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October, 2009 | Scuff Productions

Fall Nature changes

Bloged in birding,Fall,Nature,Oregon,Pacific Northwest by mark Thursday October 29, 2009

Just yesterday, MID-DAY, I was out getting ready to run the mower with the leaf bagger attached……yep, it’s THAT time, and it WAS a dry afternoon. (I was able to completely finish covering the veggie garden under 6-8 inches of mulched dead leaves:

But other things have been seen this week… FALL season really takes hold.

1) The BARRED OWL who took up residence here last year was calling loudly and regularly yesterday…..followed by some doggie barks. It went on and on for at least 10-15 minutes. I could look at the direction it all came from, but it was hidden in the forest/mist. The call of this bird, is pretty fun, and the bird is gorgeous. Here’s a little u-tube video from Canada …… It is much like the bird we watched last fall from our deck:

**all those other callers are here always: jays, crows, etc. It was a nice nature day, yesterday.

2) For the first time in 13 years, I watched a Momma Eastern Fox Squirrel………

…….take a much smaller juvenile around the yard teaching him what to eat. They would stop, she’d fuss over a cone, drop it, and look at him. He was SO VERY cute…half the body size she was, with a tail as big as an adult. He kept throwing it up over his body, and it would cover him. It was SO cool to watch.

3) I began a dog walk a couple days ago, and right along Skyline where the vista was sky-wide, a gathering of at least several hundred geese were flying in one ragged formation….. by the time they had all flown by, they had nearly covered the part of the sky visible to me. As I gloated about how fabulous it was to live in a place so close to a bird refuge that you could SEE things like this, the thunderous sound of shotguns rang out from 4-8 miles away down on the island. DAMN! I had forgotten the bird hunting begins Oct thru April….JUST when the migrations happen. I wasn’t so happy after that.

4) the Home-made suet post is back, and is an immediate success. The beautiful Northern Flickers……………..
……………that we put that post up for, seem to have been waiting for it all summer. There were TWO out there fighting for position just today. Within this one week, all favorites have returned to feeding there: First, America’s smallest woodpecker the so little Downy Woodpecker:
…..the Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, and surprise: The Ruby Crowned Kinglet showed up yesterday:
**Actually not the one above, this pic is a male….poor females can’t show off that much color when trying to nest….we had a female visitor yesterday.

I DO wonder if all these fun birds show up and love the suet because of our secret ingredient they never find in nature: some peanut butter!

note: NO, the bird pictures were web borrowed ….. I have none that show the detail these would show……… How can you NOT love getting to know the Avian Animals that live near you?

Mark’s own Birthday Cake 2009

Bloged in food: recipes + dining out by mark Tuesday October 27, 2009


My birthday was last Saturday. I called the New Seasons in Orenco, for my favorite pastry chef Rebbeca, hoping she would make her fantastic fabulous Carrot Cake, in a way that ONLY she, as far as “I” know, can make. It is the finest carrot cake I’ve had in my life. WHAT? She was on vacation! Wouldn’t be back for a week! Dang. What was I gonna do?

I have NEVER been good at making cakes, hadn’t even tried since early 20’s when I made a few dried up crackers that were thrown as frisbees. THIS year, I knew I’d been baking bread for a while, and finally getting good at some sourdough, so said, what the heck! I scoured for a DARK Chocolate Recipe. I found one that stood out because it had vinegar and coffee in it……….Again, Well! What the heck, let’s give it a go.

This cake turned out mighty moist, dark, and irresistible. I changed one thing in the recipe….adding a bit of extra-virgin Coconut Oil. I don’t know if THAT made it stand out, or if that cold coffee did it, or if that big-o-vinegar did it. I just know I HAD to make this cake because of those 3 unusual items.

DO I GET to call it MARK’s RECIPE since it wasn’t original until I threw in that coconut oil?

INGREDIENTS . . . . . .

* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 cups white sugar
* 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 eggs
* 1 cup cold brewed coffee
* 1 cup milk or 1/2 and 1/2
* 2 teaspoons vinegar
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil…..minus one big tablespoon, then add:
*** 1 big tablespoon coconut oil, melted.


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×13 inch pan, or 2 9 inch circular pans.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the eggs, coffee, milk, oil and vinegar. Mix until smooth, batter will be thin. Pour into prepared pan.
3. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.

FROSTING? Of COURSE! For me, on a chocolate cake, it MUST be cream cheese frosting, so that’s what it was with a big Tablespoon of cocoa powder stirred in. Oh yes, throw on some coconut on the top of the frosting! Yum.

Happy Birthday, Mark! I’ve only gained 3 pounds this week eating it.

Warmer shower time

Bloged in Fall,General Home Life,Scuff Boys by mark Friday October 23, 2009

How is it………. About May, one tends to cool off your shower water, and take brisk, shorter showers, but by mid-October, now, I’m wanting to heat that water up, and stay under that warm water for longer and longer.

I still like seeing those hydrangea blossoms set here for the winter now:

The granny smith apples are almost ripe…
***what should it be, the delicious Rodger pie, or a crisp maybe.
Fall makes you a little fickle, eh?

I always loved coming up Burnside from NW Portland just because of the tunnel close to the top……
**that lighting on a gray day is nice.

It’s another very WET day here……….I think I’m going to do the therapy exercises, read, and make a birthday cake for someone going to turn older by tomorrow night. Carrot cake with lots of pecans, frosting, coconut, or dark chocolate with cream cheese frosting, and of course, coconut, and maybe some walnuts. Hm…..oh yes, that whole wild fresh caught Coho Salmon is ready for attention…..

You can see, languid fall days slow me down……… but heck, look at what one sees on the trail………. fall means serious changes, and life going into hibernation..

………….. perfectly natural to get out the recipes, and begin cooking something that will make that kitchen smell like comfort food’s on the way.

Oh well……………. Tonight: celebrate a coupla birthdays tonight at Anna Banana’s with Sarah and friends……………. Tomorrow: The matinee performance of the broadway touring cast doing August Osage County. Dinner after…………. Sunday? Baseball, football, maybe go see “A Serious Man” the new Cohen brothers spoof of taking life too seriously. My kind of film.

Bridal Shower

Bloged in humor by mark Wednesday October 21, 2009

Perhaps, in a distant café,
four or five people are talking
with the four or five people
who are chatting on their cell phones this morning
in my favorite café.

And perhaps someone there,
someone like me, is watching them as they frown,
or smile, or shrug
at their invisible friends or lovers,
jabbing the air for emphasis.

And, like me, he misses the old days,
when talking to yourself
meant you were crazy,
back when being crazy was a big deal,
not just an acronym
or something you could take a pill for.

I liked it
when people who were talking to themselves
might actually have been talking to God
or an angel.
You respected people like that.

You didn’t want to kill them,
as I want to kill the woman at the next table
with the little blue light on her ear
who has been telling the emptiness in front of her
about her daughter’s bridal shower
in astonishing detail
for the past thirty minutes.

O person like me,
phoneless in your distant café,
I wish we could meet to discuss this,
and perhaps you would help me
murder this woman on her cell phone,

after which we could have a cup of coffee,
maybe a bagel, and talk to each other,
face to face.

George Bilgere

My favorite Fall Soup

Bloged in Fall,food: recipes + dining out,General Home Life by mark Monday October 19, 2009

As things are cooling down outside, rain approaching, we wake up to cool misty mornings, geese flying over the hilltop to the south, leaves turning golden and falling, I ALWAYS crave Adobe Corn Chowder, one of my favorite cool season dishes.

Scenes of fall are all around………..
Under the bridge, it’s no longer really summer:
We have finally put up the suet post for the birds….after MONTHS being in storage, it only took about a day for the woodpeckers & flickers to find it again:
The squirrels and birds are eating the last of our big sunflowers as we place the cut seed heads near the deck:

Oh, yes, we were talking about corn chowder………………

I have been making this for a long time. Since the original recipe seemed a bit long and poorly written, I’ve slowly simplified it, or rather tailored it to my own tastes. THIS is the revised by Mark version.

= = = = = = =

Adobe Corn Chowder

——– ———— ——————————–
2 Pckgs Frozen sweet corn ( or equivalent in fresh)
1 tsp corn oil
3 Tbsp Butter
2 Onions — cut in medium Dice
3 Cloves garlic — chopped
1 1/2 Poblano peppers – seeded and diced
2 Serrano peppers – seeded and chopped
1 Red bell pepper – seeded and diced
1 Yellow bell pepper – seeded and diced **ROAST ALL peppers together as described below

2 lbs Boneless / skinless Chicken Thighs – barely simmered & diced *
3 cups Chicken stock
2 cups Heavy cream
2 Tbsp Cornstarch dissolved in cool water
Salt — to taste
2 Tblsp Lime juice — approximately

1 bnch sliced green onion
1 tb Fresh cilantro – finely chopped

*Chicken: You cab use any cooked chicken meat (see additional note below) …. My own preferred “taste” wants to use the dark meat, aka, boneless, skinless thighs, since they’ll be more tender & juicy. (on simmering the thighs, I only cook them 12-13 minutes since they will finish in the soup.

Roast the peppers. Preheat oven to about 400, place the diced peppers, garlic on a slightly oiled pan and roast just until beginning to darken on the edges. Remove from oven and set aside a cup or two of them.

If using fresh corn, shuck, remove silk, and cut kernels from cob. Set aside 3/4 cup.

Heat oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir in remaining corn kernels and onions. Saute’ about 10 minutes or until onions are soft and juices have cooked down. *Do not brown.*
Add garlic, 1 chopped poblano, 1 chopped Serrano chili, and chicken stock. Stir in the Cornstarch. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to bare simmer for 20 minutes, making sure it doesn’t get too thick . . . . .

Stir in cream & return soup to a simmer for about 5 minutes or until slightly reduced. Remove from heat. Pour soup into a blender and blend until very smooth. Season to taste with salt and lime juice. Lightly toss and stir in the pieces of cooked chicken meat. FINALLY, fold in the bell peppers, and remaining diced poblano & serrano; just re-warm the chowder for 2 minutes if you need to……this IS a chowder that holds up over several days storage.

To serve with some chopped cilantro and green onion for guests to add to their portion. The entire soup may be made up a few days in advance.

Addtional notes about the chicken:
**The original recipe called for 2 diced chicken breasts, another for Roast Chicken….following that, I’ve sometimes used the deluxe Costco Rotisserie chicken since they’re always nicely tender). I’ve also used the Forman Grill to broil thigh meat… I only cooked them 5 minutes with thighs opened (not thick pieces) so that they are just a little bit underdone…they’ll finish in the soup and be juicy and tender.

Dallin Oaks . Bigot, Hypocrite and Mormon Apostle.

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Thursday October 15, 2009

I’m writing here about the current media coverage of Mormon Apostle Dallin Oaks comparing the pushback against the Mormon Hierarchy for their call to members for MONEY to help defeat Prop 8 in CA. I doubt ANYONE will read it, but I did it to let off some steam. I forget about these little Mormon idealogues often, but once in a while, they get back into the news by saying something bigoted, and simply stupid. Oaks is a biggie in the apostle group of old men in SLC………. whew!

Oaks compared the backlash against Mormons to the suffering blacks have gone through forever trying to gain equal civil rights. Forgive me, but NO Mormon has been hanged, murdered, dragged through streets, spit upon, etc etc because they gave money to beat Prop 8. How ridiculous can you be, Mr. Oaks? YES, MORMONS were harrassed and some murdered in the 1800’s when they moved into Missouri burning out homesteaders and farmers claiming Missouri to be their own destined by God! YES, Mormons were harrassed and chased out of Illinois finally after the locals grew fed up with Prophet Smith forming his own army, claiming HIS rules trumped the Laws of the U.S., burning down the opposition press, marrying plural wives….. WHATEVER harrassment Mormons received, they EARNED by following the “revelations” of their own earlier prophets.

The BACKLASH they received in UTAH for living MORMON Laws (Polygamy), and murdering almost an entire wagon company simply passing through southern Utah was EARNED.

The torture, murder, enslavement that Blacks have endured was NEVER earned or deserved.

The bigotry, prejudice, harrassment, and sometimes getting shunned, tortured and perhaps even murdered of GAY people has not been earned either. It comes from judgements passed by some calling themselves believers of a hateful and vengeful mythical God they’ve created over some 2000 years. This hateful God is used ONLY periodically at their convenience when they want to rev up their engines of hate, of fear, and stoke the machinery of Making MONEY.

OAKS falls into this class. Oaks has served as a justice on Utah’s Supreme Court, as BYU President and is now an “Apostle” in the “Quorum of the Twelve” who directly support their “Prophet” Thomas Monson, now 83. One would think someone this educated would avoid ridiculously bigoted remarks he just passed onto the young BYU-IDAHO students, but NO, he continues to:

MAKE the REAL truth of this situation something it isn’t.

OAKS is NOT NEW to these efforts. In the 60’s when working as a lawyer, he expressed opinions originally that Joseph Smith DID break the law by ordering the destruction of the oppostion press (the Nauvoo Expositor), then later began writing that it was “Justified” in “the law of their day

Oaks is famous for making the claim that the Book of Mormon must be accepted on “faith . I believe he KNOWS you can’t accept it on historical fact. It’s been thoroughly on “faith”debunked by science for years…..but no, this “apostle/scholar(?)” still makes speeched to the faithful about it.

Oaks history is filled with such attempts to simply bully whoever is listening to him into accepting WHATEVER HE says as truth. It’s pretty shameful. One can find hundreds of this simply by googling his name and easily following the search results.

I think my favorite memory about his Mormon homilies comes from an article in the Church official magazine in 1979 about JUST HOW he and other uppities may GET their “REVELATIONS”……. Yep, YOU are thinking God comes down and speaks to all of them? You’d be wrong. In THIS one paragraph, he did more to free ME up from believing in Mormonism than anything up unto that time in my life… read, to me, that ANYTIME I get a little “good feeling” inside, I must be having a revelation of some sort… WELL! There you have it! It has been REVEALED UNTO ME that MORMONISM is a FALSE RELIGION! Yipee.

Here’s the paragraph that did it for me:

In a BYU devotional sermon under the title, “Revelation,” Oaks said:

I am going to speak this morning about revelation. Revelation is communication from God to man. It can occur in many different ways. Some prophets, like Moses and Joseph Smith, have talked with God face to face. Some persons have had personal communication with angels. Other revelations have come . . . ‘through the dreams of sleep or in the waking visions of the mind’ . . . In its more familiar forms, revelation or inspiration comes by means of words or thoughts communicated to the mind . . . by positive or negative feelings about proposed courses of action, or even by inspiring performances, as in the performing arts, the beautiful music we heard at the beginning of this devotional assembly being a notable example. “As Elder Boyd K. Packer has stated, ‘Inspiration comes more as a feeling than as a sound‘ (“Prayers and Answers,” Ensign, November 1979, p. 19).

FALL Action begins!

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Friday October 9, 2009

Wahoo! Since Therapy began about the 3rd, life has been hectic, aka, fabulous.

1) Therapy began. On the very first day, I walked down trails into Forest Park….too far. Spent rest of day resting, & sore. Good. I learned a lesson. Since then big improvements, and TODAY was one of the first times I’ve walked on that same walk feeling my knee “muscles”, i.e., feeling like I had normal movement. Hurray!

2) On Friday Night Oct 2, we went to One of the best parties I can remember. J & T held a bash on the pretense of having a “garage warming” to break in the new building in back of their 100 year old beautiful craftsman home. LOTS of people were there, we got to say goodbye to Mary McPartlin (moving to SF), meet Sweden guy Haake and listen to his flying adventures, and the highlight probably was meeting John’s Brother Harry & delightful wife Barb visiting from New Hampshire. That was A LONG night….we weren’t home until nearly 2:00 am. Honest, I believe we made a new friend or two that night. Fabulous. THANKS TONI & JOHN!!!!!

3) On the 4th, we attended the Sunday Matinee at Artist Rep Theater seeing “Becky’s New Car.” We LOVED it. **We sat next to the star’s Mom throughout the play not knowing who she was. What twists and turns….. this was a truly great adventure about how muddled you can make your life by simply not being very clear about what you’re thinking….. saying too little, maybe? Fabulous.

4) We used the very last of roma tomatoes from the garden to go into the finest Tomato Sauce Rodger’s ever made. After describing it to Elena, however, she said it’s simply the classic Italian fresh Tomato Sauce. We got this from Lidia Bastianich‘s book……… ( AND….JUST in the last two days, we made more for the freezer from 20 lbs of Roma’s we got on Sauvie Island Tuesday).

5) Yet another FABULOUS theater night happened Tuesday. We saw the Portland Center Stage Production of RAGTIME…. We BOTH felt this was the finest theater event we’ve seen since moving here. LONG and thoroughly engrossing. IF you’re living here, do NOT miss it. ( We DID choose to go on the off night and try the theater’s “RUSH TICKET” system…. for this, you show up early, wait in a line (we waited on the couch) one hour, got $20 tickets on the fourth row just barely right of center stage….couldn’t have been better).

6) Tomorrow….another trip to Parkdale for another load of Pear Wood. This will bring our supply inventory here up to major winter level! Yeah! There will still be another small load to get up there….but now we’ll be ready. I am HAPPY I’ll be able to fully help with it all this time.

7) We attended the WEDGE. This was a gathering of 2-3 dozen boutique cheese makers from around the Northwest, Utah, & California. Elena & Emilio went with us, we sampled a few dozen different cheesy delights and then had lunch. We’ll be enjoying some of the purchases for a few weeks now. Yum. Fun stuff.

READING? The FAMILY by Jeff Sharlet. I HOPE EVERYONE is reading it….THIS is one of the more serious corruptions of Democracy I’m aware of……. Have you read it?

While recovering, Arnie gave me a copy of “The Naked Civil Servant”, the old film with the fabulous John Hurt portraying the role of Quentin Crisp taken from his own autobiography. THIS was a spellbinding film I had never seen, and figured it would be dated by now, NO way….Crisp is such a compelling figure even today. I’ll never forget: “Don’t ever try to keep up with the Joneses. Bringing them down to your level is much more fun.”
**IF you haven’t seen this film, RENT it NOW!

And, I MUST go………..lots of tasks that have been postponed are getting a little annoyed now they’ve been ignored so long. HOW did I Lose all that time in this “recovery” of the last 8 months….? I can’t get all the little tiny meddlesome household/yard things done these days?

BACK to life. ONE should ALWAYS appreciate perfect health. It’s a serious gift.

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