1998 UPDATE FROM THE ROC
The Llenroc Newsletter – Latest news from the Caldwell ancestral estate in the beautiful Sequim-Dungeness Valley, Washington
The Poet’s Corner
What could better capture the state of mind of a retired guy in Sequim than: “The Old Settler” by Francis Henry, quoted in: The Living, by Annie Dillard, Harper Collins, New York, 1992 (sung to the tune of “Rosin the Beau”)
No longer the slave of ambition
I laugh at the world and its shams,
As I think of my happy condition
Surrounded by acres of clams.
Strangely enough, just living at Llenroc is recreation and relaxation enough for some of us. However, for those of you who are locationally challenged, we have tried some new trails. One in particular that deserves mention is a 7-mile hike that connects Deer Park with Obstruction Point. Both are places you can drive to easily from Llenroc. Two groups can park at opposite ends, meet in the middle for lunch on a ridge top, exchange keys, and continue their hikes to a car at the end. We owe this trip to Rita and Jill Spoelstra, our ostrich neighbors.
Bob fished a lot of salt water this year with relatively little success. We went out time after time for halibut and salmon with either no results, or potentials that were squelched when a seal stole the catch. In October, he fished the Deschutes in Oregon with Wally and old friends from Arkansas, Ralph Mashburn and Dick Babeu. They caught a lot of good trout plus Bob got a very nice 9 lb. steelhead.
Squid were limited, crabs were generally short (in size and number), but clamming was excellent.
Nelly had a go at herding this fall — we took her out with some dog trainers and some sheep, and after Nell chased the sheep near to exhaustion, the trainers said, “Well, at least she’s interested in sheep.” I don’t know if I’m willing to commit the time and money to see if there is anything to that potential, but in the interim, I’m going to work her on what they call Agility Trialing. Nelly loves to jump through hoops, over hurdles, up ramps, etc, and I think she’ll do well at it.
The trout grew beautifully this year. By summer’s end, many were over 18 inches long. We caught and ate a few, but left most of them to grow even bigger next year. Big mistake! One morning in mid-December, there were 3 dead ones floating. The next day there were 12 more, belly up! Over the next 2 weeks, we lost 30 more for a total of 45 dead and buried. These fish were unmarked beauties, 16 to 18-1/2 inches long! I ‘m not sure what the problem is, but it’s heartbreaking. I hope that there are still some fish hiding, but I’m scared that they’re all gone.
The best theory is that with the fall and colder temperatures, an excess of dying waterweed settled to the 8-foot depths of the pond where it started decomposing. This used up all the oxygen down there. As the fall continued, the fish began to go into a semi-hibernating state and similarly settled into the deeper water. This phenomenon didn’t occur the year before because it was a new pond, and didn’t have any waterweeds. To resolve this, come Spring, we’re going to stock some grass carp, a water weed-eating fish that can’t reproduce. They will, hopefully, solve the weed problem, and thereby the oxygen deficiency (if in fact that was the problem). In addition, we’re going to aerate by pumping from the deep and spraying over the surface. With some choreographed colored lights and a little music, we may have a new tourist attraction!
We’ve been promising some stone walls since the summer of 1995 and we finally got some. My mason extraordinaire, Pete (Chris Caldwell) Roberts, showed up the first of August, and we spent nearly a week and did up the 13 feet of wall on both sides of the front gate (78 sq. ft.). I absorbed all the technique I could, and built the second 16-foot section by myself. It isn’t quite as good as the work of the master, but it ain’t bad either. Rocwork is slow and tedious as well as rewarding, so I don’t promise completion of the remaining 60 percent before the Fall of 2000. (The “Fall of 2000” sounds ominous — does this make it the “Millennial Wall”?) We’re going to build some windows, seats and a fountain into some of the remaining sections. They’re going to be magnifico! Thanks, Pete!
Other Construction News
No, the front door has not yet been painted, the built-ins are not done, and there is still some baseboard trim to go up behind the refrigerator. For everything there is a season: a time to plant, a time to till, and a time to harvest. We just haven’t come to “front-door-painting” season yet!
We installed raised beds in the entire veggie garden and had a great garden year. Crops of mention include: russet potatoes, blue lake beans, tomatoes (as we write this on January 13, we are eating the last of them), salsify (vegetable oyster), beets, carrots, chard, leeks, lettuce, cilantro, green onions, and Walla Walla sweets. Dishonorable mention goes to: corn and peas (Spring was too cold and wet). I guess that’s gardening for you. One of the most vexing problems was being absent during September when much of our harvest came due. As we were leaving for the airport, I handed Mom the total of our first crop of pears — 6 extra large, blemish free, perfectly colored pears.
The Sequim contingent had a big travel year starting with Mom’s trip to Paris with Francie and Linsay in February. They brought back great photos and stories to share. In September, Elaine and Bob took a 21-day trip to Switzerland and Italy with a watercolor group from Portland. Half our time was spent in and around Thun, Switzerland, a small city with a medieval castle, steam ships on the lake, and a station that boasts 70 passenger trains daily to all parts of the country. Eurail passes made it a wonderful opportunity to really get to know the country and its charms. Most of the rest of the trip was spent in Lucca, an ancient Tuscan walled city in Italy. We couldn’t have had a better time. Stop by to see the photos and hear heartwarming anecdotes about our search for brodo del funghi.
We lead fairly busy schedules here — well, at least as busy as can be expected of two old retired persons. In addition to teaching creative writing to home schoolers, Elaine was elected to the Board of the Olympic Theater Arts Association. Not to be outdone, Bob got himself elected to the Board of the Dungeness Irrigation Company. As you can see, it “ain’t” very difficult to get elected here. However, we aren’t too busy to spend time with you. We issued a general call for visitors in last year’s newsletter, and didn’t get many responses. Next we are going to try a drawing – – First prize will be:
An all-expense paid week for two in the fabulous Pasture View Suite at glamorous Llenroc Farm in Sequim, Washington! Pastoral walks, Frisbee with the dog, gourmet foods, clam digging! Participate in the daily events of a working home! Remember, if you don’t come see us, you may win this drawing. Give us a call, send an E-mail, and check your tide tables, even the Farmer’s Almanac! Just come! We miss you.
Love from Bob, Elaine, and Nelly