Thursday, December 31, 2009


I was trying to rearrange the book shelves yesterday and stumbled across a little zen book with some seasonal poems. Each of those fuzzy clusters is a galaxy. Millions of stars in a tiny picture. Five hundred million years of time captured in a well.

I've got the buckets, but I don't think I'm going to see any stars around here for awhile.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Well, Christmas is over for 2009. I have to admit that it was harder than usual to get in the mood this year. But, the more lights we got up, the happier I got. We’ve had so much fog the last couple of weeks or so. Dark, chilly, and clammy. Just what you need to get in the mood for the season. So not.

The eastern Oregon sister and her family made it over for the first time in a couple of years. Things could have gone a little better in a lot of ways. They both teach and they were so darn tired that I was almost, almost, sorry they made the trip. Between the exhaustion and her inlaws she was just worn out by the time they left for home Monday morning. Sis so needed her own bed. It was good to see them though. Mom took sis shopping at Michael’s with her Christmas and birthday (poor kid was almost a Christmas baby) money. Turned her loose in the beading department and almost didn’t get her out before closing. 

Portland wasn’t coming and then they were coming after all. Good thing we’d already planned on roasting two nice big chickens in the first place. Just didn’t have quite as many leftovers as we anticipated and thank heaven Fred’s wasn’t as busy as I thought they’d be for the last minute last minute shopping. Turned out my last minute shopping was really the next to the last minute shopping. Chalk up the last paragraph to post Christmas delirium.

Still didn’t have everybody in the same zip code. About the time we were putting the chickens in the oven, the freshman Duck was heading for LA and the Rose Bowl. What the heck, we fed him turkey soup and fresh bread the Sunday before. Merry sort of Christmas kid.

We did do a fair amount of baking for the holiday and in the part I like best, proceeded to send almost all of it out the door. Guess I knew deep down that we’d have twice as many people as we thought were coming.

Found a recipe for what turned out to be absolutely fantastic brownies. You can cut these really small and you don’t need to make fudge. Unless you really, really want to.


Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
• 8- 1 ounce squares of unsweetened chocolate
• 1 cup butter
• 5 eggs
• 3 cups sugar
• 1 tablespoon vanilla
• 1-1/2 cups flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2-1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan.
Melt chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat; set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla at high speed for 10 minutes**. Blend in chocolate mixture, flour and salt until just mixed. Stir in the nuts. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 35-40 minutes. (Don't overbake.) Cool and frost if desired, but that is not necessary.
** It's not required, but this is when it's very nice to own a stand mixer.

Found this on the internet and the poster is right, these brownies are the absolute ultimate for chocoholics. The author said she got two dozen out of the recipe. We cut ours more like one inch squares. A little went a long way.

Monday, December 21, 2009



Brightener of darkness, hail!
Keeper of Clearness,
Opener of depths.
Gifts of plenty are arising,
Winter wonders, white snows fall.
Joyful be the heart within us,
Open wide the guesting door,
Wisdom waken in abundance,
Warm our beings to the core.

Caitlin Matthews

Happy Solstice, God Yule, Happy Shortest Day of the Year, whatever floats your boat. Now the sun starts moving back up the sky. At this time of year the rises behind the cedar trees in the next block and thanks to the hill behind the house we are in the shade by 1:30 in the afternoon. At the latest. Even with the half day of sun the untrimmed roses are trying to put out new branches and clover we planted in the garden spot is blissfully green. On the rare evenings when the sun is out at sunset it hits the top of another cedar tree. At least a block to the east of us.

So, here’s to the sun. Long may it shine. And it looks like we’ll have some fairly dry, if chilly weather for Christmas. Which means that the Umatilla contingent will make it safely through the Great Northwest Wind Tunnel. And hopefully the Portlanders will have a safe drive to Pasadena next week. They scored tickets to the Rose Bowl and I’m not quite sure how it works, but either the athletic department or the university have an arrangement with some of hotels to give the players families special rates. So they get to head south and watch my nephew warm the bench. Go Ducks.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Brighid was an Irish goddess, in many stories she was three sisters, all named Brighid. When the Christians came to the Isles Brighid became St. Brighid but her special care was still given to poets, healers, smiths, and crafters. An odd combination, but it does cover just about everything.

One special responsibility of the women of the house included putting the hearth fire to bed at night and rekindling it in the morning. Wonderful imagery in this poem. These women were traditional in every way but they were also very powerful in their own special way.

Brighid of the mantle, encompass us,
Lady of the lambs, protect us,
Keeper of the Hearth, kindle us,
Beneath your mantle gather us,
And restore us to memory.

Mothers of our mother,
Foremothers strong,
Guide our hands in yours.
Remind us how
To kindle the hearth,
To keep us bright,
To preserve the flame,
Your hands upon ours,
Our hands within yours,
To kindle the light
Both day and night.

The mantle of Brighid about us,
The memory of Brighid within us,
The protection of Brighid keeping us
From harm, from ignorance, from heartlessness,
This day and night,
From dawn till dark,
From dark till dawn.

Poem by Caitlin Matthews

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Tom Cowan tells a story that echoes the old Irish tale of the voyage of King Bran. As the coracles of Bran and his men sail into the west they are met by a strange vision a chariot and driver are speeding west over the waves. The driver is Mannanan son of Lir one of the Irish gods of the sea. Where the sailors see ocean and dolphins Mannanan sees a field covered with grass and flowers.

Cowan’s tells the tale of two Irish hermits. The first leaves his hut by a lake to catch a fine, fat fish for his breakfast. As he casts his line he spots his neighbor hermit from across the lake. His neighbor is calmly walking across the water. Hailed by the curious boatman he tells him he is seeking flowers for his alter and what is his neighbor doing in a boat in the middle of a flower filled meadow. The confused fisherman tells him he’s looking for breakfast. “The fish are biting over by those foxgloves” says the second hermit and so they are. Each returns to his hut, one with breakfast, the other with his flowers.

Perhaps the difference between paradise and a desert depends on your point of view. And your ability to find a fine, fat fish swimming over by the foxgloves.


Out of the deepfreeze and into the shower. But, before the tap was turned on last night we had a nice sunny morning and the birds were singing there little hearts out. I saw a hopeful pussy willow shrub with its soft, grey “blooms.” The irises we trimmed are showing new green and one of the daylilies never stops. All the others pull back and almost disappear, but Lady Scarlett soldiers on. She’s a little ragged around the edges, but she is GREEN. That’s a rare commodity right now.

I haven’t seen any crocus leaves peaking through yet. The foliage is so fine, I always imagine the first tip pushing through and testing the air so to speak. “Is it safe to come out yet?” Not sure little crocus fairy, not sure. Better wait for January.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I'm thankful that at least the sun is shining this morning. 'Cause otherwise it's colder than all get out. We don't usually wake up to eight degree mornings in this part of the country. That's why we live here, for cryin' out loud.

Although the Weather Channel has just informed me that the record low for the this date was set in 1972. It was minus five. I guess I can be triply thankful today. The sun is shining, we didn't set a record last night and I don't live where the snow is drifting to six to eight feet with some really powerful winds. Western Oregon looks really good right now even if it is twenty two degrees right now.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

86,400 SECONDS

Found in the “Mutts” comic strip this morning. It runs something like this;

Today God gave you the gift of 86,400 seconds. Have you used one of them to say thank you?

William A. Ward

On a personal note. Unless you’re doing a universal all inclusive thank you, this may take longer than one second. Especially if hugs and cuddles are included. Hugs for mom, cuddles for two of the cats and ear skritches for the one that prefers not to be cuddled. On chilly Fall evenings I’m especially thankful for furry, purry lap warmers.

Monday, November 23, 2009


I was right about Oregon football. This year is the 113th so called Civil War game. And it's the first time that Ducks and the Beavers have been one and two in the league standings. It's probably a good thing that the game is a night game during the week or the whole state would be tilted towards Autzen stadium if it was a weekend game.

On another note. I'm thankful for our garden; leafless as it is right now. Joseph Campbell claimed in an interview during the eighties that "if you can't find holy ground where you are, you won't find it somewhere else." Or words to that effect. So our little patch of leaf littered, somewhat soggy holy ground is right outside the door.

Word picture. There is dining room chair that needs some TLC so we can use it Thursday. Mom put it on the table, top of the seat side down. The "seat" of the upside down chair is currently occupied by Bandit, the twenty pound wonder with her patented "I'm not the table, I'm on the........." totally innocent look.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Today I’m thankful for football overtimes. Two of them to be exact. I think the collective hearts of Oregon fans have started to beat again. Talk about taking it to the last second. Looked at the PAC 10 stats this morning. I never thought I would see both Oregon teams set to play for the Roses. The Ducks and the Beavers meet December 3, in Eugene to play for all the marbles. Duck that I am, I may just root for the Beavers. OSU hasn’t played in a Rose Bowl since 1965. Go for it and may the best species win.

The sun is playing hide and seek this morning; the better to see the results of Mother Nature’s housecleaning. Trouble is she only drops the leaves and little branches. Somehow she sort of forgets the broom. We do though. LOL

Saturday, November 21, 2009


November morning. Even the sky looks chilly. It's that clean, light blue that comes after the rain, before the chimney smoke can blur it. Water droplet diamonds on the bare dogwood branches. First to leaf out, first to bare it all to the storm winds. Down the street the whatever it is tree that was the last to leaf out is still mostly green. It's a bright, chilly washed clean morning. One of those it's just good to be alive mornings.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Advent it coming on in a couple of weeks; I discovered this lying around. I printed off a shorter version a few years ago.

While John Paul II was enduring his last illness, there were a great many posts about his beliefs (or perceived beliefs). John Paul did have a special devotion to Mary; something he shared with his fellow Poles. There were a great many posts in J land or the message boards arguing back and forth whether Mary was actually Jesus's mother-in the physical sense.

The sense of a lot of the posts made Mary at best a surrogate mother and at worst, an incubator. This has been percolating since then, so here goes.
Many of my fellow J landers are parents. I don't have kids, but I have five nephews, I've changed a lot of diapers over the years. Actually getting the child into the world is just the beginning.

I suspect that many of the posters didn't really think through what they were saying. Think of all the foster parents, friends, aunts, uncles, grandparents, step-parents, and adoptive parents. They become parents for reasons that transcend physical birth. Other family members die leaving small children behind. They adopt a child someone else can’t raise. The man I called grandpa promised his best friend that he’d look after his family. And he did it very well, thank you very much.

When a child comes into the world it’s just the beginning. Imagine God as a totally helpless baby. It has to be fed, changed, and bathed. Parents walk miles when that little one has the colic or starts cutting teeth. I suspect that little ones came down with colds and needed their noses wiped as often two thousand years ago as they do now.

When a toddler discovers what those little hands and feet are for, it has to be watched over to make sure that curiosity doesn’t lead those little hands and feet into danger. It had to be almost impossible to baby proof a house with an open hearth, bake oven, looms and carpentry tools. Someone's hands have to be there for those little hands to hang onto when the baby learns to walk. Someone’s voice helps the baby to learn to talk. The parents have to be there to teach the baby to love and be loved. That little boy, all little boys need loving parents to teach them how to love and how to be a man.

God couldn't be there to do these things for that baby. So he sent Mary and Joseph. They were His mother and father in every way that counts.
Imagine things from the Creators' point of view. Think about God watching someone else cuddle that baby. Watch someone else hold out their hands for those first faltering steps. Watch someone else encourage those first lisping sounds. Someone else offer comfort in the dark hours of the night when the child was sick. Watch someone else offer comfort when knees get skinned. Listen while that child calls someone else mother or father.
It's hard to imagine God as sacrificing, but I can't imagine a greater sacrifice than allowing someone else to raise your child.

Cross posted in Green Woman.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Tonight the Winter season for many in the Celtic traditions begins. This is the dark half of the year. The last of the harvest is in. The cold times are at hand. In lands with few cities candle or lamplight glimmering through the cottage windows would have been a welcome sight indeed.

In the past when our ancestors had to rely on the bounty their lands provided it could be a time of mixed blessings. Yes, it was a time to give thanks for the harvest. But, it was also an anxious time. Would this years’ harvest last until the first crops of spring came in? Could enough breeding stock be carried through the dark times to replenish the herds in the spring? Women in the coastal villages would have to wonder how many of their men folk would go out for the fishing, never to return. The spring bonfires of Beltane must have looked very far away.

But, the wheel turns and it is right to give thanks for the year that is passing. It is also time to think about what went right with the year, what we learned and how we might do things differently in the new year that is beginning. It’s also a time to remember those friends and family that are far away, even if they are just around the corner.

Song of Samhain

I am the hallow-tide of all souls passing.
I am the bright releaser of all pain.
I am the quickener of fallen seed case.
I am the glance of snow, the strike of rain.
I am the hollow of the winter twilight.
I am the hearth fire and the welcome bread.
I am the curtained awning of the pillow.
I am unending wisdom’s golden thread.

Caitlin Matthews.

Monday, October 5, 2009


This is another example of what is often called an encompassing prayer. The Three may be the traditional Trinity, I’ve read some wonderful prayers using the traditional images but on a more personal level. Some of the old islanders and highland crofters used Mary, St Michael, and St Brigid. (usually pronounced Brede and can also be spelled Bride; she was also the Irish goddess associated with poetry and healing) Somehow she made the transition from pagan goddess to Christian saint, but still with the image of healing and protection. Or the Three can be the trinity of the last entry; the Shape, Shaper, and Shaping of Life itself.

The Three Who are over me,
The Three Who are below me,
The Three Who are above me here,
The Three Who are above me yonder,
The Three Who are in the earth,
The Three Who are in the air,
The Three Who are in the heavens,
The Three Who are in the great pouring sea.

There is that wonderful promise of protection and guardianship from all that surrounds us. These prayers come out of the lands facing the North Sea or the North Atlantic. Expecting protection from elements known for rain, snow and great storms as well as gentle rains and sunshine is a real leap of faith.

Cross posted in Green Woman.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Some of these entries may seem a little disconnected. I’m trying to work my way more deeply into concepts I can just barely wrap my brain around at times. The old Celtic pagan and even Christian concepts of the natural world and the society that lived in it are so different, almost alien to what we wake up to every morning that frankly I feel as though I’m looking through someone else’s eyes. And the focus is just a little bit “off.”

The veils between the physical and spiritual worlds seemed thinner in the past. There was a time when it was easier to believe that there were spirits in the rocks, the trees, the streams. A vision of the world that’s still often dismissed as “Nature Worship” by mainstream society. To be honest I’m not sure how I’m going to explain this road I’m traveling to some of my family. My nephews are wonderful young men, but a more uncurious crew I’ve never met. Heck, they’ve got their drummer, I’ve got mine.

I don’t believe that the old Celts worshipped Nature as I understand word, but they were much more in touch with the world, seen and unseen, around them. This immersion in the spirit world seems to have persisted longest on the fringes of Europe. In Ireland, where Rome’s writ never ran. Or in the highlands and islands of Scotland beyond Hadrian’s Wall. Even the people of Wales held onto most of their independence until the thirteenth century and the invasions of England’s Edward I.

I’m not even sure that the Celtic concept of creation or creator is the same as the world view I grew up with. They certainly have enough different words to work with. And heck, maybe it doesn’t really matter unless you’re trying to learn how to speak one of these jaw breakers of a language.

The word often used in Irish for creator, Duileamh (always capitalized and pronounced dool-yev) doesn’t have the root word for create. It doesn’t have the root word for God, or the Almighty, or Supreme Being; all those words our world view equates with a supernatural Creator.

This difficult, for us, to pin down word can mean “being in the elements,” or “one who is in the elements” or “one who is the elements.” To make it even more interesting the root duil can also mean desire, hope, fondness or expectation. They’re all related, I guess, maybe…….oh heck I’ll take their word for it. Try asking Who is fond of What? Who desires What? Careful, the next thing you know you just might decide that Creator and Creation are caught in a web of desire, hope, and fondness that we aren’t used to facing in our world view of the sacred confined to a few hours on a certain day and tucked in the closet the rest of the time.

The highlanders of Scotland used to bless each other in a way that turns the way we treat each other and the world around us on its head.

“The love and affection of the moon be yours.
The love and affection of the sun be yours.
The love and affection of the stars be yours.”

And work their way through all the things of nature around them until they end with

“The love and affection of all living things be yours.”

Adapted from Yearning for the wind.

Perhaps it isn’t so strange to feel a kinship with the sun. The sun feeds the plants, the plants feed the cows and the cows feed us. I guess you could say we carry a bit of sunshine with us through the day; and the night.

If we really believed that the local river had love and affection for us we might treat it like the irreplaceable creation that it is instead of as a sewer. If we could stretch our minds around the idea that the mountains and valleys might love us perhaps we’d think twice about carving off the top of a mountain to get at the coal and dumping the tailings in the valley below. If we truly felt the living web instead of seeing board feet when we look at an old growth forest maybe we’d be more careful as we harvest the trees we need. As it stands we don’t believe we have the love and affection of our fellow human beings much less the rest of the world and the creatures in it.

The elements of creation. “The Love and Affection of the Elements. The Pure Love of the Elements. The Being of the Elements. The One Who is the Elements.” Tom Cowan notes that the participants were trying to discuss these concepts at a workshop for Celtic Shamanism. One woman in the group wished our language had words like these. Another broke in with “Wouldn’t it be great if our culture had ideas like this.” Taken from Yearning for the Wind.

Just wouldn’t it though?

Cross posted at Green Woman.


I did something I very rarely do. I bought a best seller while it was still on the best seller list. It’s Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn. And based on my first blast through the book I have a suggestion that would put Mr. Polansky’s talents to good use and keep him too busy to enjoy the delights of either France or his home I Switzerland for a very long time. How about a life sentence to community service making documentaries? On location.

He could start with the stories of poor or rural girls from Nepal to Malaysia and Thailand. Lured with promises of decent work in the cities or outright kidnapped they end up in a brother. Drugged, beaten and terrorized until they submit. Discarded when they reach their early twenties as too old and often with added bonus of infection with the AIDS virus.

Then there’s the use of rape as a weapon of war in Central Africa, Sudan, Darfur, the Congo region of Africa, Rwanda, Kosovo, or Bosnia. Tracking down and telling the stories of the survivors and how they’re putting their lives back together one day at a time, one step of a time. That should keep him busy for at least a year.

I have a title for a third possible documentary. One Woman a Minute courtesy of Mr. Kristof’s book. Approximately one woman dies every minute, sixty minutes an hour, twenty four hours a day, three hundred sixty fire and a quarter days a year. They die in child birth or from complications of the birth. They die from ignorance, lack of pre natal care, or lack of post natal care. They die because they were married too young. They die because in too many parts of the world girls and women are the last in line when the food or medicine runs short. They die because they need surgery and the family has no money to pay the doctors that won’t help unless they’re paid first. They die because the doctors are willing and the supplies aren’t there or were stolen. I could go on and on.

Even with our teetering health care system an American woman has excellent odds of surviving; ours are 1 in 4,800 of dying in childbirth. Not the best; the odds are 1 in 47,600 for a woman in Ireland but it still beats the hell out of the 1 in 7 for a young other in the Western African country of Niger.

There’s hope in the world too. The Grameen Bank in Bangladesh pioneered the use of micro credit loans to help villagers start small businesses, very small businesses. The catch? Almost all the loans go to women. When a woman earns extra money she puts it into her family. And in parts of the world where access to education is severely limited those extra coins can make a difference between some education and no education at all. Here’s a statistic for you. Six dollars a year for a new school uniform for a South African school girl can help keep her in school and unmarried for another year. That education can help her put off early child birth and raise her chances of surviving to raise those children.

I could go on, but those four would do for starters. If he manages to get those done there’s a world full of hurt and courage to be recorded out there It would not only bring Mr. Polansky face to face with the pain of your girls forced into the sex trade. It would also remind the women of the United States, Canada and Western Europe of what too many of our sisters are still forced to endure.

Cross posted at Women On.

Friday, October 2, 2009


A non-traditional Celtic take on the traditional Trinity.

Cruthaitheoir (noun): creator Cruth (noun):shape. Cruthigh (verb): to create, to shape.

Honestly, I have no idea how to pronounce the Irish and the net wasn’t much help. In any case when most of us use the word create we mean to bring something into existence. However, the less common definition of create is ‘to bring into a new form.” And, the root word cruth in those Irish words means to shape. Shaping implies that you are working with something that already exists.

In the Celtic mythology stories that have survived, there appears to be no creation myths as we understand them. One of those in the beginning there was a Void, a cosmic Egg, something that wasn’t there and then it was there, somehow. Something created from nothing.

Since those eternally curious scribes in the ancient Irish monasteries translated, copied, and recopied every written scrap they could find it seems unlikely to many scholars that any creation myths they found wouldn’t have been recorded even if they were cleaned up to give them a less pagan cast.

Or, perhaps, the Celts never had an “in the beginning” story to start with. The universe didn’t have to come “into” existence because it has always existed. This does answer one problem. If the universe is created, who created the Creator? If somehow the universe has always existed then the Creator has always existed, does exist and will always exist. Creation then becomes a reshaping of what already exists, not the creation of something out of nothing. In this universe even the big bang becomes a reshaping of a “something” that already existed. What that “something” was or is we don’t know. Perhaps as humans with human limitations this is something we can’t know or comprehend.

And where does the raw material for reshaping come from? For some, like the writer Tom Cowan, the raw material the Creator works with is the Creator itself. (arrrrgh! Pronouns describing the indescribable are such fun to try to use.) This ever changing, ever shifting, and always becoming universe is made not only by the Creator but from the very essence of that Creator.

One of the best examples I can think of is this. A giant star is mostly hydrogen with some helium and an almost undetectable scattering of heavier elements. It lives its life, burns through its hydrogen fuel in a few million years, explodes as a supernova and seeds the universe with star stuff. The carbon that builds our cells, the oxygen we breathe, the iron in the steel that holds up our skyscrapers: these elements were forged in the heart of an exploding star. This star stuff reshaped, renewed, becomes new stars, new planets and wonder of wonders; us.

Cowan, who works with Celtic and shamanic traditions took the more traditional trinity and reworked it using the image of shaping. So the trinity becomes The Shaper of life, the Shape of life, and the Shaping of life. These three are truly indivisible, no one of the three can exist without the other two. It sounds really odd to say it but this trinity does work. And in a strange way we become not only the Created but the Creator. We are the Shaper, the Shape and the Shaping itself. (I know, my brain is feeling a little “sprained” right now.)

And he rewrote an old Irish prayer using the trinity of shaping.

Shaper of life, above me and below.
Shaper of life before me as I go.
Shaper of life, at my sides and
I know that You circle me around
And around and around.

Shape of life, above and below.
Shape of life before me as I go.
Shape of life, at my sides and
I know that You circle me around
And around and around.

Shaping of life, above and below.
Shaping of life before me as I go.
Shaping of life, at my sides and
I know the You circle me around
And around and around.

Sacred Three, above and below.
Sacred Three before me as I go.
Sacred Three at my sides and
I know that You circle me around
And around and around.

From Yearning for the Wind

So, all of us should rejoice for we are truly a part of the Creator of creation.

Cross posted in Green Woman.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


If you’re like me and you can remember the late sixties and early seventies with the “hard hats” and the “silent majority” you’ll probably also remember “my country right or wrong.” Imagine my surprise when I found at least one version that is just a little bit longer.

My country right or wrong; if right to be kept right and if wrong to be set right. I can live with that. Now if we could all agree on the wrongs that need to be set right. The devil truly is in the details.

Another of the “we don’t want socialism” letters in the local paper Sunday. Well, for starters, what do you mean by “we” Kemo Sabe? I don’t recall getting a call from anyone asking my opinion so let’s change we to “me, some of the people I know, and the talking heads on Fox News.” And then most of the writer’s examples refer to purely economic matters rights. Car choice, light bulbs, temperature settings, and one that I assume refers to the minimum wage. Kind of a narrow definition of freedom in my opinion.

Last time I checked any nutcase (yes, nutcase in rather incendiary see below) in the country can start their own church, pray that our current president will die unpleasantly and end up in the hot place without any cops showing up or their churches being closed. So I guess freedom of religion as long as you aren’t a Muslim, pagan, free thinker or a member of some Peacenik, tree hugger group is alive and well.

Oh, and you’re also free to be a former child TV star turned evangelist trying to rewrite Darwin and blame evolution for the Holocaust even though it appears you have no post high school education in either science or theology. (see Kirk Cameron) Here I spent all those years going to the U of O, LCC, surfing the web for information and haunting every bookstore I can find for good information, silly me.

The freedom to show up at a town hall where the president is speaking with an AK47 seems to be alive and well. However being an unarmed civilian anywhere near the G20 meetings last week in Pittsburg didn’t seem to entitle them to the same protections. It’s my firm belief that being required to get a parade permit in order to exercise the right to speak as long as you’re not spooking the horses, scaring the kids, or shocking the parson is NOT A GOOD THING. Although past history suggests that it would be hard to shock some of the odern parsons.

There’s a fair amount of anecdotal evidence that Saudi oil money built most of the Wahabi madrassas in the border areas of Pakistan.(one source Three Cups of Tea-really good book) So, yeah if you wanted to buy a big ass pickup a few years ago (and didn’t have something similarly big assed to haul) well gee I wonder how much American money ended up funding the training of the young men who are shooting at us now?

And it’s not just our driving. The average American meal has traveled 1,500 miles by the time it gets to our tables. (source Animal, vegetable, miracle by Barbara Kingsolver) And since synthetic fertilizers and many pesticides have a petroleum base, trying to cut down on oil use takes on a whole other dimension.

We appear to still have the right to vote for the Republican or Democrat of our choice. That I,s unless you lived in some urban, largely minority neighborhoods in Ohio back in 2004. Precincts that didn’t have enough voting machines, were lucky that the majority of them worked, and found the doors closed promptly at 8 PM even though potential voters had been waiting in line for hours.

As for that pesky minimum wage; well hon, if you’re an employer see if your workers will work for straight commissions. If you’re a worker I guess to be true to your ethics you should tell your boss you’re willing to work for what he/she is willing to pay and we won’t worry about those pesky overtime regulations.

As I worked on this I realized the list keeps getting longer and longer. After all it costs more to hire licensed electricians, plumbers, contractors you name it. Of course if you hire someone who can prove they have the training there’s a good chance your new wiring won’t short out and burn the house down. It costs more to make sure work places, packing plants, and eateries are clean and safe. I guess to be true to your non interference ethic you shouldn’t call the health department if you come down with food poisoning because a careless or poorly trained part timer didn’t sanitize the tools and work surfaces after they diced the raw chicken before the salad veggies were prepped.

As I said at the beginning, the devil does seem to be in the details since I suspect that my wrongs to be righted might just turn out to be someone else’s keep what is right, right.

Cross posted at Women On.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


With tongue firmly in cheek we present the guide to calorie burning.

Beating around the bush 75
Jumping to conclusions 100
Climbing the walls 150
Swallowing your pride 50
Passing the buck 25
Throwing your weight around (depends on weight) 50-300
Dragging your heels 100
Pushing your luck 250
Making mountains out of molehills 500
Hitting the nail on the head 50
Wading through paperwork 300
Bending over backwards 75
Jumping on the bandwagon 200
Balancing the books 25
Running around in circles 350
Eating crow 225
Tooting your own horn 25
Climbing the ladder of success 750
Pulling out the stops 75
Adding fuel to the fire 150
Wrapping it up at days end 25

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Author unknown

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


I’ve found myself with a massive case of writer’s block for months. Oddly enough these months overlap what seems to be a last ditch effort to get back to my Christian roots. The details don’t really matter but I did try. I got out my Bible and made a sincere effort to follow a regular schedule of reading and praying. But, when I try to walk on this path it’s as if I’m knee deep in a mire. I don’t expect to hear God speaking to me; that would be presumption. But, my inner voice went silent too; and it’s damn lonely in here. My inner voice stopped singing and my spirit’s feet stopped dancing.

So, I find myself at a fork in the road again. And wondering how many times I have to do this? As many times as it takes I guess. Do I keep on the silent path or do I take the path that leads into the green wood? Do I follow my glowing sister? She glows with the blue light of protection. Her hair and mantle are caught in the wind and mist off the sea and she stands on a rocky headland; feet firmly rooted and braced against the gales. And she is singing.

The gardening, pictures, kitties and recipes stay here. For the curious, the new blog can be found here. Warning, this one is under construction.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


This is the original recipe. And that jar is probably older than I am. Makes a generous quart or so without the fruit added in for storage.

2 ½ cups uncooked regular or quick cooking rolled oats
½ cup flaked or shredded coconut-unsweetened if possible
½ cup sliced almonds
¼ cup untoasted sunflower seeds
¼ cup honey
¼ cup molasses
4 tablespoons hot water
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup raisins
½ cup chopped pitter dates
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the cereal and nuts in a large bowl. Combine the honey, molasses, hot water and cinnamon in a separate bowl. Pour the liquid over the grain mixture and mix thoroughly until mix is completely coated. Spray a large baking sheet with vegetable spray and spread the mixture evenly. Place in a 325 oven and bake for thirty to thirty five minutes. Stir the mixture every five minutes or so until the cereal starts to turn brown and the mix dries out. Stir in the dried fruit and vanilla the mix will crisp as it dries.

Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks. This is a very crunchy granola.

239 calories per half cup serving following the recipe.

Ok, my variations. You can use any rolled grains. I just got a batch of Bob’s Red Mill Five Grain Mix for the next batch. And mom doesn’t much care for sunflower seeds so I leave those out. I used cashews in one batch because I wanted to make it “now” and didn’t have any almonds. If you aren’t big on nuts you could try using more cereal and skip the nuts entirely; or add the nuts and fruits you want when you serve it.

All honey works just great. For the last batch I made a simple syrup of ¾ cup each brown sugar and water. Boiled it for a few minutes and mixed it in the cereal mixture. It tastes just fine; in fact I can barely tell the difference. And I don’t add the fruit until we actually eat the granola. It stays crisp longer.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Also posted in Women On.

This entry says about half of what I’d like to say. I’ve got it in my head but getting it on paper is a problem sometimes. Oh, well, enter rant, stage right.

I know Lisa and I knew just a little of what her family went through during her dad’s final illness. Damn little it turns out.

In a twisted way, a very sick twisted way, what happened with her dad makes perfect sense. When our fellow Americans referred to in the media it’s as consumers, not citizens and our mis-named health care system is not set up to deliver health: as if you could buy five pounds of health at so much a pound, but tests, procedures and surgeries. When Lisa’s dad was sent home, he was no longer a consumer of tests, procedures and surgeries.

At that point what he needed was human on human care. And when it comes to face to face, hands on interaction with another human being you have to fight like hell to get it. And the people who provide that care are lucky if they make a little above minimum wage. No reflection on them, the men and women in the trenches do the best they can with the little they get.

Dean Ornish made the comment in one of his books that a patient’s insurance company was willing to fork over at least twenty five thousand bucks to pay for by pass surgery but wouldn’t pay for office time for a doctor to counsel the patient on diet and exercise changes he/she could make to avoid needing the by pass in the first place or to avoid needing another one five years down the road.

“Reforming” health care won’t work until we rethink how we see the other human beings who live within the lines on the map labeled the United States. And that rethinking goes far beyond the cost of an office visit. It's everything from access to clean locally grown food to cleaning up the toxic left overs that don't appear on corporate balance sheets. We’re human beings, not "consumers" and we have the right to be treated as human beings and to take the time to be human simply because that is what we are whether we choose to consume what the corporate culture wishes it could sell us or not.

The system, as it exists now, doesn’t support our humanity. So ladies, how do we remake the world?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009



2 packages active dry yeast
½ cup warm water; approximately 110
1 ¼ cup boiling water
1 cup quick cooking rolled oats
½ cup molasses
1/3 cup shortening
1 tablespoon salt
5 3/4 to 6 cups all purpose flour
2 beaten eggs

Soften yeast in the warm water. Combine boiling water, 1 cup rolled oats, molasses, shortening, and salt; cool to lukewarm. Stir in two cups of the flour; beat well. Add the softened yeast and two beaten eggs; beat well. Stir in enough of the flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (8 to 10 minutes). Shape dough into a ball.

Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease the surface. Cover and let rise until double. May take and hour to an hour and a half. Punch dough down, turn out on a lightly floured surface, divide dough in half and let rest for ten minutes. Shape into two loaves and place into two greased 8 ½ x 4 ½ x 2 ½ inch loaf pans.

Cover and let rise until doubled (45 to 60 minutes). Bake in a 375 degree oven for about forty-five minutes. Loaves will sound hollow and be evenly browned. Turn out loaves and let cool on wire racks.

My variation. Add 1 ½ cups of raisins to the dough. After dividing the dough after it rises and letting it rest roll it out into a 9 x 15 rectangle. Spread the dough with two tablespoons of softened butter and a quarter cup of brown sugar and one teaspoon of cinnamon. Roll into a loaf, pinch the ends together to seal and place in the loaf pan. In this case I used larger loaf pans the ones that start with 9 1//2 inches etc. And allow to rise until doubled. Make sure those pans are well oiled; the filling has been known to leak. And melted brown sugar cinnamon makes really good glue as it cools. Makes a really good cinnamon swirl loaf. A really good cinnamon swirl loaf. I also substituted milk for the boiling water in the loaf. Makes a lightly chewy, slightly tangy loaf of bread.

Monday, August 24, 2009


I guess I have my proof that Winco's bulk yeast is very good yeast indeed. I started a batch of oatmeal bread this morning (recipe later) and used the molassesy (is that a word) measuring cup to proof my yeast. Good thing I didn't get called to the phone or something while the little yeast beasties were starting to grow. When I looked over at the cup the foam was at the three quarter mark and rising. By the time I was ready to add the yeast to the other ingrediants the yeast was getting ready to head for the bowl all on it's own. LOL The yeast that almost ate the kitchen; sort of.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Cranberry-Orange Sherbet
This recipe first appeared in CAPPER'S Feb. 1, 2005, and was contributed by Dorothy Postlewait, of Wheaton, Ill.

1 pound cranberries
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons grated orange peel
1/4 cup lemon juice

In a saucepan, cook cranberries in water until skins pop. Press berries through a strainer; return berries to pan. Add sugar; heat to boiling.
Soften gelatin in orange juice. Stir into cranberry mixture. Add orange peel and lemon juice.
Pour into a tray; place in freezer until mushy. Turn into a mixing bowl; beat with a rotary beater or an electric mixer. Return to freezer until firm. Spoon into bowls to soften before serving.

OK I used a half cup of dried cranberries and cooked them down in the water. When they were done I ran the whole thing through the food processor. And I used a whole package of yeastnot sure if it's a teaspoon or not. Used the mixer and the results taste really good but I don't have to worry about softening it up 'cause it's already a little soft. But really good.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


God's teeth I had the devil's own time getting this baby posted. I think my rough draft gave Blogger heartburn or some darn thing.

NOTE: I used three different books as references. Each one had a slightly different take on what to use when. One reference uses leaves for the infusion (tea) preparation. Another uses crushed seeds for the tea. I guess you use what you have on hand and make the best of it.

If you’re a shrub that can reach over six feet tall, spread about four feet wide with beautiful globes of seed heads you just might be angelica. In China it’s called Dong qui, in Korea it’s Cham Dangwi, in Europe it’s known as garden angelica: these are just three of the nearly sixty cultivars. My sources recommend sticking with the garden raised cultivars unless you are very sure about a wild plant. The wild angelica can resemble European water hemlock; a very bad news poisonous plant.

Technically angelica is a biannual. A gardener with time to keep the seed heads trimmed may be able to keep the shrub going almost indefinitely as a perennial. Those beautiful seed heads that are so wonderful for dried flower arrangements or as an ingredient for herbal teas can also be a pain for the gardener to keep up with. Dead head faithfully or be prepared to weed faithfully. One angelica can be beautiful. Several hundred plants is overkill. The plant is cold hardy, can be grown in full sun or partial shade and will tolerate dry conditions with poor soil. It’s actually a good way to control the size of the plant. If you don’t have room for a six or seven footer in its full glory, try planting your seeds in the worst corner of the garden you can find.

Leaf, seed, root or branch; whether it’s your taste buds or your body you could learn to love this “angel.”

Young stems or seeds can be simmered to create a simple sugar syrup to flavor drinks, fruit punches or even served over ice cream. Young leaves can be picked and used fresh for teas or dried for later use. Seeds can be harvested while they’re still green and used fresh or frozen. The older seed heads can be dried for flower arrangements or rubbed out of the seed heads and stored in the freezer for next years planting. The root is collected in the gall of the plants first year. It can be used fresh or dried and powdered for later use.

The flavor is often compared to licorice and is said to be sweet then sharp. To be honest, I haven’t tried it myself and given the size of our yard the angel sounds too much like the elder we took out two years ago. It was a beautiful shrub; it was just too large for the space we have.

Traditionally angelica preparations have been used to aid digestion and to ease intestinal problems. European herbal texts still recommend angelica to treat congestion from bronchitis, flu and the common cold. The most common preparation is a decoction made by boiling the powdered roots. The liquid is strained and drunk as a tea. Medical uses can include cough syrups, teas or the root that has been dried and powdered. I think I draw the line at making a poultice out of the leaves and applying it to my chest if or when I have my next case of bronchitis.

It’s often included in herb gardens along with chamomile, hops, valerian, and Melissa (aka lemon balm.)

Angelica is one of the ingredients in the traditional Carmelite Water. This is a revised recipe that uses witch hazel instead of vodka.


1 cup lemon balm leaves
1 cup angelica leaves
The peel of one lemon
1 tsp crushed coriander seeds
2 whole nutmegs crushed
2 tsp crushed cinnamon
2 cups witch hazel extract1 cup orange flower water

You can substitute orange essential oil mixed in the water if you don’t have a middle-eastern deli nearby where you can get the orange flower water. Add about a teaspoon of orange essential oil per cup of water to the mixture.

Chop the leaves and bruise with the lemon peel. Crush the seeds with a mortar and pestle. You can also place the seeds between layers of cloth and crush with a hammer. Combine the herbs and spices with the witch hazel and keep in a sealed jar for two days. Stir in the orange flower water and keep in a sealed jar. Shake daily for two or three weeks. Strain into a pump style bottle. At one time Carmelite water was said to good for everything from gout to the vapors.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Spring, oh spring. In this strip we have white candy tuft, red coral bells, a lovely purple azalea, apink rhodie that's just coming on and a wonderful rosie pink/cream rhodie at the end.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Talk about your “one of these days” projects. :-P Our lot faces east with a hill on the west side. There’s maybe ten feet between back of the house and the retaining wall at the back. And it sits on a bed of clay. Wonderful dense, heavy clay. Bleech.

The problem with the section on the north side is that while it gets some sun during the summer in the winter it gets zip, zero, zilch, nada in the way of sunlight. By the time the sun comes out during the winter the sun is literally over the hill so aside from some grasses and the thymes we’ve had very little success. Soooooooo, back to the drawing board. After we’re done spading, peat mossing and composting we’ll try a perennial wild flower mix out back. Plant the mix and see who survives.

Good luck guys you’re on your own. Not really. Please grow; the flower fairies need new homes. Lol Oh, well, If we have to rethink it again at least the ground is being spaded and it’ll be in better shape than it is now.

We’ve started to get the garden in. The tomatoes, some herbs and the yearly musical chairs we play with the plants. I guess it’s taken this long to start to learn our yard. What might work where. We don’t worry too much about cutting flowers. There is one place in the house where we can put a bouquet and the terrible trio of curious kitties probably won’t bother flowers. Unh huh.

And the best thing of all for all the transplants and new plants is happening right now. It’s raining. What falls out of the sky is always better than what

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


The refrain this spring is “one of these days.” As in one of these days we’ll get most of the weeds pulled. Or one of these days I’ll get the plants or pavers or stepping stones placed where they belong the FIRST time. A girl can dream, can’t she?

When we first planned the redo on the front yard back in ’03 there was a large Austrian pine on the south side of the yard. At the time we didn’t even take that section of the yard into our plans and it’s been a pain ever since. The tree is gone courtesy of the local utility company after a really bad ice storm. We’ve tried groundcovers and other plants but nothing has really worked. And it’s hard to get water to it.

We planted some volunteer lavender on the property line last year and they did just fine. So, this weekend we took the bull by the horns and cleared out that section again and planted lavender across that front section. There will be some other flowers behind that and then the garden section which was the old rose garden.

The arbor is repositioned, but I haven’t had time to secure it to the fence stakes. As we work up the garden section it looks like we’ll finally get the stepping stones down. Again with the repositioning. This time stepping stones. The herb garden in back didn’t really pan out. It’s on the north side on the east side of the hill and it gets almost no sun for half the year. So herbs to the front where I may actually remember that we have them. And I think we’ll just plant wild flowers out back. Pictures maybe in a month or so.

Actually it’s beginning to look pretty good. Granted, I winced a little when mom pointed out that the section where we pulled the shrubby groundcover next to the street really needed to be spaded before we could do anything else. Ooookay. That’s what apprentices are for. Spading is not a problem. Spading while standing on a slope with holes in it from plants you’ve dug up is a problem. As in my feet are killing me, here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Another day, another chilly April in Oregon morning. It’s freaking 38 degrees in Springfield this morning on the day before tax day. There is a promise of warmer weather by the end of the week and I have my chilly little fingers crossed. Maybe we’ll get the arbor repositioned. Not maybe, we will get it done. We have two shrubs to plant and we can’t plant the evergreen clematis until we know where the arbor will be. Arrrrrgh, look out mud, here I come.

One of these years we’ll finally get everything where it should be in the yard. And I have a slightly used bridge in Manhattan for sale. I don’t think it’ll happen in this lifetime. If only because what plants are supposed to do according to the little tags that come with them don’t always match what they do when they get to our yard. And that’s how is should be, I guess. Living things don’t fit in neat little boxes; God/des help us if they ever do. It would make for a very boring world when that happens.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


The ads in the paper may be few and far between these days but there's always something to do around the place. I'll regale you with tales of paint and sandpaper some other time but this picture was just too cute to keep to myself.

Bandit loves to play with a feathered cat toy. A bright, purple feathered cat toy. she also loves to "kill" the little braided area rug. It's just about the only thing she is allowed to "kill."

I watched her do it and I still don't know how she managed to get herself wrapped up in the rug. She not only did a fair imitation of a hot dog on a bun, she promptly fell asleep. She looked a little confused after she managed to unwrap herself. She had a "WTF, what happened" look on her face when she finally got loose. Of course she had to spend the next hour grooming to get all her fur back where it belonged. LOL

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Nothing really profound tonight. I guess I’m still suffering from holiday let down. Anyway, the Christmas decorations are down for the year and the weeds; well the weeds are doing very nicely thank you. They’re alive and well thank you very much. So perky and green while the rest of us are singing “mud, mud, glorious mud” to whatever tune is running through our heads at the time.

Here it is January 6 and we’re just past mid winter. There’s still snow on the ground up and north and more predicted for tonight. And here? It was almost sixty degrees today and I spent almost an hour chasing weeds this morning.

Funny, all it takes is a little mild weather, a little sunshine and those little suckers grow like gangbusters. Mostly chickweed and baby dandelions. I suppose if I told them I was really happy to see them and had a use for them they’d pack their bags and head for the hills. Is it my imagination or do the plants you don’t want grow better than the ones you do want sometimes?

It’s easy to work right now; the ground is nice and damp and easy to work. Well, fairly easy. Have trowel, will dig. I found one viola blooming, a yellow primrose trying to set a bud, the winter heather is blooming, disposed a bunch of slugs and snails, and noticed that a lot of the bulbs are sending little green emissaries to check out the possibilities upstairs. Be careful guys, life does not come with a rewind button. And it is only January 6.

Anyway, the birds were singing their little feathered heads off. We have three kinds of chickadees, juncos, bushtits, and the odd finch of siskin making pretty regular stops at the feeders. It’s a kick to watch them. The juncos are mostly ground feeders, but they’ll use the hanging tray feeder. I guess it’s because they can stand in it pick through the seeds. The ones on the ground look like tiny chickens as they basically check out the north end of the yard. The squirrels are really messy, big news, when they do their standing their heads act at the critter seed feeder. So these little guys are basically the clean up crew.

We finally moved everything so it’s either hanging from the dogwood or between it and the white andromeda shrub. And the bushtits are a riot. They are so tiny. It’s hard to imagine how something so small manages during the winter weather. I think I’ve seen snowflakes almost as big as they are. Anyway, the little guys basically bounce between tree, shepherd’s crook, feeders and shrub. They’re right side up, upside down and sideways while they wait their turn at the suet stations.

This morning was a nice change from the free weights, the treadmill and the resumes. I’ll have to hang onto that for awhile. It’s supposed to start raining again tonight. The forecast is for rain, and a lot of it further north. Warm temperatures, rain and lots of snow are not a good mix. Here’s hoping it’s not as bad as they’re predicting. ‘Cause if it is, what was frozen will be floating out to sea.