Saturday, June 30, 2007


These pick roses are from our garden courtesy of Photoshop. These plush old roses are perfect for the special effects. Makes it look like an old painting.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


I saw the film, Ben Hur, when I was in the fifth grade. Totally blew me away and I immediately went to the library and checked out the book. I don’t think I realized at the time that it had been written in the late 1800’s. I had a lot more patience then. A lot more patience.  I actually managed to read the whole thing. I got a kick out of a review of the novel when I checked it out on Amazon. The story is written very much in the Victorian style and Lew Wallace never used one or two words when he could use a dozen or even two.

And I think I shocked the heck out of my folks. When most kids were perfectly happy with Nancy Drew, I was hauling home hardbacks from the library that you could use for lethal weapons. Sometimes I think I’m not only marching to a different drummer, but she’s in the parade one county over.

I would love to see this film on the big screen as an adult. Even on the small screen, when the late Stephen Boyd and Charlton Heston are in the same scene the combined personalities blast right off the screen. And watching the Roman commander testing his galley’s rowers for weaknesses is absolutely chilling. He’s probing, testing, pushing them past their limits, and he’s ice cold. They’re tools, not human beings.

For a film that runs over three hours, it moves. It really moves. It’s like, “it’s over?”

It’s a shame, but I don’t believe this film could be made today. And not just because the “cast of thousands” would cost a mint. So does CGI. I’m glad that relationships between couples can be shown more realistically. But I also think it’s allowed writers to get lazy. When in doubt, or if you can’t really write, show some skin, throw in a sex sceneor use the F word a few times.

I adore the Lord of the Rings films. They actually ended up shooting all three films at once, thanks to modern communications and the ability to use computers to keep everything reasonably straight. But, they were writing the script while they were shooting and the holes do show at times. Sometimes I believe being able to keep doing things over makes us a little lazy. I don’t have to get it perfectly the first time because it’s so easy to correct it.

And I’d really hate to see anyone try to use CGI to recreate the famous chariot race. And the arena set was a full size stadium. A stadium large enough for nine chariots with teams of four horses each. Even on a TV screen, there is a different feel knowing that each four team and driver are real. It’s real people screaming in the seats and hitting the dust of the stadium when the race is over.

I suspect that some of the modern film makers would try to make the villain, Messala, as ugly on the outside as he turns out to be on the inside. He is devilishly handsome, arrogant, fatally ambitious, cruel and manipulative , but you almost like the guy to start with. Roman, through and through, in the worst sense of the word. And maybe that’s why this probably can’t be repeated now. The film was made in the late fifties. <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />America had become a world power, but in some ways didn’t realize it yet. When Messala tries to convince his child hood friend to see the world through his eyes and embrace the Roman way at his side, I find myself thinking; “hey, who died and made you God?” And so is his old friend. Their friendship ends, badly. But, of course if they didn’t quarrel the film would have set a record for shortness instead of length. When an accident gives the Roman the chance to prove how strong and unyielding he can be by condemning his childhood friend to the galleys and his family to prison, he takes it, and apparently never looks back.

So, Judah survives the galleys, wins the race and sees his enemy crushed only to find the victory hollow. The mother and sister he thought were dead are alive, and lepers. Empty and full of hatred he plans to use his hidden fortune to raise a rebellion. The woman he loves tries to tell him of the young rabbi she’s heard teach. That hatred and violence aren’t the answer.

“I know there is a law in life. Blood begets blood as dog begets dog. Death generates death as the vulture breeds the vulture.” When he tries to tell her that he knows what he plans will only hurt her and it’s better for her to get out now, he gets this reply. “It was Judah Ben Hur I loved…………………hatred is turning you to stone. It is as though you had become Messala!”

I’m not sure how many of our “war is good, get the bad guys” fellow citizens would sit through a retelling of the Sermon on the Mount. Especially some our fellow Christians.

In the end the good guys do win, at least temporarily. The family is reunited. There are tears and smiles all around. Even from the man of the family. How long has it been since we’ve seen a manly man cry on screen? Or at even seriously puddle up? Too long, I think.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Looking toward the south from the street. Lavender, poppies, the day lilies over to the side and other flowers.

The first tiny black eyed susan. About half the size of the  usual bloom.

An unusual geranium. The leaves are the showcase for this one. The flowers have a pretty color, and are quite small.

Our other pink rose. A purer pink color, if you will. And a very nicely shaped bud. Also has the fantastic dark green foliage.

Lavender and poppies. Of course the yard was in the shade so the poppies had closed up for the night. I'm hoping for good weather this weekend so I can get out with the camera and the tripod. And get out early while the sun is up but still low enough to get some good light and shade shots.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


The first good blossom from the strawberry candy day lily. At least the first good blossom that was still around when I was there to take a picture of it. Day lilies do live up to their names. Barely open in the morning, going by the time I get home from work.

And a really pretty pink rose from the side yard.

It also has a really pretty dark green foliage and light yellow highlights at the base of the blossom.

Looking towards the lavenders this morning. I found myself with a few extra minutes and sunshine. You can't really see them, but the purple coneflowers have been growing like crazy and setting blossoms. This one didn't do well at all last year. The now gone Spanish lavender was just too big and almost crowded the cone flower out of the picture. Tough little begger. There is a new yellow one and a magenta on that we're looking forward to seeing. As newbies they're running a little behind the older plant.

An ok shot of our yellow day lily. It's called Condilla. I don't know if you can see it, but the blossom on this one is shaped differently from the others. It has what looks like a double blossom. Very bright and very different.

Monday, June 25, 2007



They can be called prayer shawls, comfort shawls, nursing shawls, or in at least one case (mine) “big, fuzzy hugs.”  ;-) The shawls can be knitted, crocheted, sewn or quilted. They can be created from ribbon yarn, the finest silk on tiny needles or bulky yarns on big ones. The colors can be earth tones, rainbows or anything in between.  

They can be created by crafters working alone or in groups gathered in sanctuary meeting rooms or member’s homes. The shawl can be presented anonymously, one on one, or in moving ceremonies during worship services. The shawls or throws have been given to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, newlyweds, new mothers, the disabled, graduates, retirees, or to a friend who needs a hug and a reminder that whatever life is throwing at you right now, you don’t have to go through it alone.

This pattern is knit three, pearl three, each row ending with knit three. The stitch pattern can stand for the trinity, the holy family, or the apostles. Or it can stand for unity. Every stitch depends on the others. The first stitch is just as important as the last. And maybe it’s an example of how when we stand together, we can create miracles.

I have this dream of getting several ahead so that I have one handy when I need it. But, for some peculiar reason, I can't seem to manage it. Somehow they seem to keep disappearing

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Went early this morning to deadhead the rhodies on the south side of the house. There's a peace rose by one of the rhodies, and the rose had a passenger this morning. It's been very cool during the night.

It was still to cool for this little guy to feel like spread the wings when I was out there.

And the peace is one of the most beautiful roses there is.


Sunday, June 17, 2007


I don't know if it would have been different if I'd had brothers, but dad never had the attitude that "girls don't ...........(fill in with topic of choice.)" Maybe it was being a farm kid, maybe he was just a little on the contrary side. He and his buddies worked the harvests on the local farms turn and turn about. And if the girls weren't out harvesting, they were inside helping cook for the crew and canning, salting pickling, jamming and jellying until I'm sure they were ready to drop. At least the guys got to be outside and they could take their shirts off.

And he loved to tinker. And once he was disabled mom and I were regulary pressed into service to do what he couldn't. He also was a bit of a collecter when it came to tools. Bit of a collector might be an understatement, there are some half inch drill bits out on the work bench. There's lots of really nice stuff out there.

So, where am I going with this?

Here's where I'm going. We took the fence down a couple of years ago, but kept posts. Mom wants to try raising some pole beans this year. We'll use the trellis and string twine between for the vines to climb. After a little rooting around the work bench this morning I found everything I needed to get them up. Sneaky little me. Took some scrounging, and a "I really hope we didn't give the ratchet set to Jon." We didn't and I have the barked knuckles to prove it. Figured I'd see how far I could get on my own ;-).

Thanks dad for the tools and the confidence to at least try to do the job.

And this is one of the first asian lilies to bloom. It's creamy white and the purple in the corner is a little hidcote levender.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


It's been really cool and cloudy today. It's usually kind of cool through June around here but it's been cooler than usual. No rain, but cloudy and cool. Never gonna get any ripe tomatoes this way. And you can only eat so many batches of fried green tomatoes.

Barrel planter with a couple of petunias and a little daisy.

And a closer shot. The purples and yellows look really nice together.

And two of the lavenders we still have in front. These are a good scale for the space we have. And the bumblebees really love them.

The little pink flowers in the corner are the landscape strawberries. We've even put out some regular berries here and there for ground cover and the odd berry. We've gotten a couple of small batches already. Considering the cost of fresh berries it's nice to have a few of our own. They're kind of homely but they taste really good.

The basket of million bells on the front porch. I think they're really pretty too. The shade is kind of unusual.

Monday, June 11, 2007


It looks like we really traumatized the cats when we were gone for a grand total of about 55 hours last weekend. Unfortunately you can’t explain to a cat that you aren’t leaving forever. It just feels that way.

When Lucky wasn’t in my lap this weekend she was sitting in my chair waiting for to come back so she could be in my lap. Or she was meowing at me to get my kiester over where it belonged so she could take back her favorite spot. Kind of hard when I was bopping in and out of the kitchen most of the day. She was acting really put out during the granola baking process. You have to stir it every five minutes or so and I wasn’t going to discuss getting up and down with the cat for the half hour or so total baking time. Besides I found something else to work on between oven checks.

As for Misty, she was constantly up and down. She doesn’t hesitate to sit on Lucky if that will get here where she wants to be. She doesn’t do laps, she does chests. And I’m usually wishing I had a towel handy. Not because of the shedding, it’s the claws. She keeps her arsenal well honed and she loves to “knead bread dough.” Bandit is not a lap cat, so if I was going to spend the day in the kitchen she was going to sleep in the kitchen. On my chair. Right next to where I was working. She didn’t seem to mind the little doughy flour bits that flew her way every so often.

We got semi drowned shrub shopping Saturday. This is the strangest spring I’ve seen in a long time and really it didn’t rain that hard. And really it was only wet, not really cold. We ended up with a nice sized barberry and a couple of other little shrubs to put with the new day lilies. We’re finding that how much pruning we have to do to each plant every year is starting to loom large. That’s one of the reasons the elderberry and the butterfly bush are gone. A pick up load of trimmings from just two bushes every year was NOT A GOOD THING.

The day lilies are coming along very nicely and it’s starting to look like I’ll need a step ladder to take pictures of the stargazer lilies if they keep going the way they are right now. The stems are over five feet tall and there are no signs of buds yet, so I guess the sky is the limit. Since they usually bloom in July, I guess the sky really is the limit.

Saturday, June 9, 2007


A week since I watched my nephew graduation. All so bright, shiny and full of hope. The guys in dress shirts and ties. Girls in nice dresses and slightly wobbly high heels. I suspect they’re probably more used to tennis and flip flops, but they were trying. And looking really sharp.


Sixty eight seniors started the year and sixty eight picked up their diplomas. Remarkable for a small community that’s largely agricultural and has a fairly large minority population. There were three valedictorians. They’d all agreed to keep it short and, as I expected, Tim’s speech was the shortest out of the three.


Actually we’d had a chance to visit quite a bit the night before while we looked at pictures of the house and yard. I took my lap top with me and we had fun going over some of the pictures I’ve taken this spring. And one neat note. The kids had raised money for their senior trip. A trip that all but one of the students was expecting to take. One of seniors has cystic fibrosis and frankly, she wasn’t expected to live long enough to graduate. She not only graduated, but they raised enough extra so she could go too, if she was well enough, and she was. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house when they announced that.


On a more personal note, we still don’t really know what is happening with my brother in law. He is now in a hospital in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Seattle. All we really do know right now is that the problem is not viral or bacterial. So, at least it isn’t contagious. Some consolation. Something is irritating the lining of his brain and spinal column and they haven’t been able to pin it down yet. Sis is with him while the kids hold down the doggie fort back home. As luck, or providence would have it, they have some old friends from their Young Life days who live in Seattle. Sis is being very well looked after. And a further help, his sister isn’t working right now while she upgrades her nursing qualification sand her kids are grown. Also, his mom is a retired ICU nurse. Who better to take a little side trip up north to help hold down the fort and ask the right questions?


So we’ve still got our fingers crossed and putting in requests to the guy upstairs to please hold off on the lemon shipments. We’ve got enough lemonade thank you.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007


I just finished Mary Renault's novel The Praise Singer, the fictional autobiography of the Greek poet Simonides. The novel is in the form of Simonides looking back over his life from his twilight years. (if the dates in the history books are right he was in his middle seventies when he died) He recounts the illness and death of his teacher's apprentice and how he wondered at the time if the physician's treatments were any good.

"They have their rules, and they follow them. Whether it does you any good or not." He also recounts how the local physicians ask him occaisionally how he managed to reach his fairly advanced age. He says that usually gives them some reason or other and they go away satisfied. What he doesn't tell them is that at the first sign of illness he takes to his bed and "sends for the local wise woman." ;-)


as Radar on MASH said a time or two. We went over to Umatilla for my newphew's graduation this weekend. More on that later, but got there to discover that my brother in law was definitly on the feeling super crappy list. The working assumption of everybody, including the doctors in the ER (two visits) was that his bad back was acting up big time.

Turns out he's running into something that we went through for years with my dad. There is a tendency to not look beyond the chronic problem. In dad's case his stomach problems were dismissed with irritable bowel when in fact he had colon cancer. Thank the goddess it was discovered in time.

In his case the bad back turned out to be meningitis. Hopefully of the viral variety, we don't know yet, but #$%%^#$. It's a good thing sis didn't have access to anything loaded, pointy, or long because I expect she would have cleaned house big time. So, at this point he's getting the help he needs and we're all thinking really good thoughts. Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, June 4, 2007


Sometimes I envy those who live in parts of the country where the land is easier on its people. Maybe it’s a trade off. A gentler geography in return for chancier weather. Oregon usually avoids hurricanes, tornadoes, ear shattering thunderstorms, hours long down pours, and blizzards. At least in the times since Europeans settled here. In return we have state that looks like it was put together with odd bits of other states.


And in a way it was. Andesite and basalts from millions of years of volcanic activity. Scrapings from the Pacific plate that’s being buried by the continental plate moving northwest. The debris from unnumbered floods caused by collapsing ice dams at the end of the last ice age. Except for the Willamette Valley most of the state is quick to remind us that we live here on the land’s terms, not ours. Even in the valley you won’t find great, endless fields of anything. There isn’t the room. And unfortunately since most of the people in the state live where the living is relatively easy they tend to forget it, it they ever realized it.


Mom and I just spent the better part of about twelve hours driving through the Columbia Gorge and back. Not in the same day, thank you very much. If you started in Lincoln City on the coast, took the Sunset highway, went through Portland and picked up the freeway through the gorge, you could probably do it in five or six hours, but you’d miss the flavor of what I’m trying to describe.


Start on the south coast and go north on highway 101. The highway moves away from the ocean when it can. The Pacific undercuts the highway at times and the road can literally fall out from under you. As you go north the beaches get smaller and the stretches of volcanic headlands get longer. The relatively flat areas where towns can be built also get smaller until you get north of Tillamook but none of the coastal communities are very large. Astoria’s port never got very large for two reasons. There isn’t much flat land to build on and the Willamette meets the Columbia further inland at Portland. You build where you can and where the business is.


If I had the time I’d avoid the main highways on the way from the coast to Portland. Drive the state or county roads that run between the little towns and take the time to see the rich lands where the nurseries, small farms and vineyards are. The valleys are rich but fairly small. Keep these rich lands in mind as you drive east. You enter the Columbia Gorge at Troutdale and come out at Hood River. About fifty miles or so. You drive past big trees and basalt cliffs. As you go east the trees get smaller and the cliffs get bigger. By the time you get to the end of gorge there aren’t any real trees and the hills look like they’ve been shaved.


It doesn’t feel claustrophobic inside the gorge until you get to the top and you can see for miles and miles again. And what you see is sage brush, scrub grass and rocks. Lots and lots of nice, big rocks. Turns out the Missoula floods dumped a lot of their loads in the Umatilla area. It is a very stark country. And this weekend it was pretty darn hot and smoky. It looks like an early fire season this year and the smoke was drifting north into the gorge. And the soil washed off the surface of this part of Eastern Oregon and Washington ended up either in the Willamette Valley or out in the Pacific where the Columbia meets the ocean.


In the area around Umatilla where there is water, it’s green. This time of year, in this part of Oregon, no water no green. I think I could live there if I had to, but it would be a hell of an adjustment.


The drive back Sunday was easier. It’s literally down hill all the way. Set your cruise control and enjoy the ride. For the first time I really paid attention to the rocks by the road. You can see the remains of several lava flows. Some deeper than others. Some of the basalt flows have big columns, some small and almost twisty looking. By the time you get to the middle of the gorge the rocks you were looking at are still on top of the mountains but a couple of hundred feet higher. It’s been several ears since I made the drive and really the first time I took the time to really look at what I was seeing.


We did luck out and see something of three of the local volcanoes. Hood, St. Helens and Adams. All in all it was a good drive.

Sunday, June 3, 2007


More about our quick trip to my sister's in Umatilla later. But, we stopped at a rest area next to Memaloose state part on the way back. I swear I'm taking my tripod next time so I can actually shoot with a panorama in mind. I don't think this is so bad for two minutes flat taking the pictures and being barely able to se the LCD display because the sun was so bright. The view is towards Washington from the Oregon side of the gorge. Mostly basalt deposits that are ten or eleven million years or less old. Thank you Photoshop, Fugi, and Oregon