Saturday, June 27, 2009


Meet Weston Maine, our newest city councilman.

Weston ran with the promise of humility, and an ear for the people. Weston's brand of governing did not assume the people needed someone to tell them what was best for them, and ignore what they actually wanted. The voters marked thir ballots for him in emphatic numbers.

Weston is set now to take over the Water Department. He has some promises to keep--a rate cut on the Storm Water Management bill for people with dry wells on their property, and a new program to sell rain barrels to the citizenry, at a discount, similar to the one the county has for compost bins. Weston's thinking is that saving rain water keeps it out of the storm drains, and lets people water their plants and lawns without using good drinking water, or draining their bank accounts to do it.

He's got a thoughtful brand of Green.

You can meet Weston in person this weekend at the Vancouver Recycled Arts Festival, in Ester Shore Park. All the pertinent info is here.

(Oh, and yes, that is a water sprinkler on his head. You can totally water your lawn with him. He's all over that one.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Meet Sandie, who ran away to join the circus, apprenticed as a horseback rider/dancer, rose to her brand of stardom, and never once looked back. Okay. She made that up. Actually, she does data entry for a local utility, while raising three beautiful kids, four hamsters, and one cranky canary. Add in a husband with a penchant for impulse remodeling projects, and she figures that's enough circus for anyone, and on days when life gets especially hectic she awards herself the title, "Ring Mistress to the World!", which has a tendency to put a twinkle in her eyes, and a dimple in her cheek.

Mike Stand is a microphone addict, what they used to call a ham. He just loves the spotlight. Thank goodness, he has the talent and willingness to work hard to develop it, so people aren't sorry to see him with that microphone in his hand! He does still have a day job, which he thoroughly enjoys, cycling through downtown delivering documents that need to get there now, but at the rate he's going, it's only a matter of time until he's full-time on the comedy circuit.

Madeline is known by her friends as the group's "Martha Stewart". Most of the time, she deserves that title, but she does have a secret: Other things are often higher on her list of priorities than presenting a beautiful home and delicious meals. Sometimes if you happen to peek into the spare room, or the coat closet, or the big pantry, you'll find what could only be described as A Mess. Once in a while, that luscious pasta salad, heaped into a colorful ceramic bowl and brought to the potluck, was actually carefully chosen, rather than prepared. She'd never outright lie about that, but she can be remarkably evasive.

Like I said, it's her dark secret, but it doesn't hurt anyone, and she never asked to be "Martha". Sometimes she wonders how that happened in the first place.

Oh. Remember the wig I was making the other day? Madeline is wearing it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Today was a lazy day, and not as productive as it probably should have been, but I did get several Coffee Pot People completely painted, and several more are in process, to be finished tomorrow.

This is Ginny. She a little shy, but when you've won her trust, and she starts smiling, watch out. The girl is dynamite. She's wrangled a job in D.C. for the summer, and plans to maneuver herself into a permanent, full-time position before the season's out. Why? Because she wants to save the world, of course, and she figures there's no better place to start than Washington.

Molly, on the other hand, is all about books. It isn't that she's all that studious or erudite, and she's certainly not pedantic. She just loves to read. She loves the stacks of books at the library, the way the spines feel when she runs her hand along the tight-packed rows, the way a room full of books smells, even. So she did the logical thing: She opened her own bookstore, so she could be surrounded by books all day. Who's going to complain if a bookstore owner has her nose stuck in a book during work hours, after all? It's her job! There are a lot of folks who figure that's what put that lopsided grin on her face. They'd be right.

There's something a bit fishy about Forbes. No, actually, there's something a lot fishy about Forbes, right down to his full name: Forbes Waterston Trout. He has embraced his monicker. He has darned near embraced all things aquatic. Seriously. This guy will even water your lawn. Of course, that does bring the earthworms to the surface, and they make fine bait. He probably won't volunteer that information, though. (Note: That is a working water sprinkler on top of his head.)

In other news, the oxalis is blooming. I love this ground cover. Mom has no fondness for it, because it really does spread, and is getting into her plant-with-a-name-I-can-neither-spell-nor-pronounce.

We were down at her place last week, and I dug up several plant starts--a beautiful red columbine, a clump of Jupiter's Beard, and some Bishop's Weed. With that one, seeing the variegated foliage drifting through the big front flower bed, I exclaimed, "Oh, you have Bishop's Weed!"

Mama misheard me, and replied, "Yes, it really is a vicious weed!"

That has become its new name, and we chuckle each time we use it.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Aren't incredibly busy days when you get lots and lots done just the best?

Yesterday started at 3am. I am not joking. That's the time the dog has chosen for "morning", and she was squeaking and yelping to be let out, so I got up and let her out, pointed out her rug outside our bedroom door when she came back in, and climbed back into bed. Except I couldn't get back to sleep. About the time I'd decided I might as well get up, I dozed off. It felt so late when I woke, I practically leapt from between the sheets. Dining room clock: 4:45. Oh, well. Not as if there weren't plenty to do.

I busied myself. Somewhere in the midst of wide-awake, moving the kayak to its new storage spot out back, breakfast, and time-to-get-outside-and-go-to-work, hubby and the dog found time for a nap.

Things I got done yesterday included making hummingbird nectar and filling the new feeder, forming a long S-hook for it from sturdy wire, and hanging it in front of the kitchen window. Isn't it beautiful? It was a Goodwill find, and just $4, so Bob got it for Father's Day, along with a jazzy, snazzy new stud finder.

The hummingbird nectar recipe was online, and much easier than expected: Add one part sugar to four parts water, and stir until dissolved. No cooking required, and since the feeder is colored, no problematic food coloring, either.

I spent a lot of time in my shop, too, as there are two shows this weekend to do, and I need enough Coffee Pot People to populate both of them. I'm aiming for ten, and am almost there. For one of them, I needed to make a metal "wig", a pleasant process that involved sitting on the deck in the bright shade.

I was able to talk to Bob as he worked, much more physically, on the lawn. He'd previously sprayed it with vinegar, an herbicide par excellence, and nicely non-toxic. The next step was to go over the yard several times with the rototiller, remove all the dead grass and roots from the dirt, and repeat the process. Believe you me, he slept well last night!

Bob was taking a break when his daughter called from New Zealand. That was a sweet ten minutes. I got to listen in. After that, I fixed us a lunch of salmon patties, tossed salad, and cold, sweet grapes. Figured as hard as Bob was working, I'd better fix him a better lunch than the usual can o' soup!

My day's only real interruption was actually kind of funny. I'd done a dry run assembly of the Coffee Pot Person I was working on, then decided to add one small part, but didn't do a second dry run. The phone rang, the one in my hip pocket, just after I realized that the "small part" was too big to let things come together properly. Of course, by that time, I'd bolted the entire assemblage together, and doused it with thick glue! I was trying to get it apart before it set up, glue all over everywhere, including the bolt, the top washers, the top nut, the pieces the bolt was strung through, and at least seven of my fingers, when the freakin' phone started ringing. How I got it out of my pocket and open without getting glue all over it and my jeans is beyond me. I flipped it open and put it on speaker and set it on the shelf near my head, and had a conversation that went something like, "No, that's fine. I'm okay. Oops! Oh, shoot. Hang on., that's okay. Got it now. I just had to...aack..." I picked glue off my hands for the rest of the day, and my pliers were left lying on the table, jaws spread, in fear that I'd never get them open otherwise.

Come to think of it, I slept pretty well last night myself.

Today: More Coffee Pot People. I'm hoping to assemble one more, then paint faces on the lot of them. It will take the day, tomorrow, to get them named and photographed, write their bios, and create the laminated tags that come with them. Load in for the first show is the day after that.

Here's to busy-ness!

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Dad died eighteen months ago. It's a rare day I don't think of him, and I know Mama still tells him "Good morning, Sweetheart," when she wakes, and "Good night, dear," when she goes to bed. And Dad? He still shows his love in new and unexpected ways.

Last month, Mama found what amounted to a love letter to her and all of us kids, from beyond the grave. She was tidying Dad's old office, straightening things, sorting papers, and picked up a familiar folder. It held, I think, some of Dad's writing. (He's a published author.) Mama had handled that folder any number of times, but for some reason she'd never examined the contents of the inside pocket. This time she did, and pulled out, along with some other papers, a paper-clipped sheaf that began, in Dad's ornate handwriting, "Dear Mother:" It was dated, "22 June, 1945."

You have to know that anytime we come across something Dad penned, we're going to read it. Mama was holding a letter she'd never seen, and wept as she read. Tears filled my eyes, too, when she called and read it to me. I'm going to share Dad's letter here.

"Dear Mother:

It almost looked as if you and I had forgotten how to write, but here's proof that I still know how. Hope you're in good health--as for me, I never felt better in my life.

At present I'm t home with my Darling Wife. She's busy cooking supper as I write this. We just came back from a walk. Did a lot of window shopping--seeing what different stores had to offer. Looked in at lots of baby shoes, baby clothes and wall paper for a nursery. Dreams--I wish we had a home so that so much of it wouldn't be dreams.

Well, supper is over and we've finished the dishes. Pawnee is washing her hair. I'm continuing where I left off. Mother, with my usual luck in important things, I found the most wonderful, and most perfect for me, girl in the world. I'm very, very much in love with her and am given in to wondering if some heavenly power didn't send her to me--tho' goodness knows I didn't rate it. Pawnee said she heard there was talk about our marriage being "one in a thousand towards succeeding." That sort of gab is a little over my head because there has never for a single instant been a doubt in our minds. I love her more with each passing day. She's all my dreams come true."

At that point, Dad segues into business talk with his Mom, centering on the stipend he was having sent to her out of his Navy pay. He comes back to his young wife and his dreams for family a few pages later. Dad's mother had her heart set on a Navy career for him. I suppose she thought of it in terms of security for him--steady job, no fear of lay-offs, and a pension at the end. Dad, at the time, was having nothing of it.

He writes:

"I like flowers, good soil, animals, chickens, and hard sweat. I like a home that means more than just a temporary place to sleep. I like the sunrises over tall trees, the chirp of sparrows in leafy branches and sunsets behind fleecy clouds. I like mountain air and mountain streams. I like fishing and hunting. My boys and girls are going to grow up at one school and be known by everyone as a member of one of the old well-known families. I'm a civilian, Mother, Dear, not a Navy man."

Grandma prevailed. Dad spent twenty years in the Navy, and by my senior year of high school I'd attended eight schools. Eventually, though, Dad did get his farm--eighty acres of orchard and strawberries, a flock of chickens, and hunting and fishing every year. The years spent on that farm in the Hood River Valley hold some of the happiest memories of my life, but, in truth, every place we lived was filled with the love of my parents, the warmth of a large and loving family, and the sort of memories you store in your heart always.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. We will always love you.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Our Etsybloggers assignment: Describe summer in our neighborhood.

And immediately, my mind leapfrogs to Mr Rogers, singing, "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine?"

I live in Portland, where the summers are everything you could ever want that time of year to be. Literally. Freakishly hot one day, muggy the next, clear and sunny the day after, with a delicious breeze to swirl around your ankles and cool your feet that evening.

The matilija poppy covers its eight-foot high and wide self with blossoms that look like enormous fried eggs, the frilled white petals furling in the lightest of breezes, folding themselves over the poufs of yellow they surround.

The foxgloves have free reign in my garden, and I never know where they'll pop up, or even what color they'll be. There seems to be more variety in them every year as they hybridize themselves, but wherever they grow, they do it with great enthusiasm.

The hair garlic, a zany little allium, is also self-sowing. Seeing it out front makes me almost giggle. It refuses to grow in clumps, so there are long, skinny, leafless three-foot stems sprouting just wherever, here and there, one sticking up from the middle of the candytuft, two beside the lilies, another stuck between the euphorbia and the pavers through the flowerbed. Hair garlic. I didn't plant it because it's pretty. I planted it because it's goofy, and it never fails me.

And the irises. I've lost count of the varieties, and sometimes have to look them up to remember their names, but I ove them all.

That's summer here. Days and days when I don't shiver, days that begin before five, with birdsong squeezing through the screens on the open windows, and last until I sit, bare feet propped up, my entire being soaking in the last rays glimmering in the west.

Summer. Long walks. Sunburns. More freckles than I'd believe possible. Playing guitar on the deck, alone or with friends. My camera constantly at the ready. Dust puffing between my toes, garden dirt under my nails. Rain when it's been so hot you don't think you can bear another day of it. Stars. Rivers and rafts. Sitting on the swing in the backyard with a cold beer and the love of my life, resting, letting the breeze dry well-earned hard sweat.



Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I got out and photographed more of the new Mega Blossoms yesterday afternoon, so I'll post the pictures now, without further comment. (Click on any picture to see it full-size.)

By the way, I don't think I've ever mentioned it, but Mega and China Blossoms are for sale! If you see one you'd like, just drop me a line, or leave a comment. Mega Blossoms are $35 plus $8 Shipping (more for international), and China Blossoms are $15 plus $8 Shipping. (Combined shipping on more than one.)

Friday, June 12, 2009


Look closely. There's a fence underneath all those beautiful flowers. All three shots are of the same fence, on Wisteria Drive, near here.

"There is no fence nor hedge round time that is gone. You can go back and have what you like of it if you can remember." Philip Dunne

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I have a show coming up, starting tomorrow evening. Well, twenty-nine other artists are sharing this particular spotlight, but I suspect we all say, "I have a show this weekend." I think "the more the merrier" fits, especially in this case, especially since I've seen some of the other art that will be there already.

If you're anywhere near Portland, Oregon come by Friday evening for the opening night party, and/or Saturday or Sunday for the show itself!

Heading to Lincoln City now, to see Mama and take her the new lawn mower. Happy Thursday everyone!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


True confession: I don't cook for me. If the husband isn't home, it's a peanut butter sandwich, or a bowl of cold cereal, nine times out of ten.

So if I do pull out a recipe and actually cook, you know whatever I'm fixing has got to be really, really good. What you'll find below all this verbiage is the recipe for the world's tastiest tuna salad. Put away all thoughts of any tuna salad you've ever had. This isn't one of those. My cousin Pat brought it to the Cousins' Night Out, and it was so scrumptious I got the recipe. Today was the third time I've fixed it just for me, because the DH doesn't like tuna. (Except for my brother's home-canned. I think the husband would eat that straight out of the jar.)

Gingered Tuna Salad

You'll need:

  • 1 12 oz can tuna fish in water
  • 2 tsp Curry powder
  • 1 TB Olive oil
  • 1/4 c Minced red onion (1/2 small onion)
  • 3 TB Crystallized ginger chunks
  • 1/3 to 1/2 c Mayonnaise (1/2 cup will make it more moist, but 1/3 cup will have fewer calories and fat)
  • 1 TB Rice vinegar (or 1 tsp white vinegar and 2 tsp water)
  • 1 tsp prepared Dijon-style mustard
  • 1/4 cup Chopped pecans
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 dash Cayenne pepper, to taste

Drain the tuna and set aside. In a small saucepan over low heat, saute curry powder in olive oil for five minutes, stirring every so often.

While curry powder is cooking, mince the red onion. Chop the crystallized ginger into small pieces, about the size of the minced onion.

In another bowl, whisk to combine mayonnaise, rice vinegar, and Dijon-style mustard.

Add cooked curry powder mixture (make sure to scrape it all), crystallized ginger, onion, chopped pecans, salt and dash of cayenne pepper. Whisk again.

Gently fold mixture into the tuna, until well blended, and the fish is coated with dressing.

To serve, line 4 plates with a cup or so of chopped lettuce, top with tuna salad and ring with rounds of crusty bread, quartered cherry tomatoes, and baby carrots, if desired. (Or use what you have on hand, which is what I did.)
This salad is excellent served chilled or at room temperature.

Without those crusty rounds of bread, this recipe is also extremely low in carbohydrates, for those of us who are watching our carb intake. I don't allow myself to have carbs at all untill dinner time, so this is a wonderful lunch choice for me.

Yield: 3 cups salad; serves 4 or so.

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