Friday, March 28, 2008

Winter Snow Warnings

I woke up to snow this morning. There are several inches on the deck now. I keep waiting for it to stop, or turn to rain. It's 11 am and still snowing. Crazy. So is my spouse, who was out doing yoga on the deck this morning, in the snow. See our new patio furniture? We need a cover for it, obviously.

Snow King snow park won the toss yesterday in the hike or ski decision. We had a good 6 inches of fresh snow to trudge through on the first uphill half of our trek. We were the first vehicle to the parking lot that day! Other people out to play in the late season gift stopped at Pineside.
We skied up to an area that had been logged, had a snack at the top, then headed downhill making our own trails through the pristine snow. When we got back to the 'road' portion, we got some good glide (finally) going down our uphill track all the way back to the car. An excellent day. The dog is still sleeping it off.

Next Up: Doc Hastings

My former congressman Tom DeLay is gone. Dennis Hastert is gone. Now it's time for us Washingtonians in the 4th Congressional District to step up and replace Rep. Richard "Doc" Hastings. If you don't know who this guy Hastings is, here's a clue from potential candidate George Fearing's fundraising email:
Rep. “Doc” Hastings is the guy who held open the vote for Speaker Hastert until 6:00am while DeLay twisted enough arms to pass the Medicare Part D prescription drug bill through the House. He also chaired the House Ethics Committee while his chief of staff attempted to pressure a federal prosecutor in Seattle to begin a criminal investigation to overturn Chris Gregoire’s 2004 victory and give Dino Rossi the governor’s mansion.

We have a candidate, George Fearing, who is close to the $100,000 campaign fund level he needs to make a successful run against the incumbent. If you have a spare $20 hanging around, please send it to George via Act Blue. I just got an email from him saying he needed 500 people to send $20. Now he needs 499 more.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Deep Breaths Everyone...Deep Breaths

Seriously, what is wrong in a democracy with letting the people have their say? I am SO tired of those who keep calling for an end to the primary season. This is the first time in years that the whole country has mattered in the selection of the Democratic presidential candidate. Our Democratic candidates are neck and neck. It's not like a landslide for Obama. It's hard after the race has passed by your state. Patience, everyone. Let this play out. Let the people vote. That's what it's all about. It will not tear the party apart unless you let it. If anything it's getting more people registered to vote in EVERY state. Chris Dodd, you're done, and you'll have to get in line behind Bill Richardson and John Edwards for VP. The party will come together if the people feel they had a say. I will feel a whole lot better about voting for Obama if Hillary went the distance and lost. I will be pissed off if the game gets called off in the last quarter. So will a whole lot of other people. If you all push to stop it now, you will do more to hurt the party than if you let it play out. And I really hate to think about how all the people in Florida and Michigan feel...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Olympia Snowwoman

It didn't snow at my house last night. Just rain. They got it higher up though, so we'll go in search of good skiing tomorrow. Meanwhile, back on the 'other' coast, my sister Janet was celebrating her birthday. Which one is not important. She is younger than I am.

What did she want to do for her birthday? Go to Bethel, Maine to see the giant snow woman. She sent me pictures. This is crazy. I googled it and found a ton of stories on Olympia. This one had pix of how she was built. And for those who don't know Maine politics, Olympia Snowe is the Republican senior Senator.

These Mainers are quite inventive during their long winters. Olympia is 122 feet tall, 10 feet taller than Angus, King of the Mountain (1999) who had the World's Tallest Snowman record in Guinness Book of World Records. Angus King was the governor of Maine at the time. Mainers (Mainiacs?) do have a great sense of humor. Olympia's eyelashes are SKIS. Her lips? Tractor tires painted red. Her black-lined eyes are also tractor tires, as are her buttons. She has a 6 foot long snowflake pendant, and an 8 foot orange painted 'carrot' nose. Her arms are pine trees.

It took 13 million pounds of snow, much of it artificial (it hasn't snowed THAT much in Maine), and all the spare snow they could plow up at the airport. The Bethel Chamber of Commerce spent $5000, but the labor and equipment were donated. And, if you're game, you can buy a raffle ticket in the melting pool. Guess what day Olympia will be totally melted. There can't even be a puddle. She's not expected to melt until May.

What does Olympia Snowe think of all this? "I have to say I've joked that it's just my luck I'd have a world record-breaking monument named after me - and it will be gone by summer."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Spring Fake Out

Mother Nature is getting ready to pull a prank on us.
You know all those hikes we've been taking to see the wildflowers?
And all the bulbs poking up blooms in the yard? Well get ready, little plants, because temps are heading down to the 20s and the snow level to 500 feet tomorrow. We just might see one more snowstorm. I kind of hope not, because we spent yesterday afternoon putting together a table and chairs for the deck. I don't want to see them under a white coat. Oh well, it won't last long if it does snow. It's that time of year. But just in case it's a lot, I cut a bunch of daffodils for inside the house.

I've been trying to figure out the photo program on this new computer, and finally downloaded my camera. Here's a great rainbow that I woke up to one day last week. The photo from the bedroom window wasn't very good, the deck one was better, but not as good as it really looked!

And finally, our St. Pat's celebration coffees. We make mean ones here. We'd had excellent Reuben Sandwiches at McMenniman's in Troutdale, serenaded by a bagpipe band, but waited til we got home for our coffee.

It Has Begun

Ah, the start of baseball season. I didn't stay up until 3 am to watch the Red Sox play the A's in Tokyo online. I waited until I got up and checked the website. I was not disappointed, 6-5 Sox in a 10 inning contest.

It was a wild game, including started Dice K giving up 2 runs, 2 hits, 5 walks, 5 strikeouts, lasting 5 innings. Okajima came in and got the win, the first Japanese pitcher to win a major league game played in Japan. How long will THAT one stand?

But the big news was the M&M effort. M for Manny, and Moss. Who the heck is Moss? Brandon Moss, a 24 year old from Georgia who filled in for JD Drew, out with a back twinge. Lucky for Moss. He hit his first Major League homer, the fifth player in history to hit his first in a game outside the US or Canada and the tenth Sox player to hit his first homer with Boston in a season opener. His homer tied the game in the 9th inning. Way to make an impression, kid. Manny, meanwhile, drove in 4 of the 6 runs, including the game winner in the 10th with 2 out.

So to the Oregonian sports guys who today predicted the Yankees will take the division this year, and that the Red Sox will struggle at the beginning of the season because of their awful travel schedule (including Japan), I'm a bit more optimistic. My bee-ah is half full. Go Sox!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Best Brunch Ever

Okay, I'm not going to eat again for a week. Or at least until tomorrow. This afternoon we went to the Skamania Lodge in nearby Skamania, WA for Sunday Brunch. Click for the mouth watering menu. There were seven of us around the table, including a recently arrived Texan (Dallas area). We started with mimosas, and headed off for the first round. I hit the row of salads, smoked seafood, crab, shrimp, and oyster shooters. I was tempted to stick with that menu, but since it was my first time at Skamania Lodge, I sampled small bits of the potatoes au gratin (heavy cream, I swear it was a small sample...I could feel it go directly to my hips), a small piece of prime rib, and some salmon. I ignored the pasteries, the cheeses, the egg dishes, and anything I could make easily myself. It was Easter, after all, so I did take one strawberry dipped in the chocolate fountain, some berry compote and a tiny wedge of chocolate torte. Come visit, and we'll take you there!

We had lively conversation at our table. Two of the couples are veteran Voodoo philosophers. The women I know from Klickitat Dems as well. And the White Salmon Arts Council. The newcomer was a born Texan, but the air quality got to her, and her husband is a big windsurfer, so the Gorge fit the bill for them. We talked about the gorge impact projects (Broughton Mill development and Cascade Locks Casino proposal), Condit dam removal on the White Salmon River, the fish stocks, the proposed gas pipelines across Oregon, as well as lighter topics such as what brought each of us to this beautiful place. The Texan was waiting for a phone call from her son in Kuwait, an MP on his way to Iraq. She also told of her daughter who works in London and may be on her way to Pakistan and Afghanistan. With two of her four kids heading into harms way, she supposed out loud that she should probably worry most about the son who has to commute on the freeways in Dallas the most!

It was a different kind of Easter for us. The first one with no kids at home at all. I bought a bag of dark chocolate m & m's, and called it a day. We drove by the Skamania Town Hall, where a small crowd of parents and kids waited (in the cold rain) for the start of the Easter Egg Hunt. The lawn was dotted with hundreds of eggs. Quite a sight. They were all gone on our way home. We did enjoy our day with friends. This place is really feeling like home.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

If I Had A Million

Does anyone remember that WC Fields film?
At the Voodoo Philosophical Society last night, we ate, we drank, we tawked. Then our challenge for the night: You have a million dollars to donate. You are limited to 5 charities. What would you do with it?

There was a tally clerk and categories for 'donations', with local, national and global perspectives. It was really interesting to see where people would put their bucks. Everyone had sound reasons for why they gave to certain charities. But most interesting was how people fit into the local, national and global categories. The more we queried each other, the more we could see a lot had to do with exposure. People without international exposure were very local in their focus. Local schools, local arts, local health. Teachers, counselors, public servants channeled agencies where they saw incredible need daily. Those of us who have seen global needs up close and personal had more global and national focus. It was good for all of us to talk about these things.

As for me? First off, a million split 5 ways isn't much. Truly. I think about Ben and Jerry's Oreo graphic. And what we could be fixing if we weren't dumping trillions of dollars into a war of choice. But I digress. My five picks were: Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF, Planned Parenthood, National Parks Conservancy and National Public Radio. If I were Bill Gates I could have added a lot more.

I went out with a Doctor's Without Borders group when I was in Nigeria. We vaccinated kids in migrant camps working the rubber plantations a few hours away from where we lived. The vaccines were supplied by UNICEF, and we picked them up in several locations where there were facilities to keep them cool. Hence the first two.

I've supported Planned Parenthood since I was in college. What they do for women's health care and education are invaluable. Despite what some people think, PPA is not just about abortion. It's mostly about women's health care. If PPA were better supported, there would be no need for abortion.

I love our National Parks. I am a National Park Geek. Yes, I even have a National Park Passport, and get the stamps whenever I visit one. They are a treasure, and I'm afraid they won't be there for future generations.

And NPR. I love radio. I have been a fan of NPR forever. When our local OPB station had transmission trouble this winter, and couldn't get to the tower for repairs because the snow was too deep, I went crazy. Serious withdrawal. So they are forever on my list.

So, if everyone gave some bucks to their 5 top charities, what a great place this world would be. It doesn't have to be a million.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Tonight is voodoo night. I don't know what's going to happen, the invite was cryptic. But it has something to do with Native American Basketry. Watch for more info.

Tomorrow we're hiking with Friends of the Gorge. Hope to have more wildflower pictures for posting. Got me a new lumbar pack (we used to call them fanny packs, the Brits call them bum packs) that will hold all my good stuff. And a new windproof fleece jacket, on sale at It's awesome. And it does block the wind, which my 15 year old fleece jacket does not. I wish I had it for last Saturday's hike. It took me 2 days to get my body heat back.

Sunday is Easter. We'll be at brunch at the Skamania Lodge. I've never been. So more good stuff to write about.

I'm not going to listen to the news or read blogs for a couple of days. I need a break. I wish I didn't care so much. It will all work out. That's for sure.

Happy Easter, everyone.


Recently I got an email from Bill Richardson asking me for a donation to help defray his campaign costs. I guess that was because I'd sent him a few bucks early on in his campaign. I liked his resume, and it seemed that no one cared that he had such great creds. So I sent him an email back (he never answered), asking him if he was going to endorse Hillary, since I felt that she had the best creds of anyone left in the race. I thought he could relate. I guess not. He obviously was offered VP or another good spot in an Obama administration. That would make me feel better about voting for Obama. If I have to. Which I will if he wins the nomination. So sorry Bill. I'm not sending you any more money during the primaries. FYI, I gave it to Hillary today instead.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wheels UP!

My Red Sox are on their way to Tokyo.
They'll open the season March 25th against Oakland in Tokyo.
Yep, Tokyo.
And who is the starter for the game? None other than Dice-K, Daisuke Matsuzaka.
The home crowd will love it.

The departure was not without drama. Right before their spring season finale with Toronto, the players found out that their coaches wouldn't be getting stipends for the trip. Everyone was expecting that the coaches and players going would be getting the stipends. In all for one, one for all team spirit, the players held a meeting and threatened a boycott of the last game, casting doubt as to whether they'd even go to Tokyo.

Fortunately, the communications 'misunderstanding' was straightened out, and the big happy family in on their charter heading west, as I type. It's a long 17 hours to Tokyo...the usual coat and tie dress code has been downgraded to casual. Big Papi's bringing his PJ's...

Good News Bad News No News

I love that show on OPB on Saturdays where they go through the headlines and decide: Good news, Bad news, No news. They should have a blast this weekend. I just hit my google home page and saw the 'headlines' in the news sidebar. "Obama Thinks OJ Did It"(LA Times), and "Hillary in White House on 'Stained Blue Dress' Day" (ABC News). Seriously, folks, NO NEWS. The media is sinking to new lows, and are insulting anyone with a brain. Is there stopping the constant barrage of tabloid journalism masquerading as dutiful information to the people??? A hopeless News Junkie, I have quit watching the news, switching to my Paul Simon CD's in the stereo when the talking heads, on even NPR for goodness sakes, get too full of themselves. The only survivor on my airways these days is Jon Stewart.

For the record, I don't give a hoot about whether Obama thinks OJ did it or not. Do the writers think that will make me like Obama better, if he thinks a brother was guilty and skated? I don't need to hear Rev. Wright every time I turn on the radio or tv, either. The Jerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons are as scary to me as Rev. Wright. So are people like Rush Limbaugh and Chris Matthews, for that matter. I think Obama has put that one to rest. I certainly hope so, anyway...he got almost the entire front page of the Oregonian today, relegating the Iraq War anniversary to the bottom quarter of the page, and plenty of air time yesterday to do it.

I also don't give a hoot about Hillary's calendar from 8-16 years ago. She did a great job as first lady, and rewrote the book on what a first lady can contribute to her country. I don't care where she was on the day Bill let Little Willie take over his brain. She's more than answered for 'all that', and has worked her tush off every day since. It's about time the media put that story in the graveyard.

Just because all this stuff is 'there', doesn't mean it has to be blasted at us 24/7. The media can choose to say, enough of that, let's move on. But they won't. Can we please focus on the big stuff that matters to every day people? Like the 5 year anniversary of GWB's dalliance in Iraq, 4,000 Americans who've been lost, the tens of thousands of walking wounded and their families, and the unimaginable number of Iraqi dead? This is top, front and center NEWS. How about the tanking economy, due in large part to the gazillion bucks funding the war? Our infrastructure is falling apart, jobs are disappearing, our environment is trashed, our world is a mess, and we're still getting crap about a blue dress. Give it a rest!

But we all know that won't happen. We take sound bites and twist them into something bad so everyone gasps, Noooooo! Everyone waits to see what bad thing will happen nexts. They can't sell it if we aren't buying. We need more people like the newly elevated governor of New York, who held a press conference after his swearing in to let everyone know he and his wife had affairs in the past. Noooooo! There it is, guys and gals. Now let's get down to business.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Scallops? With everything going on these days, the subject is SCALLOPS? Hey, I need a diversion from the media finding little things to make into big things. I found a few interesting topics buried on inside pages, but first, I need to talk about SCALLOPS.

When I was a kid, I hated scallops. There weren't too many foods that made me gag, but scallops was one of them. Maybe it was the little frozen heavy breaded rubber nuggets that my entire being would heave at the reheating smell of. Maybe I really WAS meant to be the fisheries biologist I became (in my first life) because I truly appreciated good seafood. Seriously, the smell of those suckers made me gag. One time I was spending the week with my best friend Peggy, who'd moved away. Her mom made the dreaded breaded scallops for dinner. I held my breath and ate them. I couldn't be rude. Mom and Dad taught us manners.

There were seven of us kids in the family. My mom didn't make a lot of exceptions when it came to food. I think we were a bit strange...we ALL loved spinach, and mom couldn't cook enough. Really, kids who fight over who got more SPINACH???? But on scallop or fish stick Fridays (hint, seven kids, yes, good Catholic family) my dear sweet mom made an exception to the eat it or starve policy. Probably because I ate everything else, including liver and onions. She'd boil some eggs. I'd happily eat a boiled egg rather than heave on a rubbery scallop.

Fast forward to my fisheries days. This person who formerly gagged on scallops squatted on the deck of a Polish side trawler rolling out on the ocean near the Scotian Shelf with a groundfish catch dumped on the deck. After sorting out the fish to be measured and weighed, we opened the scattering of scallop shells and ate them RAW. MOST delicious. Seriously delicious. Those scallops gave their lives to make me a convert.

Happiness in Rhode Island was bay scallop season. We'd take our bags and snorkel in the shallow bay waters, stalking the blue eyed scallop (remember Euel Gibbons???). Then we'd all take our limit and sit in someone's yard, shucking away. I do believe beer was involved. The treasures were frozen in small bags to be meted out over the rest of the year.

So scallops. How did I get on scallops? I saw an irresistably priced package of bay scallops at the store the other day, and snagged them. I took them home, and came up with a dinner that I'm still thinking about...Scallop scampi with artichoke risotto, with balsamic roasted asparagus, served with chilled Wind River Cellars Chardonnay (no oak, steel barrel). Ooooh la la. There was Chard IN the risotto and scampi, by the way.

I still hate fish sticks. And frozen breaded scallops. Sorry, Gorton's Fisherman.

for you cooks out there, here's my recipe, makes 3 servings (2 very hungry, 4 not so hungry):
Mince 1 medium onion, and saute it in 1 1/2 Tbsp butter in a large frying pan.
Add 1 cup risotto rice and 8 chopped canned medium artichoke hearts and a few minced or pressed garlic cloves. Stir 5 minutes.
Add half a cup of white wine, stir until evaporated.
Add 3 cups of chicken broth, one cup at a time, stirring until evaporated.
Add 1 1/2 Tbsp butter, and 1/3 cup grated parmesan or 3 cheese blend.
Keep warm.
In another pan, melt 1 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp olive oil. Add 1 or 2 cloves of garlic (pressed or minced). Cook for a minute or two, then add a pound of small bay scallops. Cook for a few minutes on each side. Add 1/4 cup white wine and cook for a few more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Mound a serving of risotto onto the plate, making a well in the middle. Top with scallops. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Spring Fever

Spring is definitely springing around here. We went skiing Sunday in almost 60 degree sunshine. OK, the snow was lousy, but it was sunny and beautiful. I wouldn't mind a few inches of fresh on top of the gunk, but I'm afraid that won't happen on our side of the river. Maybe up at Mt. Hood.

Meanwhile, the grass widows (the purple flowers on the left) are popping out all over. They must be the local equivalent of Texas Bluebonnets!

It was spring break for Boston College, so Alina was here last week. We promised lots of couch time with DVDs, but a little sunshine was definitely in order. During a short afternoon of skiing at Snow King, she reminded us that she REALLY doesn't like cross country skiing. I guess we were hoping that she'd forgotten about the freezing attempt to do same in North Conway ten years ago...

On to plan B. We loaded up the dog, and took another hike in the hills just east of Bingen on the Syncline Trail, dodging all the mountain bikers...and this was mid week...why weren't all those people at work???? Spring fever, playing hookey, or just flex schedule types, I guess. Anyway, we had a fine walk, lots of good views of the Columbia River, the wild flowers, the waterfalls, the rocks... Just can't get enough of this! And it's whipping me into shape to boot!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Live from New York...

Tell me you saw SNL this weekend! First there was the debate, followed by the editorial rebuttal by HRC. VERY funny. And for the really perverse, check out the Obama Files....
One of these days I'll learn how to embed videos...

I've been out hiking, and have some new pictures to post soon. Boston College girl is home for spring break, so there will be a three way fight for the good might take me a few days!