Monday, December 19, 2011

Two Years of Husum BBQ

Yesterday all the locals and friends came out to celebrate the two year anniversary of the Husum Roadside BBQ. Now, anyone who has had the pleasure of consuming pulled pork sandwiches, ribs and chicken from the hillbilly smoker knows how SMALL the dining area is in the building. OK, maybe COZY is a better word. Summertime soirees mean we expand into the parking lot, but whatever could we do in winter?

Put up a MASH tent. String up party lights and install a wood stove. Run some power out there for the amps, add some chairs and tables. Voila! Husum, we have an event center for the winter.

Then you invite Joel to set up a Wind River Cellars tasting area, where the customers can buy a bottle of deliciousness to wash down their BBQ. He even had a thermos carafe of hot Bad Seed Cider to warm us up!

Add local troubadour Bob Connolly to entertain us with his ballads and bad Irish jokes.


Put the Husum Yacht Club members on notice for an All Hands on Deck meeting to coincide with the festivities.

John and friends have been working all fall to figure out a way to get the surplus tent up. Judging by the happy faces I'd say this is a huge success. Next up for the MASH tent: movie and popcorn night, showing, of course, the original MASH movie. Come as your favorite 4077th character. Details soon.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Junk Mail

I was almost done writing this when Microsoft decided my computer needed updating, and closed it down without warning. I lost my whole story. So I'm trying to recreate the brilliant writing that has disappeared. I hate it when that happens. Curse you, Microsoft!

Somehow I got on the mailing list of someone who blasts Obama lies. Not exactly somehow...he found my chair@ email on the County Dem website. I like to think he is just letting me know what is going around. But I doubt it. There is a blind cc mail list. So we play a little game. He sends me his crap, and I send him back links debunking the crap, showing him how quick and easy it is to check these things our. And politely request he verify before forwarding said crap 'to everyone you know'. He shouldn't take offense. I do this to everyone who sends me crap. Even my mother has been the recipient of my little push backs. I feel like it is the least an honest person seeking truth can do in this day and age.

Today's email was a combination of disinformation. A claim that Obama is a Manchurian Candidate, that 'no one' at Columbia knew him so he couldn't have gone there, and that he uses a stolen Social Security number. Really? Faux News interviewed 400 people who were at Columbia at the time and no one remembers him? I don't think I even KNEW 400 people when I was in college, never mind 400 knowing me...some classes where so big, it was easy to remain anonymous. It's all so very silly. And hateful.

Last week a friend forwarded me a hit piece supposedly by Thomas Sowell that a prolific sender of crap sent to her. I sent her the link sorting out the truth from the fiction, which she forwarded to the sender. He agreed to check before sending in the future. Good on him.

Instead of spending so much time and energy circulating lies and misrepresentations about the President, they should think about the things that have been accomplished in these last three contentious years, with full obstruction from their party. Here is a handy site to get started. A little more irreverently named WTF has Obama done so far can also help your perspective. And maybe spend a little more time looking into their candidates, who have plenty of honesty problems themselves. Spend a little time perusing Politifact. Michele Bachmann is the Queen of False and "Pants on Fire" ratings. Learn more about Rick Perry, "retired" governor of Texas, who may have more going on in the hypocrisy dept. than they might realize. Or look more closely into one of the biggest egos and hypocrites around, Newt Gingrich. Politifact also has a nifty list of Obama promises kept.

Full disclosure, I was a Hillary supporter in 2008, but I think she got the best end of the deal and has done a great job as Sec State. I am not 100% happy with President Obama. But he has to consider more than just MY opinion. The man has a big country to run. He came into a big mess that required everyone on board to start fixing. With half of our elected representatives doing more to make him a one term president, and to get themselves reelected than working with him to make our country a place of which we can all be proud.

So keep sending me your crap, sir. I'll keep sending it back, corrected, in hopes that you will share more honestly with your blind cc list.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Comment on Comment Trolls

I like a good 'discussion' as much as anyone, but if I ever read the comments that follow a news piece or editorial, I begin to fear for our civilization (or lack thereof). It's one thing to be funny, or even sarcastic, but more often than not there are any number of truly mean and nasty comments. People who write publicly need thick skins. Which is one reason I've been reluctant to put what I really think 'out there'. But my skin is getting thicker as I become more and more disgusted with the rampant ignorance and inhumanity in our society.

Today's Oregonian had a follow up piece by Steve Duin. I like Steve's commentaries. He wrote one for Thanksgiving about an eighth grader, Nikita Wolf, who was on a field trip into Portland with her class. One stop was the library. When she went to check out her books, she found out she had fines for some overdue books from her local branch she'd forgotten about. The librarian wouldn't let her check out the books. A stranger in line paid her fines. She was so surprised (after being totally humiliated-remember, she's 13). When she got back to school, she wrote
"As I walked out of the library, my new book at my side, I was reminded of a quote my mom used to tell me: 'Blessed are those who give without remembering. And blessed are those who take without forgetting'."
And so she made a promise to herself that she would help others so they could feel what she felt that day a stranger paid her fine.

Duin goes on to post some of the nastier comments written after his original post. Go here to see for yourself. Some people have way too much time on their hands and no compassion in their hearts. He was so taken aback at some of the comments, and worried about Nikita would feel if she saw them, so he sent her teacher a note. The teacher shared it with his student, who answered Duin personally. After thanking him for the first article, and how much it meant to her, her family (especially her grandmother) and friends she wrote
"I would also like you to know that I saw the stream of comments online. When I let the whole world see what I write, I expect that everybody will interpret it differently. Because of my ability to understand this, you do not have to worry about whether or not I was wounded by the sometimes harsh opinions of others. If getting some of my writing published did anything to me, it just made me want to write more."
Nikita, I hope to see your name on a byline someday. And may the classless, cynical comment trolls learn something from you.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Boston, We Have a Manager

Well, THAT's a relief. Finally, the Red Sox have a manager. I personally think no one can fill Tito's shoes, and the candidates weren't fit to shine them, but hey, no one asked me. I would have hired my forever friend Karen. She lives nearby in Braintree. Hates her day job. And love the Red Sox. She also knows baseball. She's very smart. Can you imagine? The first woman manager???

Alas, I'm dreaming. We have Bobby Valentine. We'll give him a chance because that's what true fans do. We have to. But seriously, I'm thinking the vendors need to get on board and start selling Groucho Marx glasses to the fans as they stream in from the Kenmore and Fenway T-stops. It would be so much fun. Even better than the A-Rod Blonde Masks! I feel a big opportunity here...

Barney, always Frank

After over 30 years of service to his district in Massachusetts, Barney Frank has decided to move on at age 71. His district was redrawn and would have required lots of campaigning and fundraising, which he admits he hates. I'm not even 60 yet and I get exhausted just thinking about what campaigning involves. I hope he stays active and outspoken on issues he's championed over the years, such as gay rights and tough financial regulation. His district certainly appreciated him, reelecting him time after time.

Never one to mince words, I love his comments yesterday on dealing with the current House:

"The Republican Party today in the House consists half of people who think like Michele Bachmann and half of people who are afraid of losing a primary to people who think like Michele Bachmann. And that leaves you very little ability to work things out."
Right you are, Mr. Frank. Good luck in your next endeavors, and may your district's next Representative serve them as well.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

O My

Since moving to the Pacific Northwest, it's been hard to ignore Oregon football. It's a lot like Texas that way. You know, Aggies and Longhorns hard to ignore. Here it's the Oregon U. Ducks and the Oregon State Beavers. The Ducks, with their flashy Nike uniforms, complete with duck wings on the shoulders and mallard green helmets, and push up performing mascot, were (until last night's upset by USC -I heard you cheering from here, Cami) in contention for another trip to the 'natty'. OSU, with their 'rabid beaver' mascot and Halloween color scheme, have a lot of heart and for the last couple of years, the Rodgers brothers from Richmond, TX. Until Jaquizz left for the pros and James was taken out by the knee last year. James is back, but it's definitely been a rebuilding year. Next weekend is The Civil War, when OSU goes up against the big O down in Eugene.

About the big 'O'. Fans like to make the an 'O' with their hands. Well, it turns out that most of them don't quite make a perfect 'O'. It's more like the ASL sign for 'vagina'. Many of the football players take sign language for their foreign language requirement, 29 members of the current team as a matter of fact. It's a natural choice, as they are used to signals from their coaches and teammates. Once they find out from their professor what the fans are actually 'saying', they refrain from making the 'O'.
“I did the ‘O’ once, and I never did it again,” said LaMichael James, the team’s star running back...
Which makes his teacher, Joanna Larson, very happy.
“I’m so proud of him,” she said. “We’re trying to spread the word to make the ‘O’ more of a rounded shape.”

Success Through Failure

I am happy to live in a state with two strong women as my Senators. Patty Murray has been tasked with co-chairing the task force to solve our budget woes. Mission impossible. today she told Candy Crowley on CNN's State of the Union:
“As long as we have some Republican lawmakers who feel more enthralled with a pledge they took to a Republican lobbyist than they do to a pledge to the country to solve the problems, this is going to be hard to do.”
No kidding. I liked recent op eds by EJ Dionne and Paul Krugman pointing out that failure of the so called 'super committee', doomed from the start (obvious to any of us who have been paying attention), is a good thing. Both call out the news media. Dionne notes
"... genuine compromise can’t happen because Republicans refuse to accept any significant tax increases. This is not a partisan statement. It is just a description of the facts. It is maddening that the media are so desperate to avoid being attacked as “liberal” that they cannot describe the situation as it is."
Krugman says

... let me give a special shout-out to “centrist” pundits who won’t admit that President Obama has already given them what they want. The dialogue seems to go like this. Pundit: “Why won’t the president come out for a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes?” Mr. Obama: “I support a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes.” Pundit: “Why won’t the president come out for a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes?”

Hey Mr. Pundit, Obama supports a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes. So do most of the American people, so REPORT THAT. An epic fail of the committee means the Bush tax cuts will expire, as will a few others. The budget cuts, to the tune of $1.2 trillion, agreed to in last summer's deal will happen. This would add up to an over $7 trillion trimming from the deficit over 10 years. I can already hear the screaming from the GOP. Then maybe sanity and reason will prevail and we'll find the way forward. With a combination of spending cuts and tax hikes. What a concept.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

It's Time for STEWS

I love fall. I love it when it gets cold enough to really appreciate a nice hot bowl of soup or stew. It's here. Stew Time. Here's my latest creation, a composite of several recipes. You can leave out the lamb to make it vegetarian.

Moroccan Stew
serves 6 or so

In a small bowl, combine 1 tsp each ground cinnamon, cumin, coriander and sea salt; 1/2 tsp ground ginger; 1/4 tsp each ground nutmeg, turmeric, and curry powder. Set aside.

Heat 1 T olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook 1 chopped sweet onion and 3 chopped garlic cloves until soft, about 5 minutes. Add 1 lb ground lamb, cook another 5 minutes or so. Stir in 2-4 cups finely shredded kale (I like kale so I put in at least 4 cups) and the reserved spice mixture. Cook for 2 minutes until kale begins to wilt and spices are fragrant.

Pour 6 cups of vegetable broth into the pot. Stir in 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes (undrained -I still had a bunch of tomatoes from my garden so I used them), 1 Tbs honey, 4 large chopped carrots, 1 large peeled and diced sweet potato (I used a butternut squash instead which I peeled, cubed and roasted first), 2 diced potatoes (I used one red skin, one yukon gold because that's what I had on hand- you can use more potatoes, esp if you are making a vegetarian version), one can garbanzo beans (drained), 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots, 1 cup dried lentils (I used Tru Roots sprouted bean trio that I get at Costco) and 2 Tbs tomato paste. Bring to boil then reduce heat to low. Simmer 30 minutes or until veggies and lentils are cooked and tender. Season with black pepper to taste.

We had this Thursday night for dinner. I'm looking forward to a repeat tonight. I just might throw in the rest of that bag of kale I got at Trader Joe's the other day....

Occupy the Gorge

Everyone has heard about the big Occupy Portland camp, but today's Oregonian let everyone know about probably the smallest Occupy camp in the country, in Mosier, OR (pop. 433). Unlike its big cousin in the city, Occupy Mosier had a plan for seven days of protest against corporate power, income inequality and big money politics. They set up last Friday, and yesterday, they moved out as promised. (Oregonian photo)

Mosier sits along the Columbia River, about halfway between Hood River and The Dalles. When you take the exit for Mosier, you pass a park and ride where about a dozen tents were pitched, and as you head into town, a school, then the local business area. Mosier is home to local favorites Ten Speed Coffee East, and my personal favorite, The Thirsty Woman Pub .

My friend Jamel was inspired, and decided to Occupy Wall Street Husum. Yes, there is a Wall Street in Husum, WA (pop. 6,327). I doubt the Wall family would be thrilled to have a full encampment.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Now Obama's Killing Christmas

Yep. He's really stepped over the line now, taxing Christmas trees. Not to worry, FOX News is all over this one like white on rice. Except, as usual, they miss the point and get twisted up in the details. Can you imagine? In these trying times, that's some nerve, adding a 15 cent tax per live tree to support an Ag Dept program to promote live trees at Christmas. From the Federal Register:
The initial assessment rate will be $0.15 per Christmas tree domestically produced or imported into the United States and could be increased up to $0.20 per Christmas tree. The purpose of the program will be to strengthen the position of fresh cut Christmas trees in the marketplace and maintain and expand markets for Christmas trees within the United States.
Except that the GROWERS want it. See, there are people who grow, cut, transport and sell trees every Christmas season. They're seasonal, but they are JOBS. They need help because I guess too many people are buying cheap fake Made in China trees....And oh, by the way, this has been in the works since 2008, BEFORE Obama was president.

Michael Doyle, McClatchy Newspapers, reports more honestly.

By taxing themselves, growers will raise $2 million a year for ads promoting the merits of real, live trees. Or, at least, trees that once were living, as opposed to the artificial kind that have seized an increasing share of the holiday market.

"As demographics and buying habits have changed we have watched the market for real trees shrink drastically, requiring us to spend much more time and money on promotion," said Don Cameron, past president of the California Christmas Tree Association.

Kind of like "Pork, the other white meat" or "Milk, it does a body good", or "Where's the Beef?"

Where's the Beef, indeed.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Spent Election Night with some candidate friends at a house party. It wasn't hard waiting, we had pies: pecan, pumpkin praline, chocolate fudge, and good old shoefly pie (but no apple pandowdy). We had brownies. We had whipped cream. Lots of whipped cream.

We had wine. Lots of wine. You can see my refillable growlier of Springhouse Cellars Ruins Red in the middle of the pack.

We kept refreshing the computer set to the County Auditor's web page, waiting for the first tally post 8 pm. The photo is Jane Poucher, waiting patiently.

FINALLY, at 8:17, the screen changed. Mayor Poucher pretty much sealed his reelection with 71% of the vote in so far vs City Councilor Mark Peppel. Whew! Our friend Bill Werst came in with 66% for his City Council seat vs position 3 incumbent Adrian Bradford, who decided to switch to postition 1 at the last minute to try and defeat Bill. Strategy Failure. Our host for the evening, George Rao, given little chance of unseating Bob Landgren, a town name incumbent, was ONE VOTE shy so stay tuned for the late tallies. I believe a message was being sent.

Newcomers to the school board looked good. The tech industry has brought us good folks who know how to help our kids reach for the stars.

To balance the successes, we had our Port Commission candidate Cheryl Park fall short. She will be a player in improving our economic situation none the less. I have no doubt. Mark my words.

And then there were the state items. The Eyman Initiative was way too close for comfort, but it looks good to go down to defeat. Are there really so many gullible voters in this state? Costco bought its way to victory. Sadly, this probably means we'll have another empty storefront in town when the state liquor store/fishing/hunting shop goes out of business because the grocery store and probably the pharmacy will be able to sell alcohol along with all their other goods.

I have taken a bit of flack for supporting Mayor Poucher, an independent, rather than Mr. Peppel, a DINO. Mr. Peppel's votes and attitudes are much more allied with the tea party than he will admit. I'm glad in a way I did not have a dog in this hunt, being outside the city limits, but as the county dem chair, it would have been awkward to say the least. Officially, it was a non partisan race. I was rooting for the guy with the good heart and the honest soul. Not the one who said he was all of the above but whose actions said otherwise.

I wonder sometimes about party politics. I used to think being independent was good, but really, when it came down to it, voting independent meant wasting a vote, or worse, letting the other guys win. The name John Anderson comes to mind....I've voted for moderate R's in New England in my previous life. Good people who did good work. But in this day and age, they would be Ds. No doubt. There is no room in the GOP for moderates any more.

So, off to bed. This was a light weight election night. As we say in the Red Sox Nation: WAIT TIL NEXT YEAR!

UPDATE: Mayor Poucher's lead held at 72.5% after the 11/10 ballot count, taking 402 ballots to Peppel's 152. Bill's held at 66.5% with 376 to 189 for his opponent. George was holding his own, up to 51.94%, leading 281 votes to 260, upsetting incumbent Langren. School board leads held. The Eyman Initiative passed in our crazy county but King County saved us sending it to defeat. The final count will be Nov. 29th, and the election will then be certified.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

I finally went through the box of decorations and put up the candy corn light, the glow in the dark skeleton, the hanging black caped skeleton head, a few rubber bats and spiders, and the candle lanterns. We don't get many trick or treaters, so I don't go crazy.

When I was done pulling out all those scary things, I found this:


It's a poem that Keara wrote in 1996, when she was in 5th grade at AIS-Lagos.

The Goblins Three, The Skeletons Two

As I stumbled through the wood,
I couldn't have stopped if I wished that I could,
Some goblins and skeletons stepped in my way
And as tehy took me they started to say,
"We're the goblins three, the skeletons two,
You didn't watch out so we got you."

And yet as they slept I slipped away
And ran out fo the wood to a sunny day.
So if you go stumbling into a wood
Remember as much, just as much if you could
About the goblins three, the skeletons two.
And you better watch out before they get
You!

Sometimes it pays to go to the bottom of the box. You never know what kind of treasures you may have there. Below is the one photo I have from that Halloween, Keara (l) with friends Brittany Hilton and Lucy Simpson. They were scary, whatever they were.

Condit Dam Blowout

It was a great day in the 'hood last Wednesday. The 98 year old Condit Dam is no longer holding back the White Salmon River. It was on all the news channels. On OPB. In the papers. On the internet. Even National Geographic, with this awesome time lapse video.Our 15 minutes of fame!

We spent prime time at Wet Planet's celebration party. There were people in attendance who have spent many years working on the dam removal. It was very emotional for them, as it was for Native Americans celebrating on the Yakama Reservation. Wet Planet had a huge tent with multiple viewing stations for the live feed, as well as guides in salmon costumes. And some well placed heaters. I found a seat near one, you betcha! It was a bit raw that day. The feed went down about 10 minutes to noon, the scheduled blow time. It came back just before noon. Someone said the 3 minute warning was sounded...and 30 seconds later, BOOM. A puff of smoke from the hole, then a blast of sediment filled water flew out and rushed downstream. If you did not click on the time lapse link above, go back now and do it!

The images were stunning. Words cannot describe it. We all sat in awe. After a while, we went to get food and beer. One must sustain one's energy, no? The predictions were for a full draining of the lake in 6 hours. Less than an hour after getting in line for the fab eats provided by Solstice, and the nice cold draft brews (that sent me inside for a hot coffee after lunch), we walked back to the screens to find the lake EMPTY. Wow.

We stayed until after all the speeches and raffles. As the A listers went on buses to the dam site, the rest of us ventured out on our own. We went to NW Lake to check out what once was the lake where we practiced fly casting. Lloyd is walking where we'd stand with our waders on! The water used to come up right to the edge of the picnic area where I'm standing to take the picture.

The boat ramp we launched our kayak from was well out of the water. The dock next to it, on the left side of the picture, is high and dry, as were all the other docks downstream of the park.

The next photo is one of the lakefront cabins that is now river view.

We hiked down the former lake shore past docks sitting dry. Lloyd liked the basalt sands so of course I had to take a picture. Weeds were already coming up from the ground in the area drained earlier. How fast nature reclaims turf!

Then we stopped to view the silty river downstream, near the mouth of the river. There was still water flowing into the Native American in lieu dock, but it was very very mucky. Just north of there, the river was clogged with silt and debris. It will be very interesting to watch how the process unfolds. No more trout fishing, for sure! A young man in a Subaru (we all drive Subarus up here in the NW) drove by and yelled out 'the White Salmon River is FREE'. He was happy.

We noticed on Saturday's drive west that sediment has definitely made its way into the Columbia. Hope to find some aerial shots of its progress over the winter.

The spawning salmon were transported above the dam a few weeks ago to do their business. Reclaiming their ancestral home. What man interrupted nearly a century ago, man has undone. It's a good thing. But I will miss the lake...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ah Ha Moment

It has come to my front brain that one of the reasons I have not been writing so much here is that the newness of my new 'hood has worn off a bit, and there are a lot of 'repeat' experiences I don't want to bore people with. When I have them, I will share them. Because I do have new ones on a regular basis.

My brain has been too full of politics. As a PCO, County Chair and a State Committeewoman, it's no wonder. I've tried to keep politics off my blog so as not to alienate some of my friends and family who don't think as I do. But then, my true friends and closest family will understand that we can disagree and still love each other. Takes all varieties to make a can of mixed nuts great!

It is not easy being a person who pays attention to and cares about politics. I don't WANT to. I would like to just live my life la ti da every day and say the hell with it. But I can't. It's not me. I care because politics, like it or not, affects that every day life. People need to think about it. Maybe if they think about it, they'll research a little more before they vote. Heck, maybe they'll actually VOTE!

So, to my dear friends who read this and do not agree with my politics, nothing personal. You can skip the politics alert entries. Or you can read them for another perspective. I just can't NOT do this any more. There is too much at stake.

Tis the Season to be Fall-y, part 2

Local Politics Alert-not my usual entertaining stuff but I have to get it out of my mind so here it is on the blog...not that anyone will know what the heck I'm talking about.

Who knew such a small town could have so darn much DRAMA? It's not quite Sugar Land (thankfully) but still. White Salmon is trying.

Our current City Council is acting all Boehner/McConnell-in-your-face with the current Mayor, who one must conclude is their Barack Obama. There is one player in the game who attended a couple of our Klickitat Democrats meetings last year, but for the life of me I have yet to see him act or vote in any way like a Democrat. But never mind. Democrats come in all breeds, even Blue Dogs. We have a big tent. The positions are all nonpartisan (supposedly) so I won't waste any time on that aspect. It really isn't as important as WHAT people are doing and saying. I wouldn't even mention it, but as County Chair, people ask me if I support his run, even though I can't vote and it's a nonpartisan race, and I have to say no. If I had to guess, I'd say the current mayor is an independent or a moderate Republican, probably the latter.

Apparently this kind of nastiness is par for the course in White Salmon government, making it dysfunctional for years. Damn, I wish I could vote, but alas, I'm outside the city limits. Which is part of the problem. The pool of candidates is small and limited (some in more ways than one, but I promised not to lower myself).

Our current mayor is running for reelection. He has been a good mayor for the most part. No one's perfect. He communicates well. He supported the development of a more user friendly website (created by my volunteer of the year sweetie). He frequents the local businesses. He reaches out to citizens both in the city limits and within the growth area for advice and expertise via a variety of committees. He has an open door policy (which my husband has used on more than a few occasions). He asked for and got (after two rounds of voting) approval for an audit for 2007-2009 because things were a mess in City Hall. There has been a revolving door of mayors, council members, city clerk/treasurers, etc. which left the City open to problems. The audit was released last spring, identifying several major problems as well as the City's plan to remedy them. The auditors made clear that the report was not to be used punitively but was a tool to bring the City into compliance in a number of areas. The report was released in March, and a big front page article about it was on the front page of the paper. It is also available for all to see on the website, completely transparent. The City Council for the most part was quiet.

Ah, but now the ballots are about to arrive in our mail boxes (we are highly evolved here in OR and WA, we have vote by mail- no voter ID worries here- we just sign our ballots and mail them in or drop them in one of several locked ballot boxes around the county). Suddenly the City Council calls an EMERGENCY meeting to discuss the report. Did I mention, they knew the mayor would be out of town due to a family crisis?And that at least 3 of them 'meet' regularly at the Elks, clearly strategizing their council meeting agendas (they have been warned by the city attorney, which really doesn't scare them.) One of the City Councilors (mentioned earlier) running against the mayor and is leading the charge of the mayor's proven negatives, vis a vis the report. What? Reminds me of a certain teabagger candidate last go around (another long story I've spared y'all) who kept waving an old report on the assessors office as proof positive there was bad stuff going on, when it was totally unwarranted and any identified problems had been long addressed. Hey if it worked for her...(in a twist of irony, she ran earlier for city council and lost to the guy who wants to be mayor). Are you keeping this all straight?

There is a second City Councilor who is NOT running for reelection, but IS mounting a write-in campaign for mayor. This guy is a many generation resident of White Salmon. He has been a City Councilor for several terms. He is known for two main things: he ALWAYS votes NO (even for the audit the mayor wanted, which is why it took two meetings to pass) and he makes every 3rd meeting because if you miss more than two meetings in a row you can be recalled. He does not do his homework before meetings. He refused to be on the finance and budget committee he was assigned because he refused to sign checks. I guess the good thing is, he doesn't have much of a chance to win, and he will no longer be on the City Council.

Meanwhile, there are three contested seats for city council, two of them against incumbents who are very closely allied to the one running for mayor. They have it all figured out. When one of the reasonable councilors resigned (he was transferred), rather than fill the seat with a guy who was running unopposed so he could get the lay of the land, they filled it with another crony who has been instrumental in historical nastiness. In their little minds, when their candidate beats the mayor, and those running win reelection, they can move him into that seat as an appointee. Wouldn't that be nice??? They can rule the world!!!!!

This is all so sad. They all need to be working together. Instead, they put roadblocks in front of anything the mayor wants, mainly because he did not turn out to be the puppet they were looking for. They have run off the police chief, sent away the police dog who had already caught bad guys (druggies) because we couldn't afford it (even though the public started a fund that would have paid all the expenses for the dog, showing huge support), blocking the mayor from fixing a major road to town in accordance with state dot specifications so they could spend even more money on an engineering survey first, and many other nasty little stunts. And the Councilman who wants to be Mayor has been very generous to himself for taking any and all credit for everything that happens that might be viewed in a positive light.

There are people in town who are trying to move things forward. It isn't easy. One of the big successes has been Business Partners of Bingen-White Salmon. I'm a little bit biased because my sweetie is involved in this one and has helped move it from a non-functioning city committee to an energized group of business people in both towns. One of his business partners is running for city council. It would be nice if the balance among the attitudes in the council was slanted towards people who can work WITH the mayor in the best interests of teh city and surrounding area instead of AGAINST him. We are ALL affected by what White Salmon does.

So for my local friends, just in case you want to know who I'd vote for if I could vote:
Poucher for Mayor, Werst and Rau for City Council.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tis the Season to be Fall-y, part 1

The crush is on at the wineries. Not a great year for grapes, but never fear, there will be wine.

Leaves are turning, air is crisp, but not clear and clean. It's that time of year: the lifting of the BURN BAN! Everyone and his cousin are out burning the brush that has been accumulating all summer. Makes for some smokey air days that make the Dollar Fire smoke look like small change. I've stocked up on eye drops, and am thankful I don't have breathing issues.

It's also election time. The off year elections put local politics on full display, for better or worse. Tuesday night's White Salmon Candidates Night did not disappoint. There were only about 100 people in attendance, but it was a pretty good crowd. It will be interesting to see how it gets written up in the local paper next week.

It's always good to see candidates in person if you can. To see how they present themselves and interact with the audience and the other candidates. Paper bios don't tell the whole story.

The contenders were for School Board, Fire District 3 Commissioner, Port Commission, City Council, and Mayor. Since this will probably get too long, I'll save discussion of the most entertaining (City Council and Mayor) for next entry.

Two contested seats are up for School Board. As I don't have kids in schools any more, and never had them in school here, I don't know much about the history of the school board. The incumbents seem to be good folk who have done a good job. Tom Stevenson is a long serving incumbent whose kids are now grown. He obviously is very proud of the school district and his dedicated service. Jeffrey Cooper is the other incumbent running for reelection. The challengers have young kids in school, are involved in the classrooms and the sports fields as well as employed by the high tech industries in the area (Insitu and Google). Both have set up websites to give voters more information about them, and their visions for the future of the district. Eric Shank is a former educator who helps out in the classroom and with the band/orchestra in his spare time. Dave Karlson, a former tech director for public schools, has championed Robotics in area schools with great success. I think people were impressed. I was.

The two contested Fire District seats had one challenger and one incumbent show up. The incumbent for one seat and challenger for the other did not, unfortunately. Those two share signs around town and are running as a package deal, I guess. Both candidates who did appear were well spoken and very competent. I have met them both before, but have had direct 'fire' experience with the incumbent. Jim Hulbert has spearheaded a community education program that assesses wildfire risk for property owners along the bluffs. He came to our house at no charge and showed us what we were doing right and where we needed to improve our chances, should a fire rush up the wooded slope from 141A. He's a retired forest service guy and I believe he deserves to be reelected. The awkward thing about the race is that both he and the challenger for the other seat, Nancy Sliwa, live in the same outskirts of White Salmon neighborhood. The other two, Riggleman and Zoller, are many generation residents of the rural area. I really wish they'd shown up. I would have like to hear what they had to say. None of them has any info in the Voter's Guide.

Port Commission has an 18 year incumbent, Wayne Vineyard, versus a relative newcomer, Cheryl Park, a friend of mine with excellent business, management and communication skills. People are frustrated with the Port and its inaction or painfully slow action on vital projects. Hard to say how this one will go. Both are very well spoken and intelligent. Unfortunately, the challenger's bio and statement did not appear in the online voter's guide.

I'm waiting for my copy of the Enterprise before I write about the city council and mayor races later today. Stay tuned. It's a doozy of a small town drama.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It's a Long Way to Next November

Missed The Daily Show last night due to the highly entertaining Candidates Night in White Salmon. But with the miracle of the internet, I was able to enjoy it this morning, coming dangerously close to spewing my coffee and ruining my laptop. Good thing Lloyd got his computer back, just in case. Jon does a great job of calling a spade an effing shovel, as my friend B.D. used to say. And his imitations of various politicos is hysterically funny (especially his Looney Louis Gomert). So very tired of all the hate and hypocrisy.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Protect Your Brains

Back in the 50s, when we were learning to ride that big second hand balloon tire tank, helmets didn't exist. Well, I do recall one helmet, an old Army issue that my cousin Kenny wore for weeks when my Auntie Mary gave him a buzz cut and he was not cool with that. When I was a little older, and saved my babysitting money to buy a nice bike with skinny tires (a blue Phillips as I recall), I rode all over town, helmet free. That bike widened my world. Later, I bought a 3 speed Raleigh, which I rode to work and from my apartment to Northeastern University for classes. My mom borrowed it once and got in a collision with a car, broke her ankle but the bike was fine (and spent the night in 'jail' til I picked it up at the Watertown PD). I eventually bought a 15 speed Lambert, and gave the Raleigh to my sister Annie to help her get around when Liam was little. It was stolen from her apartment in Waltham, baby bike seat and all. All those years, no helmets.

When I moved to RI with the Lambert (later stolen and replaced with a Raleigh Super Course circa 1976, which I still own), helmets were in vogue. I rode with the Narragansett Bay Wheelmen, and we all work helmets. My helmets have save my head on several occasions. So when it came time to ride with our kids, helmets were required attire. We still wear our helmets when we ride. Both girls now own bikes. My first question: Do you have a helmet? Do NOT ride without one. We have too much invested in your head.

Last night I got a text from Alina in Boston, asking which hospital Auntie Linda worked at (in the ER). I was worried, as she'd had an eyelid infection. I thought, oh no, it got worse. I had no idea how wrong I was. It was much worse than that. Her housemate and fellow 2011 BC grad Mike, who rides his bike everywhere, had come home in questionable condition. He'd had a bike accident. She was afraid he had a concussion, and texted my sister who works in an ER for advice. They took him to the ER (not hers, just to clarify). Mike ended up in surgery for several house to drain a brain bleed. The doc told Alina if they hadn't gotten him in when they did, he might not have made it. Did I mention? Mike was not wearing a helmet.

Mike's parents got the phone call every parent dreads: Your son is in the ER. He needs surgery. Get here. Fortunately, they live within about 90 minutes of Boston. The roommates stayed until after parents arrived and Mike was out of surgery. It was a 3 day weekend in Boston (one place that actually celebrates Columbus Day). Alina and friends spent it in the ER. Went home to sleep, went back today to see how he was. He'd woken up, recognized his parents (good) but not his best friend (bad). His motor skills were not impaired (very good). He knew he lived in Allston (good). But it was 2008. Not so good. Hopefully the next report will be even more hopeful. This young man just graduated from college and has his whole future in front of him. It looks like he'll get a chance at that future.

The Oregonian has been full of letters to the editor arguing the merits and demerits of helmets. Bottom line: WEAR A HELMET!

update: Mike recognized Alina and Conor when they visited him last night. He was making good progress, though still disoriented, and may be moved out of the most intensive care area today.

October Baseball Blues

Ah, it's like the old days. So many of the Red Sox Nation don't remember the lean years...There was something not clicking this summer. Too many overpriced free agents? Owner trying to be Steinbrenner? Who knows. All I know is: I have no time tied up watching baseball this October, which is really a good thing for me, cuz now I have a little time to write. Jacoby Ellsbury had the year of his life, after his horrible no good year last year (Beltre curse) and should get AL MVP for his efforts, and the best manager is baseball was let go. They didn't ask me, but I'd forget about spending outrageous sums on glory boys, put the bull pen on a diet and whip them into shape, lose Lackey and Matsuzaka (same same), make Varitek a coach, bring up the awesome talent in Pawtucket, and build a TEAM. And if Theo goes to the Cubs, so be it, it'll still be years til they win a pennant never mind the World Series (sorry Cubs, I do root for you, but I'm a realist). Enough on that. I had to say it. Now on to other things. Go Rangers!

Monday, July 18, 2011

It's All About The Process

I tie dyed for the first time in forever, at our annual Fourth of July Husum Pride Parade Prep Party. We took the leftover "You Win Some, You Husum" white shirts with blue letters and tie dyed them red. Also our hands, and a few planks of the deck. They came out quite nice, and the four of us doing the project got more than 30 of them done in a few hours.


Fast forward a week, it's time to get ready for the Nights in White Salmon Art and Wine Fusion. Lots of boring leftover tan Event Staff Shirts. What to do? Tie dye them with chocolate brown dye. I spent a day working on them, and cranked out 34. All that experience, you know. It helped make me a little more efficient.


My dear sweet husband took the finished products downtown for safe keeping at Postal Express. Celynn liked them. A Lot. So much so that my dear sweet husband came home around 2 pm with more dye, so I could do the leftover shirts that didn't proclaim Event Staff on their backs. I guess he thought people might buy them now that I'd classed them up a little bit. Did I mention, the event was 48 hours away and that I was working the next day in the tasting room? There were about 65 or so in the box. Really. You want them WHEN????

I had to streamline my process or I was sunk. I am writing about it now, not so much to entertain, but to have it documented so I can recreate the magic. I hope I don't have to...

Prep and materials: the biggest pot you have (I used my 5 gal stainless steel brewing pot); bag of rubber bands, long idled forceps from my college dissecting kit, salt, boxes of RIT dye, detergent, plastic garbage bag to cover portable table, drying rack, clothesline, wood rods, beverages. Lots of beverages. Heat about 3 gallons salted water to about 160 or more, add a pack of dye and a tablespoon of liquid detergent. Mix it all up with a long large spoon, pref stainless or your spoon will get dyed, too. Set it on your outside table, open or pour a beverage, and begin.


Step 1: Lay shirt flat. To do a spiral on the bottom half of the shirt, pinch the shirt and start a swirl. Clamp the forceps into the center, and keep turning. Wrap the spiral around the outside with a rubber band. Add 2 or 3 rubber bands criss-crossing the spiral.



Step 2: Put a rod through the sleeves. If you need to adjust the level of the shirt in the dye, bunch up the top and use another rubber band. Dip the spiral into the dye and rest the rod on the top of the pot. Pot can do 2 shirts easily. Meanwhile, prepare next two shirts.


Step 3: After about 5 minutes, remove from bath, and hang on rack.


Put the next two shirts in the dye. Put on gloves, remove rubber bands, shake out the shirts. Rinse well with hose sprayer. Allow to drip a bit. Then go make up 2 more shirts.


Step 4: When second batch is ready, move the finished shirts to the clothesline. Then the next batch can go on the rack, the third batch into the pot, rinse, repeat....Until all the shirts are done or it's dark or you run out of beverage.


Afterwards, I did a quick cold water wash of all the shirts, then dried them in a hot dryer. Between 2 pm and 9 pm, with a short break to eat pizza and watch The Daily Show, I successfully dyed 58 shirts in various sizes.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Garlic Scapes...Who Knew?

I like to think of myself as a Foodie. And I love it when something new comes my way.


GARLIC SCAPES. What are these crazy things and what do you do with them?

I love Kim O'Donnel's description:
Here's the anatomy lesson: Garlic and its relatives in the allium family, (leeks, chives, onions) grows underground, where the bulb begins its journey, soft and onion-like. As the bulb gets harder (and more like the garlic we know), a shoot pokes its way through the ground. Chlorophyll- green like a scallion (maybe even greener), the shoot is long and thin and pliable enough to curl into gorgeous tendrils.

This stage of growth is the garlic scape, folks. If left unattended, the scape will harden and transform from green to the familiar opaque white/beige color of garlic peel. Keeping the shoot attached will also curtail further growth of the bulb. So, in an effort to allow the garlic to keep growing, the farmer is getting a two-fer with this edible delectable that cooks are just beginning to discover.
There were some in our marimba band's 'food pay' from a Farmers Market gig last season. I had no idea what they were. Someone said, use them like scallions. OK. I had like TWO. I used them. The other night, during our Husum Pride Parade Prep Party, Miki dropped off a box full. What does one do with a box full of garlic scapes?

First you give a bunch away. Then, thankfully, there is the internet. Which is how I found Kim's article. And then I made her recipe for Garlic Scape Pesto.
Garlic Scape Pesto

Ingredients:
1 cup garlic scapes (about 8 or 9 scapes), top flowery part removed, cut into ¼-inch slices
1/3 cup walnuts
¾ cup olive oil
¼-1/2 cup grated parmigiano
½ teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste

Method:
Place scapes and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and whiz until well combined and somewhat smooth. Slowly drizzle in oil and process until integrated. With a rubber spatula, scoop pesto out of bowl and into a mixing bowl. Add parmigiano to taste; add salt and pepper. Makes about 6 ounces of pesto. Keeps for up to one week in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

For ½ pound short pasta such as penne, add about 2 tablespoons of pesto to cooked pasta and stir until pasta is well coated.

To Die For. I am now a huge fan. How did I live 58 years before I knew they existed? And now I'm heading out to the garden to cut the scapes off my garlic so the bulbs will grow bigger...

All Star Break

EASTWLPCTGBHOMEROADRSRADIFFSTRKL10
Boston5535.611-28-1727-18482371+111Won 69-1
NY Yankees5335.602130-1923-16455334+121Won 26-4
Tampa Bay4941.544621-2128-20380343+37Lost 24-6
Toronto4547.4891119-2226-25426416+10Won 35-5
Baltimore3652.4091822-2214-30355454-99Lost 71-9

Well, all is almost right with the world at the All Star Break. We sit atop the AL East by a mere one game. The lead has changed hands regularly, as usual, and will continue to do so. Keeps everyone on their toes. I said ALMOST because most of the pitching rotation is on the DL. I would like Lester and Bucholz back ASAP. Dice K can stay there a while. Lackey is giving us enough fits. I've enjoyed Tim Wakefield's solid year so far, his knuckleball is dancing and he's helped keep things where they should be. And the new kids on the block have lots of potential.

Here in the Gorge, we are enjoying all that July brings. Great weather, with warm days and cool nights. The AC has yet to fire up, and all but a few nights have required a blanket. Snow is finally starting to melt on Mt. Hood, with ridges becoming visible at last.
The Husum Pride Parade and .1k Micro Marathon was outstanding this year. (photo from the front page of the local paper, thanks Sverre Bakke.)



The Husum Yacht Club pre-parade preparation party was great fun. We tie dyed leftover shirts from last year, painted the kayak (float), ate barbecued thai chicken and drank plenty of wine to accomplish all our tasks.

On Parade Day, we had excellent participation, with a large crowd of observers, more 'floats' than ever, a growing kazoo marching band, color guard, hula hooper, fire truck, and, for the first time, a CANNON! We even found a beauty queen to ride in our float this year.


At the end of the parade route, we turned and fled for the finish line, quenching our thirst at Joel's water stop. The Husumites gathered in front of the District 3 Fire Station for the annual group photo. The band took this opportunity to play the National Anthem, and bombs were bursting in air as the cannon fired (in the opposite direction). Excellent.



The hot dogs and watermelon at the Husum Roadside BBQ were the perfect energy builders after our exhausting run. Even the sign got decorated.


The new addition to the Husum Pride traditions: a pickled egg eating contest. Even with a $100 prize offered, only two participated. The winner choked down NINE in an 8 minute period. His competition only managed a couple. Yours truly did not even think about it. I have yet to bite into a pickled egg. Take a look. Would you?

The day was far from over. We'd received this special message from the kids down the street:

We HAD to be home in time to witness the first Brislawn Loop parade. We were treated to tootsie pops thrown by bike riders, who'd taken lots of care to decorate both their bikes and their helmets. On the second time around the loop, one rider dismounted, unpacked his fiddle from his backpack, and played us a tune. As he rode away, another rider stopped, dismounted, drew her recorder from her backpack, and played us a tune. What a treat! And seriously, I can't remember the last time I had a Tootsie Pop.

Next up: the concert at the park. We brought a picnic, a little vino in a water bottle, flags and spirit. Finally, we were fortunate to be invited to a bluff house to watch the fireworks, which were being launched directly across the Columbia River. It was a great Happy Birthday America!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Slow Start at The Pahk

Another year, another opening day. For this year's Red Sox, apparently they did not read the media hype that they were so good they were going straight to the World Series. I hate it when this kind of stuff happens. Baseball season is very long. Good thing.

I knew things would improve when they got home. It's hard to start your season on the road, especially when you start in Texas with the defending World Series champions. It did get better in Boston, winning the series with the Yankees. Then Tampa Bay came to town, and finally won a game. I always hold my breath when Dice K pitches. I am not a big fan, sorry bud.

Yesterday I got a big surprise in the mail from my old high school friend Caroline, who is an artist living in Boston. Not to be confused with my old high school friend Caroline who is an author living in Hoboken. Though I did see both in February. Together. When author Caroline came to town to read from her new best selling novel, Pictures of You. But I digress.

Caroline the artist lives in the Fort Point Arts Community in South Boston, and her neighbor Laura Davidson makes these very cool books. Caroline knows of my Fenway addiction, and just knew I needed my very own Pahk, home away from home. So she sent me this:

It's a tunnel book showing the third base line grandstand view of Fenway and the skyline. The artist painted the images, then offset printed them, laser cut then pieced them together by hand. Fabulous! Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Boston folks, and visitors, should check out the Fort Point scene. They have open studios events that I managed to attend a few times over the years. There is one coming up May 6-8. Visit the Made in Fort Point shop where you can buy all kinds of cool art! Go to the website for more info.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Justice for White Salmon

Sometimes I get so annoyed with short sighted people. Okay, more than sometimes. And I try to keep my political opinions in a separate place, not at the Pahk. But this is a local non partisan fury.

I know times are tough. I know there's not a lot of money in the town coffers. But for the love of Pete, can our city council use their heads for something besides hat racks (thought I'd throw in some Larryisms)? Honestly, if we lived in the city limits, one of us would be trying to unseat one of these guys. Alas, we are just outside the city line, though we get our water, police and fire response from White Salmon. If a town of 2500 can't get their act together, we are all doomed.

Here's the short story. More details here. White Salmon has a police dog named Justice. He is here be the grace of a grant, arriving in Sept 2009 to much fanfare. The city council, who basically forced the chief to resign, now want to eliminate Justice, who has proven his worth as a great back up officer and even caught a criminal. Which still caused issues with the council, warranting another editorial smack down in the local paper.

The mayors of White Salmon and Bingen want the dog. The Bingen-White Salmon Police Department wants the dog. We The People want the dog, enough to open a bank account in which to put donations to cover Justice's upkeep. The Police Dept. is short handed as it is. The dog is an excellent partner. The County Sheriff's budget has been cut, so don't look to the County for more coverage. What are these guys thinking? Or drinking... easy on that tea, fellas.

Anthony Coulter stands alone on the council in support of Justice. Good for him! Stay strong!

One councilman, Bob Landgren, says he wants to hear more from the public. He says there is so much more to this that we poor huddling masses don't understand. Please, fellow citizens in the Bingen/White Salmon area, let Bob hear from you. And cc the rest of the gang while you're at it. And don't forget to thank Anthony. Here are their emails:

Anthony Coulter anthonycoulter@lavabit.com
Bob Landgren vanguardnursery@yahoo.com
Mark Peppel mhpeppel1669@gorge.net
Richard Marx richardmarx@embarqmail.com
WS Manager - Pat Munyan PatM@ci.white-salmon.wa.us
WS Mayor- David Poucher Mayor@ci.white-salmon.wa.us

The next city council meeting is Wednesday, March 16th. Round table at 5pm, meeting at 6pm at the fire station. Pass the word around to everyone you know. Make some signs. Be there.

Stand up for Justice.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

For Dad

Following is the eulogy written and delivered by my sister Mary at our Dad's funeral 2/14/2011.

LAWRENCE PHILLIP SULLIVAN, LAWRENCE, LARRY, LP,
DAD, DADDY, GRAMPA, GRUMPA, POOPA, UNCLE LARRY, LEERY, LAW-LAW, BUCKY, BIG BUCK, 66, COFFEEMAN, LORENZO SULLIVANI, RORY MUNDANE, UNCLE LORENZO, SIR LAWRENCE, and my personal favorite, given to him by his grandsons, JAMAL.

It is fitting that Dad had so many names, since he gave out so many. If your name was Bill, he called you William or Willy; Lisa was Claudia Cardinale; Al was Alphonzo; Linda Corcoran was Harper’s Ferry. If you were Theresa, you became Terri; Terri became Theresa. If you were a guy and he liked you, you were Commander. After almost 60 years of marriage, it still drove my mother crazy. “Just call them by their real names!” she would say. He totally ignored her. I am sure this was the only instance in their marriage that this occurred . . . right, Mum? I think maybe he did this so when he called his kids the wrong names, we wouldn’t take it personally.

My earliest memories of my dad were how he would march all of us kids down to the nickel Pool. He was like the father Duck with his ducklings behind him . . . Lorrie, Linda, Mark, Annie, Mary, Janet, Carol . . . walking in a line with towels over our shoulders - only stopping for a dropped towel or broken flip flop. Or he’d march us down to the tracks over on Massasoit Street to wait for the train to go by. . . when it did, we would all wave and hoot & holler. I think he did this to give my mother a little bit of peace and quiet.

And way back then, there was singing . .. Always singing . . . except at the dinner table. “No elbows on the table.” “No singing at the table.” Those were the rules. Let me digress & say that my Dad said the fastest Grace on earth, whether in English or Latin, which we loved.
Back to the singing . . . Dad played his gorgeous guitar and we’d all sing: Bill Bailey won’t you please come home; Bicycle Built for Two; Irene Goodnight; Toot Toot Tootsie; Linda - When I go to sleep, I never count sheep, I count all the charms about Linda.

And then, there was the ukelele. Purchased with S&H Green Stamps about 45 years ago, it still sits in the canvas bag my mother made. It came out for every birthday - kids, grandkids, sons-in-law, nieces, nephews, other family members, and special friends. I don’t know how many messages I had on answering machines over the years with my parents singing along with whoever else happened to be at the house, and my dad playing Happy Birthday on the uke. I wish I had saved every one of those messages. For his 80th birthday, we all brought ukes and serenaded HIM for a change. We were no where near as good as he was, but he didn’t mind. He tried out every one of our ukes to make sure they were “satisfactory.”

We can never forget Dad singing with those Sullivan brothers: Bill - Willy, Jim - Seamus, and Dick - Richard. When those boys got together is was magic and there was lots of singing. As a result, all of the Sullivan kids have what my daughter calls the “Sullivan Curse.” Say just about any phrase and we can burst into a song with those words in it.

Music ran through my father’s veins. He loved it all, especially opera. He has an amazing Mozart collection, the official catalogue with his prized possessions highlighted in yellow. He loved Verdi and Donazetti, and the “Eenies” - Puccini, Rossini, and Bellini. He used to say he wanted to “See La Scala and die!” My parents traveled quite a bit after dad retired - to Germany, where my mother’s parents were born; to Austria, the land of Mozart; to Switzerland; and on many cruises. It took a while for them to get to Italy. When they finally visited Milan, La Scala was closed for renovations. My parents sat on a bench across from that famous, boarded up opera house and took in the view. But that was the closest he got. I told him, “Look on the bright side, dad. You don’t have to die yet.”

He loved Gilbert & Sullivan, Maria Callas, & “Lennie” Bernstein. But it wasn’t just opera that he loved. Django Reinhart, Marian McPartland, and Frances Albert Sinatra were among his favorites. And of course, the Bee Gees. Yes, the Bee Gees.

As he neared retirement, Sir Lawrence could be heard singing his theme song, “Ah, ah, ah, ah, Staying Alive, Staying Alive.” The only time he ever surprised my mother on the dance floor was at our friend Terri’s wedding when Staying Alive was played and Dad was out there showing off his disco moves.

'Staying Alive' was the perfect theme song for my dad. He had a good life, a wonderful wife, fantastic kids & grandkids (if I do say so myself), and marvelous friends and extended family . . . but is was never easy. He lost his father and sister at a young age. He had just about every type of ulcer there is; I remember we all went up to Waltham Hospital one time when he was in for a bleeding ulcer. Of course they couldn’t let all us kids into visit, so we stood outside and waved to him up in the window of his hospital room. At age 39, my dad had a retinal hemorrage. He could no longer work running the press at Buck Printing. He had just begun training to teach others how to run the presses. It wasn’t until I got older that I could truly comprehend how incredibly difficult this must have been on him and my mother. Imagine having seven kids, no job and limited vision. But his overabundance of tenacity pulled him through.

My dad was retrained as a court reporter and many of us kids became his proofreaders. I remember spending hours together in the cellar as he typed up transcripts and I read through them looking for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and spacing errors. Forever etched in my mind are the two words that most remind me of my dad . . . “However, Comma”.

After his retraining, my Dad went to work for the Industrial Accident Board, the state agency for workers compensation. He loved working with the insurance company attorneys . . .not so much the claimants’ attorneys. It was through his connections that first Carol and then I got our jobs at PCD&W, sending both of us down the legal career path. Dad’s favorite ALJ to work with was Roz Brooker. “Rosalyn” had polio as a child and walked with canes. They would joke about being the Dynamic Duo; the crippled judge and the blind stenographer. As you can imagine, any scam artist faking a worker’s comp claim got no sympathy from these two. One time, a man challenging the insurer’s abrupt ending of his wc payments appeared for a hearing wearing his Thomas Collar and using a cane. The Insurer’s attorney had the lights turned off as he showed a video of the man water skiing. When the lights went back on, the man was gone for the courtroom and his cane remained behind. “Look, Lawrence,” Roz exclaimed, “It’s a miracle! Let’s raise the cane to the rafters!” Dad loved that story.

Another of Dad’s favorite ALJs was Dottie “Dorothy” Antonelli, who was also a trustee at Suffolk Law School. Dad put in a good word for me with Dorothy when I applied to Suffolk. I’m sure that he helped me get accepted. Dad was so excited that I was going to be a lawyer. Right before I started at Suffolk, I went to the book store to purchase my books. Like an idiot, I bought - all at the same time- every required book plus all those that were recommended. I had three huge bags of books - I swear these plastic bags were partially made of steel. I made it the one block to back to PCDW & called my Dad. “Daddy, can you come help me carry my books home?” Of course, he did. We took the Express Bus to Carter St., then walked the mile or so home, past the Nickle Pool- only this time we didn’t stop for broken flip flops, we stopped every few blocks to put down the books and get back the circulation in our fingers that had been cut off by those steel bags!

Dad loved the law . . . and not just Rumpole of the Bailey. In his next life, I think Dad will be a lawyer. However comma, I’m sure by then he’ll just buy a Kindle and won’t have to worry about carrying law books home.

My Dad also loved the ocean. When we were young kids, the family went for two weeks every summer to Plum Island and stayed at Navassa, a wonderful old house right on the bay. At high tide, we’d swim happily in the bay. At low tide, when we weren’t building sand castles or digging for clams on the sand bar, we’d march over to the ocean side to swim. Dad & Uncle Dick taught us how to dive into the big waves before they crashed. If you didn’t do it correctly, there was always a hand to pluck you out as you tossed around in the surf. If you wouldn’t go in because the water was too cold or too rough, you were called “Chicken of the Sea.” Even though the ocean was often times too cold and too rough, no one wanted to be Chicken of the Sea. Dad gave us dolphin rides on his back and you had to hold your breath while holding on tight as he dove deep under the water.

For a while, my parents had a trailer at Brant Rock where they spent a lot of time in the summers. It never mattered how cold the water was - and it was freezing!- Dad would always get in the ocean. He would never be the Chick of the Sea.. He loved going to Aruba, where Uncle Dick had a time share. The Four Musketeers- Larry, Trudy, Dick & my mother’s sister Mary, would go every year the week after Thanksgiving. There they’d meet up with Uncle Billy & Elaine and have a ball. After Dick and Mary were gone, one or two of the kids with go with them. Even when the ocean was rough (one year Dad broke his collar bone in the waves), he made sure to get in the water, often with the help of “Larry’s Mermaids”. It revived his spirit and energized him- there he was free of all that ailed him. He was Free Willy.

Recently, Dad got to singing, “Open the Door Richard” - a song written in 1947, recorded by many artists over the years, including Count Basey. We think he was calling to his brother that he was ready. Richard, Seamus & Willy opened the door last Wednesday at high noon, and Law Law left his ever-ailing body. We will miss him terribly, but his spirit lives on in each of us.

Every night, before I went to bed, my Dad, thinking he was funny, would say, “Night Mare.”
Night, Dad. Love you madly. Period. Closed Quotes.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Is It Really February Already?

The groundhog says spring is on the way. Good thing, because I am back here at the mothership in Boston, and it looks like the north pole. Before I left the Gorge, it was winter. Here is the view from Panorama Point on a wintery walk early in January.

Here is the view of my parent's house. There have been 4 storm days since I got here 2 weeks ago. Another is due Saturday. I haven't seen snow piled this high since the Blizzard of 78.

I honestly don't know where January went. I figure I'd better post a few things so people don't think I went into a permanent funk after the Patriots lost to the Jets. My biggest excuse is that my 2.5 year old computer suffered a fatal seizure after Lloyd tried to upgrade my OS from Vista to Windows7. Thanks a bunch, Microsoft and HP. Had to wait for a new laptop. Lost my emails and address book, but fortunately I did back up my tunes, pix, and docs. I do not trust anything to work the way it should. Especially with Microsoft.

We had our New Year's Day ski on the Clark Creek Trail, the best snow there in a couple of years. Check the link for some great pictures. Unfortunately, it's rained ever since.

Alina came to visit for a week after a pit stop in Sugar Land to visit her old buddies, and had the pleasure of extensive father-daughter bonding when she and Lloyd went to pick up Conor at the airport. They got stuck for 4.5 hours behind a jack knifed big rig less than halfway to PDX, with no way to exit or reverse direction. Did I mention there was an ice storm in the Gorge at the time? The normally 2 hour round trip became an 8.5 hour odyssey, with their return at 2:30 am. Now anyone who knows me is aware that I am a terrible bad weather passenger. Knowing the forecast, I thoughtfully suggested (during a mother/daughter pedicure) that Alina might want to have a little one on one time with her dad as well. Little did I know, how long that one on one time would be!

We had a good week visiting breweries and brewpubs, including a fantastic tour of Full Sail in Hood River (highly recommended), and at the other end of the spectrum, Doug showed us where he creates the magic elixirs at Everybody's Brewing in White Salmon. Conor and Alina are home brewers, so we also stopped in to taste at Big Horse, Double Mountain, and Thirsty Woman Pub to check out potables not seen in Boston.

One late night, Lloyd, Alina and Conor brewed a batch of After Midnight Porter, now sitting in the secondary fermenter. They forgot to buy ice to cool the wort, and the sight of the three of them running outside to the last remaining snow piles was pretty funny.

The return trip to PDX was mercifully uneventful. We dropped them off and were back in White Salmon by 6 am, before the sun was even up. But my plans for the rest of January were scuttled when Mom fell and hurt her hip. I was able to reschedule my Alaska Air flight for little more than the $75 change fee, and headed to Boston on the 20th. More on that in the next post.