A fresh and winning yard Mid-Columbia Realtors honor Pearl and Jim Gray

Photo by Tine Schmidt

Jim and Pearl Gray stroll through their Seventh Street yard.


News staff writer

July 16, 2005

Jim and Pearl Gray have lived in their home on 922 Seventh St. for 56 years — since the time it was newly built — and during that time they have transformed the two-lot yard from a treeless dirt patch to the award-winning yard and garden it is today.

The Grays were recently chosen to receive the Mid Columbia Association of Realtors’ Beautification Award for July.

Each month from April through September, one home is chosen by the Association to receive the award. The property must not be a business property, cannot be for sale, and must not have professional landscaping.

The honor was a surprise for the couple.

“The realtor stopped in and asked if we objected to having our yard featured,” Pearl says. “At first we didn’t know what it was all about, but when we found out we said it would be all right.”

The Grays have always done all their own planting and yard care, but in the last few years they’ve increasingly had to depend on their children and grandchildren to do the more physical work.

“Our kids come in the spring and do a big cleanup, thatch and bring bark in, and from then on we take care of it ourselves,” Pearl says. “Our great-grandson does the mowing for us.”

There is still plenty of work for the couple to do. The covered patio has potted plants to care for, and the extra lot to the north of the house has been landscaped with shade trees, shrubs, flowering plants and the lawn. There are plants on every side of the house to care for — roses, lilies, hydrangeas, iris — something to bloom every season of the year.

“I wish you could have seen it in April,” Pearl says, somewhat apologetically. “It’s been so dry, and we haven’t been watering as much as we should, probably.” Given the current advice from the water districts, that’s probably a good thing.

Pearl’s favorite part of the yard is “wherever the weeds are!” She and Jim enjoy watching the squirrels, birds and butterflies that visit their home and garden.

Pearl has always been the flower person, while Jim took care of the mowing and heavier work. Now he mostly supervises.

“She does it all now!” he laughs.

Pearl has an herb garden from which fresh parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme — and oregano — are regularly plucked for use in cooking.

“I use it quite a bit,” she says. “It gives a lot better flavor than the ones you get out of a bottle.”

The Grays’ landscaping has been a work in progress; they have done improvements as time and money allowed.

“I’ve decided maybe I’ve planted too much!” Pearl laughs. “It’s a lot to take care of.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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