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January, 2008 | Scuff Productions

An Invitation to Dinner at Slim’s Blue Collar Dive Joint

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Thursday January 31, 2008

Let’s head out to Slims.

We HAVE been going occasionally on Friday nights, as “adoptees” of the St Johns Neighborhood Association Group (mostly made up of young couples now buying up what seems to be the last “affordable” housing in Portland), a very eclectic young diverse group of young people whom we’ve found fun, inclusive, and friendly. They’re from ALL over the country.

We’ve been joining this group on a few Friday nights at any one of the little St Johns dives just starting up. For example, One is a tiny one-room combo beer/wine & Gelato joint. That’s IT! That is ALL he sells, and, by the way, he’s a little stoned most hours he’s open — which are only at night. To use the bathroom at this little joint, the owner lifts his counter, you pass through his work space and the bathroom is right in the corner. These “Fantastic Friday” events began at Proper Eats, the little hippie vegan joint across from the fun St Johns one-owner theater. But since then, they’ve met at lots of “joints”…….. Slims, Portsmouth Brew Pub, The Gelato Joint, McMenamans, no, not Dad’s, etc.

But about Slims. VERY surprisingly, we found one intriguing foodie thing going on there and pursued that surprise.

SLIM’s Bar & Restaurant is a dark old joint right in the center-of-St Johns. It’s smoky. It does karaoke. It was sold about a year ago and surprises all around when the Identity of the new owner became known. Hamed, was born in Saudi Arabia, but educated here at Lewis & Clark. He met Michie there, a beautiful Japanese girl who also came to principally learn English. They have lived together since, and they have come to love Portland.

Hamed saw Slim’s (& St Johns for that matter) as a good business opportunity. He’s wanted to improve the joint to become part of the new “St Johns”. Wisely, I believe, he’s refused to drive out the old blue collar Karaoke crowd, so he goes slow with changes. Some don’t see these subtle changes coming.

The surprise we found here is that Michie, among other talents, is a GOURMET CHEF! !!!! She LOVES to cook. She came into Slims seeing greasy grade c- bar food being carried out of a tiny dank kitchen. She wanted to bring new imagination in here. Her first attempts were met with big objections by the old timers who’d been coming here for years….

Today, she still plans on eventually ridding her “menu” of that crappy bar food (you know, “Tots and Fries”, “Fried Cheese Sticks”, Freezer Hamburger Pattie between a bun with Velveeta Cheese for the bar hamburger, and on and on.
(She tells you herself, “Don’t order that….it’s just bad bar food!”. In the meantime, she has cleaned UP the kitchen, trained a couple of people to work with her and now offers specials plus these standards:

1. Edamame boiled and salted appetizer. Yum.
2. Mediterranean Plate – hummus, vegetables, and Pita Bread (Did Hamed inspire this?)
3. Braised Beef in Penne Pasta
4. V Pocket – a Falafel Sandwich w/maters, cukes, tahini, chips
5. Grilled Romain Salad – with shrimp
6. Bites – NY Steak bites w/teriyaki & rice
7. Fresh – Grilled Chicken and home made basil/parsley pesto w/penne pasta
8. Satay – Skewers of beef or chicken w/vegetables & rice
9. Lemongrass Coconut Curry
10. Mushroom quesadillas.

How about that? Some of those old timers are now coming there and being introduced to imaginative new things that this clientele hasn’t seen. It seems more and more are liking the new food, and newcomers are finding this place.

We fell in love with her complete personality and chef ambitions, and told her we WANT TO BRING our neighbors in to experience her cooking experience. She was thrilled someone would recognize her big efforts here. She gave us her cell phone number and said simply, “call me 24 hours ahead, let me know how many and what you’d like. I would LOVE to cook for you and your friends.”

So. We sent out the invite up here. Everyone in our little hamlet wants to go. So it’s set! ELEVEN of us are booked to arrive at blue-collar smoky dive SLIM’s next Tuesday evening, 1800 hours. Michie is now planning the family style menu she’ll be serving us. She’s going to call Sunday to let me know the menu and cost per person…………..I think THIS is truly going to be a unique silly adventure for us all………

I hope we take some pictures…………..for a few of my dear neighbors, this will probably their first time into a place like this for years. Ah. Big livin’ here in Portland, eh?


Bloged in food: recipes + dining out by mark Thursday January 31, 2008

**IF you only read this the 1st day it was posted, there’s been a correction in the recipe: 2 16 oz cans of stewed tomatoes, not 1……………(see below) / mark 0800 January 31, 2008

***This came from friend Krysta……’s a few ingredients yes, but it’s TOO easy. NO pre-cooking of anything……EVERYTHING gets mixed together right up front, in the oven, stir once an hour….and you have a delicious thick winter stew. NOTE: Cinnamon! Do NOT omit, this, it’s the key to a unique delicious flavor. And on the other hand, don’t overdose with it either……………

Oven Stew


2 lbs. stew meat
2 c. potatoes, chopped
2 c. carrots, chopped
4 Tbsp. tapioca
4 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
½ cups onion, chopped
1 slice bread, cubed
2 cups celery, chopped
2 16-oz. cans whole tomatoes (chopped)
1 Tbsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ginger

*heavy cream
*celery salt to taste


Mix all ingredients in a large Dutch oven/roasting pan. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 4 hours. Stir every hour. This recipe will make a large pot of stew. Before serving, put heavy cream in individual servings of stew, if desired. That way you can re-heat the leftovers without worrying about the cream not reheating right. Celery salt added to taste is also very good in this stew, although it is great with out either (celery salt or cream).

TIPS: When you FIRST mix this together prior to baking, it will look like it’s too dry and you’ll be tempted to add more liquid. No need to. As it cooks over 3 hours, all the water content comes out of the vegetables, meat, and blends into a rich sauce.

REAL Snow Arrives in Portland Hills!

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Thursday January 31, 2008

This La Nina Winter has been getting annoying. For almost 3 weeks now, OUR temperatures at 1100′ in this town have had us stuck late at night between 28-32 so moisture that’s fallen has been snow…that melts by mid-day. It’s annoyed rodger at drive-to-work time because roads have been slick early and just wet by noon. Some days ONLY in the area we live has this phenomenon happened. THIS week it got worse, and each morning just a tiny bit MORE snow was around.

Finally, last night, we finally got a lovely 5-6 inch snow drop of WET snow that sticks to everything. I feel lucky every time I see this little place in snow and remember why we bought it in November of 1995. In January of 1996, we had a foot of snow here for a week or two and fell in love with it.

So I walked down the driveway this morning to get the newspaper. I turn back and here’s how the driveway looked:
Another 20 feet up Skyline, give the house a different look:
Next I know Ihave to go brush off bird feeders…..a day like this is a day I give those faithful little brown winter birds a break. Gotta be tough if you’re a ground feeder bird when it snows. Now, the feeder is ready for them:
A few feet away, from the corner of the deck, sticky snow catches nice lines:
The Dog loves snow and gets distracted every 30 seconds:
adoginsnowYep, don’t all dogs will take off any unexpected millisecond for a big whirling run in snow?

In the back yard by the feeders, as you look off the slope, you see this wondrous forest dusted in white:

Or another back yard spot by a little feeder buried in snow, looking back through the swing:

I move around to the front yard for this view towards the apple trees:

Mac may enjoy the snow, but he is STILL looking at me all but begging to BACK to the river, the place HE knows joy. The BIGGER the stick, the more joy. Here he was last week, on a cold wet day. Even the fishermen were burning fires:
And yes, he LOVES the stick:

We LOVE snowy days here, and yes, anyone from Chicago would call us OUT for that because there it can be annoying. HERE we don’t get these days often, so we relish every moment the ground is white.

Okay. I can go eat some lovely Oven Stew that Krysta showed me how to make. I believe I’ll prepare the recipe for posting… is delicious on a cold day……with a slice of my home-made NEW WARM loaf of Sourdough bread that will be out of the oven in about 10 minutes.

Mark’s Mormon Past gives a call.

Bloged in Gay,General Home Life,Mormons,Religion by mark Thursday January 24, 2008

Memories come calling…..and they revive some struggles for self as a youth…………….is it the battle of good and evil again?

Our phone number has been unlisted for 20 years. It was unlisted before I met Rodger for years. NOT because I was avoiding a “past”, hah, but just some relief from telemarketing vultures. We’re on do-not-call lists. We DO not answer mailed marketing scams. We have caller I.D. that shows up on the TV screen. As a result, we get little junk mail, and really don’t get calls from strangers.

So it was a real big surprise (I didn’t pick up the phone) when the phone began ringing last week showing a “Doug Smith” calling from an Idaho area code. I thought it had to be a marketing call? The only “Doug Smith” I ever knew was ONE missionary companion I’d had as a young Mormon serving my time in Ashland, Kentucky and later working with him in Parkersburg, WV, and here we were at 19-20 years old, Me the “Senior” Companion:
I couldn’t get it in my head THIS shy farm kid would get the phone number let alone WHY he would be calling me some 40 years later. When I met him then, he’d just arrived from the Salt Lake City Missionary Training Center, and before that was fresh off the farm in Shelley, Idaho.

A couple of hours went by as the my mind churned out the big question and finally I couldn’t resist. As I dialed, I knew I had nothing to lose, hey, I just say, “NO longer in the Church, don’t believe it, thanks for calling.”

As soon as he answered I asked how he got the number and the mystery deepened. He reminded me of our meeting the “Sears” family, teaching them the church lessons, and baptizing them into the Church back there in 1967……one daughter of that family had paid the $19.95 internet white pages fee to get public records of several of her friends she’d lost touch with. My number was one exposed. I was a little surprised…..but shouldn’t have been since no American’s life is private any more.

A LONG phone conversation began and I found the father had left the marriage via a young new bride, the Mother has just died of cancer, the son (that kid was about 7 when I was there), get this, died of AIDS a while back in San Francisco where he worked as a makeup artist. Until his death, HE remained a Mormon believer. The two daughters were faithfully still in the Church. One lived near Glacier Park in Montana, and the other in Nashville, TN. The Montana girl has children and grandchildren. The Tennesse girl is a Lesbian who just barely lost her 20 year partner to lung cancer.

Wait, I say, HOW is she a partnered lesbian and active in the Mormon Church? “She’s not OUT in the Church even though she weekly teaches an Adult Gospel Doctrine Class.” I couldn’t imagine living a lie like that.

I was asked to call them and I did………….The total time spent on the phone that day about 5 hours. And I DO think some comfort was given to a closeted lesbian unable to reconcile herself with her Church….Hm. Isn’t that a common story? She’d never heard of “Affirmation” a perfect organization for gay Mormons who still believe in the Church so of course I asked her to contact them. She cried quite a bit on the phone as I talked of what it must be for her to lose her spouse of 20 years…. She said she was crying because NO one in the last four months has even given her partner that recognition (ah, the pain of the closet), that all her friends had said was an occasional, “How nice of you to take care of that friend of yours in her illness.”. GEEZ!

Well, what can you expect them to understand? You have lied about who she is, who YOU are, and really can’t ask for more. They all know I do not believe in the Church, in its claim to divine Godhood, etc…..we will see if I hear from them again.

Oh sometime, I should write my whole story about this mission…..………….about growing up in a tiny cowtown where a life was lived in yes-no, black/white clarity, and the struggles to “BELIEVE” in Mormonism… while the shadows of a gay future were trying to grow inside of me… I went on a MISSION thinking THAT would cure me AND I’d end up “truly” converted to Mormonism. How I knew NOTHING of the real existence of Gay People.
**There I and my brothers stand at my sister’s funeral 40 years ago. I don’t know I’m gay?

I learned it existed in SOME layer of reality when Mormon Leaders interviewing me for moral worthiness to even GO on a mission, asked pointed sex questions: “Have you ever had sex with a woman?” (No.) “Have you ever had sex with a man?” (A big wondrous and frightened “NO.”….and boy was my mind wandering right there…MEN can do it?) **The REST of that moral interview is worthy of a post, and I SHOULD log it. It’s a great story.

There were attempts to seduce me on my mission, and though I didn’t understand it then, DID sense it was important but not something I could have done then. How the prayers, the baptisms, the working in the mission home, the friendships with other missionaries, NONE of that brought a “cure” to these feelings and NONE of it brought a “testimony” that Mormonism was really true…it was obvious, I didn’t fit in in several ways and I wasn’t growing out of the confusing feelings deep in my soul. How I felt unworthy compared to those athletic Zone Leader Missionaries, the real “straight” ones, because I couldn’t DO or feel what they felt….I KNEW I was an outsider and not just because I was playing music for services…..and it’s not that they didn’t like me. Here I am in the center of a picture with the Mission Leaders at the Louisville, KY mission home posing on a “diversion” day….I was called “Huffy” then:
Finally, a year later, my time to come back home to Oregon was close, and BAM, car accident, and I’m in traction for six months….in a private room in a hospital 2000 miles from home so I have time to think, but NO one to ask questions to. My resolve grew to get back home, get back into BYU, renew my struggle to become “more pure”, and find a doctor who could “cure” me of the feelings that made me less than worthy (Geez, worthy of what, eh?).

So a year and a half later, after months of learning to walk again:
**How do you like my pose in my “Mormon Temple Underwear, Mormon Magic Underpants, Temple Garments, i.e., “blessed underwear”…you might have heard mentioned by now in the media pointing at Romney).

Trying praying, being in my parents house, of again, a seduction being attempted right there in Vale, OR by a man who is STILL in the closet 40 years later, I arrive at BYU, for two things: 1) to live with the best guys I’d ever met, some of my mission compadres, AND, to do some research on these attractions to my own sex, and voila! Within 3 weeks, I’m seeing Psychiatrist, one of the premiere Psychology professors on campus! Over the next few months…………..this guy really DOES respect and like me. He opens up to me. He and his lover have lived there in that self-righteous Mormon bastion Provo, UT for years. I find out what life is, that GAY is okay, I leave the Church with new understanding why perhaps it didn’t convert me. I moved with my newly found partner, another returned missionary:
**Elder Jonathan Newell Butler
We move, of course, to Salt Lake City, UT to begin what I thought would be our fabulous life together. Well, okay, that didn’t work out, but that’s another story, another chapter I should write down.

SO, dear diary, THAT was one tiny chapter of youthful memories that PHONE CALL meant to me last week.
Until I hauled out my little Mission Journal, I’d completely forgotten just WHO I was at that time, how lost I was, and how brainwashed I was. . . . .and THAT’s another story. I wish I was a better writer so I could convey the struggle of spirit I went through in those years.

Other chapters of those times? The George & Dottie Bear family that joined the Church and then converted LOTS of other family members! Fabulous people. **I feel SO conflicted now converting them into a religion I don’t believe is true, but on the other hand, it seems their lives were changed for the better. There was the missionary down in Hazard County, one I was District leader to….He got into trouble with a girl, big time. Ma Williams and her friendship (and the fried chicken), and MANY other fabulous parts of a youth that for me, was often shadowed in a grey fog I didn’t comprehend. So much for being naive.


Canada Puts U.S. on Torture Watch List

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Tuesday January 22, 2008

From friday’s Democracy Now Program, the fabulous Canada once again calls out for TRUTH:

The Canadian government has put the United States on a watch list of countries that could practice torture. The mention is made on a secret Canadian government document not intended for public release. The document cites the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay and lists U.S. interrogation techniques including “forced nudity, isolation, and sleep deprivation.” Other countries on the list include Israel, Syria, China, Iran and Afghanistan.
= = = = =

In another item, remember old man Rumsfeld who “retired” from running the catastrophic Iraq War to be a “consultant”?? And then no one would pay him the fees he demanded to come speak? He’s just been rewarded for the criminal he is by the Pentagon, and THIS story had NO humor:
= = = = =
The Pentagon has awarded a multi-million dollar contract to the intelligence firm Missions Solutions Group just two months after the company hired a former aide to ex-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The aide, Stephen Cambone, is a former undersecretary of defense for intelligence. Cambone established the Pentagon’s Counter-Intelligence Field Activity office—CIFA—the very same office that awarded his firm the contract. CIFA was previously involved in a Pentagon spy program that monitored the activities of peace activists.
= = = =
I just didn’t want anyone to miss these two significant, in my mind, news blurbs hidden or missing from the back pages…….of the Corporate Media that deliver you the Propaganda that THEY decide you should hear.

Of course it’s not always the media, might be the rich corporate guys themselves. A GREAT example of that? Some years ago, the OREGON Legislature approved $250,000 to create some Oregon Hazard Maps. These new MAPS clearly highlighted what areas here were in danger of landslides or collapse in wet weather. That lasted about 6 months before rich developers whined that this would hurt their development, drive down property values, slow sales. The maps were quietly hidden away and the public forgot. Just LAST month in the heavy rains, you may remember the MASSIVE landslide that closed portion of U.S. 30 between Portland and Astoria (See The Oregonian Article). Turns out it was because of clear-cutting timber on the mountains above this area years ago and………sadly enough, was very CLEARLY marked as DO NOT BUILD HAZARD AREA on the maps hidden away………slidecleanup

Snow is for Dogs

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Friday January 18, 2008

Our dog Mac, the water dog prays he will live to enjoy a day like this:

The Eagle visits Mark in the Tree

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Thursday January 17, 2008

Portland began a week of cold clear sunny weather this week. Up here it hasn’t gotten over 30 during the day, and for here, that’s cold. We still have bits of snow on the ground. BUT. It’s dry. It’s January. It’s time to begin the week of pruning first the fruit trees, then whatever other else my eye catches. Poor plants! If only they could escape, eh? BUT. Our apple production today compared to 10 years ago has multiplied with this regimen of pruning and dormant spraying to control scab, etc.


Yesterday my little self all cloaked in sweatshirts, coats, gloves and warm hat on, was high on the ladder, twisted around reaching for those vertical branch runners that try to escape our evil lopper’s execution. Mac sometimes awaits below, or quite naturally, distracted by a fermenting aroma, wanders around for the source……any morsel that can be salvaged. It’s a quiet 1300 hours, no breeze. I’m JUST reaching out to rein in that worst inch wide highest escaping branch when out of the corner of my eye not 20 feet higher than I am, and about 30 feet out, a massive winged bird appeared, right here, in the most OPEN part of the yard. I gasped and wished this was taken with my own camera, but this IS pretty much how it looked in my eyesight:

I hope you can feel that gasp of air I took in very deliberately silently, and why I froze in place. THAT is the most awesome nature view I have ever enjoyed. That bird’s head cocked a bit eyeing me for just a second, and went back to soaring smoothly, so silently just barely over the treetops headed directly for Sauvie Island where it will probably be cruising for an evening meal of lame duck….(hm……..).

Now get off your bottom, Mark, and get out there and give the birds some warm water in place of the solid ice…..and get some suet out there for those cold little guys.

Yesterday goes into my memory bank forever. And now for something completely different, but still about birds:

Kinky is using a feather. Perverted is using the whole chicken. ~Author Unknown


Bloged in General Home Life by mark Thursday January 17, 2008

Remember the Romney who finally made a speech “about” his religion to lay aside any question whether he’d be more loyal to his Mormon Prophet than the Constitution?

During Mitt Romney’s recent speech he stated, “Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions.”

Nice rhetoric but the reality, after living under the Utah Mormon theocracy most of my adult life, is that most Mormons do look to the Mormon leadership for direction. I am serious. Temple-going Mormons, as a stereotype that’s not far off the mark, are sheep. To question patriarchal authority divined from God-Led “prophets” and “apostles” can be heresy with penalties of excommunication and being ostracized from family.

In Utah the Mormon theocracy is one whose Mormon legislators usually, and I’m NOT kidding, submit legislative ideas/bills to the LDS First Presidency before enactment, for their review and approval; a Mormon theocracy that was sold a portion of Salt Lake property bordering Temple Square, under the guise that it would become “a bit of Paris,” then after the purchase is made becomes a Mormon controlled area complete with guards, to ensure nothing with any ideas different than Stark Mormonism are possibly even “seen” by visitors. It is a Mormon theocracy that cancels civic functions on Mondays in MANY Utah towns to facilitate church-ordered Family Home Evenings; a Mormon theocracy that proposes a shield to hide all liquor in restaurants so as not to offend Mormons – and on and on and on and on and seriously it goes on.

Now rich by inheritance Mitt Romney “may” have a lot of capitalist ideas at work in his head (if it suits the corporate interests he espouses) but unlike Mitt Version 1.0 in liberal Massachusetts where he loved Gay people, abortion and other social issues, the new Mitt Version 2.1 is beholden to Fundamentalist Evangicals as well as his own Utah Theocracy, make no mistake about it. Version 2.1 dislikes Gays, is now a pro-lifer, etc etc. So what you see today will be more of what he would do in Washington.

AND THIS WEEK………….It’s been “revealed” in public Utah documents, that former Utah Gov Mike Leavitt, now Bush’s head of the EPA, throughout his governorship, was holding early morning meetings in the Utah Governor’s mansion with Mormon staffers wherein: Prayers were said, and they spent their time reading from the Book of Mormon and figuring out HOW to apply MORMON doctrine to running the State of Utah. Oh yes, all in the spirit of making Utah a better state, right? Hmmmmmmmmmmmm……….. I can see it now in the White House. Romney and Mormon crew with righteous Priesthood Holders praying to the spirit of Brigham Young on just HOW to whip us all into righteous armies walking in lock step!

That being said, Mitt Romney is NOTHING compared to the nearly Satanic Mike Huckabee Version 8.9 ! I DO hope the “thinking” electorate reads his Baptist tainted philosophies dating 20 years ago….THIS man has NOT changed. As with all Fundamentalists, ALL America’s current problems are NOT from Corporate Greed and Corruption (i.e., they control Washington), but in HIS mind, our problems are a direct result of: Feminists, Abortions, Homasexxuauls, Gambling, SEX of any kind, any real science, and ANYONE who thinks differently than the Southern Baptist By-Laws. It wouldn’t surprise me that within a couple of years, he’d be trying to ban dancing nationwide in a sincere belief that it’s the cause of teenage masturbation. He doesn’t believe in evolution! So he’d take our current Bush version 2.0 and reverse G.W.’s born again craziness to something even MORE frightening: Eternal Fires of Damnation to secular America! If you don’t know that yet, you’re NOT listening to an open source news media.

Inflation: Worst in 17 years. Just sayin…………

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Wednesday January 16, 2008

Even the Wall Street Journal, conservative bastion that it is admits today Inflation is rising faster than it has in 17 years. I realize only a measly 300+ news articles are pointing at this tiny factoid……….

But it struck me, ignoring the 3000 possible causes of HIGH inflation rates, and some of the obvious……………

That means, 17 years ago, 1991, just WHO was President? Another ultra-wealthy Republican, names what? DADDY Bush, W’s father, (yikes!) who followed those 8 years of Ronald Reagan, the man Republicans like to deify, but who simply on popularity drove our national debt beyond all known records, something it seems the wealthy capitalists like to do.

WHO suffers because of that? NOT they, the wealthy. YOU the poor AND the middle class. Hmmmm. Now just HOW is it that many POOR in this country, perhaps the farmer, the religious fundamentalist, whatever….just HOW is it the segment of the population who will suffer the most by voting Republican, continues to do it.
I’m just sayin………………………………..

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