Monday, April 27, 2009

Stealing Home

For anyone who missed the final Red Sox-Yankees game in the three game series this weekend, and anyone who did not see highlights on your local sports channel, take a little side trip here to see the replay of Jacoby Ellsbury stealing home on Andy Petitte and Jorge Posada in yesterday's 4-1 win. Man, we had Youkilis on a tear, Lowell with timely hitting, Varitek hitting a grand slam, Ortiz knocking in runs with doubles and triples again, and Ells with this gutsy steal of home. Not to mention the bull pen regulars having the night off so all relievers were young uns who stepped up to meet the challenge. The Boston vs New York games are always exciting to watch, but this one takes the cake. Thanks to Matthew Lee of the Boston Globe for the photo.

Not only did yesterday's game complete a sweep of the Yankees, but it meant a sweep of the entire home stand. Now THAT's a good homestand. I know, the season is young. I just like this kind of excitement. May the road be kind...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Get Down and Dirty

We've had such a spectacular couple of spring days. Here is the view from my deck in the morning on days like this. It was actually taken yesterday, but it looked the same today, except the trees are closer to having real leaves. No one stays inside on days like this unless they HAVE to. For example, my neighbor goes up to the mountain early to snowboard, then comes home to work after noon.

Yesterday was Marathon Monday. For those of you not in the know, it's the day of the Boston Marathon. This year, as you all have heard by now, Oregonian Kara Goucher came in third, which was big news around these parts.The Red Sox play an early game (and took the broom to the Orioles for a 4 game sweep). They like Marathon Monday.

At Boston College, where Alina is, classes are canceled because the marathon goes right by the school at the famous Heartbreak Hill. Students line the street to cheer. Students have parties in the mods and dorms. It's a special day. Alina really liked it this year because she has a killer Monday schedule (5 classes).

We chose to celebrate Marathon Monday up at Energeia Vineyards with John, Regina, Lynette and James. As usual, they started early. We got there a little after 1 (Lloyd had errands in The Dalles earlier), so it was very warm and sunny and dusty. We left at 7:30. I lost count of how many gewurtz I planted. Regina womanned the tractor and drilled holes all afternoon. James alternated between telecommuting from the trailer and marking where Regina should drill. John left for his day job at the restaurant.

Lloyd, dressed in his finest farmer outfit, planted and marked rows. He's multitalented. I think the knee pads are a nice touch, don't you?

Lynette did a market run (she was out of Cook's Champagne) then pruned the root stock because her severe sunburn did not need any more exposure. I planted until I couldn't plant any more. About 6 pm I got pruning lessons from Lynette and found a new talent. One I could perform in an upright position and in the shade of the EZup tent. I could also sip some Cook's Champagne (over ice).

Someday, many years from now when wine is being made from these grapes, we can say, hey, we helped plant those. And we have a greater appreciation for the vineyard workers who make that wine possible. Here's to the field workers that Regina hired today!

Taste THAT!

Saturday night was the annual Barrel Members Dinner at Wind River Cellars. This was our second, and it was every bit as fun as the last one. This is the night that all the supporters of WRC get together to celebrate our common love of Joel's wine. For basically prebuying a few cases of wine, you get a discount, a barrel with your name on it, and invitations to barrel member events. Many people become members because there are so many wines to taste, that when you get done trying them all, you become very generous with your credit card...

But none of us has any buyer's remorse. We look forward to seeing each other at these things. We're even beginning to remember each other's names.

Once you check in and get your glass, you are authorized to wield the 'wine thief' (aka turkey baster) to sample straight from the barrel. Yours and everyone elses you can reach. Step ladders are provided. I personally stay off of those. John (of last weekend's seafood boil and chubby bunny fame)and Regina, the tractor driver and hole driller par excellence, did a fab job of catering the 'heavy appetizers' that constituted dinner:
Spring mix salad with green and red grapes tossed in poppyseed vinaigrette
New potato slad jackets served with a warm bacon vinaigrette
Burger sliders with aged white cheddar and onion marmalade
Smoked salmon crisps with a citrus creme fraiche
Shredded duck tostada with cherry lime salsa
and finally, to die for
Brownies with port reduction and fresh strawberries
The port reduction made with Joel's fantastic Port of Celilo, of course.

Kris' mom took tons of photos which are sure to show up at the Wind River blogsite.

We continue to eat well and drink well here in the Gorge. Rumor has it there's a Crawfish Boil on the calendar soon, with the headliners being flown in from the Louisiana motherland. There will be a report, I'm sure.

Weldon Wagon Trail

Saturday's stroll was a leisurely 6 mile round trip along the Weldon Wagon Trail, about 10 minutes from the house. We'd driven by the brown 'hysterical' sign a million times, right there on State Hwy 141 in Husum, just before Wet Planet rafting company, but never even stopped to read what it was.

Turn right at the sign, then follow the road apiece. You'll come to a widening in the road, with parking on the left and another brown Weldon Wagon Trail sign on the right. Follow that sign, but look out for the right turn sign a few hundred yards up the trail.

The Weldon Wagon Trail was a wagon route built in 1911 that linked the Sanborn Rd to the town of Husum, and was used to transport apples from the orchards. It has been abandoned since 1923, when the apple boom slowed a bit, and there were better ways to get apples to town than hauling them on this rugged, narrow road. There are a few places where you can see the pair of ruts from the wagon wheels. Mostly, it's just the outer rut which is now the main path.

The view of the Husum valley was fantastic. It was a little hazy, though, so once again, you can't see Mt Hood, which we really could see!

The trail runs through the 315 acre White Salmon Oak NRCA and the Quercus garyana are about a week away from leaves.

The wildflowers are all over the place, with the balsam root ready to explode all over the hillsides. All that empty space down the slopes between the lines of oak has clumps of balsam root budding like crazy.

There were waxy yellow Western Buttercups, pretty purple flowered Columbia parsley, yellow blooms of desert parsley, tiny blue-eyed Mary's, blue buttons, and delicate mountain lady slippers which were hiding in the more woodsy areas. My camera batteries gave out before I could get pictures of them all!

I hear the balsam root and lupines will be fantastic in a couple of weeks. I think I'll go back.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sisters are Good for your Health

I knew that, but now there's PROOF!

That's certainly not to say that sisters don't appreciate their brothers. Especially ones that wear bow ties...

Now I just need a scan of an oldie with Carol Anne in it. This one is a year too early! (Dec 1961)

I'm the serious looking one on the far right. Probably the only time I've been on the far right.

Happy Patriot's Day!

No, not the one celebrated annually in my hometown with a world class marathon. The one today. Yeah, tax day. There, I said it. I've been thinking about it the last few days, trying to gather my thoughts in a coherent way. Then I read Paul Begala's commentary, and realized I was not alone.

For those who wear a military uniform, those who serve the rest of us as policemen and firefighters and teachers and other public servants, every day is patriots' day. They work hard for our country; many risk their lives -- and some lose their lives.

But for the rest of us, the civilian majority, our government asks very little. Except for April 15. On this day, our government asks that we pay our fair share of taxes to keep our beloved country strong and safe.

While some people are out tossing teabags and protesting at TEA parties around the country, I wonder how many of them are actually getting tax cuts already, like 95% of Americans.

I wonder how many of them make more than a quarter million bucks a year, who won't be paying a dime more in taxes unless they are in the top one percent of the earners in the country and then not until 2011.

I wonder how many of them are on unemployment due to the economic crisis that was not Obama's in the making. Or who are getting other forms of government help, like our family got for a short time back in the 60's when my dad had to retrain after he became visually impaired with seven kids at home.

I wonder how many have veterans in their families who are in dire need of assistance and medical help when they return home from defending our country. Or how many have lost loved ones to cancer and other diseases which are being researched for treatments and cures. Or live in areas that have needed government help to recover from natural disasters?
You want something to protest? How 'bout protesting how little we give back to our veterans? Or how 'bout protesting that the entire budget of the National Cancer Institute (where government researchers battle a disease that will strike half of all men and a third of all women) is 0.03 percent of what we gave the bandits at American International Group alone? Oh, but veterans benefits and cancer research might cost money. It might require -- dare I say it? -- paying taxes.
Just for jollies I googled tax rates by country. I found this article that reports only Ireland and Iceland have lower personal tax rates that the US for a family with one wage earner with two children. Don't move to Denmark, where the base tax rate is %42 and the high end earners pay a whopping 68%.

Thanks for some straight talk, Mr. Begala. People need reminding. Freedom isn't free.

Monday, April 13, 2009

It's been a busy week, and today's a nice rainy day today to catch up. So I'll take a break from practicing my ukulele and post a few photos of events since I last wrote. I will not mention how bad the Red Sox have been doing. Too early in the season to worry about that.

We've had some nice days this week to work around the yard. Lloyd's latest wall project is finished. The Great Wall of Lloyd is now tiered. Note the fancy curves. The garden area is ready, after a load of compost got mixed in. That sucker was steaming yesterday... Now we've been warned NOT to plant anything until the snow is gone from the tops of the hills along the Gorge. It is not yet. In fact, the snow level is supposed to drop to 2500 feet tonight. Just rain here, though, so it's mighty tempting. Soon. Hard to undo all that gulf coast training, where I finally figured out you plant your tomatoes in February if you really want a harvest.

We've been hiking, and more wildflowers are out and about. Here are a few pictures from last Tuesday's stroll, mentioned in my last post. It was a little hazy, so my photos with Mt Hood in the background didn't show it. You'll have to take my word on it, it was there.

The water was very still that day. The first photo shows the Columbia looking east towards The Dalles. Less hazy. There was no wind so it made for a great hike.

Wednesday I discovered the joy of the new Band Aid blister gels. Man, you slap those puppies onto your sore heels, and you can actually wear backed shoes without pain! Worth every penny. That night, I had my first ukulele class. I was afraid I'd be the only geek there, but was thrilled to arrive at the Westside Elementary music room to see about 20 fellow geeks. We had a great hour with our ukes. Best part was, I already knew the chords he taught us. The evening went downhill after that, when the car wouldn't start. It was dark. It was windy. It was beginning to rain. And my car wouldn't start. Dead. So after trying everything I could think of to get it to start with no success, I called my personal AAA guy (Lloyd). He arrived 20 minutes later, just as the rain was getting heavier, watched me turn the key...nothing. As he went back over to his car to get the jumper cables, I gave it one last try. You guessed it, the dang thing started. I do think a new battery may be in my future.

Saturday we had another hike with the Ice Age Floods gang and the Friends of the Gorge. We hiked around an area near Horse Thief Butte (where two climbers died last weekend). The photo with all of us standing (in brutal wind by the way) overlooks Hwy 14, with the Butte between the road and the river. If you look closely at the picture of the Butte, you can see little people on there...Anyway, the land is held by the Friends of the Gorge Land Trust. It's spectacular.

This view is looking west towards Hood River. There is a state park on that little spit, where there are lots of petroglyphs. It's a great place to stop if you're on a road trip. You can't go back in to see the petroglyphs like "she who watches" without a guide, but there is a display of relocated rocks that you can see from the parking area. More on that later.

The photo of the round little lake is actually where a 'water tornado' during one of the floods essentially drilled a round hole into the basalt. It's spring fed. During the Ice Age floods, the water was about 900 feet high here.

After the hike we put on our work clothes and headed up to Energeia Vineyards to help Regina, John, Lynette and James plant gewurtztrauminer grape stock. We worked for about four hours, got ourselves VERY dirty, and got about 4 rows planted. I think they got 11 or 12 done all total that day. I found three Easter Egg prizes, a candy watch, a bottle of Rainier (that I didn't collect) and a really gross candy lipstick. But hey, I got prizes!

Regina really likes driving that tractor.

John was in charge of dinner, and prepared a fabulous seafood boil, which included shrimp, crawfish, mussels, clams, crab, Louisiana sausages, corn, potatoes, carrots, onions, and celery. He cooked it on the fire pit in a former stainless beer brewing vat. It is now officially a camp steamer. The only beer it saw was what John poured in to replace the stock that leaked out of the spigot when he was trying to get it all started. Anyway, he had me concerned, trying to fuel a fire to get a big pot of food to boil when that pot was sitting on top of a wooden pallet...I always consider the most disastrous thing that can happen. But he was confident he'd be able to deal with it. He did. And no one needed to be rushed to a burn unit.

The contents were dumped onto a table. Poor Gavin had never seen a seafood boil of any kind before and thought John had accidentally spilled the goods. He gasped in horror, much to all of our delight. I didn't get any pictures of that. It was dark. I was very hungry. And my hands were very messy as I gobbled up a goodly amount of mussels. It was quite a feast. A few people partook of the Walking Man keg, but most of us were too cold for beer, so we warmed ourselves up with some of Joel's new release AWARD WINNING Cab Franc.

The fire morphed from cooking status to bonfire status. No lack of wood, since they'd taken out loads of pear trees to plant the grapes. It looks like a pear tree apocolypse out there.

John took the challenge of 14 year old Madi to a Chubby Bunny competition. This was new to me. Rather disgusting, actually. You stuff marshmallows in your mouth and say Chubby Bunny. Whoever crams in the most and can still utter the words, wins. And I thought they wanted the Jet Puffs I brought for s'more's. Silly me. I'll spare you the more disgusting photos, but John totally whooped that teenager, with eight large Jet Puffeds to her (maybe) five. Way to go John.

Fortunately, Ryan arrived with his guitar and we settled in for some real entertainment by the fire. We all put on our rave bracelets, including the dogs. Here is Mr President, Regina's boxer, sporting his night light.

We took the leftovers home to store for the campers. I got rid of all shells, cut up the sausage, and turned it into a stew with a few cans of tomatoes. We delivered it for lunch to the gang, huddled in the camper because it was too wet and muddy to work. So the rest of the plants will have to wait for the next sunny day.

The things we do for fun around here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Worth the Wait

It doesn't get much better than this for opening day, even if you have to wait an extra day for it. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see the game, seeing as I was out in the wilds of Klickitat County enjoying another sunny beautiful day on the hiking trail. Wearing my B hat, t-shirt, and earrings for luck, of course. But that's another entry. I checked in on the boys online as soon as I got home.

Beckett is back to his old self, baffling those Tampa Bay batters again. Home runs by Pedroia AND Varitek. And a win on the books. I do wish I could've seen Ted Kennedy throw out the first pitch to Jim Rice, though. I had to settle for this photo by Charles Krupa (AP). Very nice. Boston, you made my day.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

It's HERE! Opening Day for the Red Sox Nation!

Gonna make me some Italian Sausages with peppers and onions, pour a cold bee-ah, and have lunch with ESPN-2 with Boston and Tampa Bay. I hope the day in Boston is as pretty as it is here.

I'll keep my cell phone handy in case a certain FANatic wants to text...

Throw some hot stuff, Josh!

update: We'll have to wait until tomorrow. Someone didn't offer enough sacrifice to the rain gods.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Tonight I watched a most disturbing segment of 60 Minutes. It was about how the recession was causing the ONLY public hospital in Nevada to shut down its outpatient chemo clinic, along with their prenatal clinic, their high risk OB department, outpatient dialysis and outpatient mammography. The interviews with several patients and the impact of this decision, delivered in a 'dear patient, we regret to inform you...' letter, are heartbreaking. These were people who'd worked their whole lives, got sick, lost their insurance, and depended on the public hospital for treatment.

The interview with the hospital administrator, who found her budget cut $21 million literally overnight, was also very tough. That additional loss was on top of a budget already $51 million in the red, for a grand total of $72 million. She was between a rock and a hard place.

Nick Spiritos, the women's clinic doctor, took things into his own hands.
He took a storeroom in his private office and spent $100,000 turning it into a chemo clinic for ovarian and uterine cancers.

"And you told them they can come here to your clinic and receive free medical care?" Pelley asked.

"Correct," Spiritos replied. "We've asked those who can pay, pay. If they can pay $5 a month, they pay $5 a month. If they can pay $20 a month. We're asking them to do what they can. And those who can do nothing, that's our job to take care of them."

Spiritos expects 10 percent of his patients won't be able to pay, so he and his partners will cover them. They've put collection boxes out at convenient stores around town. Other private clinics are also providing free care. And charities, including the Susan G. Komen Foundation, are stretching to help the desperate.
$72,000,000. Where could that kind of money come from?

The answer came to me immediately following the show, when the blockbuster movie for the week was announced. Fast and Furious shattered expectations, pulling in $72.5 million this week at the box office. How ironic.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fools!

FINALLY, an April Fool's joke on me.

It came in the form of an email from the Facebook We're Related team, letting me know that I'm related, fourth cousin once removed, to Barack Obama.

Not so fast, FB. The way they figure it, I have a grandparent directly descended from Charles James Smith and Pearl Marie Petersen. Well, that's just not true, guys. Try names like Sullivan, Miley, Lyons, Herrmann, Buch, Koppelkamm and Scheuer, and I might believe you.

Not that I have anything against CJ and Pearl Marie, or Barack Obama for that matter, but they just aren't hanging around on a limb in my family tree!

You big kidders, FB!

COUNTDOWN: 5 Days... opening day at Fenway.
Sox vs Tampa Bay. Be there, if not in body, in spirit, Red Sox fans.

This has been a public service announcement by the crazy woman posing At The Pahk with the 2004 World Championship Ring. BTW, I did not win the raffle for it. God knows what I would have done with it. Napkin ring maybe? I'd need seven more, service for eight you know.