Thank you, I said, you have answered my questions.
By now there was a small cluster of folks listening in on the conversation. I thanked the fireman and old timer and we went home.

Is it possible I am the only one asking these questions? Oh my, I hope not.

Flood, part 4
December 17, 2007, 11:25 pm
Filed under: Community On The Earth

08 Sunday and still no land line phone service. Really feeling awful from my cold I was happy not to be at the shop that day. Normally I am a healthy person with a sturdy immune system, but the week had taken its toll. No long trips this day, we ventured out in the frosty weather to the Dryad firestation (that was the local command center) and picked up firewood and cleaning supplies (the supplies had been donated by the Latter Day Saints Church with literature inside each bucket, to save our souls no doubt, bless their hearts). Negotiating the short but bumpy trip was complicated by the presense of large Guardsmen trucks, dumptrucks, road scrapers and other heavy equipment, massing to try and put the neighborhood back together, clear rubbish and level the torn up roads, to create an imprompto local dumpsite for fast growing mountains of ruined furniture and appliances and personal possessions. While at the Dryad firestation I had a chance to look over the wall of newspaper clippings and collection of photographs posted by neighbors and relief workers. Above the collage was written in colored pen, “Life is Good”.
We dropped off a couple of bottles of hydrogen peroxide and a few packages of face masks for the relief workers who needed a bleach alternative. Concerns were being voiced about the toxicity of the sewage laden mud that was everywhere. Not only had estimated 190 septic systems been compromised, supplies of gardening sheds had been sacked — pesticides, herbicides, gasoline and oil from cars and tractors, transmission fluid, radiator fluid — and now the decaying animals buried in the mud and still submerged to add to the mess. On the way home I noted in one of the higher pastures was an odd mix of animals — the usual horses and cows but also now some goats — and I was greatly relieved to recognize the same three goats Chance and I had helped herd back up during the rainstorm, happily munching in a clean dry borrowed pasture. I had been agonizing on the fate of those three — had we helped to round them up only to have sent them back to their soon-to-be submerged pens and a horrible death? Instead of that fate they were dry and happy — relatively speaking — and I was very relieved.
09 Monday — another day off. After feeding in the frosty morning, I settled into my computer chair to resume writing (this journal). Still no phone, I was storing up the days to post once I was able to get back online. Typing away, I glanced up to see Em running up to the house from the barn. Uh-oh, this can’t be good! I spun up out of my chair, grabbing a heavy coat and gloves as I went, meeting her at the door, she gasped–

“We have babies in the barn!”

Well, and where else would they be? So what? No, NEW BABIES!

OH!! Frakka had her babies, two little girls. In all the excitement and distraction, none of us had thought to keep a special eye on her even though we kinda knew she was getting close (she’s the goat who had the single boy — Wonka — who she immediately rejected and we bottle fed). This time she seemed far less stressed by the whole ordeal and apparently was willing to try the mama goat thing. THAT was welcome news — bringing two newborn babies into the house to bottle feed every few hours was not the kind of fun we were prepared to have — not at this particular time that is. So we rigged up burlap walls for the nursery pen to keep out the drafts, set it up with clean straw and a hanging heat lamp (temperature was dropping to below freezing these nights) and spent a few minutes helping the babies figure out what end of mama to focus on. Fortunately both they and Frakka were patient with each other and they all got it figured out. WHEW.

Still no door to door mail service, so I would have to head up to the Doty post office to pick up my mail — I pulled together the stack of envelopes with payments inside — even though things were upside down, the bills still had to be paid. As though nothing had happened.

Flood, Part 3
December 16, 2007, 4:02 am
Filed under: Community On The Earth

05 Thursday dawned cold, thankfully the power had been restored overnight. Since we ran out of daylight the day before (instead of returning to the shop as hoped) Em and I set out to finish supply shopping — this time livestock supply, in particular hay — I knew the flood had destroyed the local hay supply. We would be running out soon and I feared we might be forced to buy hay a bale one at a time in Chehalis — at a price of about $14 a bale (ruinious!) We also needed to drop a flood rescue kitten at the Lewis County Animal Shelter. Good news — since road crews had been working almost continuously, Hwy 6 was now open from the interstate to Pe Ell — with the exception of a landslide halfway through at Spooner Rd. So Em and I planned to try Ceres Hill Rd through Boisfort and Curtis Hill Rd, rejoining Hwy 6 on the other side of the landslide location.
As we manuevered down the treacherously steep gravel road (Ceres Hill) we could see the valley stretched out below us, and the sheer gigantic scope of the damage began to show itself. Though this was only a small portion of destruction, the damage was nearly as far as the eyes could see, a wide swath of mud edged with massive collections of wood and home debris. We crept down the hill and passed by a house that had been floated to its new location in the road, past the Boisfort dairy where tractors were busy pulling dead dairy cows out of the pens, stacking them in giant piles. Silently we drove past the Boisfort Fire Department — the trucks were being pulled out and worked on, muddy waterlines six feet high. A shed resting atop a sportscar, piles of muddy furniture and large appliances beginning to pile outside sodden homes — a sight to be repeated endlessly everywhere we could see. Muddy people gathered in shocked clusters as they began the cleanup.
Once we reached Chehalis we travelled to the animal shelter then to the feed store (the only one in the area that had not been damaged) then thanks to a tip from the shelter, we stopped at an emergency National Guard command post where we had heard free hay could be picked up. It seemed too good to be true, but when I flashed my driver’s license their faces furrowed with concern at the mention of Leudinghaus Rd, and we were loaded up with a weeks worth of the precious hay.
We retraced our path (except for the upsetting drive past the shattered dairy) choosing to travel home via the freshly scraped Hwy 6. The new back exit in and out had opened up by then and we were relieved the trip home was uneventful — both of us were wiped out from the two day forage for emergency supplies (and I was feeling a cold coming on). We stopped in at a community meeting where we gathered up stacks of informational handouts plus a well testing kit. We were being encouraged to get tetanus and hepatitus shots, told not to use our water until testing, told where to pick up bottled water, how deep to bury our animals (thankfully we had escaped that tragedy). Once home were both exhausted but satisfied — I felt safer in taking the truck the next day to work — the home was well stocked as well as set up with the generator should another outage occurred.
06 Friday was cold and wet, I allowed an extra half hour for the new commute and good news — the interstate had reopened, also the Spooner Rd slide cleared, so once I reached Hwy 6 at Doty (across the last standing bridge in the area — a scary-ass bridge how it survived I have no clue) it was more or less the normal trip to work. Once there I wanted to check messages and email — my first chance since I had been there almost a week ago. As I plowed into the long list of emails, I had to stop every so often to answer anxious posts from friends and family (my sister). By the time I got to the phone messages I was stopping every so often to collect myself as I would quite unexpectantly start bursting into tears. I couldn’t help it — I had been feeling completely insulated by the disaster and more than a little overwhelmed by everything we had witnessed. In telling over and over I began purging the layers of — something — and was feeling more than a little humbled by the outpouring of concern. Strangely too was a new feeling of guilt — we had not suffered like others were suffering. (That night too the nightmares began — the river would rage all over again in my sleep).
Once home again Em filled me in on the first official visit — an army corps fellow who was checking house to house, in case of folks unable to come to town for supplies. He was mightily impressed by the yurt (it looks very unassuming from the outside, inside it’s quite civilized and cozy). He looked over the water control project we had started and Em told him of our plans to install a winter running water powered system. He gave her several valuable tips on how to proceed and left, evidently satisfied at our condition. (it was kinda cute — he asked how we were shaping the whole plan and was shocked at the answer — with shovels and other hand tools. And this answer was coming from Em, a woman old enough to be his mom)
07 Saturday — one week later — another work day and my body was showing the strain as my cold was coming on in full force. After the initial weirdness of leaving our neighborhood laid waste and crossing into the normal world (where the realities of the disaster were already starting to fade in the conciousness of those who did not live there) it was comforting but bizarre to be at my shop surrounded by something that had not changed one bit, knowing that later I would be plunged anew into our community turned upside down.
I finally reached the bottom of my email messages — it took two days to go through them all, contacting concerned friends and replying to the relieved message sent by my sister and others who had been anxiously hoping we were spared. Those folk who had visited Dryad’s Rest knew we were probably safe — we are on a hill. But those who looked up my address on Mapquest or Googlemaps were frantic — the maps would show my address located on the street itself where the mailbox was located, not the actual property up the long driveway and above the trail. Which would have placed us right in the raging Chehalis at the crest of the flood.
Coming home I learned of our second offical visitor, Fireman Mac. A big, burly hunting good ol boy who also left satisfied that we were all in good shape — and very impressed by what we were doing at Dryad’s Rest. He took in the greenhouse, was VERY impressed with the very clean barn (GOATS? You have a barn for GOATS?) of course the yurt and loved the look of the woods and the cleaning of brambles — the hunter in him could not resist asking about the local deer population. Em told him how two bucks were felled (with permits, thank you) practically from the back porch. Yes he was impressed and maybe even a teeny bit envious.