in cabin by the ocean

Bloged in General Home Life,Oregon,Pacific Northwest,TRAVEL by mark Wednesday May 31, 2006

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As the Smith family gathered this Memorial Weekend by traveling to the Medford/Ashland area to join in celebrating daughter Margaret’s wedding, we were given the chance to enjoy their treasured family beach cabin in Cannon Beach once again. It had been just over two years since we were here last, so we really looked forward to it. Of course we went. It was a holiday weekend, our dog Mac has never been to the Beach with us (Paul and Kristen had taken him once before, so we hadn’t seen his behavior there). As it always seems, rain was forecast for Memorial Day in Western Oregon.

The cabin was in terrific shape, inviting and warm. We immediately took Mac to the beach where he could hardly contain himself. Retrieving sticks until WE were wet to the waist and numb, he was in complete ecstacy.

Arriving back at the cabin, he had to stand while he was toweled dry. He got to go to the beach twice a day while we were there.

Reading Augusten Burroughs, watching a movie, and enduring a real Scrabble Duel, we left CB completely rested and relaxed.

We finally ate at one of the old established restaurants in town that we’d always avoided just because it really didn’t seem so special. This time, someone recommended it so we had a fine meal. Halfway through a honkin big SUV pulled into the parking lot and left their three Golden Retrievers in the back with door up so passersby can say hi. That would be nice, eh? Have a dog who will just let anybody approach …..hm…. I’m not so sure, but THESE dogs attracted fans all the while their masters enjoyed a lunch. Those three Goldens did fill the back of that car.

For the last few days, Mac has been barking at a grey weimeraner across the street and down a couple houses whose family would bring him out during the day to play and perform that dog abarrent behavior syndrome, “I keep the ball and you all chase me”. Mac barked inside our cabin from sheer jealousy seeing another dog having a good time while he remained trapped behind glass and wood.

Today, our last day, Mark and Mac took advantage of the full warm sunny afternoon by walking to the waves and water about 5:00 and he jumped, swam, retrieved, panted, whined for more, and had a thrilling time as long as he wanted. The stick was thrown into surf heavy water for over an hour and he seems to be in ecstasy when those waves break. He gets some admiring fans too when he runs and jumps for the stick if you don’t throw it right away. So, finally he’s tired and we begin the hike back up the beach to the cabin.

Right at the steps who do we meet but the three goldens and their human pets we’d seen at the restaurant. Now Mac had a nice romp and we had a fun chat. Nice folks. Then moving along as we turn the corner to get to the cabin, who do we meet but the grey weimeraner and owners where Mac and pal played keep away for a while and we chatted with these kids. This was one great afternoon for us both,

Rodger was able to finish the entire Sellevision Novel of Augusten burroughs today. A truly fabulous visit to the coast. As I type this, the sun is setting in back of Haystack Rock. What a vision.

On Monday night, the sunset was spectacular:

We’re now ready to go back home and face that Mark fears may have happened to some of our early garden plants with all the cool wet weather. He’s hoping the hot pepper plants have not rottetd or been eaten. News later.

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Tuesday morning, Mac got yet one more chance at the surfe with Rodger. Once again, here’s how he usually looks just after getting the stick out of the surf:

Yes, another fantastic time until something happened that both of them completely disagreed about an ocean visitor after Mac was about finished. Mac claims that he kept seeing a huge Whale surface. Either that or the Creature from the Black Lagoon kept scaring the living daylights out of him. Once he saw this, Rodger could hardly get him back in the water, seriously! Rodger’s vision may have been better since he’s taller, but HE said that there a couple of surfers that Mac finally got close enough to that he SAW them and panicked…..scared the swim right out of him. How about that? IF another DOG comes along anytime Mac is on a trail, park, etc., they might play tugaway or “chase me”, but IN the water, no DOG can have that stick without a fight. He is a different and VERY strong minded boy in the water to do what he was bred to do. So seeing the sea-monster reaction was a real surprise.

By the way, the tides were SO extreme, that when they were low, the water was out past the first needle (a verticle rock shown below)………It was quite spectacular to visit the needles, seeing all the bird life beginning to nest, the corals, starfish, etc:

After arriving at home, the little dog finally gave up on requests to run and fetch:

I believe if I were still 23, I don’t think I would be able to find a better word for this weekend than perfectly lovely.

Con Agra at Cannon Beach? Oh NO !

Bloged in food: recipes + dining out,General Home Life,Oregon by mark Wednesday May 31, 2006

Okay. When one does get a gift to vacation a day or two at the Smith’s Beach Cabin in Cannon Beach, you are wise to plan ahead since this little artsy town really has very little “useful” shopping stores. Almost everything is a “gallery” selling “stuff” cheesy to beautiful always at inflated prices. Same with the little “Mariner Market” where grocery options are limited and expensive of course. So, one usually plans and brings their own supplies and where appropriate, your own food. Well, we forgot eggs and sausage of course, the most basic breakfast you would fix, right? So glancing at the sausage choices, we see in the freezer a tiny harmless brightly colored box of Armour brand “Brown N’ Serve ORIGINAL”. In their words, “IT’s our perfect blend of sage and other seasonings in Original that makes it America’s favorite pre-cooiked sausage. This hearty down-home taste is available in links and patties. Great taste…great variety. Try all of our delicious flavors”

**Where the word sausage was placed it should have said, “Should have said “a substance somewhat similiar to some sausage-like products.)

How bad can that be? It WAS the right amount of product after all and only $1.87 instead of $6 plus for REAL Pork Sausage. Corporate marketing worked in this case and they were naively brought home thinking it would help us enjoy breakfast this morning.

The package held 10 small links and looked similar to real food. They had an odd soft rubbery though which created a look at the box to read the governments required “INGREDIENTS” text. That reading helped you understand the odd texture and sort of unnatural taste. Somehow, they did lose a little of their appeal after reading more about what we just ate:

“INGREDIENTS: PORK, MECHANICALLY SEPARATED TURKEY, WATER, SOY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF BEEF, BHA, BHT, CITRIC ACID, FLAVORINGS, SALT, SODIUM DIACETATE, SODIUM LACTATE, SUGAR. CONTAINS: SOY
Regards, ConAgra Foods Inc

I KNOW that reading any pre-cooked food package ingredients creates this same reduction in appetite. Maybe that’s why, over time, we are cooking more and more of our food out of the most primary ingredient, and are slowly seeming to find more and more of our own local little gardeners, ranchers, for our food sources.

And other than that…………..what a weekend it was.

Taylor and The Inspiration Dance Company

Bloged in General Home Life,Oregon by mark Friday May 26, 2006


Taylor Smith, daughter of Salem friends, Pete and Sonya found she loves to dance. She enrolled in some classes at Salem’s Inspiration Dance Company, who, just last weekend, gave their second “annual” spring dance recital last Sunday Night at one of Oregon’s historic and beautifully restored Theaters, “The Elsinore” in Salem. Taylor invited us via a handwritten note so how do you turn that offer down? We already had been curious about this theater because it has one of the largest Theater Organ installations in the Northwest, yep, another mighty Wurlitzer I might add. It was donated by a Salem family and since the install has been enlarged, renovated, enlarged again, and plays host to many of America’s finest players:

That organ sits just to the side of this beautiful stage:

We arrived 30 minutes early to find a line of proud Dance Supporters going around the block!

There was Sonya in the middle holding us a place in line. How does the crowd get this big we asked? Sonya replied quietly, that her “Own” family group consisting of cousins, aunts, uncles, parents, friends, numbered 22. So simply add 22 to each of all the children dancing and you have a theater FULL of loud and proud sponsors. It WAS a beautiful recital with dancers ranging in ages from 3 to 40. The three year olds, of course, make you smile, all the while watching their coaches on the sides still trying to figure out all those moves. TAYLOR was no doubt the outstanding performer in both numbers her own group did. I hope she gets to enjoy lots of years of dance since she was on target with rhythm, moves, and seems to really have the real feel of the art.

Oh well, it was a memorable evening listening to hundreds of proud family members cheering on kids. Felt like I was back in the tiny town of Vale where you would here THIS kind of cheering ONLY for the football team……..oh that’s not fair. Me any my piano peers in Vale always got a little turn out of the arts fans in Vale, although a little smaller in number they were than the loud, boisterous (drinking) ranchers and farmers needing more excitement than they got toiling in those fields.

The Elsinore is now on a list of things to go back to certainly to hear the Organ played.

diet and smoking

Bloged in food: recipes + dining out,General Home Life by mark Tuesday May 23, 2006

Smoking. We are officially non-smokers and have been for 7 weeks. Mark is feeling better than Rodger and is off of Wellbutrin. For him, It is a fantastic freedom for the mind and body. Breathing is effortless and occurs so smoothly it’s fantastic. The energy in the body has doubled. Food is much more interesting and complex. What a thrill …. how could one not see this years ago?

Diet. We are slowly and smoothly losing a little weight just as we’d hoped. Mark is within half pound of his record low about three years ago! We have learned a few new things to cook (low-carb) that are tasty thanks to the motivation of a new kitchen, so that’s helpful. Mark begin reducing (cutting in half) his blood pressure and cholesterol meds three weeks ago. He just saw the doctor last week and is thrilled to report: 1) cholesterol is now at or below normal on all readings, and…….. 2) blood pressure last reading was: 116/78. Hey! Now it will soon be Rodger’s turn to go in for a check and see what’s up. :mrgreen:

Herbs? More Herbs?

Bloged in garden by mark Monday May 22, 2006

Amazing. 10 years ago in a garden first for us, along with a few vegetables, we planted an herb or two: some parsley and sage, chives. That’s it. Every year one or two slipped in as we have truly learned the real joy of using FRESH herbs in your cooking. This years garden has more new ones than ever, so we’re gonna be on a learning curve once again:

HERBS IN THE GARDEN 2006

Rosemary ….. new 03
Oregano ….. new 06 *Our old established one died
Thyme ….. new 06 *Our old established one died
Sage ….. new 03
Sorrel ….. new 06
Chervil ….. new 06
Lovage …… new 06
Basil annual
Dill annual
Cilantro annual
Fennel annual
Leeks new 04
Celery annual
Epazote annual *new 06
Bay Laurel ….. new 06 **Hey. who knew we could grow our own bay leaves?
Parsley annual

PEPPERS:
Habanero 1 plant
Serrano 2 plants
Thai hot 2 plants
Ancho 1 plant
Anaheim 1 plant
? 1 plant
? 1 plant

All of the peppers have water walls around them, and hear they are just waiting for some heat to get to this part of the world:

And here’s ALL 22 walls-o-water around the nine peppers and all the tomatoes:

As always happenes here…………the beautiful sun left us and we’re back to mid-May normal weather: rain showers and gray damp skies. At least the night temps are at 50 or over which will let all the new starts grow roots. We already have corn sprouting in little pots under shelter so at least they’re safe. We’ll put them out about week two in June.

Oh well………….it’s an exciting time of year.

We’re Invited to Lake O

Bloged in General Home Life,Scuff Boys by mark Sunday May 21, 2006

We were lucky enough to be included in a little dinner event at Nancy’s tonight in Lake O. Nancy’s Mom, Dee came down to visit, and a few lucky folk got to enjoy a fabulous evening of dinner and chat:

As always, it’s feast for the eyes to see Nancy’s entire property, completely groomed as though Nature WAS perfect. Plants sited and growing as if Nancy didn’t spend hours making them beautiful. This is just the “side yard” . . . adjoining her kitchen:

Her sense of color, balance, artistic composition of natural boundaries are fantastic.

Carol, next to Mark in the pic, is an artist in her own right. Her entire garden is contained in pottery consisting of some hundreds of pots, and EVERY pot EVERY year gets individual attention in splitting, balancing, placement, watering, etc etc etc. Carol teaches art in her Caligraphy classes. Whew!

I DO find it strange that in MY own garden, this must come from growing up where the Farmer is only good IF his yield is good…..Mark thinks only in function terms, i.e., what do I have to do to get the most product for my space. NO beauty. SO the expression of such beauty in these friends garden spaces is truly overwhelming.

Sandy, next to Rodger, has a heart of gold, and a complete library of Medical knowledge accompanying her years in nursing, sometimes to the point of helping a son get through the scare of stage three hodgkins cancer. Rosemary is living the thrills of a kitchen remodel, and we got to compare a lot of notes with her about that.

Nancy’s Mom, Dee, is from Seattle and we got to hear the tales of her Dad’s Psychic experiences, discuss her gardening talents, and feel the love she gives so richly. She says she’s not sure where Nancy gets lots of her talent, but Dee, living in MORE damp grey day town than ours, can grow vegetables before we think of planting somehow. She says it’s just a “siting” issue, but I don’t think that’s all there is to it after gardening here for 10 years.

Oh well……..it was a fabulous evening with artistic, beautifully pure, loving friends.

SORRY to report . . . E Beak desertion

Bloged in birding by mark Monday May 15, 2006

More quickly than they slowly arrived over three days, the whole flock of 17 birds left abruptly. We did not have one sighting, or hear one call after Friday…………. so once again, this warning to bird lovers: DO NOT get involved with Evening Grosbeaks, they’ll get your hopes up, and then leave you in the dust.

At least our faitfhul Black Headed Grosbeaks are steady and nesting, at least two pair.

Oh well.

At least the garden went into blastoff mode this past weekend. Temperatures throughout this week are forecast in the 80’s and two days in the 90’s. We immediately moved all the tomato plants from cold frame into the garden, installed the walls-o-water jackets on those and 5 hot pepper plants (a tedious backbreaking job), planted corn seeds into small starter pots, and finally planted MORE ground covers, etc, out on the berms. Whew!

That led to a starving appetite that was appeased on Mother’s day by a trip to the only place that didn’t have folks waiting to dine: The Outback. Ate too much, but sure DID enjoy that Ice Cream, Whipped Cream, Chocolate sauce all over a heated up soft brownie. Um………

Oh well, back to work.

E Beaks yes or no.

Bloged in birding by mark Friday May 12, 2006

The calling of the Evening Grosbeaks continued and begin to draw in a few more of the specie to Mark’s thrilling listening ear. First a male found the feeding site and began calling in a tree right over the feeder. By evening Tuesday he had a female dining with him. He began calling again Wednesday (and the pair feeding off and on) and by evening wednesday, a second female was with them. He continued calling ALL DAY, REALLY, all day, Thursday. By noon there were three females and two males. Note: Yes, this nomadic specie sometimes “swarms” at feeders, and it’s not necessarily a “settling in” behavior.

Mark went in to, ah…… roast a chicken, and cook. He looked out toward the swing feeder and it was filled with six Grosbeaks. He walked to the windows at the back and began counting the grosbeaks at all the feeders. First count was 15…..then he saw two more fly down from the tree. Two times, he counted -17- Adult Evening Grosbeaks eating quietly at ALL the feeders and couldn’t move. It was SO thrilling to get to see the formally dressed group banquet for a while.

By the time they all left, the calling continued until about 7:00 in several trees around the yard. Whew!

Now, a half day later…..Friday morning. I see only ONE pair feeding. Will we be lucky to have a few stay and nest, or are they just teasing us and moving on after a couple of banquets and a rest period.

Our hummingbirds are thrilling. The feeding level is settling in at 1.7 quarts per day of the little sugar water formula…..that may go up as a few more chicks fledge and leave some nests, but at least, they survived! ! ! !

Ah. Spring.

Bird Luck – E Grosbeak

Bloged in birding by mark Wednesday May 10, 2006

Can it be true? Probably three years ago we had a nesting group of the most beautiful bird that passes through this area. An Evening Grosbeak family stayed with us long enough to nest and fledge some chicks. By habit, this breed IS nomadic, and more often than not, you “may” see a small group of them once a year.

TODAY, I am once again doing the hardest garden work of the year: Rototilling with the big machine, making raised rows, planting seedlings, WEEDING, digging out established perennials from the flower garden that we need to clean out, TILL, and mulch heavily to give this bed a kickstart back to beauty. SO…………………………..

Beginning as soon as I went outside about 9:15, I “hear” the singular one-tone call of no other than the beautiful EVENING GROSBEAK. He’s calling RIGHT over the feeders. How thrilling BECAUSE we HAVE been seeing a few off and on for the last 3-4 weeks….does this mean he’s calling to SET up a family with us? Whoopee if that’s the case. I DO THINK that’s what’s happening because the calling has continued all day with first he and ONE female coming to feed, and this afternoon, there are two females with him at the feeders. I DO believe we’re going to have these tuxedoed free-spirits here for at least the next 4-5 weeks:

The brightly colored bird is the male, as usual, while more modest mom is thinking about building a nest, eh?

What a BUSY two days. I HAD to come in to eat lunch, late as it is, but to relax this back. Whew…..It’s GREAT weather. Most fun.

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