Sunday, June 29, 2008


Of course you can't see her eyes since she's snoozin'. Bandit is literally almost three and is literally "three." Like most three year olds she does her best skirt the letter of the law. As you'll notice most of her is on the papers, NOT on the table. Of course she's on the papers that are on the table, but what the hey, who's counting right? I had a nephew who was a lot like that.

She wandered into the yard while mom was outside almost two years ago come September. Because she's such a big girl we didn't realize she was younger than she looked. We let her hang out on the porch, made sure she got fed and she sort of moved in. Let her in when she wanted to come in.

When the weather turned chilly a couple of the neighborhood scroungy toms got a little too interested. She didn't show up all on day and when I went out to check late in the evening they had her cornered under my car. I scared them off, she took for house and she's been in ever since. Well, apart from a trip or two to the vet to get fixed. She's slipped out a couple of times but she's been an inny ever since. The Bandit sticks pretty close but she is not really a lap cat. Tha's a good thing what with two laps and three cats. LOL

Saturday, June 28, 2008


This is Lucky of the green eyes and the striped tuxedo. Geez, she's almost twelve now. We adopted her from a coworker who took in a pregnant kitten. She found homes for the kittens and since Lucky and her cat didn't get along she needed a home. Rena called her Lucky (as in lucky to have a home) and we kept it for her.

She likes to hold hands, pats your face when she wants your attention and will hang out in your lap for as long as possible. Lucky is the queen of the other cats. Actually she's the smallest, but she more than makes up for it with attitude. Actually the face patting is an improvement as an attention getter. She used to flex her claws in my hip pocket when she thought I'd been spending too much time at the computer desk. A little flex the frist time, and a little more and a little more...........until I paid attention to her. Thirty minutes tops. She is one of the sweetest kitties we've ever had. She also has one meow that sounds suspiciously like "no." And she uses it when no is the right thing to "say."

Friday, June 27, 2008


So it's not cats. It's just where the locals like to hang their hats. So to speak.

We have a series of pots and planters on the porch and the front steps. This little pink mini is maybe two inches across and looks great next to the white bacopa and glowing red geranium.

The bud was a lot darker than the blossom. The bloom is almost white on the inside while the bud and edges are a wonderful pink. It has a light, sweet "rosy" scent.

Photo Friday -- Another Feline (or two)

  Mac draped over Amy's arm while having his nails done.

 Mac, settled in to Amy's duffel when she was home for a visit from college.

 Bob, the rarely photographed cat ... at least in the forward position.  He's too regal to have to wait for me ...

 Mac and Bob having a catnip moment.

  The end.

Photo Friday

"Meals-on-Wheels" (Mila) at the back door of the cafe...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

More on The Responsibility...

I promised I would write about :


As I said, even though I personally do not believe in letting my cats outside, I understand that other people DO.  In the seven years we’ve lived in this house, we’ve had a succession of neighbor cats who visit the yard for awhile (my bird feeders are a cat magnet.)  Unfortunately, it is unusual for us to have long-term visitors out here in the sticks.  We have a burgeoning coyote population.  Which does not make for long and happy lives for cats who are allowed to roam unprotected, especially at night.  I’ve lost count of the number of cats and kittens that have appeared, hung out in the neighborhood for a few months, and disappeared.  Then the forlorn little “Lost Cat” flyers go up on the light poles.  And all I can think is, “Uh-oh….another ‘coyote lunch…’”

Last fall, a new visitor started hanging around my yard.  A big, light orange tom with an out-sized, round head that looked like a full moon.  And he didn’t just pass through on his rounds of the local bird feeders.  More often than not, I would see him outside one of my two sliding glass doors.  Staring in.  Hopefully.  As if he were one of my own who had been out for a stroll, and was ready to come back in for dinner and a nap.  

I’m a sucker for any cat, so of course I had to try to make his acquaintance.  When I opened the door to go out and pet him, I had to play “kitty goalie”—that little foot-pushing shuffle perfected by cat people wishing to keep a feline on the desired (by the human) side of a door.  He was all prepared to march into the house and make himself at home.  But I didn’t think he was a stray…he was clean and fit and wasn’t the least bit shy around people.  He had a purr loud enough to rattle the windows.  Certainly he must have a home somewhere—probably with a new neighbor.  So I limited our encounters to outside, and since he didn’t look hungry, I didn’t feed him.  But I had to call him something, so I dubbed him “Orangie.”  Hey, you don’t get too creative when naming other people’s cats…

As fall deteriorated to winter and the weather got ugly, Orangie continued to appear outside my back doors.  Gazing longingly through the glass.  In the dark.  In the wind and rain.  Though I grew increasingly incensed at whoever his owners might be, I still did not let him come in the house, or feed him.  With all the stuff going on in my life at the time, I did not have the resources to try to introduce another cat to the household.  Especially not a full-grown, unneutered tom.  I hoped against hope that he had a decent home somewhere and enough to eat.  And I felt like crap.

As spring approached and we emerged from the worst of the weather (both emotional and meteorological) I realized that Orangie hadn’t appeared at the door for many weeks.  I hoped that he had decided to stick closer to home,wherever that was.  And then, one day, I caught a glimpse of a light orange body skulking away and scrabbling over the fence when I was out in the back yard.  It was Orangie.  But he looked awful.

He was thin, scruffy and bedraggled.  His once soft, puffy coat hung in damp, dirty mats.  He had scratches and scabs on his face. 

And he was deathly afraid of me.  No matter how sweetly I talked to him, that day or any day since, he has cowered and skittered away from me every time. 

My heart is broken for him.  The once sweet, loving, ready-to-be-anyone’s-friend kitty was obviously dumped or abandoned by someone who apparently had treated him well, then decided they didn’t want him anymore.  And since, after all, he’s just a cat, they figured he would be perfectly fine without a real home, fending for himself.  By some miracle, he hasn’t ended up coyote lunch.  Not yet.  But it’s obvious that someone here in this place where he was expected to find a new home was so mean to him, abused him so badly, that he is now as deathly afraid of human beings as the most wild of feral cats.  I cannot imagine what horrible thing some person might have done to him to so completely change his personality in such a short time.

Now, I would like to adopt him, if I could.  I hope I can convince him not to be afraid of me.  I’ve started leaving food out for him.  He still seems to spend a lot of time in my yard…he sleeps curled up on the gravel by my back fence.  If I talk to him softly enough, I can get him to turn around, sit down and look at me, but he won’t come anywhere near me.  Unfortunately, with my insane work schedule, I don’t have a lot of time to invest in the process of helping this kitty trust some person again.  I’m going to try, but it will, if anything, take way longer than it should—if it happens at all.  And time is one thing I’m afraid homeless kitties in my neighborhood do not have.

In the hope that we will eventually be able to take him under our roof, I’ve given him a new name:  William.  As in “William of Orange.”  (Who apparently is one of my ancestors, a fact uncovered in a genealogy trace done by my grandmother years ago.)  We will call him “Will.”  I hope… 

Monday, June 23, 2008

On The Responsibility of Being Human

For whatever reason, the Almighty chose to confer upon me a strong affinity for animals.  Most women degenerate to gibberish-spewing, chin-chucking mush heads in the presence of a baby.   I’ve always been more inclined to grin and coo at a puppy or kitten than at an infant of my own species.  The older I get, the more all-encompassing my tenderness towards non-human souls becomes.  Any spider crossing my threshold will more likely receive the catch-and-release treatment than the bottom-of-the-shoe treatment.   Fruit flies in my wine glass will have their drunken butts gently removed from the pool and deposited upon a safe surface to sober up and live to fly another day.

When we were kids, our house looked like a pet shop.  Cat, dog, birds, fish, turtles, hamsters, mice…nothing terribly exotic, but we always had plenty around. As an adult, I’ve never had enough time to maintain a proper home much less a home zoo, so my focus has turned to cats.  Loving, independent spirits, they fare perfectly well on their own for several hours a day, then welcome us back into the pride when we drag ourselves through the front door after a ten or fifteen-hour day.  My cats are my family, my children.  It bothers me not one iota if people think of me as a “crazy cat lady.”  That’s exactly what I am.

I realize that not everyone feels the deep bond I feel for furry friends.  But what I cannot understand, and cannot abide, is human beings who choose to acquire companion animals, but neither understand nor accept the grave responsibility that is laid on their shoulders with that choice.   Pets are perpetual children.  They will always need food, shelter, protection and affection.  Unlike human children, they will never grow up to the point where they will not need their “parents” to provide these things.  In the past few weeks, I’ve encountered the sad stories of two innocent animals who have suffered from the criminal neglect of the humans entrusted with their lives.


I don’t believe in letting pets—dogs OR cats—roam the neighborhood unrestrained.  My philosophy has always been that if my neighbors want a cat, they will get their own.  And if they DON’T want a cat, it’s my responsibility to make sure they don’t have to deal with mine.  Still, every home we’ve lived in has come equipped with neighbor cats whom I have welcomed, petted, and tried to gently steer away from my bird feeders.  In Eugene, there was Qat (I didn’t know her real name, so I gave her one…); in Tigard, there were Coco, Buster and Fester; in Springfield, there were Eleanor and Phoebe.  The café had Mila.

When Mila was still not much more than a kitten, her “owners” brought home a new baby (a human one) put the cat outside, and never let her back in.  They continued to feed her, but she was no longer welcome inside her own home.   They providednothing else for her besides a tag on her collar with her name and their telephone number on it.  Oh, they were very huffy about being her owners, and became righteously indignant when a tenant of our building offered to give Mila a proper home if they were no longer willing or able to do so.  They thought it was perfectly okay to call her “theirs,” but leave her outside to fend for herself.  After all, she was just a cat.

So she became the neighborhood cat.  She would do her rounds every day—grab a bite of turkey here and a mouthful of kibbles there.  Be invited in for a snooze on a reception-room chair or in a sunspot on a soft carpet.  She especially liked to sneak into the café at the feet of an unsuspecting customer, jump up on my fancy hemp chairs and work out her claws.  Once finished with that business, she would either invite herself to share a patron’s meal, curl up and fall asleep on the leather sofa, or try to sneak into the kitchen to discover the source of all the great foody smells.  I had a soft spot for her.  I shoveled my share of scraps into a dish outside the back door, and I turned a blind eye to the gray fuzzball curled up on the couch…until a customer ratted her out to the Health Department.

The landlord disapproved.  He fussed that there was only one end for a cat that hung around in parking lots, and it was going to happen sooner or later.  I told him I thought she had an adequate amount of street smarts to stay alive…all the while knowing in my heart that her days were numbered.  Which was why I kept on feeding her, and letting her sneak in for a nap on the sofa until the Health Department put a stop to that indulgence.  I felt like, if she was going to have a short life, I was going to try to make it as pleasant as I could. 

Why didn’t I just…take her home?  I’ve never had any qualms about adopting cats that I thought were being endangered by neglectful owners.   And I’m sure if she just disappeared, her “family” would not have cared overmuch.  But I already have six cats of my own.  And the capacity of my colony seems to have topped out at that number.  Every time I bring a new cat home, one of the old ones dies.  We adopted Maude, and Marbie died not long after.  We brought home the boys (Alvin and Theo), and lost Beaker and then Sprite within less than a year of each other.  The matriarch of my current clan is eighteen-year-old Bebe.  As bad as I felt for Mila, I just couldn’t risk losing my Bebe.  I felt that if Mila could stick around until Bebe was gone—how long could it be?—it was meant for me to take her home.

But apparently it was not—meant to be.  Back in January, Mila was sitting on the front stoop of the café on a Sunday morning when she was attacked by three dogs being walked unleashed by yet another criminally irresponsible pet owner.  Punctured, mangled and mauled, she was duly bundled up and taken away by her neglectful owners.  We thought we’d never see her again.  But a couple of months later, when her little gray head showed up outside the café door, I nearly burst into tears.  She was several pounds lighter, slower, stiffer, and not altogether okay.  But she was alive.  I felt a certain responsibility for the attack—she wouldn’t have been outside my café that Sunday morning if I had never fed her or let her come in.  So this time around, I refused to feed her or let her sneak in for a snooze.  I did everything I could to discourage her from hanging around.  But the rest of the neighborhood welcomed her with open arms, and she became the Neighborhood Kitty once again. 

She particularly liked to hang around the parking lot, where she would sleep on or under the warmest, most recently arrived vehicle.  People laughed when they would go out to start their cars, even go so far as to put them in gear and start moving, and she would remain stubbornly curled up on the hood or the roof.  But it wasn’t funny, not really.  And last week (mercifully for me, I was away for the weekend) one of the other tenants backed out of her parking space, right over the dozing Mila.

We don’t know for sure what’s become of her; we think she is probably dead.  Two of our tenants hustled her to the vet’s office right across the street; but they made the mistake of calling the number on the tag around her neck.  Though the lady who ran over her, and the other tenant, repeatedly offered to pay the bill, Mila’s self-righteously neglectful owner refused all treatment and offers of help, packed her up and took her home—what is wrong with this person?  The vet, shocked and dismayed by his behavior, called Animal Control and reported the incident as animal abuse. 

We heard that Animal Control confiscated Mila and took her to another vet for x-rays and treatment…possibly euthanasia.  At least she won’t have to suffer for who knows how long on the whim of a criminally irresponsible owner;  who didn’t want her but wasn’t going to let anybody else have her, by god.  Is there an appropriate punishment for this? 

I don’t care what the law books might say.   Pets are not property. You don’t OWN another soul.  You adopt an animal.  You cherish it.  You provide love, food and shelter for it.  For as long as you are fortunate enough to share your life with it.  If you can’t do that, please, please, please do not inflict your sorry self upon the innocent, trusting, dependent soul of an animal.

This has turned out to be a very long post.  Tomorrow, I’ll write about William of Orange…       

Sunday, June 22, 2008


I guess you could call this the Yellow Rose of Oregon, (that isn’t really its name) and there’s a bit of a story behind it. When dad passed away back in ’95, mom’s little brother sent her a copy of the catalogue from the rose gardens up north of St. Paul with the message to order what she wanted in dad’s memory. So she did.



We planted it out back and it never really amounted to much. But, the darn thing wouldn’t give up either. So, when we started moving things around last year we gave it a new home on the south side of the house where there’s a lot more sun. It’s been a very happy and enthusiastic camper this year. Very enthusiastic. In fact I need to do a little judicious pruning every little while to keep it near the trellis and the arbor. In fact it reminds me a little of dad. It just needed the right place to stand to shine.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Weekly Photo ~ The Pleasures of the Season

It's fresh strawberry time!

I haven't baked in a while..and with fresh strawberries from the farm stand down the road, it seemed like the thing to do.

Friday, June 20, 2008

East Coast Girls Are Early Birds

 A 'ready to fly' brood of Phoebes.  The parents or their descendants return each year to a joist under our back deck.  Two years ago Dave put this white box thing-y in the corner where the birds construct so the nest wouldn't fall or slip to the ground.  He then covered the area above so that when it rains the rain water drains away from the nest. 

  He doesn't love me feeding the birds because of all the chipmunks and we surely are overrun with them this year! but the Phoebes and other visitors with song and activity make it worthwhile.

The one drawback to the birds (and it isn't a big one) being under the deck is the corner they chose.  It is just off to the right of the basement walkout door so that whenever one of us opens the door to go out or walks under the deck to go in, a bird is startled and a human jumps as it flies over their head.


Thursday, June 19, 2008


I’ve been sort of AWOL this week. Let me say up front that mom is doing fine. You could park a fully loaded semi on this woman and she’d dig her way out from under it.


I got home from work last Thursday and found mom in her favorite chair sort of cradling her right hand and arm. She’d been coming in from the garage and didn’t quite make it. She has some arthritis in her hips and sometimes they don’t quite do what she wants them too when she wants to do it. She went backwards and caught herself on her right arm. So it was off to the ER we go. Final result? Bruised shoulder, banged up elbow, and a very small break in the wrist just above the wrist. They put her in a splint, an above the elbow splint on a person who is strongly right handed. She was pretty stiff for a couple of days but by Monday morning she was by golly washing dishes.


The downside is that we didn’t get to go to Jon’s graduation or get up to Portland for the celebration get together. But, my vacation day came in handy anyway. The appointment at the orthopedist for a check up and cast was a bit of a joke. I did have the foresight to confirm the appointment. It didn’t occur to me to ask if they were still at the Eugene address. The address on the ER referral form. They aren’t. The practice moved to Springfield. Before Christmas. At least we got our walk in. LOL.


At this point she has a pretty blue below the elbow fiber glass cast on her right arm. And some nice bruises on her elbow and upper arm. She can do quite a bit. As long as it only takes one and a half hands. She can’t drive right now. Kind of hard to run the car when you can’t reach the ignition. I have to help her take care of her support hose, things like that. Otherwise, as long as I leave some things prepped, and the lids loose on some items she can get along ok during the day. The cats are deliriously happy. The lap is available off and on most of the day.


Of all the outcomes we could have had, this is just about the best we could have hoped for. And she’ll get the cast off in late July. In the meantime, I suspect her guardian angel’s guardian angel is probably still looking for a nice tall one.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Where Does Our Past Belong?

I spent last week in my childhood home helping my mother prepare to pack and move to Florida.  Not only is it my childhood home, it was the childhood home of my grandfather.  My great grandfather had the house built and it has been a part of my mother's family for over 100 years.

I'm sure you can just imagine the stuff.  Certainly there was plenty of trash.  But there was also so much family memorabilia.  And herein lies my "problem."

Boxes of pictures, letters, account ledgers, and all kinds of paper ephemera were sorted.  Oh...and clippings.  There were tons of clippings.  And as I stood there with these things in my hands I realized that I couldn't let it go.  Not to auction and certainly not into the trash.  Mom is ready to be rid of it, but she was no more ready to pitch it than I was.  So, I assigned myself the honor of keeper of the family archives.  It truly was like opening a time capsule, but most of the contents had a personal connection to me.  I like the sense I get from examining these things.  Another way of life becomes almost tangible.

So, the issue arises as to what to do with all this stuff.  Do I put it in a box and leave it for my grandchildren to find?  Do I scan every piece and create a book that each family member can have?  Do I catalogue it somehow?  And why?  Should I have just let it go?  Will this stuff matter to anyone past my generation?  I like to think it would.  Perhaps the fact that I can't let it go will instill an interest in our family history in my children.  Somehow I feel it's important, but I'm not really sure why.  It's important to me, but I grew up in the place where so many of these people also lived.  The family stories were part of the surroundings.  Will it mean as much out of context?

I feel privileged to have such a sense of where I come from.  I know many, many people are not so fortunate.  Or maybe it really doesn't matter.  Would I be the same person if I hadn't grown up with the ghosts of my ancestors?  It certainly gives me a sense of belief that as long as we are remembered we are not gone.  When I can hold their pictures and touch their belongings, they're no longer mythical characters in the family legends.  They're as real as I am.


This is the back of the house in the mid 30's.  The porch is gone and a room was added.  But the cistern is still there, as is the rock garden.


I blew up a portion of the photo to see who the people were.  This is my great grandparents with and my aunt and my mother as children.

the system

  This darling is my oldest son, Zachary.  He is the other reason we are going to home school in the fall...his behavior interferes with his learning, but only when he's awake.

Being the oldest of the siblings we adopted means he bears the most scars and still really wears open wounds.  He remembers what it was like to live with his birth parents and truly has child like point of views about what it was like.

He constantly rages against the world that "ruined his life."

We hope, that by home schooling him, we can reshape his personal identity to one that can fit into the regular world.  That we can reshape his negative, hateful view of life.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Didn’t get around to taking any new pictures for Friday, but I have word picture. I was out in the side flower bed by the driveway yesterday morning. I was setting up the soaker hose and happened to look down to my left. We have several red Canterbury bell plants along the curb. And I discovered that hummingbirds also like Canterbury bells as much as we do. Not sure what variety, but it was mostly green. And very happy to find the flowers.



Found this shot on the web. We have some white ones too. But all the plants by the driveway are the red ones. We'll see how tall the get next year when they had some time to settle in.


The little hummer has buzzed me a couple of times on its way around the yard. Doesn't seem to mind us. Acts like it owns the place, actually.


Weeky (Friday) Photo

This is my sister's niece Amelia.

We're at our family cabin...a place that was so special to my sister.  It's where all of us who miss her can feel her spirit.

Amelia at the Lake

Saturday, June 14, 2008

On Poison Tomatoes...

I’m sure you have all heard about the salmonella contamination in our nation’s tomato supply.  Here’s a bit of a “foodie’s eye view” of this whole debacle…

I’m a big “Top Chef” fan.  I hang on every episode with a mixture of pride and longing.  I’m proud that this show legitimizes—even glamorizes—my chosen field.  But at the same time, I feel like a kid with my nose pressed against the glass of the candy store window.  I’m not a classically trained chef. Out here in the boondocks of northwest Oregon, I couldn’t make a living serving haute cuisine, using only fresh local ingredients, if I had the training.  I’m…well, I’m the proprietor of a cute little small-town café with aspirations to greatness.  I present the most up-to-date, upscale menu I can, taking into account that I need to appeal to the palates of retirees, cowboys, red-necks and young families looking for the next step up from McDonald’s and Burger King, if I want to put cash in the till.

So, I serve sandwiches and burgers and salads that appeal to the most unsophisticated of tastes.  And every good sandwich, burger and salad in the good ole U S of A includes a big, red, juicy slice of tomato.  I don’t know whose idea this originally was, but if I ever find out, I want to be the first to sink a butcher knife into his heart.

Let me first confess that I have a peculiar love/hate relationship with tomatoes.  I love any and every kind of prepared tomato product, from ketchup to marinara to salsa.  Cook it, doll it up in some manner, and I am the biggest tomato fan that ever lived.  But I have always hated raw tomatoes.  Even the juiciest home-grown fresh-off-the-vine tomato leaves me absolutely cold. 

Tomatoes are a very regional, very seasonal crop.  They’re pretty much only good from midsummer to early autumn; depending on what region of the country you live in.  Back in the Midwest, we would plant three tomato plants in June, and harvest enough to feed an entire neighborhood well into the last half of the year. The long days and hot nights were perfect tomato-growing conditions.  Here in the Pacific Northwest, however, you have to be very knowledgeable about which tomato varieties will actually thrive in our short, dry summers—hot by day, cool at night.  All in all, tomatoes just aren’t a very successful Northwest crop.

But that doesn’t stop Northwest diners from demanding them.

Lovely fresh tomatoes are only available in any part of the country for a few months every year; but that doesn’t stop diners all over the country from expecting tomatoes on their burgers, sandwiches or salads whenever they go out to eat, whether in July or mid-December.  Sometime around the middle of the last century, we became absolutely fascinated that—between the year-round growing seasons in California and Florida, and the “hot-house tomato” phenomenon—we could have tomatoes any time of the year, even in the most frozen reaches of the Midwestern winter tundra.  I remember those first mid-winter tomato offerings.  They were packed five or six to a plastic tray, heat sealed in cellophane.  The fact that they were hard, sickly orange, seemingly made out of the same cellophane in which they were wrapped and tasted not much better than plastic was lost on us.  They were tomatoes, and if we could have them in January, by god, we wanted them.

Fast-forward nearly half a century, to a world that has shrunk to the point that the word “regional,” when applied to produce, means it was grown somewhere in the same hemisphere.  I don’t have to wait until tomatoes are in season.  And I don’t have to count on the small and sometimes unreliable crops from Florida and California.  Mexico, Central America and South America can provide me with tomatoes year round.  Except…ripe tomatoes do not travel well, so they are picked and shipped well before they ripen  So…they are hard, sickly orange (or even green), and look and taste like plastic.  But we still buy them.  I honestly don’t know if anyone in this country knows how a fresh, raw tomato is supposed to look or taste.

Unfortunately, this global economy has backfired on us.  Back in the olden days, when the food we ate was at least grown somewhere in this country, we had some chance of regulating the growing methods.  As various pesticides, fertilizers, and agricultural practices were found to be harmful or dangerous, the government could ban the use of the product or practice that produced harmful results.  Now that our insatiable national appetite for out-of-season farm goods has caused us to tap into the world market with wild abandon, it’s not possible for us to monitor or regulate our food supply as closely as we once could.  We’re three weeks into this salmonella-tomato crisis, and the FDA still has not pinned down the source of the contaminated produce.  Not surprising, really, since the offending fruit could have come from anywhere in the world, and has been shipped all over the country.  This is pretty damned frightening.

As a restaurant owner, it’s a pain in my butt to have to deal with the very personal consequences of all these global shenanigans.  I have had to pull tomatoes off everything on my menu.  I am going to have to throw away half a case of perfectly good—albeit sickly orange, hard and probably nasty-tasting—tomatoes, all because Americans have developed an unsupportable craving for out-of-season produce. 

I understand that the world is shrinking, and we need to learn to live and trade in the global economy.  But when it comes to foods—what we put in our bodies—I think it’s vitally important that we get back to the basics.  We need to learn to love our fresh, local produce when it’s available.  And learn to live without it when it is not.  I think our lives, or at least our continued good health—depends upon it. 

“To everything there is a season…”   



Friday, June 13, 2008

Photo Friday--We Love Our Flowers...


...also known as ivy geraniums.

Friday Photo

 Where I hope to be sitting very soon.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


  This is my middle son, David.  He is the light of my world (as all my kids are) and the reason we decided that next year we would home school our kids. 

At six years old he ought to be eating up knowledge, lapping the edges of the world with hunger and joy, but a certain system already started to put out his natural lust for learning.  Little kids should not HATE school...not when they are six years old.

So summer begins and we are going to conquer this world together.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


The first bud on the Peace rose started opening today. We actually had a sunny day! The blossom will fade to a deep cream with a rosy undertone.

Cross posted in Cottage by the Hedge.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Friday Photo

Big milestone at our house this week.  Adrienne turned 21.  Here's the birthday girl.  Hmmmm....what to wish for?

Friday, June 6, 2008


One of our rhodies in the back yard.

Rhododendron, ferns and bluebell seed heads from the back.

Absolutely gorgeous (I think) white rhododendron from the side yard. Unusual color combination I think.

The pink rhodie across from the white one. Just beginning to open up. It's been so cool this spring that the blossoms have lasted longer than I expected. We have one on the corner of the porch that's usually bloomed out by now that's just starting to open up.


Photo Friday

In honor of all grads everywhere.

And just to show I was once not quite as old as dirt...

Me (on the left) with my best friend on the occasion of our high school graduation in June of 1973.

Hartford CT

Bystanders Ignore Hit-and-Run Victim - AOL News

Do the citizens of Hartford, Connecticut feel shame or are we, the humans far removed from that city the only citizens who do?

I feel shame at the callousness.  I feel disgust at the lack of compassion.  I am heartsick that another human being could first hit and drive off, and still others could look and drive away or turn their heads.

After watching the video with me, my husband said, "It's a set up." 

Why would anyone set themselves up to be critically injured or die?  Insurance money. 

I'd have to be pretty desperate to pull a stunt like that.  Insurance companies don't pay out in a week. 

"No, I don't believe it was set up, Dear." 

I do think it's a blaring example of the lack of morals in this country today. 

To quote my late mother, "Lack of morals and ethical values will be the downfall, the ruination of America."  "Mark my words."

Duly noted Mom.  Sadly too.


Friday's Fab Five Photos

Conway, New Hampshire, August, 2007 Conway Scenic Railroad

 Just a few shots from a train ride through the White Mountains.  I wasn't on this particular trip.  I no longer go camping, but happily send the family off to tent and ... you know, get all buggy and dirty and stuff.

I have been on this train ride a few times through the years.  It's a great, relaxing way to spend a few hours especially during the heat of a summer day. 


On the Little Silver Boxes from Hell

My husband and I had an argument the other day. This is nothing new…we argue quite a lot these days. We are both so tired, so overwhelmed and so frustrated. Who better to take out negative emotion on than your life partner? J

The argument du jour was about my cel phone.

Once upon a time, I needed a cel phone. I had a small business that took me hither and yon to events all over northwest Oregon. The phone was an essential tool for keeping in touch with the husband and my sisters (who constituted my work force.) I was forever having to make arrangements to meet so-and-so at such-and-such an event, and then track them down once we arrived. And then I needed to make calls for lodging reservations, or repair issues, or any number of things which demanded that I have a phone at my immediate disposal.

I carried my phone on my person at all times. It hung from my belt as I slung quarter-ton pieces of restaurant equipment in and out of the trailer. It lived in my purse, which got stashed and squashed wherever I could hide it while we were doing an event. It sat in the ash tray of the truck as I made my way over the highways and byways. Eventually, it literally fell apart from being smashed, stashed, hung, bashed, dropped and trashed. By the time I traded it in after its two years of faithful service, it was held together with rubber bands and electrical tape.

I got a new phone in 2006, just as my life underwent a major metamorphosis. I’m no longer an itinerant food vendor; I command a real restaurant with an actual permanent location. Gone are the days when nobody knew exactly where I was at any given time, and the cel phone was the go-to communication tool. And it’s a good thing…because the new phone has proven to be an absolute piece of crap. It gets terrible reception, it drops calls, sometimes it doesn’t bother to ring at all. And it has lately developed this malady where it suddenly loses contact with its battery and goes dead. I’ve taken to calling it the "pocket rock," because it is exactly as useful as a rock, most of the time.

Our particular phone plan allows for new hardware every two years. So I am eligible, now, to get a nice discount on yet another phone. Husband insists that I run right out and get that phone. And I could not care less. I HATE cel phones. At this point, I’m seriously considering declaring "Conscientious Objector" status when it comes to owning one.

What the hell good are they, anyway? First of all, though cel phones have been in use for—what…twenty years?—the technology has never been perfected. Why should it be? We, the consuming public, don’t demand that the things perform as promised. We just lap up the next mutation as soon as it’s available. The folks who make these things know they don’t actually have to work to sell. They just have to be the sexiest, newest toy on the market. So I’ll pay one hundred, two hundred, no…three, maybe even five hundred bucks for this wonderful little device that will take photos, play music, display video games, show movies, compute gratuities, do everything but cook breakfast for me. But I’m still hanging out of open windows or ducking out onto the sidewalk in the rain hollering into it, "Can you hear me NOW ?"

Why can’t it just BE a telephone? Or at least a passable imitation of one?

The technical foibles alone should be enough to have us doing what one normally does with crap (***floooosh***…bye-bye!) But then there are the ring tones. Who knew there were quite so many supremely annoying pieces of music to be had? Of course, even the "Hallelujah Chorus" sounds like hell digitized and blaring at top volume from somewhere in the vicinity of the ass of the guy in front of you at the Wal-Mart check-out. The other day, I heard a ring tone that was a loud, obnoxious laugh… like something from a sleazy joke store at the mall. I could not believe someone chose as his signature sound something that stupid and irritating.

Cel phones have turned us into a society of ill-mannered, self-absorbed, careless, thoughtless communication junkies. We cannot be alone with our own thoughts; nor can we be with the people we are with. Sales clerks, waitresses, service people of any kind are made acutely aware that they are not worthy of our full attention. Friends, spouses, parents and kids all suffer the indignity of hanging on the periphery while the obviously more important conversation takes place with whoever is on the phone.People talk—or, heaven forbid, text—while driving. It’s like, you lay hands on that little silver box and it just sucks the brains right out of you.

Well, I’m sorry… I don’t want to play. These days, I am almost always either at the restaurant or at home trying to rest up for my next stint at the restaurant. Both the cafe and my home have phones. If I’m not at home or at work, I’m generally with my husband or one of my sisters…and they all have cel phones. If by some off-chance I am somewhere where I can not be reached, I am most likely out of touch by choice. There are times when one just needs to be alone; cel phones have turned us into a nation of co-dependents. It’s unhealthy to always be just a few beep-bip-boops away from someone else. It’s weak, it’s scary, and it’s…sick. I can’t buy into that any more.

So, I told the husband, here’s the thing: I’m going to approach the cel phone issue the same way I deal with religion. You believe what you believe, and I’ll believe what I believe. You don’t tell me I need to have a cel phone, and I won’t tell you they are Satan in a little silver box, and need to be exorcised from our society with all due haste. 

I don’t know if I made my point…but I’m still not getting a new phone.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

who am I?

I am the sum of all my past, of all my parts...I am not who I thought I would become; for that I am thankful.  Many people call me Mommy but I do not know if that title truly fits. 

Words are my music. 

Being 41, I am not old and I am not young, I am somewhere in that in between place like being a pre-teen. I am completely comfortable in my own skin. because it remembers the caress of God.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Or at least I'll try not to let it controal me.

I must not fear.

Fear is the mind-killer.

Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

I will face my fear.

I will permit it to pass over me and through me.

And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.

Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.

Only I will remain.

From Dune by Frank Herbert.

Well, this isn’t exactly Miss Manners, but it does tie into how we treat each other.

This may end up being more than one entry. This is, in a way, a skeleton of an idea. I’ve got a frame, but the picture isn’t finished yet. And this does not address groups that are not only willing to use violence against the innocent to achieve their goals, but are willing to ask their own people to die to achieve it. That requires a different response.

Pieces of this puzzle have been kicking around the old brain box for a several years. I just haven’t been able to string the words together in a way that makes sense. Lisa’s post last week started them tumbling again. We watched Cry Freedom and Cry the Beloved Country again this weekend and things started tumbling faster.

Some puzzle pieces start looking for homes every time a group such as the American Nazi party or the Ku Klux Klan wants to hold a march. Usually in a very carefully chosen venue where they can be guaranteed the maximum amount of exposure for the minimum investment of party funds. Skokie Illinois in the late seventies is a great example  

An offshoot of the American version of the Nazi Party wanted to hold a rally/parade in Chicago in the late seventies. The city priced the liability insurance so high the nice people with the pretty banners (so not) were forced to look elsewhere and settled on the suburb of Skokie. The decision may have been influenced by an unusual demographic; a large number of Holocaust survivors had made their new homes in Skokie. A publicists’ dream come true.

The request for a permit to gather ignited a firestorm of protest. The ACLU ended up defending the National Socialists right to parade in court. And under our beloved, but largely unread, constitution groups like this do have a right to gather in public. Even if the rest of us are grinding our molars down to powder when they do it. The story spawned a fairly good TV movie, Skokie. The party finally got their gathering. In Chicago. In 1981. And Skokie? Their sister city is Porbandar, the birthplace one Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. AKA the Mahatma.

News of a controversial gathering usually sets a familar pattern in motion. Crowds gather to hold counter demonstrations at the office that issues the permits, at the courthouse, or at the parade. Usually there are more counter demonstrators than there are party members or Klansmen. And they are just as loud, if not louder and just as angry.

Other puzzle pieces look for mates when I consider the level of violence we’re surrounded with in this country. Sometimes I feel like the frog that was put in a pot of cool water over a low flame. If I’m not careful, I’ll end up cooked.

 I’ll be the first to admit that trying to preach non violence to the tiger isn’t going help when his teeth are already in your throat. You can no longer speak and the tiger is past listening. Choosing a non violent response doesn’t mean there won’t be confrontations or that you won’t find the tiger at the door. It does mean that you try to choose your confrontations. When you open the door to the tiger it’s as much on your terms as his.

Whether it’s Anne Coulter, Alexander Cockburn or the Klan, their goal is to provoke a reaction. Granted, the Coulters, Krauthamer’s, and Klansmen seem to be better at it. They poke, those who don’t agree react. They poke harder, we yell louder. They haul out the heavy artillery, we jump over the moon and the whole show is played over and over on every news channel in the country. It’s a strange and twisted dance we have going on here in this battered world.

But, what would happen if we didn’t react to the provocation. If we didn’t act the way we were expected to. A different, disciplined confrontation. What happens when the Nazis hold a parade and nobody comes? How do you provoke a crowd that isn’t there? What good are parade banners and white hoods when no one is looking at them? These actions don’t ignore what these groups stand for. It’s a confrontation of what they believe and why you oppose it. It may involve small groups gathering away from the route or demonstration with information and the strong suggestion that even watching these people act like the fools they are plays into their hands. Gives them a power they don’t deserve

What if? What if the National Socialists had been allowed to march in Skokie? March down streets or gather at a park lined with people holding placards with the names of the lost and camps where they died? Or even better, placards proclaiming “I survived.” Just picture it. A silent parade route or park lined with nothing but black bordered placards. It is a picture, isn’t it?

Being absent, turning your back, or refusing to speak unless you choose to do so on your terms does not imply consent. Far from it. It puts any violence or provocation squarely on the shoulders of the person or persons who set out to use the situation for free publicity or to serve an agenda. They poke, we don’t react. We say no to their power play. They have no power over us if we don’t concede it to them.

It doesn’t matter which band of the political rainbow you live in. Our reactions grant the professional provocateurs power over us. Power that they have no right to hold and, I coming to believe, we have no right to concede.

Cross posted in Cottage by the Hedge.

On Thoughtless Thoughts

Kathy would like us all to put our "Miss Manners" hats on and give her some input on 21st century American manners (or lack thereof.)

I have to say, I have not had occasion to throw a big, catered bash for anyone lately; and since I have no kids, there will be no weddings, graduations, baby showers or the like in my future. Still, I perceive a change in social habits, despite all protestations to the contrary by the real Miss Manners.

I almost said that the problem must be a steadfast commitment-o-phobia among the general population…but I wonder if that’s it. Perhaps the issue is that people are chronically over-committed. With today’s technology keeping us eternally connected to everyone we know, work with, or have ever met, our time is never our own. People are loathe to commit—especially to something as far in the future as a month from today—because something better might come along. Or something dire might happen to change their plans at the last minute. Live moves so fast, and we have so many choices that we justcan’tdecide….

And then there is the growing literacy problem among Americans. I wonder…how many just don’t know the meaning of "RSVP?" Perhaps that little French acronym is beyond the ken of today’s average xenophobic, anglo-centric Yankee. Anyone under the age of thirty probably doesn’t even know where, or what, France is.

Replace those four letters with something that our ill-educated society can understand. Like, "If you don’t let me know you’re coming, you’ll be turned away at the door." Or "Anyone not responding by such-and-such a date will be seated in the living room with the rest of the folks who won’t be getting any food." Why, after all, should a social invitation affect an archaic courtesy that simply no longer exists in our society? If you want your guests to let you know they’re coming, you’ll simply have to step off that genteel pedestal, get right down in the wallow with the masses and "oink" their language.

At some point, you just have to concede that society has changed, and get with the program.

Good luck with that…

Tuesday Thoughtless Thoughts

With graduation approaching quickly and a guest list forty people long ... RSVP Please in bold letters on the invitation ... food and beverage to be organized, ordered and cooked ... why is no one responding? 

Thoughtless, I guess.

What's your take on the etiquette of responses to invitations?  Ladies?  Are we, society, just plain thoughtless, rude, ignorant these days? 

Sunday, June 1, 2008


Unsusual, for us, lavender iris. We had just enough misty rain this morning to make for a good shot.

Another beautiful color combination, also showing the beard. I am going to have to make note to much the living daylights out of that side of the bed. I don't want to lose any of these bulbs this winter.

And how do bean vines know where to go? Yesterday those runners were waving around pointing every which way. Today they're zeroed in like a pointer on a pheasant. But, how do they know where to go. I mean it's like Audrey looking for lunch.

Note the cobbled together trellis arrangement. What works for the rectangular trellis on the other side of the bed doesn't exactly work here. At least not without a little help. LOL

Cross posted in Cottage by the Hedge.


Some sweepings from the recent news.


Had one of those B@#$##%T moments this weekend. The regional cable news channel ran a story last night about the sales jump for hybrid cars out here. I was only paying half attention to the story until they focused on a young family that had just bought one of two hybrids just delivered to a local dealership, I think it was a Honda; like I said I was about half there until the guy mentioned that he’d been discouraged from taking a test drive because and I quote “by the time you get back we’ll have sold it to someone else.”


And it was like what the F&*^! You’re going to sell the car that someone is test driving out from under them? And you’re buying a car you haven’t at least driven around the block? Granted, the father of the family didn’t strike me as the brightest bulb on the tree, but really; let's at least make sure the wife, the kids and the car seats fit in the car. My own reaction would probably be. Well, good for you; I don’t sign on for a twenty to thirty thousand dollar purchase without knowing what I’m getting, have a really nice day.


Scott McClellan’s new book. I haven’t read the book and I have no intention of reading the book. But, I have gotten a kick out the news stories and the foaming at the mouth columns in the paper. I do have memories of seeing Mr. McCellan on the news when he was press secretary.. He was really good at the no answer answers that this administration is famous for.


There’s two kinds of people who don’t know what’s going on. Those who tried to get the truth and couldn’t get any answers in spite of repeated attempts to find them. And there are those who don’t know what’s going on because they’re following the good old sit in the corner, close your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears and hum real loud routine. Really, really loud. Think Ronald Reagan and Iran/Contra. There isn’t a damn thing I’ve heard discussed from that book that hasn’t been in the news over and over since 2003 except his claim that he didn’t realize what was going on. Yeah, and I have a slightly used bridge I’d like to sell you.


 Spent about an hour picking spent blossoms off some rhodies yesterday morning. And found myself thinking about a couple of conservative pundits who don’t mind showing off their ample curves. Namely Coulter and Malkin. Coulter in her slinky little black dress and Malkin in a bikini, more than once. The shots are on the web.


On the surface they are beautiful women. And they know it. But, like those short lived rhododendron blossoms the showy beauty fades. Once the flowers are gone you’re left with the shrub; and sometimes you find that the showy blossoms were disguising a pretty homely shrub. So be careful ladies. One of these days what’s on the inside will start showing on the outside and I don’t think botox or plastic surgery will do you any good.


I could be wrong though. Karl Rove is a certified, vindictive, manipulative asshole and he still looks as smooth, sleek and smug as ever. Maybe he has a Dorian Gray style painting stashed in an attic or cellar somewhere.  


Cross posted in Cottage by the Hedge.