Monday, April 19, 2010

On Blues, Bundt Cake and Benevolence

In a barn, on a meadow, in the middle of a pine forest, Sisters locals gathered on a mild April night to help out a friend.

Some folks know Gary Oldham from church; others ride with him on the Sisters Cycling Team. Still others were helped into a home mortgage over the many years that Gary has provided that service to the community. Grateful teens, better off for being fed and mentored at the Oldham home, sat front and center.

All were devastated that their gregarious friend suffered a broken neck while snowboarding at Hoodoo Ski Resort on April 1st. 

   Pine Meadow duskbarn interior 2 

They came to The Barn at Pine Meadow Ranch on Friday night to offer encouragement and financial support to the Oldham family. The rustic venue hummed with the down-to-earth acoustic strains of several astonishingly talented Sisters High School Americana students . Inside the converted farm building with its rough, wide-planked walls and uneven floor, the organic rhythms of guitar strums and sweet vocal harmonies seemed just right.

On a futon draped with a Pendleton blanket, I sat with my husband on our date night. Wicker chairs and wooden benches placed at casual angles accommodated others. Candles flickered; old and new friends mingled. Barbecued burgers, brownies and Kahlua-infused bundt cake were laid out. Oldham, in a full upper-body brace and using a walker, took the stage briefly to thank the community and “to reflect on how awesome this place is that we live.”

Outside, under a thin silver smile of a moon, a ranch dog barked and a baritone chorus of frogs crooned across the meadow.

   Photo Courtesy: Kyle Rood PhotographyPhoto Courtesy: Kyle Rood Photography 

When popular local singer-songwriter Anastacia covered Gillian Welch’s wistful Elvis Presley Blues, this blogger was mesmerized. She paid a moving tribute to the memory of local developer Gary Sokol with a soaring ballad, written for him and unveiled for the first time in the venue that was his brainchild. Sokol died in a tragic accident nearly two years ago. Applause rose when event organizer Melody Youngblood, a senior at Sisters High School, announced that about $1500 had been gathered in offering for the Oldhams.

Miraculously, Gary is alive and he is not paralyzed. Translating that miracle into a full recovery will take arduous months of rehabilitation and possibly more surgery. It’s heartening that this small community still rallies to aid one another in tough times. As Anastacia sang in Elvis Presley Blues, “It blessed my soul … yes it blessed my soul.”

I witnessed hope ascending last Friday night—up and beyond a canopy of unrefined beams, from inside that old dairy barn, on a meadow, in the middle of a pine forest in Sisters, Oregon.

Tax-deductible donations to help with Gary Oldham’s medical expenses may be made via Rotary Club of Sisters. Phone (541) 977-6545.

Full Story: Nugget News, April 21 2009.
Photo Courtesy: Upper L: Author  Upper R:  Bottom L & R: Kyle Rood Photography

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Reclaimed Barnwood from the Pacific Northwest

Like a weathered old man leaning on a cane, ancient barns seem to whisper sit down, I’ve got stories to tell if you’ve got time to listen.
I’ve admired the tasteful use of reclaimed barnwood from the Pacific Northwest in stunning custom homes built by Gary Norman. But I can be sensitive and skeptical. Even as I looked forward to meeting Gary, I wondered if he was actually the villainous type … you know, the Hollywood character who wouldn’t blink at mowing down a historic monument or threatening an endangered species in the name of progress.
“…Like the scary tractor in Fern Gully," Gary joked and I knew he understood and shared my sensitivity. Gary was recently asked to take down a very large barn out of Reedsport, Oregon and simply refused. “The building was very sound, set on the site pristinely and just needed a little love to last another 100 years plus. It is not appropriate to dismantle a perfectly sound structure.”
Contrarily, he’s excited about the wonderful 1x12 siding and 3x12 flooring recently reclaimed from a barn in Tidewater, Oregon. Built in 1912, the structure was used as a theater house in the 30’s and 40’s. “We will make the 3x12’s into outrageous plank flooring,” says Gary.
To be considered by Barnwood Inc., a division of Gary Norman Custom Homes, a barn must have a rich history, an ample supply of timbers of useful size and character, and accessibility. Instead of being burned and destroyed, this lustrous wood is given new life in the form of fine furniture, cabinetry, siding, flooring, exterior door systems and interior doors and trim.
It takes a heap of craftsmanship but only a scant amount of a water-based finish to re-purpose this treasure. Natural weathering has made its durability integral. You can watch a video of the process on the Barnwood Inc. site.
It’s what Gary Norman calls a “feel good business. Nothing can replicate the character of hundred-year-old wood that’s been out in the elements.”
To contact Gary:
Phone: (541) 312-1187

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Ode to Color Joy

It snowed here on Easter. Egg hunts were moved indoors at the last minute. Yesterday was a sunny 60 degree mood-lifter. Today the ground and sky are a matching shade of white. Another perfect April day in Central Oregon—for scanning old family photos and writing blog posts!

Woodburn tulips-mtn

A hop, skip and a jump over the Cascades, the Woodburn Tulip Festival is blazing. If you’re craving a color fix as I am, put on your mud shoes and load the kids in the car. Until April 30, the festival offers wine tastings and wooden shoe makers, art classes and antique steam tractors. Kids will happily slosh through the mud for cow train rides, ducky races, hay pile, pony rides, horse swings and exotic rescue birds.

If you find yourself on I-5 between Portland and Salem, this is a quick and happy diversion just a few miles to the east. Check the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm website for a list of upcoming activities and live entertainment.



woodburn tulips

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