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January, 2004 | Scuff Productions

Wok Luk 2004 ! The Hamlet Version

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Monday January 26, 2004

Saturday evening. Our near neighbor and good friends, the Smiths host an annual Chinese event to honor the lunar new year. The idea is that everyone brings one dish but everything is prepared after we arrive at the Smiths.

So, beginning about 4:00 pm, everyone is working like prep chefs: cutting, chopping, slicing, dicing, saucing, mixing…..

By probably 6:30 or 7:00, we’re sitting down at a formal table to await presentation of 11 courses (some folks prepared more than one dish).

This year, each dish was to be kept at a “dim-sum”, or appetizer level so prevent a repeat of the restaurant scene in Monty Pythons’ Meaning of Life, you know the one I mean.

So, Joy was first up in finalizing her “Won Ton Gee Tong” (Won Ton Soup) and as that was being served, Karen finishes the prep on her “Cha Sui Bao” (Buddha Buns), and so on and so on.

Here was our evening then as it unfolded course by course amidst revelry, chat, laughter, and all:

“Won Ton Gee Tong”, “Cha Sui Bao”, “Lo Mi Gai” (Almond Chicken with Sticky Rice from Dave & Deborah)

“Pham” (Vietnamese Salad Rolls with Peanut Sauce from Baird)

“Yang Chao Fan” (Yangchow Fried Rice from Mark)

“Heh Tao Bao Gee Ding” (Sesame Chicken with Walnuts from Nancy & Bill)

Taz Sue Won Ton (Won Ton Hunan Style from Liz)

“Tien Swan Yo Yu” (Fire & Ice Squid from Wendy & Bob)

“Har Gow” (Chicken & Shrimp Dumplings from Rodger)

“Toong Thong” (Fried Golden Bags with Plum Sauce from Jason), and finally:

“Kha Mao Tod” (Deep Fried Bananas) from Jason & Liz).

WHEW ! ! Since all the rough prep work had been done ahead of time, we finished dinner by 9:30 but but but were very full. This little annual event is becoming something we all look forward to here as Portland lies in the middle of winter, you know: Grey, damp, foggy, a little dark. Finally about 12:00 today, Rodger & I had a little lunch. GUNG HAY PHAT CHOY!

a Portland ICE STORM !

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Friday January 23, 2004

JANUARY 8, 2004 – From 9336 Skyline in Portland, OR, USA:

Mark & Rodger send ice greetings!

HERE’s some pics Rodger snapped last night and today. We start with him showing his Samson Strength:

How the Frozen Tundra looked last night. The ICE is now thick enough it won’t crack and does support our weight. It takes the pounding of some blades to break through to the snow.

You can see Jocko’s old cage…….the ice is really melting into one solid art piece.

The poor little fern………you’d think he’d have broken off by now.

The Corkscrew Willows……………..we have lost about 50 percent of the two trees.

The berry patch…….looking to the north toward the row of trees that border the property.

Rodger is digging for Blackberries…….he’s literally in the middle of that thorny berry patch, eh!!!!!

The Grossenbacher field……and the major branch that fell this PM.

You can see just how much WEIGHT is on these branches………remember the heavy snow hanging there is enclosed in pockets of ICE.

WINTER Gardening! ! ! ! ! But I can’t find the moles!!!!

Looking forward to your visits………….we’re getting cabin fever…………………………………….

Mark & Rodger

A Taxing Thought

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Friday January 23, 2004

Aaaaarrrrggh! The reality of doing TAXES has just hit ! With a cool showery day ahead, a time points toward the IRS and the annual U.S. Govt requirement that poor people pay up so the fabulously wealthy and powerful will continue to send millions to their political slaves in Washington, D.C. This will ensure the wealthy may continue to live behind their palace protections all the while exporting their manufacturing costs to countries who will allow them in at slave labor wages …. the level of manufacturing cost required to maintain their idyllic lifestyle. Ah but I digress. Back to digging out all the TAX stuff and begin a days long cycle of saying, “Aaaaarrrrggh!” mark & rodger

ICE STORM goes on and ON

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Friday January 23, 2004

Dear Cold Winter Diary:

We’re looking forward to getting January Finished. January is supposed to be a quiet down-time period where we get home from work, put a log on the fire, warm our feet, read one or two of the Christmas books we all get (at our age- – hah), put on a few pounds in frustration of being kind of locked in, and pass the winter month of January in peace! Well, at least in Portland. Maybe if you’re in Fargo, ND, or Chicago’s windy snow-blown streets, you may disagree.

Our area has been overdue for snow and/or ice for a few years. Portland finally got a snow and ice storm combo that we haven’t seen since the winter we moved in: January 1996. In fact: We celebrated last night! Yesterday marked the eighth anniversary since we moved into this beautiful spot and we still love it. But we got a skiff of snow just after Christmas for a start. Mark shoveled the driveway with logical reasoning here that one would not have to shovel again.

We must qualify anything written about snow after this: We live at 1000 ft. elevation on the crest of the Tuality Hills which, at our address, curve north and west so that they catch the Gorge winds sneaking that cold air into the valley. Those winds come up these foothills and roll through the hilltop here with some bracing effect at times in the winter.

So, back to the story. On December 29, at this high spot, we received over a foot of snow and the winds brought in cold air dropping our temps into the teens at night. We shoveled the area in front of the garage again, but only wide enough to get “a” car out (the 2-wheel pickup wasn’t going to go anywhere now) and then again shoveled down at the end of the driveway to clear out the PILE of hard snow the Plows left behind. We opened up the driveway entrance barely wide enough to get the car through, and while “huffing and puffing and thinking” about clearing enough snow to allow the Mail carrier to get to the boxes, she drove along skyline and handed out the mail! We lucked out that one day. The air warmed just enough to form a glassy freeze on the places that had been cleared that day then dropped to 13 that night. More drifting snow came, MORE shoveling the next day. We had both the wood stove going and the furnace set up to about 76 to reduce the drafty air coming through the insulated windows.

On January 1, friends/neighbors the Smiths have an annual Skyline Open House that may have as many as 60-70 people show up. All of them live along our Road here and for many of them, it is the only time in the year you may see some of these people. THIS year, about 20 showed up and ONLY those who could WALK to the event. Baird and Karen had a LOT of food left over, but it sure was fun since everybody had ice and snow stories to tell.

Great neighbor Dave came along our block with his 1950 Ford Tractor and plowed out great swaths along the street where the mailboxes were and where plows had all but covered them. So we thought we were safe to get mail (as if she could get her little Honda up the hill, RIGHT!). That night winds blew the snow into great drifts and covered ALL those opened up spots once again. The plows came along several times the next day and made things worse. We NOW had drifts and piles along the road 4 sometimes 5 feet high and PILES of shoveled snow that reached 6 feet.

By the second or third of January, things were very slowly warming with another storm coming in. THIS time, the rain dropped through the cold air coming from the east and fell as sleet at first, then freezing rain, and ended up forming an inch and a half thick layer of ice on the snow that was as smooth as glass and supported our 180 pounds of weight when we were foolish enough to venture out of the house. By the next afternoon, the heavy weight of ice had snapped dozens of tree branches, some large enough to convert to firewood this spring and lowered the snow levels a mite under that weight. In an ice storm literally every molecule of EVERY thing on the landscape has become coated with smooth glass-ice from a quarter to half an inch thick…..that ice is on TOP of the heavy snow that was already all over the trees and plants. One caveat here is that with these temps you’d think everything would die but this frozen blanket of snow and ice actually insulated all the plants and protects many from certain death. Trees like the Birch that were supple enough to bend had curved completely over and touched the ground. Fairly dramatic for the birch since it’s normal height is about 30 feet.

As temps climbed to 33-34 degrees and the ice began to crack in the winds, we endured a period for an entire afternoon where this change brings on the real damage. As the forks in the tree crack the ice, the branches then snap from the weight and this event sounds just like gunfire. It is VERY weird to be standing out in the yard ON ICE listening to “gunfire” of breaking limbs going on all around you and on down into the forest.

We were both intrigued but also wondering about the extent of damage in the yard enough to put on the great waterproof boots we’d bought in 1996 (for the most part since then, they have simply been in storage), put on THICK clothes enough to keep warm and ventured out onto the ice. We both walked very slowly with a shovel in hand in case of a slip, and often deliberately SKATED across most of the yard. We used the shovels also to break loose some of the heavy ice on tree branches. We found lots of damage to trees especially to our favorite, the Corkscrew Willow Trees (used in florist shops). They had broken about halfway up their stems. It’s just been this week we’ve cut all but two off and have them laid near the garage resting for some kind of disposal. Mark called four florists so far who have no interest in getting them! I guess they’d rather pay the high prices and charge customers extra for the commercial stuff.

Well. We skated around took some pics, sent them to friends with both awe and wonder here at this fiercely beautiful weather experience. There’s nothing like it. We finally made it back to stores and actually took friend Richard with us as he was snowbound at home because his driveway is on a steep incline that was impassable for over a week. Many homes along here went through that. Friends Arnie and Kaye live down Newton Road just a block away and for days, Arnie had to walk up to Skyline (about a half mile) if he wanted to get somewhere. His son finally left him a car here in our driveway so he could walk up here to get his car, then drive to the Post Office or store then return…….and hand carry the supplies back to his house. Whew! What an adventure.

Well, one good thing was going on………….the warm up was so slow and mild, no flooding happened and much of this moisture soaked into the soil. We had such a dry year last year this is a good deal for us. As the BIG shoveled snow piles began to disappear we saw one other astounding thing we did NOT expect. Moles came up under those piles (I can only assume grubs had located there) and literally chewed up the lawn and soil under these….that will be more repair work in spring.

The last three days have brought the first sunshine in 3 weeks and it may be chilly but it’s beautiful. Mark has begun the cleanup along with the required January pruning of fruit trees. Two days gone by and he’s only gotten 2 and a half trees finished but did make headway in clearing out some of the broken limbs/branches from under the firs. It was really invigorating though to be IN SUNSHINE (while wearing long-johns, sweatshirt AND coat, insulated socks and thick boots, thick gloves……but he was happy). Here’s the weirdest thing………..while working in the yard would you believe this? A Damn Dandelion is blooming and other dandelions GROWING ! ! ! !

He’d started with the idea of hauling everything to the property edge to make a pile of wood that would become bird habitat. That idea lasted about 10 minutes into the first huffing and puffing, and now the garden has a pile of branches on it to burn in about a month.

We did get our first skunk sighting out under the feeders on one of those cold night……….if you can get past the idea you “may” get sprayed, they are about the cutest mild mannered little animals! I opened the door and just clapped my hands……….the tail went up but he couldn’t figure out where that sound came from, and quickly relaxed and ambled down the hill. They’re nothing like the pesky pushy raccoons.

On January 18, we went back to yet another Portland Dog Show to spend time with our friends, Marj & Janice who breed and show Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. They own “Dillon”, who we hope, will be the sire for a future pup we get to buy. Dillon is a prize winning hunter, as solid as a rock at about 95 pounds and shows the cutest tiny bit of cross-eyes that make you melt. When we’re at a show…..people stop all the time wanting to find out about this dog Dillon. He’s the biggest lover I’ve ever seen. IF we set by him, he actually seems to remember us…he’ll come up, and while looking at you in the eye, slowly begin by sliding his big front paws over your knee, then slowly climbing up, gets paws over your shoulder, and actually seems to squeeze in when the licking thing starts….. Yes, a wonderful dog….and yet…. Defender to the death. Owner Marj has MS so uses a cane when out in the yard. She had let Dillon and Penny out to romp over the holidays when a stranger in their remote neighborhood comes by with a Rottweiler that………..ran right in to attack Marj! Without a peep, Dillon came around a corner and bowled the Rott over and had his mouth on the invader’s neck. The dog’s owner came up complaining and saying Marj would have to pay for the cuts his dog sustained. Can you imagine? In a strange neighborhood you’re walking a dog (a Rottweiler of all things) UNLEASHED and he’s on someone’s private property attacking people. Well. Marj’s neighbors saw it happen and several came running………THAT guy got an earful and was warned to stay OUT of the neighborhood or at least leash that Rott if he returned (he’d been visiting friends down the street).

We ventured to Lake Oswego, ahem, society, ahem, to enjoy a fabulous dinner at a fabulous 70 year old home on a gentle slope so that most rooms were on different levels. A beautiful spot and wonderful company of Mary Ann, Nancy G and Carol – – ALL artistic as can be. As a matter of fact, Carol was just featured in an article published by Better Homes and Gardens special publication: “Container Gardening” (page 46). I highly recommend the article. Carol has accomplished an amazing thing in her condo group. When she moved in ten years ago, NO container planting was allowed in the back drives that opened into the garages. She got a variance because she was at the end of the drive. Over the years (as the article shows), she’s ended up with hundreds of containers planted in a most artistic fashion….so much so that all the neighbors along the drive are now doing the same thing and the place has changed completely. Carol is a professional Calligrapher . . . .and also teaches the art at a local college. MaryAnn runs the foodbank of Portland, and of course, Nancy, is our dear friend who taught us all we know about lots of nature things here: birding, plants, etc. Nancy can tell us what bird is what without seeing them….she’ll know them by sound.

We did have one more fun experience this month. Friend Baird enjoyed a birthday this week. He and Karen invited us to go along for his birthday dinner. Baird, always the scout for new adventure, chose to dine at the Train Station! Yes, the Train Station. Here in Portland there’s a restaurant right at the side of the 100 year old station called “Wilfe’s”. Mark’s eaten lunch there because the retired CF folks gather there so wasn’t too impressed since he’d only seen a pre-fixe menu for those lunches that of course was all prepared in advance and served all at once to 30-40 people. Dinner WAS elegant. It WAS quiet, some things prepared and served table-side and wonderful. It WAS great to sit in the giant red velvet chairs and have the place quiet enough to talk normally……….Thanks for sharing, Baird. The evening ended with Birthday cake at the Smiths house and knowing them, no regular would do. This cake was flourless, no dairy, etc….a SERIOUS health cake called an Oak Cake from an elegant bakery here called, “A Piece of Cake”. It closely resembled a delicious carrot cake…..that’s about the first seriously healthy dessert I’ve had that truly WAS fabulous.

GOT TO RUN……………………MORE yard work is waiting and this is the last dry day for a bit, and then, TAXES are waiting in a pile next to this computer and Mark’s w-2s have arrived. AND WOK LUK dinner is Saturday, our annual group of food adventurers who all meet about 4-5 pm to chop, slice and dice, then each party has to prepare one menu item…………it’s always a fun evening. This year, we are preparing dumplings and the combo fried rice.

For the first time, this diary note will be posted on a web page prepped and given to us as a Christmas Gift by Rodger’s friend in France, Miss Emily McKinzie who’s working in a beautiful resort town in Northern France. Once we have something in there to look at, we’ll probably post there in lieu of sending updates…. . . .. .. . . we will send you the link in a few days.

We hope this finds everyone well, happy, rich, at peace, etc etc etc . Too much to ask? I believe we DO need to spend MORE of that foreign-aid and military money at home . . . . .a FEW of those hundreds of billions going overseas would make a HUGE difference here to us all.


Mark & Rodger

Bloged in General Home Life by emaleejayne Thursday January 22, 2004

yahoo! a post! nice work fellas!

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Wednesday January 21, 2004

Congratulations to us! We moved into our house 8 years ago today and we still love it!

Bloged in General Home Life by rodger Wednesday January 21, 2004

Okay E…here’s my first official post.

Hey everybody…welcome to our new blog page. My sweet friend Emily set this up for us as a Christmas present because we love reading about her adventures in France. You see…Emily’s company closed their Portland shop and moved everyone to France where the company originated. So she started this cool page where she shares photos and stories and we all get to live vicariously through her. Every morning when I get to work…instead of reading the headlines…I read Emily’s latest post. This way I don’t miss her as much. You too can read Emily’s adventures by clicking on the link to in the upper right.

So on to the adventures of Mark, Rodger, Tucker and Jocko…

We went to dinner last night with our neighbors in honor of Baird’s Birthday! We went to Wilf’s at the train station. “Go By Train” you know the one. It was a wonderful evening and we practically had the restaurant to ourselves. There was only one other table occupied when we arrived and only 2 others by the time we left. So we had great service and could actually hear each other talk. Very nice for a Portland restaurant. They’re always so noisy! After dinner we returned home for an unbelievable carrot cake which as it turns out was totally vegan. No flour, no dairy but unbelievably delicious. It was a great night out with the dearest of friends! Happy Birthday Baird!

Mark spent most of yesterday cleaning up the yard from the storm damage. I was really heartbroken to see all the corkscrew willow branches laying out in the yard like bodies waiting to be buried in a mass grave after a major catastrophe in a third world country. I’m afraid to go look at the trees now. Good thing I get home after dark! The bad news is that now they’re talking about more snow this weekend or early next week. Hopefully it will be light. Of course I don’t think anymore damage can actually be done now so…let it snow.

That’s about all I can think of for now…gotta get to work. Check back soon and hopefully we’ll have a few pics to share.

Bloged in General Home Life by rodger Tuesday January 20, 2004

Hey…this should say posted by Rodger.

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Tuesday January 20, 2004

Hey…this is pretty easy. I really do have to get started on this.

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