Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Blowing Sideways

I'm staying inside the rest of the day.


NOAA is right. It's blowing a freaking gale out there. It's almost as strong as Hurricane Rita was at our Houston house, and Hurricane Georges at our Louisiana house. I just went out to wash the contents of our hummingbird feeder off the cars. That red gunk is NOT good for paint jobs. It's in the 40's, not exactly car wash weather, so I put on my short and stylish cobalt blue rubber boots and tried to get the hose water to hit the cars. The trees were creaking so loud I was afraid branches would fall on me, and I envisioned a totally ridiculous death by oak branch. Sorry, doggins, no walk this afternoon.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

White River Thursday

The clock is ticking on the nordic ski days. Thursday was a blue sky day, even here by the river, so we headed back up to White River with Jan and Fred, this time to ski instead of snowshoe. We did bring the snowshoes as plan B, but the skis prevailed. I'll share a few photos of our expedition. This first one is from parking lot level. One climbs up the huge snowbanks to get to the start of the trail by that little blue sign in the bottom center right of the picture.

We did stop at a few other sno parks, just to see what was there. Lots of snow, and beautiful trees. But the sky was clear and we wanted to ski in the open. We can ski in trees and not see the sky on cloudy days. It really doesn't matter so much when you are in trees.

All the city families with kids and snowpans were on the sliding hill. It was OR spring break, after all. WA spring break starts now. Imagine, they plan it that way, so the ski places have two good weeks of business, the beach rentals stay full for two weeks, and restaurants see more customers.

Brindle (shown here looking back toward the parking lot, which you can't see because it's around the corner and down 10 feet or so) didn't know what to make of all these people in the middle of the ski trail. Neither did we. It was tricky to ski around, with all the holes and bumps and tromping in the snow. But we managed. Those kids looked like they were having a blast. I saw one little guy trying out his snowboard. He was not quite ready for prime time, so I imagine his parents told him when he could master this bunny slope, he could go to the big hill with the lift. I watched him travel about 10 inches, then face plant. He came up laughing.

We headed toward the mountain, along the river but not as close as when we were on snowshoes. The view of Mt. Hood took our minds off the hard work of uphill skiing.

There were some very strange tracks down the side of the ridge. Aliens? Probably snowshoers who wanted to make us wonder...

It was so sunny and warm, we got down to shirtsleeves again. It was all uphill for us. But that was the plan. If you go uphill from the start, you get to ski home fast.

We got to the place where everyone before us turned around. Lloyd and Brindle are here checking it out. The trail went on with only one set of ski tracks through the trees.

Fred and Jan are the little figures in the next photo, almost to the top, and they were ready for a snack. We tromped down a lunch spot, had our snack, as a young woman snowshoeing with her snowboard strapped to her backpack headed higher. As we prepared to go back, a couple of snowshoers clomped up, side by side, crushing all of our ski tracks. Sigh.

Lloyd headed back down with the dog, followed by Fred, who promptly face planted when his ski hit a hole. Jan headed down the side in fresh snow, and face planted a few feet past Fred. I barely stifled a giggle, and made sure they were okay, then wished aloud that I'd gotten those spills on video. I didn't want to leave them, so I waited for them to get up, and welcomed the snowshoers to our lunch spot. They looked like rookies so we forgave them their lack of trail etiquette. They were huffing and puffing but obviously enjoying themselves.

Everyone got back on their feet and headed down as Lloyd came back up to see what was keeping us. We usually have our radios, and I would have called him and told him our friends had crashed. But we forgot them that day. We skied back with great glee, much faster than we'd gone up.

Another successful play day, with a quick stop at the Sawmill for a nice Cloud Cap Amber.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Blame It On Sisters

One of the reasons for being AWOL from the Pahk, I had SISTER company. Last weekend, we had a half reunion, that is, 3 out of the 6 of us. Not bad, considering there was no occasion, and it was on the WEST coast. Linda came out Thursday night from Boston, fresh off of chaperoning a group of 41 high schoolers to London and Paris. Talk about serious jet lag! We headed straight to McMinnville to Mary's as soon as we picked up her bags, arriving at 10:30 or so. By midnight we were mellow enough to head to bed.

A fun Friday in Mac was had by all. We tooled around, shopped downtown, dropped Syd off at swim practice, then headed to the very nice R Stuart Wine Bar where we each had a red flight to taste, along with some yummy roasted rosemary cashews. We made it back to the pool in time to see Syd's last practice dive...she was not pleased with us. We were immune to 'the look'.

Next stop, our favorite restaurant Red Hills Provincial Dining in Dundee. Nancy was out on a catering gig so Richard was holding down the kitchen solo. It turned into a busy night with lots of concert goers needing an expedited dining experience, so we were the cool patient people in the corner. Linda and Syd amused themselves with their spoons. We had our usual crab cakes and montrachet stuffed grape leaves for appetizers. I ordered the outrageously delicious lamb shanks with barley, the others had the even more outrageously delicious noisettes of beef. The sampler of home made ice creams was shared by all. You MUST dine there, sometime in your life. Seriously.

Syd wanted to stop and visit her friend and neighbor on the way home, they were expecting us and chilled some champagne (which we did not need) so we extended our socializing until nearly midnight again.

We made our way back to White Salmon on Saturday after stops at Lange Winery (another favorite) and The Bistro for lunch. We got back to White Salmon just in time to go to Hooba's for rib night. Hooba was happy to pose for a photo with yours truly.

Always the memorable dining experience, the hillbilly smoker may not look like much, but it never disappoints. Ribs and pulled pork combos got highest ratings from our visitors. (Sorry about the JayHawks tonight, Hooba. It was just not meant to be a repeat.) Does it sound like all we do is eat and drink wine?????

Sunday was exploring day for Linda. We went to the usual places, the Husum Falls, BZ boat launch and path to the falls, Trout Lake to feed the tween at Heavenly Grounds Espresso (she didn't need caffeine, but she did need food and a huckleberry smoothie), then back to introduce Linda to Joel at Wind River Cellars. Lloyd tapped some wine from the barrel for the girls to taste. Knowing I had mouths to feed, I picked up an assorted case. Good thing, as you'll soon see.

A quick hike up to Coyote Wall to see the lava tree, see Mary and Syd inside, runoff waterfalls and some wildflowers. We finished up the day making homemade pizzas and playing Pictionary. It was a very close race, with Mary and Syd barely beating out me and Linda. I won't whine and say they got all the easy ones....

Monday we were a bit lazier. Richard and Nancy arrived with three year old golden retriever Basil in tow for a little R and R from the restaurant. Mary, Syd and Linda drove up Snowden Rd to check out The Columbia Gorge School of Theater Camp, where Syd wants to go this summer. We took Richard and Nancy out and about, trying to convince them to come visit more often. Then it began.

The marathon dinner and wine experience. We knew it was coming. Friday night at the Red Hills was just a warm up. First course: mussels. Very fresh mussels that R and N had picked up in Portland on their way. Cooked in some of Joel's gewurtztrauminer. We paired them with some wonderful champagne that Richard brought, followed by some of Joel's new release pinot gris. Meanwhile, Linda made some mushroom risotto while I grilled a butterflied boneless leg of lamb outside. Don't ask me how, but it came out perfect.

Now we were ready for the serious stuff. We opened a bottle of WRC Lemberger. Then another. Then some of Richard's own pinot noir. Two bottles. The crowd asked for more...out came some WRC Cabernet Franc. After midnight the count was nine bottles (including the cooking wine). Must be a house record.

Now everyone is gone. They left Tuesday after mass quantities of coffee and homemade huckleberry muffins. The laundry is done. The guest beds remade. All I need to do now is restock the wine rack....

Thanks Linda for some of the pictures I stole from your FB to spiff up my story. I was missing some key elements...but I'll leave the hot tub photos on FB!!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009


To my handful of fans, I apologize for my truancy. It's just been crazy this month, and I promise, there'll be new postings about the goings on soon. It would have been today, but the sun is finally shining, rumor has it there are 5-6 inches of fresh snow at Mt Hood, and we're heading out for some playtime. My vitamin D levels are feeling a little low, so this is therapeutic.

In case you don't know how it really is in the Gorge, if the wind is up, people drop everything to windsurf or kiteboard. If there is fresh snow, they play hookey and head to the Mt. If they have spring fever and are tired of snow (highly unlikely but possible), they put on their boots and hike out to see wildflowers. Computers are untouched until the urges are satisfied.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Paddy's Day

And a big Happy Birthday to my favorite leprechaun, Alina, who turned 20 today. No more teenagers in the family. One more year to be legal.

How lucky is that to be born on St. Patrick's Day? Her due date was March 16th. The Sullivan in me was determined that she would be born on the 17th. And after I made the traditional boiled dinner for Lloyd, Keara and my mom, Alina obliged. Grandma Sullivan made sure she had a St. Patrick's Day Bear for her hospital photo.

Ever since, she's played up the Irish and celebrated her birthday in style. I particularly like this ensemble, which she wore to preschool in Nigeria. Actually, she wore the dress and pin to school, and came home in a leprechaun hat.

To celebrate we joined some fellow Nordic Club members at Teacup to help out with an adventure. Students from the Oregon and Washington Schools for the Blind came through the snow today to ski! There were about 30 students, with varying degrees of visual impairment, and as many volunteers. The snow was excellent, and so were the kids. A few had skied before, downhill. A few had snowshoed. But it was a first for Nordic skiing for all of them. I had a 17 year old name Desi. She was a natural. I walked beside her while she skied. She started leaving me in the dust on any kind of downhill. Forcing me to run. Run. In SNOW boots. Not a pretty sight. She liked to go fast. She was also an excellent snowball maker with even better aim. Impromptu snowball fights were the norm all day.

Tonight they are all sleeping at the boy scout camp at White River. The National Forest Service Rangers put on a nature program for them there after the ski. My bet is that there will be a lot of tired kids!

Tomorrow we go back up (by 8:30 am) so I'm going to keep this very short- I've got to get to bed early so I can keep up with Desi tomorrow. And this time I'll wear my skis.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Lone Butte Saturday

Yesterday morning we loaded up the Outlander and headed to the local park and ride to meet Jan and Skip, then to the Skamania PUD parking lot in Carson to meet up with Ole and Karen for a day of skiing at "the end of the road", which is kinda like the Restaurant at the End of The Universe.

It was miserable when we left White Salmon, rain, wind, general nastiness. The gusts heading west on 14 were ferocious, especially around Drano Lake (gotta love that name). We wondered about our sanity, but reminded ourselves that when all looks grim at home, it just MIGHT be better somewhere nearby. We were not disappointed.

It was rainy on the way up the forest road to Old Man Pass, but then it turned to all snow as we went the 5 miles more to 'The End of the Road'. It was the nicest snow I've skied on all winter! The GPS said we'd gone 3.5 miles and gained a few hundred feet elevation when we stopped for lunch at Lone Butte Meadows. Which means the ski back was mostly downhill, with a few fun rollercoaster bumps just to get the adrenalin going. We were passed up by a few courteous snowmobilers, but no other skiers were there at all. We saw our shadows a few times, briefly, but the snow was getting pretty heavy by the time we made it back to the car.

I stole the photos from Lloyd. See his write up and more pictures on the ONC site. We'll have to go back when it's sunny, I hear the views of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams are fantastic.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Happy Birthday Number One Dog

Today is Brindle's 11th birthday. She was born during a thunderstorm in Mandeville, Louisiana. She still hates thunder (good thing we finally left LA and TX). We were all supposed to go camping in Mississippi that weekend, but the weather killed that idea. Good thing we didn't go, because Karin and Stefan's dog Tubby decided to drop the litter.

Brindle was the moose of the litter. The other blue merle was the runt. They both look like their dad Beethoven, who I think is roaming a farm in Venezuela now. Tubby, a tri, and the runt stayed in Mandeville.

If ever there was a dog to clone, it's Brin. Thanks, Engels, wherever you are, for convincing us to take a puppy.

More Ben and Jerry Humor

In January, I wrote about Yes, Pecan!

Seems there's more Ben and Jerry humor rolling through the internet. I got this one from my favorite Republican neighbor (the one with a sense of humor, and who voted for Obama along with his downballot R's).
Ben & Jerry created "Yes Pecan!" ice cream flavor for Obama. They then asked people to fill in the blank for the following:

For George W., Ben & Jerry created "_________".
Here are some of their favorite responses:

- Grape Depression
- Abu Grape
- Cluster Fudge
- Nut'n Accomplished
- Iraqi Road
- Chock 'n Awe
- WireTapioca
- Impeach Cobbler
- Impeach Mint
- Heck of a Job, Brownie!
- Chunky Monkey in Chief
- George Bush Doesn't Care About Dark Chocolate
- WMDelicious
- Guantanmallow
- Neocon Politan
- RockyRoad to Fascism
- The Reese's-cession
- Cookie D'oh!
- Housing Crunch
- Nougalar Proliferation
- Death by Chocolate... and Torture
- Freedom Vanilla Ice Cream
- Chocolate Chip On My Shoulder
- "You're Shitting In My Mouth And Calling It A" Sundae
- Credit Crunch
- Mission Pecanplished
- Good Riddance You Lousy Motherf**ker... Swirl
- Country Pumpkin
- Chocolate Chimp
- Bloody Sundae
- Caramel Preemptive Stripe
- I broke the law and am responsible for the deaths of thousands...with nuts

Now, they don't REALLY have plans for a Bush flavor, but if they did, they have plenty of possibilities. I wouldn't expect anything less from the guys who brought Spanky to Texas a few years ago!
(And yes, I was one of the volunteers who rode around DeLay's district in the Spankymobile, in his own neighborhood, on July 4th no less! Granny Marsha drove, I rode shotgun and was in charge of patriotic tunes and handouts. It was a great day.)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Big 5-0!

Not mine. That was, oh, almost 7 years ago.

It was my sister Mary's. Being the wonderful person she is, she decided to throw a bash to benefit the Yamhill Community Action Partnership (YCAP) and the food bank capital campaign. She scheduled it for exactly one month after her February 2nd birthday, because it just crept up on her too fast after the holidays, with her busy County Commissioner schedule, and after her trip to DC for the inauguration.

Mary totally gets President Obama's call for community action.

We had a great evening of food and wine at The Golden Valley Brewery, thanks to the owners who donated the room, and the local wineries who donated some fabulous vino.

Mary looked fabulous in her tiara.

The cakes were a big hit. We'd picked them up at Roth's grocery store an hour before the party when Mary realized she hadn't arranged for a cake. With a limited selection, we went with Happy Birthday cakes in the case :

A beautiful white cake decorated with flowers

and a festive chocolate cake for the Orange County Choppers.

I don't know why. It was pretty, it was funny and most of all, it was CHOCOLATE. Then we put Mary's daughter Sydney to work (top photo) planting all those candles!

About 100 people came and donated $4500 total to the cause. A local business threw in a three year pledge of $2500 per year. Times are tough, and people are stepping up to help.

What a way to celebrate your half century. I am inspired...60 will be here before I know it.