Friday, December 28, 2007


Baked this for my sister's birthday. It went over really well. We slice the leftovers, put them on a cookie sheet in the freezer then wrapped the frozen slices for later.


Carrot Cake with a Tropical Flavor


1 3/4 cup plus 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
4 cups shredded carrots
1 cup chopped unsalted macadamia nuts or pecans
1/2 cup raisins or currants


Pineapple filling:
2 cups diced fresh pineapple
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup pineapple juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Hint: You can use a 20 ounce can of crushed canned pineapple and it works just fine. I suggest you use about double the cornstarch though. It makes a great filling.


Cream cheese icing:
2 8-oz. packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners' (powdered) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup finely chopped toasted, unsalted macadamia nuts or pecans


Untoasted nuts work just fine, especially if you're going to put them in the icing instead of trying to put them on the side of the cake. I also added about 4 tablespoons of milk the icing. It was a little too stiff for the light mixer.


For cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease one 10x3-inch round cake pan. Line bottom with circle of parchment or wax paper. Grease paper and lightly flour pan. You can also use three nine inch cake pans and prep them the same way. Much easier to deal with three layers rather than trying to slice one layer keep them from breaking.


Sift together 13/4 cup flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In large mixing bowl, combine oil, sugar and eggs. With electric mixer, beat a medium speed until light in color, about 3 to 4 minutes. At low speed, gradually add flour mixture, beating just until smooth. Combine carrots, nuts, raisins and remaining 2 tablespoons flour. Gently fold into batter. Pour batter into prepared cake pan.


Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce head to 325 F. and bake for 50 to 55 minutes longer, or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean and surface springs back when gently pressed with finger. For three layers bake at 350 for ten minutes. Reduce heat and check in about 15 minutes.

Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes. Run knife around sides of cake to loosen. Turn cake out and cool completely, paper-side down. Mix filling and icing.

To assemble cake: peel paper off cake. Using a long serrated knife, slice cake horizontally into three layers. Remove top two layers (it helps to use a cardboard cake circle or a flat cookie sheet to slide under the cut layers and lift off). Place bottom layer on 10-inch serving plate. Spread half pineapple filling over cake layer. Place middle layer of cake on top of filling and spread withremaining filling. Place top layer of cake on icing. Spread remaining icing evenly over sides and top of cake. Press chopped toasted nuts onto sides of cake. Makes 20 servings.


For filling: In medium saucepan combine pineapple and sugar. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until pineapple is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Combine pineapple juice and cornstarch and stir into cooked pineapple; boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. (Can be made a day ahead and chilled, covered, in refrigerator.)



For icing: In medium bowl, with electric mixer, beat together cream cheese and butter. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth. Personally, I added the chopped nuts to the icing. It works just fine and I used whole pecan nut halves for garnish.


Each serving contains 539 calories, 40 g fat, 44 g carbohydrate, 69 mg cholesterol, 242 mg sodium. — Grand prize $2,000 winner in "Carats for Carrots" contest sponsored by the California Fresh Carrot Advisory Board.



Tuesday, December 25, 2007


This is squirrely's first attempt to figure out the new system. "Who the @#$%^^%^ changed the rules?" You're a smart critter, you'll figure it out.

Monday, December 24, 2007


Misty has been spending a lot of time nappng in the computer desk. She can keep an eye on what's going on inside and out. The window looks out on the front porch.

But sometimes a girl gets caught in midwatch and just has to rest her head. Even if the pillow isn't very soft.


The recycled bird bath as critter feeder was a good idea, in theory. And it would probably work in any area where it doesn't rain so much. So I adapted something a co worker uses as a bird bath. She's had good luck but we live just a few blocks from the river so water for the birds isn't a big issue.

The bowls are plastic planter bases. I guess you can buy the tripod chains. But, we were at Jerry's and they have all the makings. And thanks to dad's tool collection we had all the tools to put it together. Six lengths of chain about 12 inches long, enough S hooks to put everything together, a heavy duty awl and a pair of blunt type needle nose pliers later we had two serviceable feeders. Use the awl to punch a few holes around the lowest part of the bottom of the bowl and the water drains out fairly well. They can be brought in over night to let the seed dry out if you have to.

It's been a hoot watching the squirrels figure it out. I think this one wrapped his hind toes around the bottom of the big S hook and used a front paw to pull the feeder close enough to reach the goodies. These are much lighter so when one of them tries to drop into the feeder it's ride 'em cowboy the first time.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


It’s one more day until Christmas in western Oregon and it’s raining. Anybody around here who wants a white Christmas has to head for Mt. Hood or the high Cascades. And that’s ok by me. It can snow after everybody goes home. So far we’re on track to get the Umatilla branch of the family over here for a day or three. I think the nephews are the ones behind the trip this year. I think both boys (boys, they’re both in college) are just old enough to realize that the clock is running on both grandmothers. No, nothing is going to happen anytime soon, but neither one is going to see seventy five again and if they’re going to make memories, well, daylights burning.


It isn’t that sis doesn’t want to come over, but the BIL is having some medical fall out again and they’re both so damn tired when the school breaks come around. Anybody who thinks teachers have an easy time of it never tried to do the job. At least never tried to be a good one.


I have a whole week away from the JOB starting yesterday. So, mom and I have been shopping, baking, getting things together. Watching a few movies from the personal collection. The 1980’s A Christmas Carol with George C Scott has been tracked down and watched. So has The Gathering from the seventies. Finally got a copy of White Christmas. It’s just about as good as I remembered it. I think I know where my copy of the Grinch is hiding.


I guess outside of trying to get the family together, that’s about as close to traditions as we have right now. Didn’t put up the tree this year. All three cats are a lot more interested in what’s on top of things this year. And we both had visions of intrepid feline explorers trying to find out where the pretty lights were coming from.


There’s a dammit for you Russ. Coming in to find the tree on the floor and various furry heads either peeking around the wreckage or looking very innocent. And failing miserably. LOL. “Who us?” “Really I have no idea how I got tangled up in all these cords.” “I know, we’re supposed to stay off the desk, nobody mentioned the tree. And yes, we did have to climb on the desk to reach the tree”  (short tree) Three year olds, you have to love ‘em.


Anyway, my snickerdoodles are light, sweet and crispy and look just a little strange. I think it’s the butter I used when the shortning came up, well short. I forgot that butter lets them spread out further. So they’re shall we say, roundness challenged. And you know, I don’t really care.


 A few years down the road the kids will remember that the cookies were good, there were smiles all around and that we still all manage to fit around the kitchen table. If we’re short of time, dinner, may just get served buffet style. On paper plates. If the sparkling cider ends up in glasses that don’t exactly match, well duh. I’m after smiles, not matching stem ware. And if I catch a glimmer over in dad’s favorite chair, well, the day will be complete.


It’s the season of hope you see. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, the Solstice or just getting up in the morning, we live in the hope that the dark times will pass and the sun will return. Hope that light will drive out the darkness. Hope that for whatever time we have we can touch each other. Hope that when we reach out our hand there will be another hand reaching out to touch ours

Monday, December 17, 2007


We had a surprise last night. We were in the middle of my tape of The Gathering (late 70’s made for TV movie starring Ed Asner) when someone knocked on the door. We had carolers at the door. The kicker is that there’s a caroling scene in the film and I’d been thinking that it had been years since I’d seen carolers anywhere around here. And low and behold some carolers showed up. Serendipity.


I’m not sure I have a favorite carol. I guess I should say that I have a lot of favorites. I love the old traditional carols. From Silent Night to Joy to the World with stops at Bethlehem and singing along with Oh Holy Night; I love this time of year. There’s a special place for The Little Drummer Boy, and Do You Hear What I Hear? For White Christmas and Jingle Bells, for traveling home for the holidays, Jingle Bells, Decking the Halls, putting the Holly and the Ivy together. Thanks to the cats, it looks like the only Christmas Tree around here this year will the be the one on the stereo. And with a little luck we can sing about how It Came Upon a Midnight Clear under the stars. But, I’m not holding my breath.


I always get a kick out of I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. There’s a Norman Rockwell print of a little boy poking around in his folks chest of drawers. He found a Santa suit in the bottom drawer and the absolute shock on that red headed kid in the hand me down pajamas is priceless.


Anyway I think one carol that does make me stop and listen is I’ll Be Home for Christmas. I tend to puddle up a little whenever I hear it.


Ah, speaking of drummer boys, it’s playing in the background right now. Excuse my while I croak along. I had a decent voice once upon a time. Too many years in retail, add a few allergies, and you end up with a barely passable shower voice. Mom’s understanding and the cats can go hide under the bed. Well, the drummer boy was doing his thing while I was doing the first draft. The Three Kings are passing throughright now.


Then again, I've always had a soft spot for this one, too. :-)

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Repost of the picture from yesterday.

Cin was right on the money. And with time to look at the bird and compare with finch pictures in the Audobon book the bill is the wrong shape for a seed eating finch. I'm the amateur's amateur. So sue me.

Shot of a Townsend's Warbler from the web. Dug out the "bible," i.e the Audobon Field Guide, and leafed through the teeny birds section until I found a match. Unusually good match actually. It does help to have an actual picture to compare. Usually I'm trying to remember what I saw on the fly and thinking, "yeah I think that's what I saw."

According to the map in the Audobon book, little bit here is further south and west than usual. They do live in old growth douglas fir stands, though and we still have some old growth in the cascades. Probably got blown around during the storm last week. They run about 4 1/2 to 5 inches long and tend to be insect eaters. Sorry kid, you'll have to settle for suet cakes.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


There was a really good sale out at a local garden center last night. Came home with a new birdfeeder, some good seed and nice selection of bulbs for the spring. Actually could probably plant the seeds anytime between now and spring. And the silly day lilies are putting out new shoots. It's the preparation time of the year.

A little goldfinch type bird. We see them so seldom, but a pair found the newly cleaned little feeders with the thistle seeds in them. Eensy, teensy, I'd be surprised if it was more than four or five inches long. Also saw a pair of the stellar's jays this morning. Maybe we can lure them in more often.

A rather fuzzy shot, extracted from a much larger shot. They don't know me well enough to stick around for tripod shots. It's a hanging bird bath that's never tempted a bird. So it's going to be a feeder. We'll put in the kind of critter things that won't be hurt if it gets wet. Thinks like peanuts in the shell, pumpkin seeds, corn, and sunflower seeds. Friend bushy tail had a good lunch.

Finding some seeds and other goodies out by the oat grass in the front.

Couldn't quite figure out how to get to the new feeder. Finally said the heck with it and settled for cleaning up under the feeders instead. There were plenty of goodies to choose from. The bushes with the red berries are nandina. The bushes stay sort of green all year. Had some sun, some clouds and some rain. Wasn't even that cold. Sorry folks in Utah and Kansas.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Several months ago I did a journal entry about Moses coming down off Mount Sinai, stone tablets securely tucked under his arm. More to the point I imagined what happened in the first thirty seconds or so after he finished letting the Hebrews in on the Word from on high. First there would be silence, I imagined. Then everybody would be talking at once. Every sentence beginning with “what exactly to you mean by,” followed by the commandment(s) of your choice. The gist of the matter being “what I’m planning on doing, or would really like to do, or wish I could do isn’t really covered by…..again the commandment of your choice… it?

Ok, intro over. Back in the 1700’s West Indian sugar and all that went with it was oil, high tech and sub-prime mortgages all rolled into one for the English economy. Slave grown and processed sugar fueled the triangle trade. By the late 1700’s the infant abolition movement in England found a voice. It belonged to William Wilberforce. Member of parliament from Yorkshire, he spent twenty years trying to get a bill through parliament abolishing the slave trade. It’s the story behind the film, Amazing Grace. He was the voice for the hundreds, if not thousands of men and women who worked to end the trade in human souls. (frankly if I used all the adjectives I'd like to use I'd run out of space, abomination is the kindest)

Is the film totally accurate? Probably not. Did the film take liberties with history? Probably. Was I totally blown away at the end? Yeah. Would I have wanted to ask the man to dinner? I’m not sure. Abolition, free education, decent treatment for animals, efforts to end prostitution; the man was never still. Dinner would not have been boring. A profoundly devout Evangelical Christian, he was influenced by John Newton. The same John Newton who finally traded the slave trade for a pulpit and along the line helped write the hymn that gives the film its name.

But, it’s not the movie so much that I’m writing about at that damnable “surely you don’t mean” gene that human beings seem to have. The western European run slave trade was financed, manned and benefitted people who described themselves as Christians. Most of them saw themselves as good, honorable men and women.  

There are two Creation stories in Genesis. In the first, God Created human beings in His image. In the second, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

And “but surely” rears its ugly, hydra headed, monstrous body. We hear it in the modern Neo Nazi movement. We're confronted with it every single, bloody, shit not again day.

The…….fill in the group of your choice that doesn’t look like me, talk like me, eat what I like, dress like me, love like me, or most important of all believe like me can’t have that divine spark can it? Surely this isn’t the image of God. Surely you can’t mean that I should treat somebody like THAT as if God had come down to walk among us, can you?


Anyway, if you can get your hands on the film, it's well worth your time. We can change the world. Before there was Free Trade coffee there were signs in London shops that advertised sugar grown in the East Indies.

The East Indians may not have been living in paradise. At least they hadn't been torn from their homes, chained, crammed into a space approximately 40 inches wide by 18 inches high for a three week voyage into hell. Men, women and children crammed together in the same stinking holds. Some ships lost over half of their cargo to disease and despair before they even made the slave pens in the West Indies.

The trade in slaves was abolished in 1807. Slavery itself was abolished within the empire in 1833. William Wilberforce died three days later. The fight, all of it continues. The "but, you don't mean" monster and its children are alive and doing very, very well.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


 Some odd bits from the last couple of weeks or so. Or a little further back.


Getting used to a new toy. Back in 02 we bought a TV that included a VCR and DVD player. We got it at Sears and plunked our some extra cash for the extended warranty. Part of the coverage included replacement if something went wrong and they couldn’t fix it. Lord that sucker was a monster. Sometimes I felt like introducing it as a member of the family, it was so “there.” Weighed a ton. Well, the DVD player went to heaven back in October. Took two weeks to get the first repair call in. I’m not impressed with the process of getting a repair call scheduled but I am impressed with the result. Toshiba doesn’t make the required parts anymore. Part of the offer was an in store credit.


Hadn’t been near an electronics department since about 03. To say that our jaws were hitting the floor is an understatement. Anyway, we ended up with a replacement set. Flat panel, wide screen, a remote that could be used for a lethal weapon, and a book of instructions that are still making me dizzy. I still haven’t figured out the array of input options in the back. It turns on, the picture is great, I can move the darn thing if I have to, and it doesn’t look like it owns the room. I should mention that we have a postwar style bungalow. Some of more modern houses have master suite bathrooms just a little smaller than our living room. It's warm, comfortable and paid for.


Mom had a good idea for a fill in bird feeder until we have time to go shopping. And kopeks, Christmas is coming after all. Took the little hang in the tree bird bath and put the crumbled suet cake and seed in it. Heaven knows the local songsters have spent the last two summers ignoring it when water was in it so it might as well do something useful in the winter.


Got reminded that the universe has a wicked sense of humor Friday. Friday was payday so naturally my car decided to pull a fast one on the way to work. Almost got to work and old faithful decided that going over fifty was no longer an option. Turned out the catalytic converter needed replacement. Lucky me, I work for a company that sells and fixes cars. They will also let me pay part of the bill and have the rest taken out of my paycheck. So my next couple of checks will be a little light, but it beats hitting the credit card again. And the universe and I remain on speaking terms. Mostly.


Last weekend it was almost sixty and by Monday large parts of the Northwest were underwater. This weekend it barely made it to forty, but we’re drying out. Life in the fast lane. I’m just thankful that there was no more damage than we had. Interesting though, we didn’t rate the almost endless coverage that other more populated parts of the country seem to get in similar cases. And I guess that’s part of the answer. Most of the places that were hardest hit were smaller and kind of off the beaten paths. And it’s kind of hard to do a story about someplace that’s flooded out when you can’t get past the blown down trees or landslides blocking the highways.


Just under two weeks until the Solstice and the return of the sun. I can hardly wait.


Listening to Perry Como CD of carols. I’ve never heard this song anywhere else. If we could remain as wise as children.

Some Children See Him
By Alfred Burt

Some children see Him lily white
the infant Jesus born this night
Some children see Him lily white
with tresses soft and fair

Some children see Him bronzed and brown
the Lord of heav'n to earth come down
Some children see Him bronzed and brown
with dark and heavy hair  (with dark and heavy hair!)

Some children see Him almond-eyed
This Saviour whom we kneel beside
Some children see Him almond-eyed
With skin of yellow hue!

Some children see Him dark as they
Sweet Mary's Son to whom we pray
Some children see Him dark as they
And, ah! they love Him so!

The children in each different place
Will see the Baby Jesus' face
Like theirs but bright with heav'nly grace
And filled with holy light!

O lay aside each earthly thing
and with thy heart as offering
Come worship now the infant King
'tis love that's born tonight!

'tis love that's born tonight!


Thursday, December 6, 2007


I haven’t been able to quiet my mind enough to get back to that little valley I wrote about in an earlier entry. I don’t know, maybe the little glimpse served its purpose and that path is closed until there is something new to learn. Any glimpses I do get are pale imitations at best. As if I’m seeing it through a curtain rather than feeling I was really there.

I’ve always been a little dubious about claims that you can cross the veil between the worlds at will and on our terms. I believe we’re allowed a glimpse if it will allow our spirit to learn and grow. A message to be sent, the introduction of a guide, a prayer answered; but on the spirit’s terms, not ours. I suspect that’s part of our problem. We catch a glimpse of the beauty just beyond our reach and very much out of our control.

 Most of us aren’t content with knowing the other world exists, but we can’t visit anytime we want. I wonder if so much alcohol and drug abuse comes from our attempts to bridge the gap only to find that the gap gets wider and wider and the locks on the door become stronger and stronger. Try and force the vision and you go blind and deaf.

When I started down that dream path I wasn’t expecting to find a heron fishing. Summer birds speeding between tree and bush. The songs of wind, grasses and water. A duck and a goose or two; those were the pieces I’d used to build the dream path. A sudden splash, a glimpse through the branches, and there it was. A great blue heron, in all its beauty. The heron can act as a spirit guide and it does feel right to me. The vision of the bird in the dream waters may have been the purpose of that particular journey. Even if I didn’t know it atthe time.

I do believe that there is intelligence on this planet beyond human understanding and beyond the edges of our awareness. We can perceive so little of what is around us. A tiny band of light is visible to us. A fraction of the sounds the world makes can be heard by us. We see and hear so little and yet we believe we see and hear all. And we’ve been carefully taught by the ones who attempt to control access to the worlds of the spirit to distrust anything beyond our limited senses.

Tricks of the devil, snares of demons, anything we can’t explain is a snare set to trip us up. And the torments of Hell begin to resemble the sick imaginings of disturbed minds rather than anything the Lady or the Lord of all could or would ever visit on any of their children, no matter how simple or small. God/dess that is no way to live. For anyone or anything.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


Article in the Oregonian really took my back this morning. Back to the days of high school PE and gang showers. As I recall we had five minutes to dress down before class and five minutes at the end to strip, spritz, get into out civvies, get the PE clothes stashed and get ourselves and out gear out the door for the next class. I think we all were too busy to pay much attention to what we all looked like in our skinny skin skins.


And since PE was required for all (unless you had a really good religious reason for not dressing down) in grades 7 to 12 in my district, we got to ignore each other five days a week all through the school year. But, we didn’t have the media blitz helping us worry about our body image and frankly, most of us didn’t even wear much make up. Not that you’d have time to do much besides get dry and get your clothes on in those few minutes.


Anyway, the article was about how so many kids aren’t showering, even after athletic events that some schools don’t even build shower rooms anymore. A lot of kids think the gang showers are “weird.” Even when there’s access to stall showers, the students don’t use them. Some believe it’s a body image thing. Kids are more conscious of each other, and quicker to criticize perceived imperfections. Some students claim they don’t do any more than they have to in PE so they don’t work up a sweat. Wouldn’t have worked with my instructors. They weren’t tyrants but, we were out there to move, non participation was not an option.


I don’t know what dorm life is like these days, but we had a gang shower there too. I don’t even remember if there were any stalls, I think there were. But they didn’t have doors. Even if there was a shower curtain there was a common dressing area so it didn’t really make a difference. Didn’t slow anybody down as I recall. It wasn’t something we spent a whole lot of time over either. Get in, get out, and get on with the day.


Actually, the only thing I really remember from high school PE had nothing to do with PE. When I was a senior my locker mate was a little freshman with severe asthma. She didn’t come back after Christmas break. I think her name was Kathy. Gee, I haven’t thought about her for years. Sorry kid, you deserved better.


It may have been rainy this morning, but it didn't slow down the little critters at the breakfast bar.

The strawberry pot, make a good perch for a hungry scrub jay.

Shot this little one through the window. Probably just a coincidence, but everybody showed up right after I refilled the feeder. It's been busy off and on all day in spite of the rain and gusty weather.

We're due for a blow and rain over the next day or so.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Bandit continues her fascination with area rugs.

Somehow she managed to get herself turned around while not coming out from under the rug.

Lucky in full "I can't stand it, I gotta look mode."

Sunday, November 18, 2007


It has been raining all day, but that doesn't stop the local juncos from checking out the soggy yard for seeds. Lucky for me, it perched on a strawberry so it would show up.

Siskin checking out the soggy feeder. Luckily there is some drier weather in the forcast so we can bring it in to dry out later this week.

\When the squirrels visit the feeder, they are pretty sloppy. Other squirrels and the little ground feeders clean up after them.

When I take pictures I take them at the largest file setting I can. This way I can extract little pieces that look pretty good posted here. I doubt they'd print very well, but ah well.


We keep the sunflower seeds on the porch in a recycled plastic bucket the Kiwanis club used to sell strawberries. The bucket has been getting a little battered and since it folds up the fold finally wore out. It's been showing signs of toothy explorations for awhile now, too.

Heard an odd thumping sound this morning and found this little lady on the porch.

Looks very polite doesn't she? And hopeful.

Heading back to try for more.

The trick is to get the lid up long enough to get your front end inside to grab some seeds. I think this might be the one I spotted watching me refill the front yard feeder Saturday morning. Standing very straight, unafraid, and watchful. Moved a little way off, she came over, shinnied up the poles holding the feeder and tucked in. Closest I've ever been to one. Obviously nobody has taught this one that people can be real twits at times.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


I wish I’d had my camera in the back bedroom this morning. I looked out the window while I was getting dressed and there was a two spike buck up on the garden behind the retaining wall. He checked out the plants on the level and then made his careful way up the hill, disappearing into the shrubs and low trees. A little later, as I was making my Sunday gas run I saw him ambling south down the sidewalk and he disappeared around the bend in the street. It was like, wow. Obviously he wasn’t afraid of anything. It would be no trouble for him to make his way to the greenway along the river, follow the bike path and disappear into east end of the park that starts about a half mile away.


It’s been quiet and foggy all day. The high, cruddy fog that we get this time of year when it doesn’t rain. It was beautiful yesterday. Bright and sunny, great for playing football or watching the birds and squirrels raid the front yard feeders. Watched one messy squirrel on the feeder dropping the excess on the head of another on the ground below. Both with busy little paws picking out the good bits.


 Didn’t see many today. I think everybody was laying kind of low. Foggy, chilly and gray. Ah, November in the southern Willamette Valley. The fogs are worst this time of year. The air is colder and the land is still warm from the summer sun. Makes for some interesting commutes in the morning this time of year.


Mom got back from California Tuesday. Of course I was happy to have her back. And the cats were absolutely overjoyed. A lap during the day, Happy, happy, joy, joy. At least when they weren’t pouting because she was gone. And I found out just about how long she can be gone before they start channeling their inner three year old and start acting like three spoiled brats. Just about one week, two days and some odd hours.


Monday night Misty didn’t want to go out for dinner and bed, Bandit was waiting to be petted every time I got up during the night and Lucky was in fullpout mode. Interesting how a critter that can’t stick out a lower lip can still pout so well. J And Tuesday morning after I had let them in and was getting ready to go out the door for work they all were giving me the “poor me” look. “How can you abandon us like this? We’re all alone!!!!!!” Oy! Of course I do have a very active imagination.





Sunday, October 28, 2007


Honestly, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth, just a few more distractions that usual. Mom’s big brother came up from southern California for his 65th high school reunion. He rode the train up and she went back by train with him for a visit. I took a vacation day to enjoy an all too short visit. He talked more about things he’s done than he ever has before.  


He joined the navy in ’42, straight out of high school. To be honest, I think it was as much to get out of the house as to get in on the action. Their step dad was the only grand father we knew and he’d mellowed by the time the grandkids came on the scene. But, he had a temper and a fondness for booze. And I think that the navy probably did a lot to temper uncle Jack’s temper, too. Anyway, for anyone who's interested, he served on three ships, the Casablanca, the Kadashan Bay and the Gardiner's Bay.


Anyway, three years in the navy on three different ships. He followed this with twenty years as a cop in LA and a stretch with the US Marshall’s service. We had a good time. So, I saw them off last Saturday and I’ve had the place to myself for the last week. It was hard watching them leave. He’s two years older than mom and has some health problems, I couldn’t help wondering if I would get the chance to see him again. But, we had the time and I’m thankful for it.


Me, the cats and a flare up of the lovely little “irritation” I had last summer. Plague take it, it certainly isn’t fatal but it’s damned uncomfortable. Frankly, working and entertaining the four legged Velcro cats was about all I was up to.


Much better by Saturday. Good thing because I was faced with a substantial to do list. Mom is not coming home to a dirty house. A bit messy, perhaps, but fairly well caught up. The local birds and squirrels are absolutely ravenous. I fill the feeders the night before and come home and do it again. They’re storing up for the winter. It’s turned chilly, and not before time. After all, All Hallows Eve is almost here. Mom will be home Tuesday. She gets a kick out of the candy seekers, especially the little ones. Speaking for the Velcro, I’m getting the hungry eye from the furballs. Time to break out the cat food.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


A quiet discusion over who is going where. Misty (on the left) does much better when she gets behind Bandit. And if she gets the younger Bandit in a corner, she usually gives way. Bandit is the youngest and knows it, even if she is the largest of the three.

Bandit gets the rips a couple times a week. She "attacks" the little area rug next to my chair and manages to get herself under the rug. And then she plays hide and seek.

The lump under the rug is Bandit. Misty is either trying to figure out how to join her or how to attack. I'm not sure.


New addtion next to the deck. We went out to Jerry's yesterday intending to check the kinds of blocks, sizes and prices. We ended up bringing home what we needed enough 12 x 16 blocks to do a double row and gravel to fill in the low parts. It looks pretty good for a pair of rank amateurs. We basically leveled each pair to the next, so it's not exactly level. A couple of large planters and some kind of yard art in the middle will cover a multitude of architectural sins.

The bark chunks will be slowly replaced with concrete stepping stones. At least the bark will keep us out of the mud. And we'll put down bark mulch on the rest of the yard. Only took a couple of hours to get it done. And I felt every one. But I"m in better shape than I was in the spring. We we high fivin' all over the place.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


From the Astronomy Picture of the Day website. The aurora over a lake in Alaska. And if you look very closely under the aurora and towards the center their is also a meteor falling to earth at the same time. A nearly miraculous shot.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


This picture was in an e-mail forwarded to me by a co-worker. Who shall remain nameless. She’s a nice enough lady but……I guess I better leave it at that. Needless to say I found this disturbing as hell. I only shared this with one of out IT guys. He’s studying for the ministry when he’s not trouble shooting our computers. He was as flummoxed as I was.


Geez, at least get it right. The Eid isn’t exactly a holiday it’s the feast that ends Ramadan and has nothing to do with Christmas. Took an early break and spent a lot of time reading and rereading my candle piece. It helped a little. I’m only posting this to remind us what we’re up against. And bless me if I know what to do. Except to keep lighting candles, lots of candles.


Islam forbids images and they've used arabic script as decoration for centuries. It's a pretty design.




How ironic is this??!! They don't even believe in Christ and they're getting their own Christmas stamp, but don't dream of posting the ten commandments on federal property?

USPS New Stamp

This one is impossible to believe. Scroll down for the text.

If there is only one thing you forward today.....let it be this!





REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of Pan Am Flight 103!

REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />World Trade Center in 19 93!

REMEMBER the MUSLI M bombing of the Marine Barracks in Lebanon !

REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the military Barracks in Saudi Arabia !

REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the American Embassies in Africa !

REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the USS COLE!

REMEMBER the MUSLIM attack on 9/11/2001 !

REMEMBER all the AMERICAN lives that were lost in those vicious MUSLIM attacks!

Now the United States Postal Service REMEMBERS and HONORS the EID MUSLIM holiday season with a commemorative first class < I>holiday postage stamp. Bull!

REMEMBER to adamantly and vocally BOYCOTT this stamp
when purchasing your stamps at the post office. To use this stamp would be a slap in the face to all those AMERICANS who died at the hands of those whom this stamp honors.

REMEMBER to pass this along to every patriotic AMERICAN you know!!!


Don't know about anybody else but I'm not feeling very patriotic right now.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


This entry was prompted by a comment Russ made on my last entry over in Pixels. I don’t hate the timber companies, but I am very, very, very irritated by them

Hopefully we’re coming to end of the “mining” of the forests era in the US. I truly hope so. I hope and pray that those who manage our resources will finally wake up and quit sniffing the shit. A forest isn’t just trees it’s an ecosystem. There is this attitude from the late 1800’s through most of the 1900’s that any tree that dies naturally, falls and rots is wasted somehow. Believe me, it isn’t wasted.

There used to be this old rotting stump by the bike path near where we live. The top of that stump was a whole little world of its own. There were a couple kinds of moss, some teeny, teeny mushrooms, and a few blades of grass. If you looked closely there were small insects, and maybe a miniature centipede or two trundling about in their own little world.

Back when there was less of me and my knees were more cooperative, I did some day hikes over on the coast. The Oregon coast has a network of state parks from border to border and there are trails of some kind in all of them. You come out of the trees into a little open space where a tree has fallen, and it’s like that stump, a whole little world of its own. That tree isn’t wasted, it’s just finishing its life and nourishing the new life around it.

The company that puts out this ad shall remain nameless. They like to remind us that the law requires that trees be replanted to replace the trees that were cut. But, they don’t plant every kind of tree that was on that clear cut. They only replant the trees they want to cut. They’re planted too close together, the natural fertilizer that would have come from the last generation of trees is gone, and they have to use herbicides to kill the competing plant life. The new stand is never properly thinned and when it goes up in smoke somehow it’s mother nature’s fault not ours. It’s always somebody else’s fault.

And let’s not even go into the sixties and seventies when most of the big company owned timber was exported as raw logs. They kept counting on timber from the federal and state forests to take up the slack. Federally owned and managed timber sold at cut rate prices. And I don’t know if this is still true, but half the time the sale didn’t include the cost of putting in the roads for the private company to use to haul out the logs. Funny how when it helps big business make a profit, it’s good for the economy but if a poor kid needs subsidized insurance it’s a drain on the economy.

Maybe someday, sooner rather than later I hope, we’ll see this little ball for the space ship it really is and begin to show it a little more respect.

“We don’t inherit the land, we borrow it from our children.”  Native American proverb.

“We’re spending our kid’s inheritance.” Seen on a bumper sticker.

And I'm repeating myself, but you can only claim to own what you create. Nobody can own the land. We can use it, abuse it, build it up, tear it down, leave something better for our children or leave a wasteland. Our choice. Not even the rocks live forever.

Just a some appetizers on the thought menu.

Sunday, October 7, 2007


A fairly quiet weekend. Actually compared to some of the blogs I follow, we lead a very quiet life. Get up, eat breakfast, drive to work, drive home, and spend the hours in between in my little cubicle home away from home. Usually the most exciting thing that happens to me is dealing with some of my fellow commuters. Some of these guys are crazy. Hug mom, torment the cats, eat dinner, take a shower, read a little, knit a little, surf a little, go to bed and start over the next day.

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Somebody flipped the weather switch and it’s been relatively cool and damp since the end of September. Just about the time you start to expect reasonably good weather for most of October it decides to be different just to keep us guessing. Actually this summer has been weird anyway. I hope it doesn’t mean we’re going to have a cooler than usual winter. Although folks living in the Midwest and New England would probably argue that what passes for winter in the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Willamette Valley is just a really cool fall. There’s maybe six weeks from mid December to the end of January when there’s any real risk of severe cold or a lot of snow and the last ten years or so there’s been maybe one really bad winter storm that affected everything from Seattle to Springfield.


The upshot is that the trees start to leaf out fairly early and they turn color in pretty much the order they leaf out. We get really pretty autumn color, but not all at once. I see some really pretty ornamentals by the streets that are a fantastic red or orange right next to maples or poplars that are still nice and green. And it seems like when the colors hit their height we have a windy rainstorm and everything gets blown down anyway.


Ordered the DVD of An Inconvenient Truth and I’m looking forward to getting it. I get a kick out of reading the one star reviews of any film. Most of them love to label global warming as pseudo science. Some cite prehistoric data that the planet was warmer, much warmer, once upon a time. Yeah it was. Back when the continents were in different positions, the Arctic Ocean wasn’t nearly land locked, Antarctica wasn’t sitting on top of the South Pole, dinosaurs were still trundling around and the plants were much different. Flowers, grasses and deciduous trees are all post dino adaptations.


One argument I really love is that since ice is floating on the oceans, melting the ice won’t raise sea levels. Yo, that would work if most of the ice in question wasn’t on land. Even if sea levels didn’t rise, most of the water on this planet is sea water. And most of the fresh water is frozen. It isn’t going to do us much good flowing into the oceans. And most of our food crops and domestic animals were developed in the last eleven thousand years under a specific type of climate. I just love writers who criticize a lack of critical thinking while showing absolutely none themselves. Fall weather to climate change. Never quite sure where I’m going to end up when I start.


Have a couple of good books going. More about that later, I hope. I start something contemporary and keep putting it them aside because the answers seem to lie in earlier history. Then I start that and end up going further back. It’s like trying to untangle a skein of yarn that has a big knot in it without resorting to Alexander’s solution to the Gordian knot. (He took his sword and cut right through the middle, tempting but you can’t do to people what you can do to a ball of string.)


Anyway, it’s Sunday evening, and it’s quiet and I have to go back to work tomorrow. The weekend seems to go by awfully fast lately.




We headed out to Deterings yesterday in search of apples. Unfortunately they were overun with other folks in search of pumpkins. And that's ok, except there was no place to park so we headed back towards Coburg. Instead of dropping our bucks at Deterings we ended up dropping some loose change at Johnson's nursery. They had some great pots on sale and basically good prices on everything else. So we got the nice big pot, some winter pansies and a New Zealand flax called Golden Ray. Should top out at three feet or so and is striped green and yellow.

It doesn't look like much now, and probably wondering what the heck happened. The silvery plant is santolina and it's going bye bye. It was one of those good ideas that just didn't work out. The color is nice and for us, that's about it. It's a good plant for a more formal setting because the color is good and it can be easily shaped for border plantings. But that's not how we're going in our yard. We cobbled together the base from some left over concrete blocks and bricks. If anyone wants to cart this off he's going to need a fork lift.  I think we'll probably go with some small grasses, daisies and herbs. It's open and we have all winter to figure it out.


Sunday, September 30, 2007


Another week come and gone. Hell, another month come and gone. October starts tomorrow and bless me if I know where the year has gone.  Flit, blink and it’s gone. Hate to break it to a certain blogger in Utah, but, it’s been raining most of the day here. Hope you don’t get hit with snow tomorrow. Looks like somebody flipped the weather switch again. It’s been like that this year. Flip, wet weather comes, flip wet weather goes. We have a Mediterranean type climate, cool and wet in the winter, hot and dry in the summer. Of course once you get past the Cascades it’s high plateau, dry, scrubby, and down right desert type the further east and south you go.


The beans had pretty much shot their wad so I took the vines down yesterday. All gathered up and ready to go the shredder at the dump. Made sure to say thank you, we got over thirty pints off them, think of it as green sunshine in December. The cucumber and tomatoes are just about through too. Not too many left to get hit with the cool, wet weather. I will miss those lemon cucumbers are gone for the year. They’re so good and so easy to eat. Scrub off the little stickies and you’re good to go, don’t even have to peel them.


Oregon lost yesterday. L But it was a good game. Both teams fairly well matched. It was really a case of who was ahead at the end. Oregon almost made another score right at the end. Player got knocked out of bounds right at the goal line and lost the ball into the end zone. Touchback and Cal got the ball. No guaranties that even if we’d kept the ball, Oregon would have made a score with all of sixteen seconds left in the game. Heck it took almost an hour to play the last quarter, so nobody was giving anything away to anybody.


The cats are bummed. To cool most of the time to keep the widows open so one of them can sit in the sill and look out. Everybody has returned to their favorite cool weather roosting places. Each one has her own and patches of sunbeams are at a premium.


Heck, I’m  bummed. Time to haul out the sweaters, turtlenecks, and put away the sandals. My toes are really bummed. They like going uncovered. Ah well, July is only eight months away.


This will probably be the last of the peace roses for the year. Somebody flipped the switch and it looks like the rainy (sort of ) season has started.

Another nice shot of a nice drippy rose. For all our rainy reputation we actually only have about five months when we can count on any kind of rain. Down in this part of the valley this time of year if it doesn't rain it's foggy for most of the day. I think it's because this end of the vally is like a big bowl.  We have mountains on three sides down here and you have to go through a hilly section heading north to Salem. So the air gets cool, the ground is still warm and it gets kind of deary. It's kind of hard to believe we had temperatures over ninety just about three weeks ago. Ah well, something to look forward to as we go into the dark time of the year. But the rose is still pretty.

Monday, September 24, 2007


When I first wrote the  Candle piece, (see September 11 entry) I tried to conjure up a mental candle or lamp because I knew I’d want to say it in times when I didn’t have a candle or couldn’t have one where I was, say at work. Well I asked for one and got a room full. All reflecting off each other. And they tended to do crazy things, like zip out of the room when I thought about someone who needed a little extra “hey look out for ……” And go in the right direction I might add.

Anyway, I got lazy for awhile and didn’t get back to it as often as I really should. Now when I go to my candle “room” it’s outside. It’s night and the stars are shining. Shining with a brilliance I’ve never seen in this life. Oops, the Aurora just popped in. How do you do that, but come on in and join the party. Ok, just go with the flow here, obviously I’m not the one controlling this. 

Anyway, as I read through the piece and mentally light my candles, they aren’t bunched up anymore. They’re in a line stretching away from me and going up, as if they were climbing up the side of a mountain. At the top of the mountain is a great tree, black against the stars. And  the candles go up into the branches of the tree until it’s filled, overfilled even, and it outshines the stars.

Um, I don't think I'm responsible for all those lights. I just think I tapped into a whole lot of people doing the same thing, and that's how my mind interprets it. And just think how it would look if the whole six plus billion people on this little ball lit a candle in their minds. Heck for all I know they are. Keep them lit folks, we need all the help we can get.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


I seem to have a lot of irons in the fire this week. I’ve been wanting to go back to my little guided imagery valley, but haven’t been able to get my mind in the right place. Darn it. I guess we’ll find out what’s out there eventually.


Fought off a touch of a cold earlier in the week. The kids came down for the game last week, and both boys had colds. So I was hugging with my fingers crossed. Lucked out and just had a little stuffiness and was incredibly tired for a couple of days. Hallelujah. This is more like how things worked out when I was using the herbs a couple of years ago. When I was exclusively on the prescription drugs, I seemed to be coming down with something all the time and couldn’t shake it for weeks. So hopefully I’m back on the right track.


I work at for a company that is one of the oldest RV dealers in the country. And one of the premier RV manufacturers in the US has its manufacturing plant about a block from our dealership. Country Coach is also one of the biggest employers in Lane County. We had a little field trip Friday to theplant. I’m actually not really interested in having an RV but what they manage to do on site it impressive. I knew they were big, but not they were located on over forty acres. They build the coaches from the axles up and have about one thousand people working at the plant. Apparently this build it from the bottom up is fairly rare in the industry. Doing it this way it takes two to three months to finish a coach from order to delivery. All the woodwork, cabinets, and counter work are done on site to order. And after looking at a finished coach, they do fantastic work. A lot of the decorative work, such as stained glass is produced by craftsmen or women who live in this area. So that part of the day was very productive. Scrambling in and out of a van to get from place to place was not a lot of fun, however and rather hard on certain areas of me that I really didn't need to agravate any more than they already are.


But, what I saw in that RV is just not my style, even if I had the bucks. And if I had the bucks there are many places I would rather put it. If anyone has seen the Rings movies, remember Bilbo and Frodo’s hobbit house? That’s my kind of place. Lots of comfy chairs, a nice, busy kitchen, books piled in odd corners, fireplaces, flowers outside the door. Ahhhhh. That would make a good guided imagery exercise too. I’d like to find out the titles on the  books on the shelves or piled over by the desk.


A few more veggies in the jars, Another batch of bread out of the oven. So that part of weekend was good. Have an itsy, bitsy, teeny weenie RANT to add to this entry. I use Cortaid for certain itchies. I usually get the two ounce size at a local store, it’s the better buy. Looked in the usual spot and the packaging had a 33 percent free caption. Oh, goodie, this looks like a good buy. Except the box looked the wrong size. A little investigation and I discovered the package in the usual 2 ounce space was a 1.33 ounce package in the 2 ounce space-for the same price as a 2 ounce package. With the 1 ounce packages were still in the regular 1 ounce space. Two plus bucks is a lot to pay for an extra 1/3 of an ounce of product. This unhappy camper took the time to fill out a comment card with a message that started with “rip off.” Mom trained my very well. The devil really is in the details.


Oh, and happy Equinox, Mabon to the Celts. From now on the nights get longer and longer until the Solstice turns the wheel again.



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The bathroom window is a prized lookout during the warm weather. It's definitely first come first serve. Bandit looks out while Lucky waits her turn.

Lucky really isn't as cranky as she appears. She has one whisker that stubbornly turns up. It isn't a case of "bedhead" so to speak. It just turns up all the time.

Bandit had the rips the other night. I'm not sure what she thought she was looking for. Or if it was just "anything fun under here?" I just have to look for myself.

And after the rips comes the crash. Total trust and relaxation. Until the next unexplained noise comes along and it's time to go looking under rugs again.

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Monday, September 17, 2007


My sister forwarded this to me, and I think it's a great story.

As the new school year begins, and the hustle and bustle makes us crazy at times, this will let you know I'm thinking about you.

A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying
the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead.
He remembered dying, and that the dog walking beside him had been
dead for years. He wondered where the road was leading them.
After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side
of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight.
When he was standing before it he saw a magnificent gate in the arch
that looked like mother-of-pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold.
He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side.
When he was close enough, he called out, "Excuse me, where are we?"
"This is Heaven, sir," the man answered.
"Wow! Would you happen to have some water?" the man asked.
"Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up."
 The man gestured, and the gate began to open.
"Can my friend," gesturing toward his dog, "come in, too?" the traveler asked.
     "I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept pets."
The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going with his dog.
After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed.
There was no fence.
As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book.
"Excuse me!" he called to the man. "Do you have any water?"
"Yeah, sure, there's a pump over there, come on in."
"How about my friend here?" the traveler gestured to the dog.
"There should be a bowl by the pump."
They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it.
The traveler filled the water bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog.
When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree.
"What do you call this place?" the traveler asked.
"This is Heaven," he answered.
 "Well, that's confusing," the traveler said. "The man down the road said that was Heaven, too."
"Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That's hell."
"Doesn't it make you mad for them to use your name like that?"
"No, we're just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind."
Sometimes, we wonder why friends keep forwarding jokes to us without writing a word. 

Maybe this will explain.


When you are very busy, but still want to keep in touch, guess what you do? You forward jokes.
When you have nothing to say, but still want to keep contact, you forward jokes.
When you have something to say, but don't know what, and don't know how, you forward jokes.
Also to let you know that you are still remembered, you are still important, you are still loved, you are still cared for, guess what you get?
    A forwarded joke.
    So, next time if you get a joke, don't think that you've been sent
   just another forwarded joke, but that you've been thought of today and
   your friend on the other end of your computer wanted to send you a
   You are all welcome @ my water bowl anytime.


Snapshots from the weekend.

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We’re planning to redo the closet in the little bedroom. Repaint and install some kind of closet system for storage. Of course before we can do this. We have to clean out the Black Hole of the Little Bedroom Closet. So this weekend video shelves got moved and drawers got sorted. Just scraped the surface this week so it will take a little while.


The <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Portland contingent came down for the Oregon game. The game was late in the day so we actually got a good visit in. They needed to get over to Autzen in time to fine a place to park the rig in the shade. They brought down one of the dogs, so they needed the shade. A few weeks back all the dogs were piling on each other and Ranger was on the bottom. He ended up with a broken leg. He’s getting better and getting around, but there was no way sis was leaving him at home where he could get in more trouble.


So far the Ducks (it’s still a strange name for team and I graduated from the U of O, LOL) are three for three. Fresno State may have been behind the whole way but they never gave in. And just for the trivia fans, this was Mike Belotti’s 100th victory since he came to Oregon. So that was kind of neat.


As a follow up, there was a whoopee whoopee story I the paper this morning about the number drunk drivers ticketed this weekend. Four last weekend, ten ( a whole ten ) this weekend. Considering that both Oregon and Oregon State had home games this weekend, I’d suspect that the actual percentage that they picked up was actually down from last weekend. I swear almost every driver in the state was on I5 at some time between Saturday and Sunday. Yippee Skippy guys, I am so impressed.


The flowers are starting to go. Black eyed susans do not like it when the weather turns cooler and damper, the susans tend to sort of curl up and go bye bye.  Some of the shrubs are still looking good, but things are winding down. The veggies are still doing well, just hope that it stays warm a little longer. You can only eat so many fried green tomatoes and green tomato relish.


Darn, it’s dark by eight now.


Not a lot to say right now. The inspiration tends to come and go depending on how sleepy I am by the time I have time to write. LOL



This weekends bread bake. Technically I was using the Oreganato recipe. But the only oregano we had when I stated was the powdered variety. I had visons of green bread, So I used basil instead, and it turned out pretty good. I don't know if I've posted this recipe before, so here it is again. Basil worked pretty good. Putting fresh garlic in the dough is good, but the dough may be stickier than expected when it's done proofing. this is one of those breads that taste really good, and you don't have to butter it if you don't want to.



Makes 2 1 ½ pound loaves


8 cups high gluten bread flour or unbleached all purpose flour

¾ cup uncooked polenta

4 teaspoons granulated garlic or 4 tablespoons crushed fresh garlic

6 teaspoons dried parsley flakes or 6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

4 teaspoons dried oregano or 4 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

2 teaspoons coarsely cracked black pepper

2 tablespoons instant yeast or 2 ½ tablespoons active dry yeast*

2 tablespoons salt, preferably sea salt

2 ¾ to 3 cups of water


*proof active dry yeast in 4 tablespoons of the water


Mix all the dry ingredients including the yeast in a large mixing bowl. Add the water saving some for final adjustments.* Turn the mixture out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 to 12minutes. The dough should be elastic but firm, tacky but not sticky.


Return the dough to the bowl and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap. You can also put the bowl in a plastic bag. Heck, my bowl is just the right size to put an inverted plated on top and a towel over that. The plate keeps in the moisture and the towel insulates the whole thing.) Allow 1 ½ hours at room temperature for the first rise. If you are using standard loaf pans, shape the dough and put in the pans for the second rise and allow the dough to rise for about an hour. Or you can shape into free form French loaves. Again allow to raise for about an hour.


Bake loaf breads at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes in a standard oven or 300 degrees in a convection oven. For French style loaves spray the loaves with water before putting in the oven and three more times at two minute intervals. Bake for 30 minutes, spray again, turn off the oven and allow the bread to finish baking for ten minutes as the oven cools. Bread is done when a good thwack on the bottom of the loaf gives a hollow sound.


*I tend to start with the liquid ingredients and adjust from the flour side. These are based on commercial recipes, so the emphasis is on keeping the dry ingredients in proportion so that the loaf weights are consistent.


Thursday, September 13, 2007


an attempt to write a guided imagery story for my own use. It took on a life of its own. I'm not sure if I'm writing it or dreaming it. It's definitely my first attempt to write something like this, And I'm not sure where the trip is going to end. So, from the beginning. Should I start the journey with Once Upon a Time? I've never been here, but it feels like I never left.

I’m in a small valley near the coast in a high summer afternoon. The sky is that deep summer blue with a few puffy clouds so white you think you’ve never seen white before. The wind is coming in from the sea today and brings a hint of sea tang and wave song.  The sun is hot but the breeze is fresh, blowing  through my hair and cooling my face

There’s a small stream winding its way through the reeds and water grasses. The cattails wave at me and I wave back. The seed heads on the grasses are so light, even a bumble bee makes them bob as the bees search out the bank side flowers in search of pollen. The ripe seed pods wave gold and amber over the greens of the grasses. Summer daisies, poppies and lilies take the place of crocus, violet and iris. The blues of chicory, contrast with glowing black eyed susans and the yellow and gray dandelions.

A stronger gust of wind and the dandelions loose their fluffy seeds to take root and bloom again. There’s the odd trill and bird call, but most of the birds are drowsing in the shady willow branches waiting for the cool of the evening to forage for seeds and water insects. There’s a great blue heron drowsing in the shallows. Feathers fluffed in a false calm, he waits for a fish to take shelter in his shadow or an unwary frog to use the lily pads for a way station. By the time you turn at the sound of the flutter and splash, the heron is drowsing again.

The small meadows sloping up from the river are hedged with thickets of berry vines, hawthorns, wild roses, lavender, thistles and elder. The elders and the wild roses bear fruit for the birds and other small creatures. The twisted thickets provide shade in summer and protection from the winter’s cold and rain.  But, it’s summer now and the air is heady with the scents of flowers and ripe berries. It fills my senses and leaves me feeling as light as thistledown.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


I’ve posted this before. Don’t let the lights go out.


We kindle this flame in honor of the Creator of Creation. We are grateful for the plenty that blesses us. In a world where many walk hand in hand with hunger we have abundance. In a world where too many walk in fear we can speak as our hearts lead us and show our faith freely. In a world where too many are alone, even in a crowd, we are rich in family and friends.



We kindle this flame in honor of the earth and the star that warms it.


We kindle this flame in gratitude for the changing seasons, for the coolness of rain, for the shifting mists and warmth of sun.


We kindle this flame to ask healing for our battered world. May we learn to use only what we need and to respect what we use.


Wekindle this flame in gratitude for the plants, animals, air and waters that sustain us. Their infinite variety is wondrous.



We kindle this flame in honor of all who share this little world with us.


We kindle this flame in gratitude for our fellow travelers. We kindle this flame in gratitude for birdsong, the glory of infinite colors of flowers and trees, for the seas, the rivers, the rolling hills and the soaring peaks.



We kindle this flame to honor the infinite variety of our brothers and sisters.


We kindle this flame to ask for healing for those who lash out in fear.


We kindle this flame to ask for healing for those who lash out in anger.

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We kindle this flame to ask healing for those who lash out in ignorance.


We kindle this flame to ask for healing for those who are ill in body or spirit.


We kindle this flame to ask for healing for their caregivers, family and friends.


We kindle this flame in honor of the river of faith. Help us to remember that many streams enter the river of faith that sustains us. Help us to remember that this river has many wells to refresh our thirsty spirits.



We kindle this flame in honor of our family and friends.


We kindle this flame in gratitude for their love and support.


We kindle this flame to ask for healing for any sickness or injury. We kindle this flame to ask that they may find the love and support to live the lives they were meant to.


We kindle this flame in faith that we can return the love and support that has been so freely given to us.