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December, 2007 | Scuff Productions

The Athlete Mac LOVES Snow. (& a friday Quote)

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Friday December 28, 2007

SNOW came on Christmas. We loved it, but it was NOT missed on Mac. What is it about throwing snow in the air that a dog can’t resist? He shows his most athletic poses when a snowball goes up:

………..And people were criticizing “some” about who they were intimate with a LONG time before there were cars:

It doesn’t matter what you do in the bedroom as long as you don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses.

~Mrs. Patrick Campbell

La Vie En Rose – Edith Piaf

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Friday December 28, 2007

The snow continued here today, but in a common occurrence of snow here, our elevation sometimes means we are about the ONLY area in town having snow. Today was that. Just a few miles along Skyline Blvd that run the top of the west hills here had snow all day while EVERY BIT of snow in the rest of the county has been gone since late morning. It’s just started melting, so we enjoyed watching snow all day ending up with about 5 inches on the ground! Hurray.

That gave us an excuse so hike a bit, but also watch a movie on DVD! Relax! Hey! That’s a bit of a holiday rule too, ain’t it? We’d rented the new film about the life of Edith Piaf naturally named, “La Vie En Rose“. What an experience in feeling the passion of a true “artiste”……………………probably one of the most beloved French singers of all time.
Yep yep yep, I know………it’s subtitled, and you hate it. But how ELSE could you possibly THINK of watching a movie about Piaf in a language OTHER than French? It is a Fantastic Movie, beautifully done, a bit depressing, but all about life, love, a musical world LEGEND, and if you have any admiration for music and the arts, you must NOT miss this. If you’re old enough to know what Edith Piaf meant to the French, I say again, do NOT miss this.

GO to that link, look at the Sypnosis, the trailer, and I believe you’ll go rent the DVD. Click here on EDITH PIAF for more about her life.

Oh yeah, and then we plugged in the new Panini Grill and made our first grilled Panini Sandwiches: Roast Beef, Ementaler Cheese, red onions, moutard, spices………on Focaccia Bread. Yum, but now I’m too full for more leftover fudge, cookies, pie. Damn it.

A short note on Christmas 2007

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Thursday December 27, 2007

The Scuff Gathering occurred once again this year. However, it’s much more than what it “was” the first year we asked a few neighbors over in 1997. Now, it seems we’re all old friends, and the time passes too quickly. This year a couple new neighbors joined in the fray and seemed to fit the occasion just like those of us who’ve lived in this little hamlet for years. Even cousin Nancy came up, and I believe made a few new friends. That’s the whole thing, old friends renewed bonds, and new friendships might have begun.

Despite the fact we had so much food, Arnie & Kaye brought a fabulous Strawberry Genoise Cake SHE made at home. It was the first thing gone. It’s a bit time consuming, but a fabulous recipe….provided on request. Elena & Emilio brought a traditional Italian dessert, a Pannitoni Cake flush with some rich creamy filling, the second item gone. Nancy even brought Mac an entire can of Dog Treats!

I couldn’t believe it! The very first piano teacher I ever had came to this gathering along with son Steve (who only lives a couple miles away), and daughter Lorene. Marilee, at the time, was a very young Mother in Vale, Oregon, married to the local Chiropractor, taught music in her home. She inspired me in MANY ways, and due to some great training, and a little luck, became able to play at many weddings and funerals IN that little cow town during the years 1956-1964. THAT was my first exposure to life outside the enclosed world of Mormonism, and very likely allowed me to learn that spirituality can’t be boxed into one narrow belief system. Marilee WAS my gateway then, and to this day, we have remained in touch. She remains an inspiration to anyone. Here we were just prior to my first REAL solo recital at about 14:

Marilee was just a bit older than my one sister, the oldest grandchild on both sides of the family who died at 33 leaving my Mom terribly hurt. I’ve often felt that Marilee became my sister………………and maybe a daughter to Mom. Oh well. Friendships sometimes come into our lives for a time, and their purpose is fulfilled and we grow apart. Not always. Isn’t it truly a Christmas celebraton when a lifetime friendship gets to be renewed in person? That’s what this was.

Seems everyone had nothing else to do Sunday night because everybody was here by 6:45, and singing began by 9:00……..Neighbor Sam’s boy Conrad (the daring skateboarder out on the Oregon desert in an earlier post?) had also begun Trombone lessons this year, so wanted to play along. He fetched that big horn (that had been his Dad’s) and was a HIT as he played his own version of a few carols. He’s only 7! The one Carol that’s always my favorite is “Here Comes Santa Clause” ….which we speed up on every verse………..

So THIS was a memorable night, without question the warmest gathering since we’ve lived here. It is the FIRST time the last guests were there till 1:00 am.

Since Emilio & Elena had no Christmas Dinner plans, they accepted an invitation to come on up for their second American holiday dinner, another Roast Turkey & Trimmings meal. But. NO. They couldn’t just come up and eat with us. She made another Pannitoni Cake and also insisted on preparing some fresh Turkey Tortellini since that’s a traditional Italian first course Christmas meal selection. Here they were cooking this on the spot:

WHAT? Can you imagine? We had an entire meal of Turkey, Dressing, Potates & Gravy, Green Beans (you know, yes, with the dried onions on top?), winter salad, cranberries, etc etc. They added a Pasta course to this! Yes. By 5:00, we were ALL uncomfortably full and hadn’t eaten the desserts yet.

The other thrill that day was the snow. Though not heavy, it was white. Portland’s history with snow on Christmas is rare. The last snow on Christmas was 1990, and before that was 1937. The trees were beautiful:

It snowed MORE Christmas night so this morning I took a wire brush to the bird feeders where snow had melted yesterday into thin ice, and snow on top of that today meant our little winter birds were having a hard time finding food. Here we are, brushed, cleaned and ready for Christmas diners:

Mac prayed for snow:


He was rewarded with our own excitement this morning to go out and make a snowman facing Skyline:


It was a fabulous 3 days up to today. Tomorrow? Snow forecast up to 5-6 inches at our high spot in town by afternoon, then all turning back to rain by night time. Damn. It will be interesting to see if the road here is passable tomorrow morning for Rodger to return to work. We woke this morning to hear on news that two of our streets leading off the hill were closed due to accidents, and a power pole situated on a curse one block from this house was sheared by a car going too fast on the ice.

The worst thing? The 2007 Christmas Celebration excitement is over. We will settle into the clean up phase soon enough. The month of preparations, the 3-4 days of pleasure, then the creation of memories as things are put away for the 2007 season of our lives becomes our reality this next week.

A Tree thought, and party preps ramp up

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Friday December 21, 2007

I looked at the Christmas tree this morning and saw our combined life’s history all over it. Ornaments from my folks trees, Rodger’s folks tree, a few ornaments that came to me while living in Utah then California, and then LOTS of ornaments acquired since our life together began 19 years ago. ONE THING about being 60………You cannot HAVE a sense of history about your own life until you come to this stage in your life, you can’t appreciate the balance, the yin-yang, sorrow/joy, love/loss, without SOME age thrown in. So maybe Sunday night with loved friends here, we’ll raise a toast to our shared lives while looking at a lit up tree with little baubles, globes, sleds, santas, etc………glowing in the dark.
tree06 Maybe we should take the picture before we begin drinking wine, eh? Hah.

AH! I can write a brief note about upcoming gathering since I’ve been doing prep work all week.

I’m thinking we’ll have a good time. Here’s what’s being prepared in our kitchen the next two days, and some prep work has been done (crispy bacon bits, shelled pistachios, peeled garlic, cookies baked and cooled, fudge made, layered party bars made and cooled.

The menu looks like will now be: Hummus, Guacamole–our version, Watergate Pudding, Black Bean Corn Salad (thanks, Nancy G), Country Pate and bread, Crab Dip, meatballs with a sauce not yet inspired, drinks of all sorts, Snickerdoodles-provided by chef Karen), Butterscotch chewies, Layered Party Bars, Fudge, Cinnamon Bundt Cake -provided by Elissa/Nancy M, and if I get inspired, Gooey Pumpkin Butter Cake. So. I think we’ll have enough food for 35.

This is the first time ever everyone invited but one couple who are back east will be coming, it’ll be a crowded room, and lots-o-talk. If enough wine is imbibed, singin’ around the piano may be in order.

SO. I’m off to a store for next Tuesday’s Turkey, pita bread, and IF it stays dry, maybe a swim for the dog. HE desparately needs to run off some energy……………….

Hope YOUR holiday plans are rolling along……………….I’m FINALLY getting that Christmas feeling! Maybe it has to do with a clean house and prep work done. The real fun cooking stuff can begin.

Recovery from Loss. Holiday Healing.

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Tuesday December 18, 2007

Fabulous news.

Nancy G is gaining a little momentum in her healing process of grieving the harsh loss of her beloved Mom, Dee, to a brain tumor. Diagnosed just a bit over a year ago, Nancy’s life changed in an instant as the only child to Dee, she became the constant caregiver even though her Mom lived north of here in Tacoma. More recently, she lost companion Dog, Dylan, after a long life, a dear German Shepherd who pretty much wanted to make sure he’d protect Nancy from all harm. Nancy suggested in a message today, that the love of friends around her is the “spiritual peace” that’s bringing her back into the well of life so quickly. With real joy, we’re once again enjoying visiting with her, and are very much looking forward to seeing her at our gathering Sunday. Here’s Nancy and Mom Dee just not too long ago at Nancy’s home:
Nancy G is a giver of life period. As a healing hand therapist, she can make your injured hands feel better within minutes of even looking at them. As an artist, she creates masterpieces no matter where. From nothing, this was a gorgeously spot created by Nancy in her yard not long after moving into this neighborhood, and I’m sure, knowing she continues with changes, it looks 100% different today:

There another beloved Nancy in my life. My cousin Nancy Minor, who, oddly enough, only lives a couple miles from Nancy G in Lake Oswego. This Nancy too, has been dealing with a brain tumor. She lost beloved husband Warden to a nasty years-long brain tumor in August. She too, is showing signs of recovery and healing, I’m sure also, helped by being deservedly loved by lots of folk who’s lives she’s touched…..and she’s touched many as a school teacher, not to ignore the fact she’s been a truly fabulous Mom to Elissa, J, & Quinn:
Nancy wrote a loving poem about Warden sent in her Christmas letter, and with her consent, I wanted to place it here….she is an artistic writer:


It was something about his eyes,
Those “come hither” dark hazel eyes.
Oh yes, he was a charmer
Long and lean, lounging on the stage
Hair screaming for a woman’s hands
But mainly, it was his eyes.

And against all reason, I knew –
This was a man I could share a life with.
I wonder – how could I possibly know?
A middling actor in a morose play
No word, no thought, no gesture, I just
Saw him once and I knew.

Be that as it may, had I also
Known that some future day cancer
Would wrap his mind in its lethal arms
And like a faithless lover squeeze,
Would I have fled? Passed on the chance
To run my fingers through that glorious hair?

Yet, there was that day in June
That magical day he gave me a cat.
A softly whispered, “How do I love thee?”
And there, in his arms squirmed a scrawny
Strange, skittish miracle of cat.
From my love, the man who hated cats

For that one honeyed moment alone,
I call it a fair bargain.
=== ===.

Nancy’s daughter Elissa is the real writer in the family however, and I have found it pretty engrossing how she’s dealt with her Dad’s loss by sharing it in a personal blog about grief. If you’re interested, just visit Elissa’s BLOG PAGE….. You can experience some passionate and powerful writing there about love and loss.

SO. I wrote this page in the TRUE Spirit of all my past and current Christmas Holidays. It is NOW more than any time of the year, we think of those WE love and of those who love us. So, this is in memory of LOVED ONES no longer with us, or because of distance, we seldom get to see. We are already remembering them now, and will be thinking of them through the Holiday Season most of all.

It’s That Time of Year

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Tuesday December 18, 2007

The beautify of human brains is that they truly push stress back into closets deep inside of that gelatin shaped mass and conveniently forget what it was we probably should avoid again getting all involved in. I’m sure that’s HOW the Christmas season continues to occur for adults.

It IS anticipation that edges us forward, but in the meantime, all that shopping, budgeting, wrapping, cleaning, wrapping, cleaning, cooking, washing, cooking, baking, cleaning, shopping, hiding, carding, mailing, shipping, cleaning, cooking, wrapping, can be worrisome. Oh and then sometimes you have to earn a living in the meantime.

Since 0900 today, I’ve been to the Library returning a book, Post Office for mailing local cards, Starbucks for grounds, FedEx for shipping last packages, Art Media for framing, Big Five for Boots, WInco for our Gala Basic Food Supply, and New Seasons for the more gourmet items required. On returning home, cleaning out the wood stove, and shaking the chimney to loosen creosote, cleaning that up, going over the grocery list again, exercising the dog, baking some bread, beginning some country pate, vacuum, sweeping, and THIS. Whew.

Tomorrow will be less items, but just as busy: cleaning cleaning, beginning to cook for Sunday…i.e., cookies to freeze.

By Thursday, I think things will begin to look a bit more exciting, eh?

***On a holiday note, on Saturday, we were downtown when the annual “TUBA CHRISTMAS” event occurred. I’d ALWAYS thought this a Portland ONLY thing until I looked for a website. I couldn’t believe it. It happens in hundreds of American cities! And here I thought we were unique. You cannot play a bunch of Sousaphones, Tubas, or whatever you want to call this giant horns, but “JOY TO THE WORLD” cannot be played in any manner close to how you think “JOY” would sound. On the other hand, it was a RICH, DEEP melodic horn sound we heard, and at least a couple thousand Portlandians sitting there watching and singing along. Check the link. If you live where one of these silly things happens, let yourself hear Carols in a way you’ve never heard them before.

And remembering a Christmas snow in 2003:
snow 03
THAT snowstorm lasted and turned into ice….and DID topple the top of that Birch tree already bent over. It NEVER straightened out and we had to top it in the spring. Hm. I hope things are better in Oklahoma right now than last week.

Merry Merry Merry

Is This Your Next President

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Friday December 14, 2007

This could be your next Presidential First Family, the Leader of this Empire, such as it is, in 2008, if some Fundamentalists have their way:
No matter how tolerant I may be on some issues, but THIS is NOT what I could stomach staring at news during a holiday photo op. This is straight out of a possible Southern Baptist REALITY show: “Life of a Preacher Man”, a Bible Literalist Fundy Preacher, that is.

And, if Mike Huckabee doesn’t believe in evolution, he should. This picture doesn’t look like Intelligent Design to me, and I’m not referring to the weight issues, the health issues, the plastered on smiles, or the bright perky religious faces. It’s the idea of religious “Uniforma” appearance………..I wonder what he’ll have all the Gays wearing? Pink triangles? Public schools in smiley uniforms, no more dancing, NO JOY at Christmas.

THIS WAS SHOCKING somehow to me, to think THIS kind of man is actually taking over the lead in some areas of the midwest. Frightening, and I mean Frightening.

I’m even a little worried about the dog. Looks like she’s got him ’round the neck.

ps: The source of this Huckabee Family Holiday Picture: The Wonkette.

Mole Patrol, and MORE!

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Monday December 10, 2007

We were nearly killed or close to it on returning home last night. Two miles of our drive home involve climbing the 1000 feet up windy Germantown Road. At the bottom of the hill there are several ninety degree turns…the last, as you’re coming up, straightens out into about 600-800 ft of clear road. We entered that last 90 degree turn….seeing the glow of headlights coming…but as we came round, heard squealing of tires as this car coming straight INTO that curve going downhill realized he was coming WAY TOO fast in any weather, and last night it was snowing. I GRABBED our steering wheel and yanked right as far as I could go ( another 6 inches would be into a guard rail against a drop off….). The car coming at us began to spin out toward our car. We both yelled, KNOWING we were doomed…..but by sheer luck, and split second timing, our car curved out as he passed my side so close I was petrified. He continued spinning out, went across both lanes, and off into, luckily, a bit of a turn out on that curve. Otherwise, he’d have gone off the slope and been doomed. How many close calls can you call up and luck out! Whew.

So by the grace of Someone kind, we were able to get the tree 90% finished last night and wake to a cool morning.

But the REAL work paid off last night with the capture of yet ANOTHER MOLE who had staked a claim out under the side LAWN this time just about the time we began our big rain/windstorm last week, so I couldn’t do a lot except keep tamping down the rises. This had to the be fattest ugliest mole yet:
So here’s how I’ve learned to capture these evil monsters over the last few years:

1. IF they’re not IN the lawn, you can put down traps every time you spot a mound of dirt ….IF you feel like it’s an active hole and not just a tunnel he cleared passing through to somewhere more appealing. SO in that case, you probably need to watch for 2-3 days, tamping down the hills and then watching to see where he shows up. IT STILL creates a muddy eyesore:moledamage

2. IF they’re in the LAWN, you can’t just start digging up your lawn and putting in 5 traps blindly! You’ll have a mess and a torn up lawn. SO. You once again, watch…open up a channel where he’s pushed up dirt using your friendly little metal probe to pinpoint the tunnel. Drop a sulfur gas bomb in that tunnel, and the mole will stay clear of that tunnel for 2-3 weeks. SO by doing this, you’ve narrowed his range, which usually runs about 20×20 or 30 feet in size. Once you’ve dropped 2-3 gassers over a period of 2-3 days, you hopefully have him at the edge of his tunnel range, and on the edge of the lawn where you can set a trap:moletrp
And voila! About midnight, he was finito!
Our Halloween Pumpkins have finally begun their second duty. Feeding Raccoons:

Mac lucked out again because we made Tomato Dog Treats, Thanks Purple Twinkie:
Mac Like:
I have Starbucks Coffee Grounds to spread. THIS time of year, not many people are collecting them. This was from ONE stop at ONE store this weekend:
But the BEST? After not having seen one for a while, I’d put out some seed about 11:00 pm thursday, and just in a little bit, Rocky the Flying Squirrel paid a visit….NO, not a NEW pic, but one of our own pics from last year (it was too damp to get a new one):

Back to work. I must NOW begin organizing the shipping schedule for cards and packages…….It’s that TIME of the season, isn’t it?

Merry Merry……….I know it wasn’t much of a holiday post, but we still alive, the dog’s happy, and we GOT a MOLE! I’m always thankful for small favors.

Oregon’s WINDSTORM 2007

Bloged in Oregon,Pacific Northwest by mark Tuesday December 4, 2007

Maybe I’ll write more later, but cleaning up branches, starting holiday cards, and about 200 tasks are waiting work. However………I wanted to show the Extent of the WIND DAMAGE that happened near the coast and inland through the forests of the coast range. OUR wind gusts HERE were almost half what they were on the COAST. At the bottom of the “ROAD REPORT” below, I’ve posted some commercial pics taken by photogs while out at the coast on Sat-Sunday…………

Sleep was difficult to find Saturday night as winds HOWLED across the hilltop where we lived. The power went off / on several times, lighting up some things when it came back on, so we weren’t rested Sunday morning.

EVERY highway to the coast was closed by Sunday afternoon as the storm continued. As of TODAY, TUESDAY, 10:00 this is the post on the ODOT (Or. Dept of Transp) site on road closures:

Slides, fallen trees and high water have closed or are partially blocking several highways in northwest Oregon. The length of closures and when the highways can be reopened are unknown at this time. Motorists should avoid closed highways! As of 10 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2007:

* Interstate 5 is closed in Washington State from mileposts 68 to 88 (the Chehalis and Centralia areas) due to floodwaters from the Chehalis River; WSDOT and ODOT advise that motorists will not be able to travel I-5 between Portland and Seattle for at least the next few days.
* U.S. 26 (Sunset Highway) is closed from Staley’s Junction (milepost 47, at the junction with Oregon 47) to Seaside (milepost 2) downed trees and a sunken grade that blocks the highway two miles west of the Dennis L. Edwards Tunnel (about milepost 39).
* U.S. 30 (Lower Columbia River Highway) has reopened, but expect delays.
* U.S. 101 (Oregon Coast Highway) is closed at milepost 64 (just north of Tillamook) due to downed power lines and high water between Latimer Road and Wilson River Loop; a detour has been established.
* Oregon 18 is closed in two locations:
o from mileposts 13 to 17 due to downed trees
o at milepost 23 due to high water
* Oregon 47 is closed in two locations:
o just south of U.S. 30, north of Vernonia, due to high water
o just north of Gaston, due to high water
* Oregon 53 is closed due to downed trees
* Oregon 99W is open, but expect delays at five locations:
o just south of Oregon 10 (milepost 3.2), where the rightmost southbound lane is closed due to a slide
o at 13th (milepost 4.5), where the rightmost northbound lane is closed due to pavement damage
o at Luckiamute Creek south of Monmouth (near Helmick State Park, about milepost 70) due to high water
o near Lewisburg (north of Corvallis, about milepost 77); a blocked culvert may cause flooding
o at North Ash Creek and Fir Creeks due to high water
* Oregon 126 expect delays at milepost 6 near Florence due to high water
* Oregon 131 is closed due to downed trees
* Oregon 153 is closed due to high water
* Oregon 180 is closed between Eddyville and Blodgett due to trees across power lines
* Oregon 217 has reopened near Allen Boulevard (milepost 2.5)
* Oregon 219 is closed at milepost 22, near Newberg, due to high water
* Oregon 223 is open but be aware of water over the roadway in several locations
* Oregon 229 only one lane is open, expect delays due to downed trees
* Oregon 240 is open, but expect delays from mileposts 1 to 8 due to high water
Just a few shots taken at the coast on Saturday-Sunday by misc photographers…………
THIS impressive shot taken at Oregon’s Sea Lion Caves near FLORENCE, OR:
Astounding! WHAT WAS that Sea Lion thinking while all that crashed around him?

Here, in Clatsop county headed out to Astoria:

Here, in DOWNTOWN Tillamook, OR, yes, probably not two miles from the famous Tillamook Cheese Factory:
Remember past posts about the beautiful Wilson River and Mac swimming………here’s a reminder:
Here’s that Wilson River as it came close to farmland and campgrounds near Tillamook:
= = = =
How ’bout that? More later. By the way………….if you read Rodger’s recount of the night, yes, it was completely different since he nearly cut his finger off. But I don’t think my snoring was the reason he wasn’t sleeping. HAH! And, for the record, HE DOES snore, and though I can’t prove it, I just “know” his is louder than mine, eh?


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