Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Planting in Summer’s Heat

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015


Don’t let the summer heat keep you from adding plants to your garden. Here are tips to make it work.

A misconception about gardening is you never should plant during summer when it is hot. Conventional wisdom says planting is best done in spring and fall, when the weather is cooler.

But this only applies when transplanting or dividing, which is digging up and moving all or part of a plant that already is established.

It is nearly impossible to dig up an established plant without destroying some of the roots. If you try to move the plant during the summer heat, when the plant is top-heavy with growth, the shock can be fatal.

As daily temperatures rise, you still can fill the empty spaces in your garden with potted perennials, annuals and shrubs. Any shock from transplanting is essentially eliminated because you did not dig up the plant.

Below are some planting tips for reducing heat stress.

Find the Right Spot
One of the great things about planting in summer is most plants are in their full flush of growth. This allows you to better visualize the total effect because you can see a plant’s form and the color of its foliage or flowers.

The added dimensional aspect aids landscaping choices.

Yet there are more than a plant’s good looks and your personal preference to consider when placing your plant.

Anytime a plant goes into the ground, you should match the plant’s growth habits to the garden site.

This is true in any season but especially in summer, when temperatures are more extreme.

A plant that prefers part shade, but tolerates full sun, has a better chance of surviving in full sun if it is planted in spring rather than summer. This gives the roots enough time to establish themselves before the summer heat.

When planted in full sun on a hot summer day, the plant might wilt before it has a chance to situate its roots. To plant in summer, give the plant what it prefers: a partly shady location.

When planting in a sunny location, another way to protect the plant is to provide temporary shade for the first week or two using a light-colored umbrella, shade cloth or other structure that serves the purpose.

Planting Particulars
A little preparation goes a long way to determining whether a plant thrives or fails.

When you plant can be just as important as how you plant. For best results, always plant on a cloudy day or in the cooler temperatures of the early evening. This minimizes weather-related plant stress.

Cloudy days or cooler evening temperatures mean less transpiration loss from the plant’s leaves.

Basic planting steps apply, regardless of the season you plant:

Dig a hole a little deeper and about twice as wide as the plant’s root ball.

After digging the hole, fill it with water and let it drain before putting in the plant. This helps ensure an easier transition for the plant.

Gently work the root ball loose with your hands or a garden fork.
Put the plant into position and backfill with good soil mixed with a little compost.

Tamp the soil to stabilize the plant and remove any air pockets, then water thoroughly.

After the Fact
Immediately after planting, give your plants an advantage over the summer heat by applying a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch, such as compost, shredded leaves, cocoa bean hulls or bark dust. This helps conserve soil moisture and keep down weeds, which compete for water and nutrients, whether your soil is loamy, sandy or clay.

Water new plantings once or twice with a diluted solution of fish emulsion or liquid seaweed to help them settle quickly into their new environment.

During the first week or two, you might need to water daily or every other day, depending on the weather, soil type and the plant’s growing requirements. After that, it is important to keep the soil slightly moist until the plant becomes established in the garden. For most perennials and shrubs, that usually occurs after the first growing season.

The key is to water deeply and thoroughly to encourage a deeper root system.

It only takes a little extra attention and a few simple techniques to help new summer plantings thrive.

So go ahead and take advantage of summer plant sales and fill in those empty spaces in your yard. The result cannot be anything less than beautiful.

What to Plant
Just about anything growing in a container can be planted in summer, though some plants stand up to the summer heat better than others. Here are several tough contenders for summer planting.

Standout shrubs: Barberry, boxwood, bluebeard, chaste tree, clethra, cotoneaster, holly, honeysuckle, hydrangea, Japanese plum yew, juniper, rose, santolina and spiraea.

Persistent perennials: Japanese anemone, artemisia, aster, catmint, chrysanthemum, coreopsis, daylily, echinacea, geranium, goldenrod, helenium, liatris, ornamental grasses, phlox, plumbago, Russian sage, salvia, sedum, verbena, veronica and yarrow.

Late-color annuals: Celosia, chrysanthemums, coleus, cosmos, creeping zinnia, dusty miller, dwarf sunflowers, globe amaranth, impatiens, marigolds, nasturtiums, salvia, scaevola and zinnia.

Conquer and Divide
An easy way to find new plants for the empty spaces in your yard is to divide perennials that already exist in your garden.

September is a great time to dig in and divide plants such as asters, chrysanthemums, daylilies, iris, liatris, rudbeckias and ornamental grasses.

Divide and replant perennials with vigorous clumps, barren or dead centers, and those whose flowers have become smaller or less abundant.

The steps are basically the same, whether the plant grows from rhizomes, such as iris; has tuberous roots, such as daylilies; or are more fibrous, such as rudbeckia.

Dig up the plant on a cloudy day, keeping as much of the roots intact as possible. Remove any loose soil so you can see the crown and roots, then divide the plant into smaller clumps using a sharp spade or sturdy knife, discarding any dead centers to the compost pile.

Each division should have at least two to five vigorous shoots with ample roots attached. Cut back remaining foliage to half the plant’s height, then immediately replant the divided pieces into their new location.

Any extras can be planted in potting soil in large pots and later given as gifts to friends and family.

Knots for Anglers

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015
Knot failure is a constant concern for anglers. You never know when a knot might give out, so hedge your bet by selecting the right knot for the job. Avoid using a knot just because it’s the only one you know. Google “fishing knots” to see the variety of knots available and their uses. Photo by Jacom Stephens

Knot failure is a constant concern for anglers. You never know when a knot might give out, so hedge your bet by selecting the right knot for the job. Avoid using a knot just because it’s the only one you know. Google “fishing knots” to see the variety of knots available and their uses. Photo by Jacom Stephens

One essential—but often overlooked—fishing skill is knot tying. A good knot could be the difference between landing a whopper or seeing it slip away if the knot fails.

Needs change depending on the situation, which is why knowing how to tie more than one knot is important.

Two basic types of knots are used for most fishing: terminal knots and line-to-line knots. Subcategories of these include loop terminal knots and heavy-to-light-line knots.

Not all knots are created equal. Each has specific purposes and strengths—and weaknesses. Terminal knots are used for tying on a lure or a fly, while line-to-line knots are designed to splice two lines together.

Terminal knots come in a variety of configurations. Popular ones include the
five-turn double clinch, which has been around more than 50 years, and the modern-day six-turn San Diego jam. The San Diego jam is preferred for its extra cushion and greater strength than the double clinch. There are dozens more terminal knots.

There are just as many line-to-line knots. Favorites include the surgeon’s knot and J-knot. The drawback of these and other line-to-line knots is their inherent weakness. Monofilament line has a tendency to crack when the tight turns in this style of knot are compressed and come under pressure.

Learn more about all kinds of knots—and how to tie them—at the Animated Knots website, There is also a smart phone app for the site.

Outdoors 101: Four Tips to Avoid Blisters
It all starts with shoes that fit well. A rule of thumb is there should be a half inch between the end of your longest toe and the end of the shoe. But they should fit snug enough that your heel does not rub up and down as you walk. Break in new shoes with shorter, easier hikes before tackling a long one.

Make sure your socks fit well, too. Use socks with cushioning in the heel and ball of the foot. Avoid tube socks or those with seams along sensitive areas that may rub and create blisters. Also, avoid cotton. Instead, wear socks made of man-made fibers, especially the newer, moisture-wicking materials such as CoolMax and Isolfil.

Stay dry. Just as important as the socks you wear is the habit of changing them as needed. Always take along an extra pair when hiking. Change halfway through the hike or when you notice your socks getting soggy.

Hedge your bets with lubrication. A number of products are made specifically for this purpose, or you can dab on some petroleum jelly. Lubricate around your toes, heel and anywhere else there is friction or where you have had problems in the past.

Eyeball to Eyeball With Wildlife
Add impact to your wildlife photos by shooting from a low angle. Get down to your subject’s eye level or lower. It provides a different, more-dramatic perspective. This gives you—and those who view your photos—a view from your subject’s vantage point.

What Day is It?
July 3, Stay Out of the Sun Day
July 22, Hammock Day
July 27, Take Your Pants for a Walk Day

Show-and-Tell Time
Send us your favorite outdoor photo, tip or story. If selected for publication, we will send you $25 for one-time use. Email your submission to gro.etilarurnull@ofni.


24authMany of Curtis Condon’s fondest memories involve outdoor adventures with friends and family, whether fishing with old school buddies, backpacking in the mountains of the Northwest with his sons, or bird watching along the Gulf Coast with his wife. He feels fortunate to have the opportunity to write about the outdoors and other subjects for more than 30 years.

Keeping History Alive

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015
Two SCA members battle each other at a tournament.

Two SCA members battle each other at a tournament.

Jon and Dena Morford of Tacoma, Washington, own a trucking company called Two Crazy Vikings. The quirky name is a nod to what they do in their spare time: explore how Scandinavians and other European cultures lived hundreds of years ago.

The couple belongs to the Society for Creative Anachronism, an international, nonprofit organization with more than 30,000 members dedicated to researching, recreating and preserving the arts, sciences and skills of pre-17th century Europe.

“It’s important to know these things,” says Jon. “It’s more important for us to know history than to know how to play Xbox.”

Jon discovered the SCA 20 years ago while in a local gaming shop. He now spends 40 to 45 weekends a year immersed in its world.

The Morfords are the baron and baroness of their local SCA chapter, otherwise known as a barony.

Dressed in authentic garb from the period—attire most members fashion themselves—SCA members attend tournaments to display social structure, etiquette, weaponry and combat.

Jon says the fighting is often what piques people’s interest in the group, but it tends to be the camaraderie and kinship that make them longtime members.

Learn more about the Morford’s chapter at

Water-Thrifty Plants for Your Garden

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015
photo courtesy Michael Fitzsimmons

photo courtesy Michael Fitzsimmons

A colorful summer garden does not need a lot of water. Keep your garden looking lush with these water-wise plants and gardening tips.

Rain might be ample in winter, but once the summer heat descends, rain often is nowhere in sight when plants need water most.

When plants do not get the water they need, they dry up and die.
Water is so essential to a plant’s health that many people devote up to 70 percent of residential water use to home landscapes.

Keeping a garden irrigated can take a lot of work—and water. That is why a mix of water-thrifty plants and a few water-wise gardening tips is a great way to keep your garden thriving, without spending precious time and money on watering.

Sizing up Plants
A plant’s drought tolerance varies depending on your soil, climate and location. Plants suited to your personal growing conditions always give a better show with less care.

For example, hollyhocks do fine without any supplemental water when grown in areas that receive summer rain. However, in drier climates, these statuesque blooms are left with a powerful thirst without water.

Growing conditions also can vary within a single garden. Southern and western exposures tend to dry out more quickly than areas facing north or east.

Position plants in areas where they can survive the occasional drought. Grouping plants according to their water needs makes for more efficient watering.

Choose plants with a stronger tolerance to drought for southern and western exposure.
Artemisia, cotoneaster, echinacea, rudbeckia, sedum and salvia are good selections. A few shade-tolerant plants that can handle the occasional drought include hostas, bear’s breech (Acanthus spp.), hardy geraniums, heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica) and bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi).

Maximize Moisture
Healthy plants can get by on less water than plants that are stressed.
Timely weeding and feeding keep plants healthy. Adding organic mulch enhances the drought-tolerance of most plants.

Start by mixing a 3- to 6-inch layer of organic matter, such as compost, into the soil before you plant. This increases the water-retaining capacity of the soil and creates an environment that encourages roots to grow deeper, which makes it easier for plants to find and absorb moisture during times of drought.

Adding organic mulch—such as shredded leaves, herbicide-free grass clippings or aged sawdust— to the surface is a good idea. This will conserve water by preventing weeds—which steal water and nutrients—and keeping soil temperatures cooler and moisture levels more consistent, while reducing surface evaporation.

Water Wisely
No plant can survive without water. Even water-thrifty plants need consistent water the first year or two before they become established.

After that, the key is to water deeply and infrequently, which promotes a more extensive root system.

The best time to water is early morning or evening, when more water seeps into the soil and less is lost through evaporation.

The right type of irrigation system can do wonders to minimize moisture loss and excess runoff by distributing lower volumes of water over longer periods of time.

Drip irrigation is best for spot watering around perennials, shrubs and other permanent plantings. Low-volume sprayers or bubblers are ideal for trees and groundcovers. Weave soaker hoses through annual and perennial beds and borders.

Hand watering can be highly efficient.

Ten Drought-Busters
Below are 10 drought-resistant plant suggestions that are a great addition to an easy-care garden. Using less water to produce a downpour of color will give you more time to sit back and soak it all in.

Agastache. This is known as a hummingbird plant, licorice mint, Mexican hyssop or anise hyssop, depending on the species. The showy group of perennial herbs has summer to fall trumpet-shaped flowers that attract hummingbirds, sphinx moths and many butterfly species with nectar. Zones 5-11.

Artemisia. This textural group includes several species of perennials and evergreen shrubs noted for their aromatic and interesting silvery gray or white foliage. Common wormwood (A. absinthium), southernwood (A. abrotanum) and Powis Castle (A. “Powis Castle”) are especially carefree and attractive. Zones 4-11, depending on the species.

Germander. An evergreen shrubby perennial used as edging, a low-clipped hedge or small-scale groundcover. Whorls of nectar-rich, pink to purple flowers spike in summer rise on upright, woody-based stems that grow 1 to 2 feet tall. Zones 5-10.

Goldenrod. Nearly 100 perennial species of perennials grow 2 to 6 feet tall with branching clusters of elongated flower heads bearing tiny golden yellow blooms from midsummer into fall. These are tough plants that thrive in less-than-ideal soil. Zones 3-10.

Lady Banks’ Rose. An evergreen climber (deciduous where winters are cold) that grows to 20 feet or more. Small yellow or white flowers bloom in early to late spring. This tough contender is nearly thornless and nearly immune to pests and disease. Known to thrive and bloom without any supplemental water. Zones 7-10.

Lavender. Highly aromatic shrubs and subshrubs with fragrant spikes of lavender to purple flowers grow from 1 to 5 feet tall. Use in flower beds, the border or herb garden. Great as an informal hedge or edging. Zones 5-11.

Rudbeckia. Showy garden perennials known as coneflower or black-eyed Susan grow 3 to 7 feet tall, depending on the species. Daisylike flowers appear from late summer until frost. Zones 3-10.

Salvia. Extensive group of annuals, biennials and tender-to-hardy perennials grow 1 to 5 feet tall. Tubular flowers, with colors in shades from salmon to red, pink to dark purple, and pale lavender to blue, as well as yellow and white. Low-maintenance plants with high appeal. Zones 4-11, depending on the species.

Sedum. A diverse group of succulents in a range of shapes, sizes and colors, with spring to autumn flowers followed by late autumn to winter seed heads. Sedum “Autumn Joy” and other taller cultivars are especially showy whether mixed in beds and borders or in container plantings. Zones 4-11, depending on the species.

Yarrow. Daisy family member with about 100 species of clumping or mat-forming perennials grows 1 to 4 feet tall. Flattened clusters of tiny flowers in white and pastel shades, bright colors and warm tones from gold to bronze appear in summer and early fall, and puts on a show of color even in dry summers. Zones 3-10.

Making the Most of Melons

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015
watermelon grower Bob Walchli of Hermiston, Oregon, inspects his latest crop.

watermelon grower Bob Walchli of Hermiston, Oregon, inspects his latest crop.

Bob Walchli walks through his field in Hermiston, Oregon, searching for a ripe watermelon.

“You want them not too high pitched or dull sounding,” he says.

Bob taps his hand on the melons. After finding the desired tone, he checks to see if it is symmetrical. He looks at the spot where the watermelon sat on the ground, making sure it is a creamy yellow color.

Bob pulls a knife from his pocket, pierces the melon and spins it around the knife, cracking it open on his knee and revealing the deep pink fruit. He carves out the heart of the watermelon—the sweetest part—and hands it over, smiling.

It’s mid-July and, from the taste of this melon, it is time for the harvest.

The Hermiston Melon Co. has supplied watermelons to major retailers for years and is a prominent name throughout the Northwest when it comes to quality watermelons.

Bob’s family is deep-rooted in the Hermiston farming industry. His grandfather came from Switzerland in the 1920s and raised cows and chickens. Bob’s parents, Skip and Sherry Walchli, started Walchli Farms in 1957 and grew produce and hay. Bob and his brother, Tom, have continued the family’s farming tradition.

“That’s what we grew up with,” says Bob. “Our father put work ethic in our heads since we were little kids. He taught us to do a good job, work hard and be proud of what you do.”

Bob developed the Hermiston Melon Co. in 1986 as an offshoot of Walchli Farms to promote the farm’s melons. His watermelons can be found throughout the Pacific Northwest, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Nevada and Canada.

Bob’s wife, Rochelle, sells their watermelons and other produce at 10 farmers markets each week during the summer.

Although the area is most noted for its wheat and alfalfa production, watermelons have taken seed in Hermiston and added a rich identity to the Eastern Oregon city.

It is hard to miss the town’s welcome sign featuring a watermelon, the water tower along Highway 395 that has a slice of watermelon painted on its side or the “Hermiston you can grow here” logo.

“Watermelons bring tremendous value into the area,” says horticulturalist George Clough, who retired from the Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center but still works there as a volunteer.

The crop creates jobs, instills pride in the city and is a perfect fruit for the area’s growing conditions, George says.

“The soil manages the moisture really well,” he notes.

George says watermelons respire, or lose their sugar content, at night. Hermiston has high heat during the day, which increases the sugar content through photosynthesis, and is cool at night, which helps slow the respiration process so the fruit loses less sugar, making it an ideal place to grow watermelons.

But watermelons are more than a fruit in Hermiston. They put the town on the map.

A milepost sign at Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland points east to “Hermiston 186 mi.”

In the 1980s, during his 40-year service on the city council, former Hermiston Mayor Frank Harkenrider wanted to promote Hermiston to the western side of the state.

He contacted Portland Mayor Bud Clark and offered to deliver a truckload of Hermiston watermelons to Portland. That inspired a watermelon seed-spitting contest that was an annual event until 2007—when Hermiston was added to the milepost sign.

“It was a big deal in Portland,” says Frank. “The place was packed.”

Frank’s initiative to spread watermelons to the greater Oregon community was one of the ways Hermiston became a renowned producer of the crop. Today, the proof is in the numbers.

“Most of the growers are getting a minimum of 40 tons to the acre,” says George.

Four Hermiston-area commercial growers harvest more than 400 acres of watermelons, and private growers account for another 100 acres, George says.

Walchli Farms produces eight types of watermelons ranging from yellow to dark pink, seeded to seedless. It also grows honeydew, cantaloupe and 40 varieties of other fruits and vegetables, along with hay.

From mid-July to mid-October, Walchli Farms employs 75 to 80 people—fewer later in the season, when there are not as many melons.

“If we have to use more people it’s a good sign,” Bob says.

Bob tries to offer market niche melons. An example is the fascination watermelons he grows that are blackish on the outside and have higher sugar content.

“Nothing makes me happier than knowing someone opens up a Walchli watermelon and is happy with it,” says Bob.

Take Them or Leave Them

Friday, May 29th, 2015


What to do with pets when the travel bug bites

We love our pets. They are a constant source of joy, amusement and love. But sometimes they complicate our lives, such as when the travel bug bites. That is when we face the dilemma of whether to take them along or leave them behind.

Take Them Along
Dog whisperer and television personality Cesar Millan believes in taking pets along whenever possible.

“Bringing your dog on vacation with you just adds to the fun and alleviates the worry of not knowing what’s happening with your dog while you’re on the road,” says Cesar.

He advises people to do their homework when planning to travel with their dog. The same goes for other types of pets.

Start early to prepare your pet for the trip. If it is not used to traveling, take it for drives so it can get used to the experience. Keep the trips short to begin with, gradually increasing the length and frequency of the trips until the pet is able to ride for a few hours at a time.

Put together a travel bag with all of your pet’s needs. The bag should include food, water, bowls, leash, potty scoop, baggies, treats, grooming tools, a blanket and favorite toys. Also, bring along a pet first-aid kit and any medications it may need.

Ensure your pet can be identified if it becomes lost or separated from you. Consider having an identification microchip implanted. At a minimum, your pet should have a collar with ID tags that include your contact information.

Before hitting the road, synchronize your pet’s feeding schedule. Feed it at least three hours before leaving. Make it a light meal of your pet’s usual food rather than taking the risk of experimenting with new food.

Give your pet a good workout to burn off excess energy after eating. This will help to calm it down and reduce travel anxiety.

Most pets travel best in a crate or carrier. This also is the best way to keep them restrained and safe. The carrier should be well-ventilated and provide enough room to stand up, turn around, sit and lie down comfortably.

There also are many good harness systems on the market today. They are perfect for dogs and cats that do not ride well in a crate.

Make occasional potty, exercise and water stops. Also, keep in mind some pets are prone to car sickness and you may need to make an occasional emergency stop.

When traveling by means other than a car, there are additional things to consider. One of the most critical is to book early, since space for pets is limited on public transportation.

Know the rules and costs of traveling by plane, train or ship with a pet. For example, some carriers require a health certificate for a pet. Smaller animals may be allowed to stay with owners, as long as they remain in a crate, while larger animals will have to ride in the designated pet area.

If you and your pet are going to be apart, it is important to keep it calm during the lead up. One way to do that is to crate it before getting to baggage check. Toss a favorite blanket or toy in the crate, and avoid long goodbyes, which can increase anxiety in pets.

Leave Them Behind
Some pets are not good travelers, and where you travel may not be pet friendly. In that case, common sense dictates it would be better to go without your pet.

If that describes your circumstances, the best option is to have a friend or relative stay at your house while you are away. This will stress your pet the least, since it will be in familiar surroundings and its own bed.

“Any stress caused by your absence may be lessened by staying in a familiar place with a familiar person and keeping a familiar routine,” says Jolanta Benal, also known as The Dog Trainer and author of “Complete Guide to a Happy, Well-Behaved Pet.”

This also is ideal when you have more than one pet. Another advantage is the person is house sitting as well as pet sitting.

If the friend or relative cannot stay or does not feel comfortable at your house, an alternative is to leave your pet at their house. It is not as ideal, but you likely will find more people willing to agree to that arrangement.

Another option is to board your pet. Boarding facilities come in all sizes and price ranges. Some provide only the basics—care and feeding—while most also provide exercise time and interaction with other animals.

Boarding can be a good option for social animals. However, it is not so good for those that need personal space.

Pet spas may be an option for solitary souls, since spas tend to tailor care to the needs of individual animals. This is the most expensive option.

Whether you choose to take your pet or leave it behind when traveling, be sure the choice is based on what is right for you and your pet. One or both of you will not be happy if it is not.

A Whimsical Journey for the Pursuit of Nothing

Friday, May 29th, 2015
Scot Violette, aka Professor Algernon, with some of his stage assistants from last year’s shows. From left,  Melissa Richard, Julia Everson, the professor and Katheryn Gross. Katheryn, also known as  Fantasy Girl and Bookworm, is assisting him again this year.

Scot Violette, aka Professor Algernon, with some of his stage assistants from last year’s shows. From left, Melissa Richard, Julia Everson, the professor and Katheryn Gross. Katheryn, also known as Fantasy Girl and Bookworm, is assisting him again this year.

An Eastern Oregon entertainer merges steampunk and magic for his “World of Oddities and Wonders” show

The peculiar Professor Algernon lives in a time warp, a retro futuristic universe with gears and gadgets, cogs and goggles, and funky top hats. He shares his world—where “less is more and nothing is everything”—taking people on a magical journey through the weird and wild science fiction subculture known as steampunk.

Professor Algernon is the brainchild of entertainer and magician Scot Violette of Baker City, Oregon. While working on his stage character for a steampunk magic show, Scot says he fell in love with the idea of having a bumbling Victorian professor who never goes about anything in the proper manner, but always comes out victorious by sheer dumb luck.

Scot says the name Algernon was his wife’s idea.
“She took it from the book Flowers for Algernon, Algernon being the lab rat that was made smart, but lost its intelligence at a rapid rate,” Scot explains.

He describes his steampunk character as a crypto-archaeologist.

“The professor uses his time machine to travel the world looking for the mysterious and odd things that don’t exist,” says Scot. “Yes, indeed, he is looking for nothing and one day he will find it!”

Steampunk, derived from the pre-electric era when steam was the primary source of power, moved into the 21st century in the 1980s. It merges fashion and technology from the 19th century with futuristic ideas, inspired by Victorian sci-fi writers such as Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.

“When my hairdresser told me about steampunk more than six years ago, I discovered—as many steampunks do—I have always been a steampunk, but didn’t know what it was called,” says Scot. “I had been a magician for many years, but when I started thinking about incorporating the steampunk aesthetic into my show, I couldn’t stop the mind-flooding flow of ideas.”

According to Scot, the natural next step was to incorporate time travel into the show.

“Following H.G. Wells’ lead, and also being a huge Doctor Who fan, I found it easy to use time travel for the professor’s adventures,” he says.

Professor Algernon visited Abe Lincoln during a recent time travel adventure, where they discussed the proper top hat height. They concluded that the proper height is 5 inches, since it allows tall men to transverse a 7-foot door opening with ease and dignity. Anything taller would require them to “bend down in an awkward and unbecoming manner that is just not acceptable in proper society,” says Scot, in character as the professor.

Scot describes his show as comedy magic, honed to perfection over a lifetime of his own experiences.

He studied theater at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, and has performed in and directed hundreds of stage plays in theaters all around the world. He also has extensive education in anthropology, has studied the Victorian era and has worked several archaeological digs.

“All of this has allowed me to bring a realism to my steampunk show,” he says.

102Scot’s show has the feel of an old-time medicine show, filled with puns and jokes. Every adventure of the professor is a story told and illustrated with magic and illusion, as he demonstrates his own, unique inventions that help him in his pursuit for nothing.

“Toward the end of my show the audience slowly goes from laughing to groaning, which tells me I have done my job right,” Scot says. “The magic tricks themselves often seem to be going awry. The audience is always pleasantly surprised when what they expected turned out to be a totally different trick altogether.”

Scot saw his first magic show when he was in grade school and fell in love with it.

“I have owned magic kits throughout my life and have read every book on the subject,” he says. “I was mostly self-taught until I met and worked with the magician Andre Kole. Andre has been one of magic’s greatest inventors. He has developed tricks and consulted for David Copperfield. He developed one of Copperfield’s greatest illusions, the disappearance of the Statue of Liberty.”

Scot makes his own props and often builds tricks for other magicians. He works with a crew, including at least one “lovely assistant” and a sound and light technician. It takes about four hours to set up for a full stage magic show.

One of his most popular tricks is a magical standard where he cuts a rope into several pieces and puts it back together. He has an audience member do the cutting and he incorporates a great deal of comedy along the way. He uses real audience members—not people who were instructed and planted in the audience—during his shows.

Another popular routine is the “Razzmatazz,” where Professor Algernon tells the story of traveling into the future and studying the ancient ruins of Las Vegas. According to the professor, the ancient Las Vegans had many shamans that did wondrous things. He invites three audience members on stage and does four magic tricks simultaneously. He tears up an object and puts it back together, transports an object from one side of the room to the other, pulls a solid object through an audience member’s body and finds someone’s chosen playing card.

Scot’s shows spark the imagination and encourage people of all ages to explore and take journeys of all kinds, even ones that are make believe.

“I love to bring joy, laughter and amazement to my audiences,” says Scot. “The more the audience gets into the show, the more fun I have presenting it. The professor has become a wonderful tool for me to create new illusions with great stories of misadventure to go along with them.”
For more information and his current schedule, visit, or contact Scot at moc.liamgnull@1485wfw or (541) 403-4616.

Small Farm Becomes Big Cheese

Friday, May 29th, 2015
Pat and her daughter, Astraea, check on their goats, who provide milk for the Morfords’ award-winning cheeses.

Pat and her daughter, Astraea, check on their goats, who provide milk for the Morfords’ award-winning cheeses.

Mother and daughter earn international recognition for their cheese

Left to their own devices, mother-daughter cheesemakers Pat and Astraea Morford tend to always find a way. Granted, it may be a way that turns heads, but on a 12-acre farm in Logsden, Oregon, with 60 goats, 20 sheep and a smattering of chickens, that’s all part of the fun.

So a few months ago, when they decided to add cows to the mix, they folded down the seat in Astraea’s Toyota Prius and hit the road.

“We’d been thinking about doing mixed milk cheese with cow milk,” says Pat. “Astraea has a real fondness for cow milk cheese. We both do. We found three calves in Tillamook. I said, ‘It is going to be your Prius, not mine.’”

The calves were only about a month old and weighed about 75 pounds each, so the women put some tarps down and hauled them in the small car 80 miles to their home.

“It was really pretty hilarious,” says Pat. “I had one hanging his head over me the whole way home. They didn’t seem to be bothered at all. They just snuggled down in the shavings. I drove and Astraea was the copilot, keeping the cows out of the front seat. It actually worked really well.”

Laughing, she adds, “If a police officer had passed, well it would have looked like a case of insanity.”

But there’s nothing crazy about these two. Here on their Three Ring Farm, they are poised to become one of Oregon’s most vaunted farmstead creameries.

Recent recognition for their Rivers Edge Chevre includes two international prizes for best American cheese. In July 2013, their Humbug Mountain won “Best USA Cheese” at the International Cheese Awards in Nantwich, England—the world’s largest cheese competition—where the Morfords went up against 4,286 competitors from 27 countries. They followed that with a Super Supreme Gold award at the World Cheese Awards in Birmingham, England, for their “Up in Smoke” hand-formed chevre. It was judged against 60 competing cheeses by a panel of 15 judges from 13 countries.

Making cheese is a natural outcome of raising goats, something Pat has done since childhood. She made her first batch of cheese in 1972.

“If you have milk, you’re going to do something with it, and I had a lot of milk,” says Pat. “It was edible. It was rubbery, but it tasted good. We ate it. There wasn’t a whole lot of information out there for home cheesemakers then. In fact, there was none.”

But in the late 1990s that changed. Pat enrolled in numerous classes at Washington State University, where she learned from longtime cheesemakers. That was also when she began collecting cheesemaking equipment.

“There is a huge learning curve to making good cheese,” she says. “It’s basically science, chemistry, magic. It’s all of those. If it were a simple thing, there would be world-class cheeses everywhere.”

In 2005, when Astraea returned home after earning a bachelor’s degree in horticulture at Oregon State University, the pair founded Rivers Edge Chevre and began offering their cheeses commercially.

Today, their cheeses are sold in specialty shops in Oregon, California and back East. They even have an “honor refrigerator” on the front porch, where local customers can select cheese from the mini fridge—formerly used in Astraea’s dorm room—and leave money in the paprika tin next to it.

“We had a lot of requests from people wanting to come pick up cheese,” says Astraea. “We’re not always here. This makes it so people can come over and pick it up. It’s a pretty wide variety of people who come, really. It’s people we know, people who’ve heard about us, people who are just traveling through, so they come find us.”

Ten years after Astraea returned home from college, she admits she is surprised to find herself still back home on the farmstead.

“I came back after college so I could live at home and pay off student loans quickly,” Astraea says. “And then I just never left. It’s a lot of work, but it’s very rewarding—knowing that you are taking good care of the animals and seeing the outcome you have with that.

“If you don’t have good milk, which comes from healthy, happy animals, you are not going to have good cheese,” she says. “You could never take milk that is not good quality and make good cheese. They have to be well fed, have good bedding and a clean living environment. It all factors into having clean milk that makes good cheese.”

For more information about Rivers Edge Chevre, visit

Things to Remember When Hiking With Your Dog

Friday, May 29th, 2015

Dogs love to hike with their owners, even if it’s at the end of a leash. They enjoy taking in all of the new sights, sounds and scents. Dogs are required to be on a leash on most maintained trails and public areas. It is also proper etiquette to keep them calm when other hikers pass, and to not allow them to antagonize wildlife. Photo by iStockphoto/Sitikka

Dogs love to hike with their owners, even if it’s at the end of a leash. They enjoy taking in all of the new sights, sounds and scents. Dogs are required to be on a leash on most maintained trails and public areas. It is also proper etiquette to keep them calm when other hikers pass, and to not allow them to antagonize wildlife.
Photo by iStockphoto/Sitikka

Growing up, I always wanted a dog I could hike and explore the outdoors with. But our family dog, Smokey, was too ill-mannered to take along. He hated a leash, and he never saw a bird, squirrel or deer he didn’t want to chase.

For a well-behaved, manageable dog, venturing into the woods can be a wonderful experience for owner and dog to share. Here are eight things to help make that a safe, enjoyable reality for you and your dog.

  • Keep your dog under control, especially where people or wildlife abound. Voice commands may be sufficient for well-trained dogs, but for most dogs it is safer to keep them on a leash; on most public trails, it is required.
  • Learn from Old Yeller. Who didn’t cry at the end of the movie “Old Yeller” when he had to be put down because he had contracted rabies? Rabies is a real danger. Make sure your dog’s rabies and other vaccinations are current.
  • Pack plenty of water. Be sure to have enough for both you and your pet. Actual water requirements will vary depending on the type of activity, intensity, weather conditions, and the physical characteristics of you and your dog.
  • Don’t let your dog drink from lakes, streams or puddles. You never know what nasty waterborne parasites might be lurking in those water sources.
  • Ensure your dog is protected from other types of parasites and pests. The big three are ticks, fleas and heartworm.
  • Wildlife is another concern. There is not a single, fail-safe method for how to deal with wildlife in a surprise encounter—it depends upon the circumstances and the type of wildlife—but generally you want to stay calm, restrain and calm your dog, and slowly back out of the situation.
  • It is OK to have your dog pull its own weight, in terms of carrying its food and water. Young, healthy dogs can haul as much as 25 percent of their body weight.
  • Follow the “leave no trace” philosophy. Pick up after your pet, and dispose of the waste properly.

Hydration Calculator
What is the right amount of water to take on an outing? Hydration system leader CamelBak offers a free calculator to take out the guess work. Find it at

Outdoors 101: Four Easy Tips for Cooling It in the Heat
Don’t let the heat keep you indoors. No matter what outdoor activity, here are some tips to help beat the heat.

  • Adjust your expectations to match the temperature. You probably can’t hike as far or as fast in hot weather as you can when it is cooler. Instead, slow down and take more water breaks.
  • Get an early start. Mornings are the coolest part of the day.
  • Drink plenty of water—before, during and after an outing.
  • Finish with a splash. Plan a hike near a swimming hole, so you can wrap up the outing with a cool dip.

What Day is It?
June 6, National Trails Day
June 18, Go Fishing Day
June 24, Swim a Lap Day
June 25, National Catfish Day

Show-and-Tell Time
Send us your favorite outdoor photo, tip or story. If selected for publication, we will send you $25 for one-time use. Email your submission to gro.etilarurnull@ofni.


24authMany of Curtis Condon’s fondest memories involve outdoor adventures with friends and family, whether fishing with old school buddies, backpacking in the mountains of the Northwest with his sons or bird watching along the coast with his wife. He feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to write about the outdoors and other subjects for more than 30 years.

Travel on a Budget

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

With a little research, you can save money and still have fun

When I was growing up, my family did not have money for expensive vacations. But my parents loved to travel, so when we visited relatives we made the most of it along the way.

During long drives to visit my grandmother, we always stayed at a motor inn that boasted a rarity at the time: a large indoor pool.

After throwing our luggage in our room, we three kids tore across the lobby to the gleaming blue waters. We happily splashed about, feeling like the Rockefellers, while my parents perused their map for attractions ahead.

The motel was a splurge, so the next morning we ate oranges and mini travel cereals we brought from home. No bowl was needed. Cut away the perforated top of the little rectangular cereal box and pour in the milk, kept cold in the motel’s ice bucket.

For lunch, we would eat homemade turkey and butter sandwiches at a roadside picnic table and draw lemonade from a green cooler.

Once, on an all-night drive, my parents woke us from a sound sleep because the fog circling the mountains was so eerily beautiful. As we tumbled sleepily out of the car, our jaws dropped as we drank in the sight.

On these trips, I did not feel like we were sacrificing by not dining at restaurants, and I was glad my parents woke me up to see magic.

Most of all, I remember how relaxed my parents were on our affordable adventures. They did not stress about overspending because my parents stayed within their budget.

Their simple approach helped us all savor special moments.

Today, you have many more choices. Indoor pools are not uncommon, and many motels offer complimentary breakfast buffets. But people still have to watch travel costs, and still want to have fun.

Love it or not, the Internet is the best way to find and compare a broad range of travel deals.

Airline fares, lodging and package deals can cost less if you book them online. Many travel websites and service providers also offer a weekly email that caters to your specified interests and destinations.

Here are some tips on how to get the best deals.

With a database of more than 135,000 hotels in more than 60 countries, offers discounts and convenience in searching for a room and rate.

If you are willing to be flexible, you can get deep hotel discounts on and by agreeing to buy a room before you are told the hotel name. You can designate a hotel’s star ratings, neighborhood and some amenities before buying.

If you have a large family, sometimes it is cheaper to book a suite instead of two standard hotel rooms. Suite-hotel chains with kitchens offer deals on weekends when business travelers are scarce.

Consider renting a furnished condo or house at your destination through websites such as and You not only save on meals, but rates often compare favorably to motels and hotels. Quiz the owner beforehand, ask for pictures and check references.

Dining out three times a day can get expensive. Rely on portable breakfasts such as bagels, apples and baked goods. Consider packing lunch or buying sandwich fixings when you reach your destination. Keep the kids (and yourself) from getting grumpy by toting lightweight snacks such as nuts, cereal bars, apples and grapes.

This can save a fortune and make dinners out special.

Speaking of dinners, buy deeply discounted gift certificates at or order by phone at (888) 745-6991. The website lets you enter a ZIP code or town and state, then offers a list of restaurants with descriptions and menus. Routine deals are to pay $5 for a $10 gift certificate or $10 for a $25 certificate. But the site offers even bigger discounts with $2 and $3 specials. You pay online and print a copy of the certificate.

For restaurant reviews, try and

Another way to save is to eat your main meal out at lunch time, when prices are lower. This not only is healthier, but allows your family to eat at more expensive restaurants.

Remember to look for kids-eat-free promotions. Check out and, or Google “kids eat free” and a city’s name.

To find the widest variety of deals, use a search engine such as or travel agency sites such as and for special deals brokered with travel providers due to high volume.

Before you book, check an airline’s own site for fares. You may get a lower rate, especially in the case of low-fare operators.

Most airlines charge for checked baggage, and extra fees apply if you exceed weight limits, so travel lightly. Remember, you pay fees each way. Nest bags. For example, women can stow a purse inside a carry-on backpack as long as the backpack meets carry-on requirements.

If you need to take lots of items, compare the airline’s fees with the cost to mail them to your destination. Visit to compare airline baggage rates.

Car Rentals
Try a number of time combinations for your vacation stay. Sometimes reserving a car for a week—even if it sits some days—is cheaper than a daily rate for a shorter rental.

It also pays to keep looking. Most companies do not require a deposit for reservations, so if you find a better rate you can cancel the first without penalty.

Different companies are good for different situations. Enterprise and Hertz cater to business travelers and discount weekend rates.
Consider joining a rental car loyalty program, which offers members discounts.

Package Deals
Consider combining airfare, hotel and rental car costs in one deal. It may be cheaper than booking each element separately.

Check,,, (800-347-7006) or (800-935-2620).