HAPPY New Obama Year!

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Wednesday December 31, 2008

Rodger and I feel quite blessed to have a family and some truly wonderful friends.

TO ALL OF YOU, we HOPE we all share a fabulous beginning in 2009 as this country makes a turn in the right direction, hopefully restoring a representative democracy!

I want to feel the pure in-the-moment wonder and joy that kid’s feel……. Well, maybe I’ll have to have a shot of Melanie’s home-made Egg nog tonight!

Christmas 2008? Frozen Tundra. A good thing

Bloged in Family,General Home Life,Pacific Northwest,Portland,Scuff Boys by mark Monday December 29, 2008

dsecsnow2008
THAT is how Christmas week began here. 2 feet of snow on the level ground and a few drifts at 3 feet deep. The high temperatures for the day stayed about 20 degrees and if the gorge breezes came up that hill, it felt like 0. As THIS city truly came to a silent halt…………… we kept busy getting ready for the Christmas Eve gathering here. Portland cannot handle snow downtown that sticks around. Shopping almost stopped, only workers that could get there by mass transit showed up, otherwise stores stayed closed.

Cousins Nancy & Bruce left Seattle Tuesday instead of Wednesday since MORE snow was in the forecast and NO trains were running between there and here, while I-5 was BARELY open. They arrived Tuesday afternoon, and the four of us had a truly wonderful hermit good time all working together for the party.

MAC was in the kitchen with a smile waiting for a crumb to drop:
camcute08

I didn’t know if he was cuter here in the kitchen now, or back in the fall where the landscape matches his coat:
macfall08

OR, maybe in the new snow, trying to figure out the molecular composition of that crazy white stuff:
dogplay

I should give him a chance to show off his snowball prowess:
maccatchsnow

He CAN be deceivingly “cute”……..and with frozen ground, even cuter since not a scant molecule of mud followed him back into the house after a snow romp.

Well, anyway, by mid-afternoon Christmas Eve! Somehow things were coming together, after all, ONLY folks who could “walk” to this house would be coming…………….

Here’s how things looked for friends walking over for a snack, a drink, and a song………..could it BE any more inviting at Christmas?
dnowydriveway2008

I’m not sure a little party could go any more wonderfully than this (except we missed Nancy G, cousin Nancy M and family a LOT) They were frozen in at Lake Oswego………they fared worse than the entire area: 1/2 of rain frozen into ice on the snow. Trees were damaged and down, power out, etc…….

Well, our brave friends ate LOTS of good food, sandwiches, dips, cookies galore (many of those came from Seattle….home-made), drinks, enjoyed a warm fire, sang ’round the Christmas tree…………………and the LAST guests left at 2:00 in the morning. Yes, we were up a bit late on Christmas Day………….. Nancy and Bruce stayed with us until Friday morning when we all enjoyed one more feast: Rodger’s Yeast Pancakes for breakfast with neighbor Dave. We sadly said goodbye to my cousins……hoping they make this a tradition………Christmas with us.

What a Christmas to remember. The weather began to warm Dec 26, and by Saturday we were free to join Baird, Karen, Peter, Jeannie, Joy at the Artist Rep Performance of “Holidazed” written by local author Marc Acito……… Peter & Jeannie surprised us by getting Marc to sign his book “How I Got Into College” for us…………. that was a fun night. Marc and long-time partner Floyd live in Portland.

As I look out today: it’s 45, weather’s back to normal, two towels are back in the garage to capture MUD from Mac’s feet, and the snow is gone except where the drifts were. Sad it is, but the city at least is alive once again. NOW we await NEW YEAR’S EVE with a NEW President soon to be sworn in. Hope is alive here.

ALL I didn’t get to do was………something I’d hoped to do for little Rosie & Taron, the kids who were here…. BUILD my traditional holiday “Marble Tower” from the little wooden bricks I acquired as a little kid with some of the paper route money…………..it’s a hollow little thing and marbles are put into the tower from the top……..they roll down sloped walls………. Maybe I can get it done for New year’s Eve?
markbricks

Oh WHAT a great thing to NOT have to grow up completely.

Portland 2008 Snow for Christmas

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Tuesday December 23, 2008

snowdrift
Whew! Last time I wrote I ended up saying “we’ll HOPE things look like this………..” with a pic of 2004 snow in front of the house at night. Well, we got that. . . . (yes, as did Boston and Chicago—who even had colder temps)…….. but it’s so rare here, THIS storm that’s well over a foot now of crusted icy snow is the worst storm here in 40 years. Winds accompanied the powder arrival, and caused many drifts, a few had to be dug out to make paths, but sure started out beautifully:
ducthole
**IF YOU NOTICE the “PROBLEM” in the above picture…….THAT crawl space VENT is pouring out HOT furnace air …….yes, from the crawl space. This snowbank made us aware a Furnace Duct under the house has come loose……….hm. a repair in January. That explains the high heat bill last month.

At night………….this looks much like the 2004 storm, just deeper:
drift02

Daylight looks like a buried yard:
deepsnow
The water dog, MAC LOVES the snow, and truly wants you to “play” with him:
dogplay

BUT, the reality is, it’s Dec 22, cousins arrive today, we’re 80% ready, the Candied Pecans are stored:
candypecans
The Bourbon Balls are “curing”……….(my first attempt, and they seem a little dry………any recommendations? Cousin Nancy is bringing her OWN version………there will BE a taste test)…. SO.
bourbonballs
I MUST GO…………we have ONE store trip required this morning (on ice/snow roads) then must settle in for a few days of company, visits, singing, playing, drinking a toast, and enjoying ALL that Christmas means. Friends and Family will be here with us! Can you ask for more than that?
dogdrift

The Truth About Adam and Eve

Bloged in Gay,humor,Religion by mark Saturday December 20, 2008

Hm. Is this the Adam and Eve YOU imagined when “they” taught you about that Magical Garden and how you came to be?

Portland comes to a halt

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Wednesday December 17, 2008

Portland, Oregon sits in a fascinating beautiful spot.
2portland
It’s at the end of a spectacular volcanic age gorge lined with hypnotic beautiful waterfalls
2multnofalls

All of those drain from the lower ranges of an old gorgeous volcano, lovely Mt. Hood….. which is invisible from the steep walls that mark the last descent from that mountain ending at the Columbia River’s edge.
2gorgeabd

Beyond this gorge lies all kinds of places: high desert, dry forest ranges, mammoth agriculture.
3gorge234

ALL of that Oregon interior lands can get cold in the winter when frozen arctic air chooses to flow south. When that happens in the winter that high pressure arctic mass is sometimes drawn down through that gorge when conflicting air fronts meet. The same falls in January looks a bit different:
2frozen gorge

Those winds have a name: the GORGE WINDS and they can blast into little meek mild damp Portland stiffly….especially since the Hills that sit on the West side of Portland take a little northward turn close to the center of town.

With that being said about things EAST of Portland, consider things toward the west side. Portland, is only 70 miles from the temperate Pacific Ocean. It enjoys its mild climate mostly to that feature. Since average winter temps seldom drop below freezing, this city does not budget for a huge fleet of snow and ice removing equipment.

These freezing events happen so rarely that schools and government simply close up for that day………or REAL rarely, that week. Poor people working in private enterprise, retail, and the restaurant business must suffer through getting to work in sometimes VERY dangerous road conditions. This is one of those weeks.

IF we lived in Boston, Minneapolis, Denver, Salt Lake City, (and I did live in Salt Lake City…I did learn to drive on snow and ice), the hum of city life would continue at a normal pace other than a few curmudgeons grumbling about having to chain up. HERE in Portland, people are NEVER ready for these events……TODAY for example, if I called Schwab Tire Company to try to get studded tires put on, I’d be told to come in Thursday……..they’re swamped.

So. That’s the scenario. The City’s Transportation Dept has issued a request that no one leave home with a “plan” on how you’ll get back in case your road has become impassable as our new snow event today is growing larger as the hours pass. The few trucks available for plowing or graveling can’t keep up with what’s covering the roads. I’m lucky I have no where I have to be.

Rodger, on the other hand, is working under some crucial deadlines and is AT work. Will he make it home tonight? I don’t know………… He has hills to climb to leave work…… It’s 24 outside and our double windows are still letting in a bit of a draft. I’d best quit blabbering, go swap out a icing hummingbird feeder, and toss out some sunflower seeds for the little Nuthatches, Chickadees, Thrushes, Juncos, Siskins, Towhees and woodpeckers…..they’re all having a tough time finding seed under the snow. I think I’ll have a bit more of Melanie’s wonderful warm tomato soup.

The Arctic Freeze is moving in

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Friday December 12, 2008

Portland awaits the forecast arrival of an arctic freeze by Sunday night. This forecast will bring temps to the lowest in 20 years. Homes here are not built to welcome 15 degrees.

We’ve wrapped the outside pipes, closed off outside faucets, capped them, moved some plants indoors, mulched others, moved wood into the garage, stored a bit of food (well that’s simply normal behavior for an Ex-Mormon), stored an extra bottle of wine……………ALL in case power goes out for an extended period.

Between now and Sunday, there is the “possibility” of measurable snow.

After about the 3rd day of one of these events here, it is HARD to get the house to feel warm beyond 30 feet of the wood stove. IF the power goes out though, THAT stove is a fabulous little tool.

So we’re ready, and what BETTER event to come and nudge us on about Christmas than a deep freeze!

The “possibility” of snow could be 3-6 inches of snow at our elevation. THAT would be frosting on the cake.

That’s always a fantasy to me near Christmas. Snowed in. Maybe we’ll be singing around the piano tomorrow night……………..Care to join us around the wood-stove fire, singing Christmas carols, noshing on whatever we all decide we want?

WE WISH YOU WOULD……………………………………………………….

MORE news on the “snow” later…..but wouldn’t it be better hovering around the stove if outside looked like this?
snow2003

Christmas Preps can Begin!

Bloged in General Home Life,Scuff Boys by mark Wednesday December 10, 2008

I STILL can’t say ENOUGH about Robin Williams unleashed on an excited liberal Portland crowd! He was wild, non-stop, fabulous……see the earlier post. But if I see someone live and 4 days later I’m still laughing about it, that’s a good thing.
= = = = = =

WE stayed up late Friday and Saturday nights to get the tree done. From the bottom………
tree200801
And, of course, Mr. Ken remains our treetop inspiration:
tree2008b
I don’t know why I store the bears away all year, but love them out at Christmas:
bearcollection
These guys are stored too, but can SING …..and we like singing during this season:
singduck
This guy does “Let it Snow”:
singsnowman
***note: that may not be so CUTE in Chicago right now, eh Doug? 16 degrees cold and 8″ of snow! Whew! WE have a snow forecast for next weekend……excitement will grow all week if that stays true.

BAIRD claims the fallen leaves were bigger than ever this year what with our extended dry fall:
bairdsbigleaf
And remember those Fatali Habaneros drying for 6 days? The two whole trays were reduced to this, and will be enough to last at least two seasons of cooking some warm food:
driedfatalis

NOW. The REAL preparations begin: preparing a jar of jam for the mailing, Christmas Cards, cooking FOOD, seeing friends, waiting for a visitor arriving via/Chimney in JUST a bit over 2 weeks……………….

**I JUST saw two different Anna’s feeding as I wrote this. I’m STILL astounded we have them staying up here in December. Our little flying squirrels have been out two nights in a row……….warms your heart doesn’t it?

I HOPE all our friends and family have Christmas excitement wending its way to you……………..

Tiny step forward for Gay Marriage

Bloged in Gay,General Home Life,Political,Religion by mark Tuesday December 9, 2008

Thanks to cousin Elissa…………. I saw this video and immediately had to post it. A REPUBLICAN Mayor, Jerry Sanders, of San Diego had a change of heart. He hosted a news conference and here’s the emotional text. GREAT courage on his part:

Does THAT give you hope?

The Season has begun. . . . .

Bloged in Fall,General Home Life,Scuff Boys by mark Saturday December 6, 2008

WITHOUT the foggy nights, and just a bit of breeze to clear out the moisture, we get some haunting sunsets in December:
dedsunset2
Problem is, these are being taken at 4:15 PM:
decsunset1
Yep, from now until last of February, we have some long nights. That being said, it’s time to get busy.

I took down the 2 plants of Habanero Fatali Peppers that had dried enough to finish off in the oven:
fatalidrying
After 6 hours, they’re showing some change:
fatali1
They dry about 6 hours a day, warm oven, then just sit….

Okay, with the sun gone, and the peppers drying time it’s time to warm up the house……… This old old stove puts a wonderful toasty feel in the house in the evenings. Even Mac cozies up to it:
wrmstove

Rodger is the lights guy……..because he’s a perfectionist. While he placed strings & strings of lights on one tree, I unpacked a lot of boxes and just laid things around. So now there’s “stuff” everywhere. There will be lots of “fixing” and “placement” to get done:
xmasdecos08

Oh well…………….xmasdecos04

And by 10:00 pm, the lights are placed, although this is a lousy picture of it…….it looks quite elegant with lights deep and all around:
xmasdecos02
SO.
Tonight we’re off to see Robin Williams, and on Saturday noon, we are to be at Proper Eats to introduce our favorite farmer Michael Stucki to Mr. Thomas Ebert where Michael will hopefully have some great tips on helping setting up our neighborhoods Farmer Market this spring in St Johns.

Other than, looks like a few nights will be spent placing, hanging, and looking at old past ornaments, EACH OF WHICH, will probably mean something special to Rodger and I, this being our 19th Christmas Tree decorated together.

Oh. I forgot, I haven’t got the slightest start on the rest of Christmas: Presents, Cards, letters, stamps, cleaning house, a Christmas Eve neighborhood gathering at our house with my cousins here?

I think it’s going to be a fabulous Christmas! In fact, I think I’ll go eat a cookie or two.

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