Friday, December 25, 2009

A Delightful Christmas Morning

It is a beautiful Christmas Morning in Ruch, OR 2009. We are spending the holiday with Debbie's sister and her family. I got up a little late today. It was sometime around 8:00 am. I've already forgiven myself though because yesterday I was up at 4:00 am so that I could get my eight hours of work in by 1:30pm. I ended up having to work a little late but was home by 20 minutes after 2:00 and on the road to Grants Pass by 2:30.

Unfortunately, the traffic combined with poorly timed road construction, added at least an hour to the trip. I was fading a bit by Albany, so Debbie took over and drove all the way to Grants Pass. I then re-took the wheel and drove the final leg into Ruch.

I'm sure that I was far worse company last night than normal. Today, however, after a full nights rest, I feel far better.

They have a beautiful noble fir which they harvested up in the woods. The needles are a bit longer than the nobles we normally find in the woods near our place in Portland. It has a little nicer color as well. I love the look of a wild noble fir. Here, enjoy it with me.

We have been fortunate enough to be part of this family which continues to grow and in which each of the members loves each of the other members, hence the mountain of gifts at the base of the tree. It is refreshing to watch and listen as they each interact with each other about the gifts and the thoughts that went with them.

Let me share some pictoral highlights.

Oh my goodness! I wish I'd taken a picture of the huge pile of crinkled wrapping paper and empty boxes. You should have seen it!

There is something else that I wish you could have experienced with me. There was a lot of gratitude going around. Many "Thank you" responses and sounds of appreciation. Often, in todays society, there is too little thanks. It is great to be in the same room with a number of people who don't just do this one day a year.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sometimes Its Just Good Enough To Be Alive

Ok. Sometimes life just doesn't offer nerve tingling sensations. Sometimes it is just a new day with the kind of events that one normally expects. This week has been full of those kinds of days. I think it is good, however, to go ahead and report even when life seems to go ahead normally.

It is the Christmas season and though I'm not really feeling particularly consumeristic, I did visit a couple of malls this week. I found nothing that really pushed any of my buttons and left without making any purchases. My condolences to all of the vendors out there competing for the few dollars in my pocket. We visited Clackamas Towncenter earlier in the week and discovered it to be noticeably lacking of patronage. If I had actually been in the mood to buy, it would have been the perfect opportunity to get some shopping done. We finally left the mall with a couple of cups of coffee and virtually no inspiration.

I needed to visit the DMV and discovered that they have an office at Lloyd Center that is open on the weekends. Yesterday, we decided to head down there so I could take care of my business. Our experience at this mall was completely different. To begin with, there was extremely limited parking availability. We finally found a spot on a nearby street that was available on a pay by the quarter hour basis. Boy, was this experience different than it had been earlier in the week. The mall was packed with barely enough spare oxygen for me to remain calm.

On top of that, this particular DMV office didn't offer the service that I needed. What a downer! We visted Starbucks

then wandered around for a short while, dodging the myriads of bodies and finally, to my relief, headed back to the vehicle for the trip back home and the welcome lack of nameless faces. Oh my goodness, how good it feels to be in my own quarters with only familiar people around me. Whew!

Today it was a pleasant church service with a bit of a twist. The service was a bit different in that there was a Christmas pagent in lieu of a sermon. Our seventeen year old, Jonathan, had a part and we were proudly watching during his performance this morning. I think at the last minute someone had dropped out and he was able, with very little prep time, to stand in with some significant speaking parts. You've got to love that!

Our church offers two services and between services this morning we offered a free breakfasts of all you can eat pancakes, sausage, yogurt with granola, and peaches. Jonathan's mother, Debbie, and I, helped serve up the breakfast. Debbie's father, Hans, was kind of ramrodding the outfit and we happened to be volunteers by association. It wasn't that bad. In fact, it was kind of fun but don't tell him. We'll just kind of keep that our little secret.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Who? Me? Sick? Never! Well, Maybe

Did I ever tell you that I never get sick? Well never is kind of extreme. I actually have recently been influenced by some sort of virus. You know, a cold. It has been a couple of years since I have had any trouble breathing through my nostrils. Tonight, however, I have chosen to take a couple of DayQuil capsules. You know, just something to keep my sinus passages clear enough to breath through. I think I'm feeling better already. I love anti-decongestants.

I suspect that the busyness of my life in recent weeks has played significantly in my current condition. Normally, I cook with a lot of garlic and other healthy ingredients, and can expect perfect health. Last week I endured a number of "fast food" episodes, and am considering consulting an attorney regarding the health effects of Burger King. Ok, that was a joke! Please don't tell the King.

I think I told you previously about a piece of furniture that was spending significant time in my driveway awaiting my attention. Well, a couple of nights ago, Debbie and I huffed and grunted it into our kitchen (our cold weather work area) and I started to give it some much needed attention. Tonight, I put some final touches on it and tomorrow evening, you will probably have an opportunity to purchase it for yourself at Monticello Antique Marketplace. I suppose that its next owner will have to have the same love for Shabby Chic that we have, but I am very pleased with the final outcome. Let me show you a few images before we take it to the shop.

Originally, we acquired this piece with no top or drawer pulls. We had a collection of drawer pulls to contribute to this project and went to the Rebuilding Center for some tongue in groove flooring to add to the top.

I hand rubbed some linseed oil to get this delightful effect.

These were some really great drawer pull that significantly enhanced this cabinet.

I believe that this was a very old display piece from some sort of store. Oh my goodness! Is that a ghost? I hope that the new owners don't experience any unwanted apparitions.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Food, Fun, and Frolic

Tonight we had a kind of special event at Monticello. We combined a dealer work night with a potluck dinner party. There was far too much food to be able to try it all. It all looked wonderful and the items that I tasted were delightful. I made a batch of sour cream enchiladas which was a favorite from my mother's repertoire. Jonathan contributed chocolate truffles, and Debbie added some lemon pound cake. I probably should have taken pictures of our contributions but unfortunately, I didn't.

Debbie was at the space all afternoon and had it in pretty fine order but due to another new feature this year, she'll probably be back tomorrow to spruce it up again. This is the first year that I can remember that Monticello allowed dealers to make purchases among ourselves prior to the actual opening of the sale. I'm not quite sure how sales were this evening but I am confident that there were some sales and there really is no greater compliment than to have ones competition choose to spend their hard earned money on items from your inventory. Very cool indeed.

Here is a glimpse of our space.

Here's a peek at my sister's space. Debbie appears to be exchanging ideas with her. Her business name is Colby Cottage.

The show opens on Friday the 4th. We hope to see you all there!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Everything's a Blurr!

Have you ever heard of CYT? That is an acronym for Christian Youth Theater. As it turns out, our son Jonathan has been involved with that organization for a couple of years and currently has a role in the performance of "The Legend of Pocohantas". Opening night is November 27, the day after Thanksgiving and there will be at least seven performances. Please click on the link to obtain tickets to one of the performances. The venue is Mt. Hood Community College. They have a lovely theater with excellent accustics. The shows should be a lot of fun. It is especially appropriate right around Thanksgiving. We hope to see you there!

Ok, now that the commercial is over, let me tell you how things are for us. This group, in order to keep costs to a minimum, requires parents to have an active role in each of the productions that their kids are involved in. We have previously been involved in the Green Room and make-up. This time out has been a most stretching experience for us. Somehow, we ended up on the tech committee. I don't even understand the language let alone the equipment. Normally, tech sets up and mans the lighting, sound, and special effects. When I look at one of those sound boards with its 500 to a thousand or more buttons, switches and dials, I get nauseous. This time was no exception. I am so out of my comfort zone that I can't adequately describe it to you. It might not have been that bad, but somehow in all of the confusion, it turned out that only one person on our crew had ever had even limited experience with this stuff. This is a definate recipe for disaster. Fortunately for the kids and the show, they re-assigned the sound board to someone who had at least some limited knowledge. Try to imagine how thankful I am for that! My next anxiety attack came when they asked us to rig the kids with wireless mics. Oh my Goodness! What a fiasco! Somehow we have survived the last two nights but I wouldn't want suggest that it was anything close to smooth.

Fast forward two days.

Here it is Thanksgiving day and among the things that I am most thankful for is that the last three days is over! I am thankful that we all got canned from working the sound board as I mentioned previously. Ok. That may be a little tongue in cheek. I am sorry that I am not nor will probably ever be functional with modern sound equipment. Whatever. Let's move on to the present and the future.

Today instead of resting up for what could turn out to be another scarey day tomorrow, I started to approach some of the smaller projects that Debbie has lined up for me for our own show at Monticello next week. I rewired a cool wall clock

and also a chandelier.

I don't know how we're going to get all of this stuff done. We move in on Monday. There are still mountains of projects to attend to. (Wow, I think I'm loosing my grip. I have hung at least two prepositons out at the end of a sentence in this post alone.)

Let me get to dinner today. I started sometime around 11:00am and we ate sometime around 3:00 or so. There was a lovely turkey, mashed potatoes (thanks Jon), and gravy, asparagus with hollandaise, baked yams,

and a delightful cherry pie with a whipped cream chaser created by my lovely bride.

And now my friends, I've got to get some rest!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What is the Weirdest Thing You Ever Ate?

The other night I was at a social function related to my wife's job as a teacher's aide. They played a little game where we were supposed to answer a number of questions about ourselves. At the time I was afraid that I would have to address the whole room with my answers so I held back a little. As it turned out I only had to share with those at my table. Oh well.

Anyway, I have eaten a few items that are not likely to be on just everybody's list. I've had moose tongue, deer testicles, and snails. I've eaten rabbits and squirrels, even a camprobber jaybird once and maybe even the odd bug that made it down my throat before I gagged.

What's weirder than that you ask? Well, let me tell you about what I think is actually the weirdest thing that I ever ate on purpose.

Sometime back in the early 1980's I spent a little time in Europe. Sometime during that period I met a couple of kids from Sweden and they invited me to come visit their home. They happened to live in Lulea, Sweden which is very near the top of the Baltic Sea. I hopped a train from Paris to Lulea. It was a long trip but after a couple of days I arrived and enjoyed a few memorable days with my new friends. They chose to offer me the opportunity to experience a traditional Swedish dish. It is called Surströmming in Swedish but in English it would be called Sour Herring. You may read about it at Wikipedia or here ,a rather entertaining web page which I discovered as I was preparing this piece. I borrowed the picture from that last web page.

The brand that I ate may not have been the same but the can was bulging to a similar degree as I recall. In fact, they told me to take the can down to the lake and open it under water so that the contents wouldn't squirt out and taint everything within three or four yards with the foul odor of the fish. Let me just tell you right now that most people I know would never even consider putting anything that smelled like this stuff in their mouth. They wouldn't have even remained in the same room! Normally, one would believe, with good cause, that anything looking and smelling like this stuff was certainly poisonous. I mean it came in a can that was bulging! Doesn't that just scream toxic? It totally smelled worse that any road killed dog that you ever had the misfortune of walking past. Let me tell you right now, without exageration, that I still tasted it in my mouth two days later. I don't know how it ever would have possibly become a tradional delicacy anywhere. Who was the first person to ever put it in their mouth? That is a question far beyond my limited ability to reason.

There you are. That is absolutely the weirdest thing I ever ate. How about you?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Go And Do The Right Thing!

Ok, I just finished watching the Scott Boxell memorial service online. You know something? I really didn't know that kid but I know his dad and I would recognize his mother and also his older brother. I am not really that close to any of them other than I work with his father. Now for those of you who don't know, Scott fatally injured himself two Thursdays ago. It is so hard to understand what kind of internal pain could bring one to that end especially when by all accounts, he was a believer in the Giver Of Life and had accepted the free offer of eternal life with the Creator through the sacrifice offered by Jesus the only truly innocent man who, in fact, also was God incarnate.

I know that there was some sort of physical ailment that had bewildered his physicians and had apparently affected his sleep patterns and he had apparently come to the end of his ability to bare the physical/emotional/mental pain. Those of us who weren't walking in his shoes can't really imagine what he was going through so there is no point in pretending or second guessing his situation.

Here is what I know and it is upon this which I wish to comment. There were approximately 700 people attending the memorial service. Let's admit that a certain number of them were there to support the family who remained. There still had to be a large number of people there just because of the effect Scott Boxell had on their life.

Always take the time to tell the people around you that you love them and that they make a difference in your life. Don't let an opportunity go by to make someone feel loved and appreciated.

Have you seen the bumper sticker that says something to the affect that you should practice random acts of kindness? WELL DO IT! It will probably make a difference in someone's life and will certainly make a difference in yours. It will never hurt in the long run to make someone else's life better.

Just think. How would you feel if you found out that just by offering a friendly word to a friend or stranger you kept them from mistakenly ending their life prematurely? Think about it and as Dr. Laura would say, "Go and Do The Right Thing!"

Monday, November 2, 2009

Here's a Riddle For You!

How can a pair of blood siblings who share the exact same mother and father, be the same number of years old and not be twins? Hmm. Think about that while you read this post.

Man! This has been a very busy period in our lives and there is no reason to believe there is relief coming any time soon! We have sooo many projects in various stages of completion. The goal is to have everything done for the Christmas Show at Monticello Antique Marketplace which starts December 4. Here is one that is finally just about completed.

The first couple of weeks here it was in our drive way. It is now in the dining room. That seems to be the system around here. First the driveway, next the dining room. We really need more room in this house. Fortunately, Debbie and I are on basically the same page and we have discovered that we can live amongst the projects. This cabinet was a total mess when we first brought it home. Over the course of time that I've spent with this one I've learned to hate it. Now that it is nearly complete, my feelings have tempered to a mild dislike.

It will be great when it is out of here and for sale at the store. Oh My Goodness! The stress is starting to set in with force! We bought another kind of cool cabinet at The Rebuilding Center. It required a certain amount of my kind of attention and tonight I made a critical mistake while attending to its needs. Aieee! I need to just take a deep breath and not expect more than my best from myself. That is soooo hard. After my little error, I decided to knock off for the night and come inside and make dinner.

Yesterday, Jonathan requested Chicken Cordon Bleu. No worries I thought. I can do that! You know what? I was right. I did it and it was great. Again, as oft is the case with me, it took a little longer than I anticipated but in the end, it worked out just fine. Here is what we had for dinner.


Ok, let's get back to the riddle. This situation actually happened in my own family growing up. I was the oldest of four siblings. My younger brother, Mark, was born a year and a half later. The next to arrive was Dave a little over a year later. My sister was born 11 months and about three weeks later. So what happens each year is that she and my brother Dave are the same age for one week. Interesting eh? Tomorrow is her birthday and once again,for a week, she and Dave will be the same age.

Happy Birthday, Sis!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hot Dogs! Chili Dogs! Cold Pop! Have Some Nachos!

Yesterday was the harvest festival at the church and for three hours I was hawking hotdogs, chili, and various other tasty treats that are extremely bad for one's health. I, however, resisted and waited to treat myself till after the festival was over. This event is held at Gateway each year around this time. There are various games and prizes to keep little kids busy, excited, and perhaps a little overfed for the day. It is a community outreach event and all the kids and their families from the Gateway School are targeted as well as anyone else who might have some exposure to the church.

Today after church, we had planned to stop by the Grand Central Bakery for a couple of treats and a couple of loaves of artisan baked bread. The two loaves of bread that we chose were the Calamata Olive and Peasant Levain. I can report that each of them is excellent and will complement a variety of meals and will certainly make outstanding sandwiches.

Our treats were wonderful as well. I have only rarely strayed from the pastry that was my original choice back when we first discovered this bakery. Once again, it was the Chocolate Croissant for me. Debbie, on the other hand, has ventured out a couple of times (though she too loves the chocolate croissant) and today thoroughly enjoyed a lovely Cinnamon Roll. They probably are very tasty as I noticed at least three others were purchased by fellow patrons to this notable establishment just as I waited in line. To complete our purchase and cleanse our palate, we each add coffee to the order. I haven't been disappointed yet. If you plan to eat the pastry in the car as we normally do, expect to be wearing a few crumbs of puff pastry on your lap and shirt.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What Can I Say?

I know you probably haven't missed me much but it has been two weeks since my last post and I just couldn't stay away any longer. Wow! This was looking like a tough week-end for us. The estate sale circuit was pregnant with treasure but my partner and inspiration in this whole thing had a CPR class that she needed to take for work and that put "the dirt in the soup" as it were. She sent me out with strict instructions to carry out my normal duties and hers as well. Oh man! I was soo out of my league. Usually, I'll grab a few items and let her cull the ones that she doesn't want to use. Yesterday, I was on my own. I felt completely naked. I was totally unprepared for the task before me. Have you ever felt that way? Over all, I did poorly. The only good thing was that I didn't spend much money. I got a couple of items which received two thumbs up,

at least one which received two thumbs down, and one which was one up and one down. Oh well, it was probably just too much responsibility for someone who is normally just a grunt.

Today after church, we were back in the game and Jehovah Jireh (Our Provider) smiled on us. We went to a sale that we didn't check out yesterday and lo and behold, we found some items for which we had actually been searching long and hard as well as a few smaller items which will fit nicely in our space at Monticello and we got it all at half price. Now that's the thrill of victory!

Let me show you some images which show how I best contribute to this partnership.

In the words of the great philosopher, Dirty Harry, "A man has got to know his limitations". Fortunately, I know mine and am contented with the responsibility of carrying heavy items, tying them down, and safely transporting them.

Hopefully, something fun and/or interesting will happen during this week so I can employ my other talents and post an interesting blog for you to peruse.

Let me close with the words of another great orator, The Terminator, and just say "I'll be back".

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Now That Was Really Good!

Anytime my readers post a comment, I receive an endorphine injection. I like endorphine injections. If you like me, please comment and allow me the pleasure! Ahhh!

Let me just say that a comment, no matter how trivial in your eyes, is a valued event to me.

Have you ever heard of Jamie Oliver? He is sometimes referred to as the "Naked Chef". Apparently, that title has nothing to do with nudity but instead refers to the simplicity of Jamie's recipes. Whatever! Let's get beyond the word "naked" and get to the crux of this post. I recently read a post on another blog which peaked my interest in Jamie Oliver. Apparently, it also peaked the interest of my dear life partner, friend, and wife, Debbie as she checked out a video dvd from the library called "Oliver Happy Days Tour Live!" She also checked out a book called "Jamie At Home" by Jamie Oliver. To get to the point, we watched the video and enjoyed a wonderfully enchanting evening with Jamie. The dvd was enjoyable, funny, and remarkably clean and void of any kind of bathroom humor or any content which might be considered questionable, at least in my opinion. I would recommend it highly, especially to anyone who enjoys cooking and food preparation.

The book is very nice as well and includes a fine collection of pictures as well as personal commentary from Jamie.

Tonite I am featuring a recipe from this book.

I chose "Steak, Guinness and Cheese Pie with a Puff Pastry Lid". This recipe can be found on page 342 of the book. I am not a friend of Guinness, in particular, so I chose a stout which I do enjoy from the Deschutes Brewery. They have called their stout "Obsidian" and it pleases my pallet to a far greater degree than Guinness ever has.

Ok. Now to get down to the important and perhaps more subtle and distinguishing component of this post. The time required to achieve the end was significant and the folks upon whose opinion I heavily rely were getting ancy towards the end. However, when the alarm finally sounded and I was free to announce the completion of the dish, everybody had a positive commentary.

In fact, I too was impressed. It was both beautiful and tasty. I even had it again for lunch and it was still good. I will certainly revisit this recipe but next time I'll either start much earlier in the day or prepare the filling the day before I intend to eat it.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Well That's Weird!

Have you seen the bumper sticker that says "Keep Portland Weird". I don't know what that means exactly but let me tell you about what happened to me on Friday, September 25, 2009.

I showed up to work as normal and the day went just as expected till break time. That would have been about 10:00 am or perhaps a bit after that. Anyway,I had just decided to go on break and had let my helper go for a bit and all of a sudden the fire alarm went off. I thought, "Great timing!", but decided to follow normal procedure and head out into the parking lot and find the place where I am supposed to show up in a fire drill. Suddenly, something happened which was totally unexpected. (You might say it was weird!) The supervisors who would normally have been out in the parking lot with us came to the doors of the building and indicated that it was imperative that we immediately re-enter the building and go to the break room which is located in the center of the building. Hmmm, interesting! Apparently, someone was breaking the windows at the front of the building and the safe place to be was somewhere in the middle of the building away from all exits and windows. Whatever! I complied with their wishes and went to the break room. After what seemed like an eternity, the alarm quit sounding and we were allowed to exit the break room. I, along with a couple of other curious parties, decided to investigate. We had heard that someone had broken a bunch of windows via a baseball bat or throwing rocks. To tell you the truth, I still haven't heard what he actually used but nevertheless, the windows were broken, people were frightened, and work was halted for perhaps a half hour or maybe even more.

When the "all clear" was sounded, I went to the front of the building to get a first hand view of what had actually gone on. What I saw was approximately, eight broken panes of 1/4 inch plate glass, a police cruiser with an aledged perpretrator inside, and cops and Providence security officers, and various other Providence employees milling around and checking out the damage.

Aparently, the perp was someone with whom the authorities were familiar. Astonishingly, he chose to hang around and wait for the cops to show up and arrest him. That sounds pretty weird to me. You know what? I don't like the idea of keeping Portland weird. Let's just put all of the weirdos in jail or dispatch them some other way and let Portland remain normal. I don't think I like weird. I heard that the quote to replace the glass was several thousand dollars. Some knucklehead like I saw in the squad car is not likely to have anywhere near that kind of money.

Once again, the victim is the one who will bear the brunt of the cost of the crime that was perpretrated against them. No matter how one reviews this event, the victim is the party carrying the greater liability.

I don't know if Providence Health Systems is rich or not. I doesn't really matter. The victim should never be the recipient of the greater portion of penalty. A perpretator who can not pay for his crime should be required to pay in sweat. Let him work it off!

Ok, let me cool down a bit. Society is never going to require retribution. I guess that is why this society is failing. Perhaps when the last victim falls and all that is left is perpretrators, we will finally get the picture. Unfortunely, by that time, it will be too late to get the appropriate measures accomplished.