Saturday, December 30, 2006

Well, we had a late Christmas here. Denis had to work on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, so we waited until the 26th to open our gifts. Each night when Denis came home from work late (1-2 AM) he would say, "let's call your mom and open our gifts!" Nah. We wanted to have a relaxing time together, not a late night, yawning present session.

On Christmas Eve, Mom and I went to the 11 PM candlelight service at the Methodist church downtown. It was nice. And on Christmas Day a friend from my church invited us both over for her dinner. So we had an enjoyable time meeting new people while Denis slaved at work.

Well, anyway, that was almost a week ago now, and we are about set to take off for our vacation at Mt. Shasta. I'm pretty much packed and Denis is getting his last-minute stuff done. The kitties will go to visit Grandma's house while we are gone. (for more about what they think of their grandma, go visit their blog.) So, I have my camera packed with my new memory card which can take 500 pictures! I plan to experiment and hopefully I can make you all a nice snowy slide show when we return. Have a wonderful New Year celebration, whatever you have in store. I'll be back in 2007.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Monday, December 18, 2006

Ta Da!

Well, there it is. We put up the Christmas tree last week. My mom and I went to a tree farm and cut it down about a week ago and Denis brought it in and set it in the stand. While he went out to experiment with outdoor lights, I decorated the tree (with Phoebe's help, of course).

I have a busy week ahead of me. I am working 5 days this week instead of my usual three. Denis' birthday is Thursday. He is working the days I have off and I am working the days he has off. So we won't see each other too much until our anniversary trip. I think I'm about set for Christmas shopping, but there is still wrapping to do along with other important items to accomplish as well.

What does your week look like?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Downright Balmy

Last night at 6 PM I went outside into the darkness with some garbage for the dumpster expecting to be shivering cold out there. To my surprise it was so comfortable. It was 56 degrees! Today it is beautiful weather out again - 55 right now. Just a couple of days ago we had a cold snap, with freezing temperatures overnight. I went out each morning to find frost on my car window and shivered as I waited for it to defrost so I could drive to work. I'm not complaining about the change!

I have been quite slow getting started with Christmas preparation this year. Now I'm starting to realize that I had better get cracking or there won't be much under our Christmas tree this year. That reminds me, gotta go buy a tree. :o)

I hope you are enjoying the Christmas season and anticipating the celebration of our Savior's earthly arrival.

Monday, December 04, 2006


Here I am with my friend T. I saw her this weekend when I was in Portland. I think it had been almost a year since we last saw each other. Lately, we have been keeping in touch through blogging and instant messaging. Isn't the internet great?

We go way back, us two. We met one fateful day in sophomore health class in 1982. I don't think we knew many people in the class and we just happened to be sitting next to each other. We kept each other entertained in that class and later when we took typing together. We became best friends through the next year - shared a locker and decorated it in various themes, stayed overnight at each other's houses. T introduced me to the concept of cold pizza for breakfast. We sang Eurythmics tunes at the top of our voices and generally made a nuisance of ourselves. That all ended at the end of our junior year when we broke off our friendship due to parental pressures. Ahem... Our mothers did not approve of each other. We were so different, really. She was kind of wild and dangerous to me. I was considered a goody-two-shoes, and not just by T, but others in my class. I must admit, we were an unusual match. So from that second fateful day, we hardly even spoke until our graduation day when we acknowledged each other with a brief good-bye, good luck, etc.

I went off to college and that was that. But, up popped T a few years later. She contacted me through my mom who had not moved. We had some casual contact a couple of times, but then came back into each other's lives in a big way in 1990. She had been living out of the state and was looking for a place to live so she could move back to Portland. So we became roommates for the first time. Since then, we have shared an apartment three times, attended the same church and home group, prayed together, studied together, told each other all our secrets and made a commitment to always stand by each other. As we've gone through different stages in our lives, we've been in close contact and out of contact. But, with the exception of Denis, there is no one who knows me quite as well as T. (Well, probably my mom does too, but not quite in the same way.) Our personalities are still very different, but we do have a bond that we are convinced will not be broken.

To Portland and Back

Denis and I had a quick trip up to Portland for some business and took advantage of the opportunity to visit with some friends we hadn't seen in a long time. The weekend started with a nice dinner and visit with my boss who had us over for dinner. She is a good cook - we had pumpkin soup, cornish hen, cheesy potatoes and a luscious chocolate peanut butter brownie cake. After dinner, we strolled through downtown Grants Pass and looked in the shops which were open late for the special monthly art walk. A very pleasant evening.

After leaving them, we drove halfway up the state to Eugene and slept to break up the trip. Saturday, we were on the road in good time and arrived in Portland in time to do a bit of shopping before our meeting. We went to the Cost Plus World Market and bought some Tim Tams. I had to get some after hearing how great they are from my Aussie friends (and to try a Tim Tam Slam). Then we had time to visit my friend LM1 and her family. After our meeting, we headed across the city to spend the evening with our pinochle playing buddies. We kept them up late with the competetive spirit, then called it a night.

Sunday morning, we met a gal from my old singles group (that's old to me, not old singles...) We hadn't seen each other since my wedding! She is getting ready to go on her first trip out of the country on a mission to Africa. So exciting! We attended her church with her and then went out for brunch. Our last stop was the big Portland REI store where Denis generously spent his annual rebate on warm clothes for me. I was nervous about being warm enough on our upcoming anniversary trip to Mt. Shasta. But now, I shall be toasty warm. All in all a nice, relaxing trip.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Christmas Song

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


It's been quite a while since I gave any movie reports. Here I will give a brief synopsis/recommendation about the recent movies that we have watched lately. (The stars denote my rating out of 5 possible stars)

"Promises" - **** Documentary featuring interviews with Palestinian and Israeli children ages 11-13. This movie was interesting on several levels: 1. helped me understand the Palestine/Israel situation much better (I'm pitiful with current events) 2. gave the viewpoints of both sides of the conflict through the eyes of children. 3. interesting study of how children form their own ideologies and how those can change over time with age, experience, maturity. I recommend this one.

"Walk the Line" - *** The story of Johnny Cash focusing primarily on his struggle with drugs and romance with June Carter. June's portrayal does show her faith in God and attempt to keep moral standards in her life (though imperfect).

"Jarhead" - ** Troubling war movie about Operation Desert Storm focusing on the boredom and futility that many of the troops felt. Not recommended.

"Bubble" - **** Quirky movie set in small town USA with novice actors who were cast locally. It was an interesting experiment. Not necessarily the kind of movie that would appeal to most people, but I liked it.

"Nine Lives" - **** This was a very interesting movie. Nine vignettes featuring a female lead character who is in a crisis moment of her life. All of the scenes were about 15 minutes that were shot in one continuous take. The stories connect slightly with a couple of the characters showing up in another scene. However, there is NOT a big secret plot there with hidden meaning, so don't worry trying to find it.

"13 Conversations About One Thing" - **** This is one that I had seen before, but Denis had not. Very thought-provoking. This one does have an over-arching story that emerges through the various plot lines. All the scenes contain conversation about the source/meaning/possibility of happiness.

Please let me know if you decide to watch any of them. I would love to read your take as well. Also, please research for any potentially offensive material as my standards are likely different from yours.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Matthew Ward

Remember him? He was the male third of the sibling Christian band Second Chapter of Acts. I love his voice - it's so powerful and distinctive. I was listening to his solo CD titled "Even Now" yesterday. It is kind of old school Christian - traditional style with rather dramatic music. Most of my friends would probably not tolerate the musical style. But I tend to like just about any musical style if the lyrics move me. And this album is full of weighty, moving, meaningful lyrics. This song gave me chills as I listened to it yesterday:

My God is faithful
My God is truthful
My God is boundless in all He is
My God is wisdom
My God is righteous
My God is vision for all who seek

So I will worship You
In the beauty of holiness
And I will worship You
For the things you've done in me
And when my life's complete
I'll place my crown at Your feet
And I will worship You on bended knee

My God is power
My God is glory
My God is ruler over all that is
My God is timeless
My God is justice
My God is mercy to the oppressed

His name is Love
his voice is thunder
his heart is tender
His hand is strong

So I will worship You
In the beauty of holiness
And I will worship You
For the things you've done in me
And when my life's complete
I'll place my crown at Your feet
And I will worship You on bended knee

Friday, November 24, 2006

House Tour

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, the turkey is in the oven and I can smell it cooking. It smells absolutely delicious and it's driving me crazy. We are going to eat in about two hours. I have always disliked smelling the turkey cooking all day on holidays because it makes me so hungry. When I was in high school, I figured out that if I kept my bedroom door shut all day, the smell wouldn't waft in there and I could go retreat and hide all day.

Anyway, we were supposed to have friends come down from Portland for the holiday, but at the last minute, they were not able to come. So it will be cozy with just Denis, my mom and I. On the upside, we will have plenty of leftovers!! :o)

Menu for today:
Mashed Potatoes
Cranberry compote (Emeril Lagasse's recipe. I made it last year and it's great!)

That's it, really. We don't generally mess around with peripheral vegetables since they will prevent us from being able to eat more of the main feature items.

I hope you are having a wonderful day with your family as well.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Christmas Music

I balk at listening to Christmas music already, but we recently received some new CDs that we ordered. So we are listening to one of them now. This is an artist who we discovered from watching an episode of Austin City Limits on PBS. He is Sufjan Stevens, singer-songwriter, folk/experimental. He has a sweet sounding voice, an offbeat sense of humor and a lot of talent. You can hear some samples as

Monday, November 20, 2006


Not to be outdone, Phoebe and Monica have started their own blog.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Temporary Diabetes

On Monday of this week, I came down with temporary diabetes. Two of my coworkers and I are wearing insulin pumps for two weeks to learn more about how they work. We are to pretend that we have diabetes, test our blood glucose levels at least four times each day, count all the carbohydrates that we eat and treat them with "insulin". It is actually saline that we are using, so don't worry about me accidentally overdosing myself with insulin.

The three of us who are wearing the pumps do not really have diabetes. We have each been working in the Diabetes Education department for about a year and working towards our certification. We should all be ready to take the certification test about August of next year. Learning to manage patients wearing an insulin pump is a vital part of our jobs and it is the next step in our training. It's very exciting but also a bit intimidating.

BTW, in case you are curious, an insulin pump is a device about the size of a pager. It contains a cartridge that is filled with very quick-acting insulin. The insulin is delivered very slowly all the time to mimic what the pancreas is supposed to do. Then, when you eat or have a high blood glucose reading, the pump calculates (based on the settings that are programmed in) and gives the amount of insulin that is needed as a larger dose. All the insulin is given through a tube that is inserted just under the skin (usually on your abdomen). The tube must be changed every 3 days to avoid getting an infection at the site.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Poplar Tree

Isn't that a beautiful tree? So calm and serene, with the fluttering leaves and the filtered light... This is our neighbor's large poplar tree which extends its branches over our back yard. It is a large, mature tree and it had several offspring - 7 small poplar saplings - that were on our property when we moved here. We had them taken out so that we wouldn't wind up in a poplar forest.

Well, here is the result of having a big poplar tree in our neighbor's yard. That tree drops leaves and twigs into our backyard year round! It is the bane of Denis' existence. This photo was taken one day after he had raked the yard. The fall is of course, the worst part of the year for the leaves. Well, at least we don't have any lack of composting material. :o)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


We live on a flag lot - quite a bit off the street. Last year we had no trick-or-treaters for Halloween. So, I did not bother to buy any candy this year. About 4 PM, Denis and I had a little discussion about the evening plans.

"We have no candy?"
"no, no one came last year."
"What if someone does come?"
"Well, we just won't turn on our light."
"Then what will we do for the evening in the dark? You know, I was a boy scout and our motto was 'Be prepared'."

I went to the store and got some candy. Have you tried that new-ish candy bar called Take 5? It has caramel, peanuts, pretzels, peanut butter and chocolate! Really good.

We had no trick-or-treaters this year, so we will enjoy the candy ourselves... :o)
Incidentally, when Denis was a child in Iowa, they went from door to door on Oct 30 - called Beggar's Day. On Halloween they just stayed home and ate their candy! Strange.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


One last rose before the winter.

Our new Clematis with the trellis that Denis built.

Violas in our little "courtyard" bed. They last through the winter in our mild climate.

Monday, October 23, 2006

A Fun, Busy Weekend

What a weekend we had! Friday, I had a surprise day off from work because of a scheduling mix-up. I took the opportunity to accompany my mom and her friends on a day trip out to the woods in search of "sugar pine cones". They are the really big ones, and the trees that produce them are a bit rare, but grow around our area. Part of the day involved my mom and I trying to learn how to identify these trees on our own so that we can collect the cones again. It is a bit tricky to tell them apart from the Douglas Fir tree - the bark is very similar and they grow in the same areas. We had a picnic lunch after collecting the allotted amount of cones. It was great exercise and a nice time to spend together.

Saturday, Denis and I went to the Grange Coop to hunt for a clematis plant. We had to make a final decision on which variety we wanted. We decided on the classic Jackman and it now has it's home next to our front door. We also planted some Sweet Pea seeds in the same bed. The two plants will climb on trellises that Denis built this week. (Very handy, isn't he?) At 1:30, my sister-in-law flew in for a 3 week visit. So we went to the airport to greet her. She is going to be busy with her own local family, but we expect that we will get to see some of her.

This week was Contra Dancing week. So Saturday evening, we all trucked over to Ashland for the monthly dance. I am the only dancer, but I had a "fan club" of 4 people who observed and enjoyed the music. The caller was great and the beginners caught on quite well. It was great fun.

Sunday after church, we had a couple over for lunch. The "get to know people from church better" campaign continues. I served a mexican do-it-yourself bar with chili-lime chicken, refried beans, brown rice, guacamole, and whole wheat tortillas. We had a brief lull in the action and then had family over for dinner - mom, her friends, sis-in-law and her father. It was so nice to all be together. Woo Hoot! A great weekend.

Soul Patch

Denis is now sporting a trendy "soul patch". It is a bit grey, so you have to look closely to see it in this picture. It is very cool.

It's Arrived!

My camera arrived in the mail on Saturday morning. I was still in my pajamas and was going to ignore the doorbell, but then I saw the FedEx truck and knew that I had to sign for my camera or he would take it back. I'm sure he's seen ladies in their flannels before...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

New Camera

I splurged and bought myself a new digital camera. I used to have a good film camera (SLR) with 3 different lenses, but it broke several years ago. I replaced it with a little point and shoot film camera that is okay for just everyday pictures, but I miss being able to actually compose a shot like I want it. Denis' digital camera is from back when they were relatively new. It was top of the line at the time, but quite out dated now, and I don't really know how to use it. SO, here is the camera that I bought. It was selected as a "best buy" by Consumer Reports, has some advanced features that should be useful and fun to try out and it has a 10x zoom. If you clink on the photo above, it will take you to the Fuji website to see the specs. I'm so excited!

Too Fluffy

Phoebe and Monica had their annual check up with the vet. and they both passed with flying colors, except for one little thing. They are both fat! Monica needs to lose 1.5 lbs and Phoebe 1 lb. So today started their diet. I have never had to ration cat food before and I'm not really looking forward to it. But for now it is to be 1/2 cup each in the morning and evening.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Pictures from Beach Weekend

Saturday "on the town" group. (me and my coworkers. Denis took the photo.)

A windy day at on the beach. Pacific Ocean behind me. (You may recognize the yellow jacket from a previous picture of Denis. He sacrificially lent it to me for the day.)

Tide pools form on the rocks of the jetty. Here you can see anemones, mussels and barnacles clinging to the rocks.

We didn't see any star fish or hermit crabs. Bummer.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Jill Paquette

Have you heard of this young Christian singer-songwriter? Check out this video of two new songs. She has one album released that I highly recommend.

Minnesota Fortune Cookies

I imported my husband from Minnesota. In case you are not familiar with the state, it has its own unique culture, accent and common phrases. On our last visit back, we bought a book called "How to Talk Minnesotan - A Visitor's Guide." Of course, this is a tongue-in-cheek humorous explanation of the cultural idiosyncrasies, but there is a grain of truth in it. I'm going to give you an excerpt, but I need to give a bit of background information.

One of the key points stressed in the book is that Minnesotans are careful about being too positive about things. The general view is that something negative will be just around the corner. "It's okay to have good feelings but there's no sense running down the street telling people about it at the top of your voice. There's a good chance it won't last, anyway. Good things happen - yes - but when they do, Minnesotans are a little nervous because they know something bad will eventually happen to balance it out."

Okay, here is my favorite excerpt:

"When Chinese restaurants began to open in Minnesota, one of the first obvious changes the owners had to make was to remove the soy sauce from the table (Minnesotans kept mistaking it for coffee) and replace it with ketchup. But what kept Minnesotans away from Chinese restaurants more than anything else was the fortune cookies - the fortunes left customers with a bad taste in their mouth. So the restaurants, due to public demand, now serve Minnesota-style fortune cookies. Here are the ones I have collected from friends.

  • You will change the oil in your car every 2000 miles.
  • There could be thunderstorms tomorrow.
  • You will run out of 2 percent milk.
  • A stranger will knock on your door and try to sell you cancer insurance.
  • The tops on your new shoes are not real leather.
  • People around you think you are okay, mostly.
  • Romance will enter your life unless you're careful.
  • The smell in your root cellar is a dead gopher.
  • The big shade elm in your front yard has had it."

Anniversary planning

Our 3rd anniversary is coming up - December 31st. The last two years we went to San Francisco for a little vacation. SF is a very nice city full of fun things to do, but not really the best choice for a winter vacation, as we discovered. It rains a lot! So this year we tried to think of someplace we could go that would be sunny and warm, yet not too expensive. Mexico, perhaps. Alas, it is spendy to fly there and would take too long to drive. So we decided, why not give in to the winter and go somewhere snowy? Mt Shasta, California, here we come. Only about an hour drive south of us and a tourist destination. I have been researching what to do and where to stay in the area. So far, I know where we are staying for the first two nights - The Railroad Park Resort. The dining facilities will be closed in the winter, but the little caboose rooms are so cute and cozy. We will then move to Mt. Shasta City where there are lots of shops, galleries and restaurants. We hope to go skiing at the ski park and also snow shoeing. There should be plenty to keep us occupied.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Camping trip

Last weekend, Denis and I went camping with my coworkers. There were 7 families represented from our staff and we had a really lovely time. We went to Bullard's Beach State Park near Bandon, Oregon. Some people had RVs and were in one section of the campground. Others, including us, rented yurts. We would have taken our tent, but thought that we would be a bit chilly in October.

We had lovely weather, good food and good company. On Saturday, a group went out in a boat and caught 7 crab that we boiled up for dinner. A second group went on a 17 mile bike trip (sore bums the next day) and Denis and I joined yet a third group to visit the tourist-friendly downtown area. There were lots of unique shops to look in. We also visited the lighthouse pictured above. We all had a wonderful time and are already talking about where we can go next year.

The Hurrier I Go

The behinder I get...

I'm in the home stretch of working extra hours for a coworker's vacation. She returns next week and I can go back to my half time hours. (I'm such a whimp!) This has been a very busy stretch of 4 weeks.

  • Working 4 days each week.
  • Planning and participating in the ADA walk for Diabetes.
  • Packing and going away for a camping weekend with my coworkers.
  • Two evening meetings this week.

Tomorrow is the official end of my craziness. I will probably rebel against any productive activity for a couple of days.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Priscilla's Challenge

1. I can play the guitar moderately well.
2. I can play the piano rather poorly.
3. I learned how to ski when I was a child. I don't remember a time that I did not know how to ski.
4. My father worked at Mt. Hood Meadows ski resort and we got free season's passes.
5. I can ski on intermediate slopes, but I prefer beginner's slopes because I'm a chicken.
6. I have been a nurse for 17 years.
7. I worked most of my years on the night shift at a hospital.
8. My first job was as a "feeder" in a nursing home. It was the best job ever because everyone was glad to see me and I had very little real responsibility.
9. I took Spanish each year in school from grades 7-11 and a year in college.
10. I didn't dare speak Spanish to Spanish-speakers until after I had lived in Bolivia, South America in my late 20's.
11. I was a missionary in Bolivia for 2 years and discovered why I had studied Spanish all those years.
12. While I was in South America I visited Machu Picchu, Peru and Iguazu Falls, Brazil/Argentina.
13. While I was in Bolivia, I taught a class about germs to a group who had never heard of them before. It was an amazing and wonderful experience!
14. I am a rather accomplished crocheter.
15. I cannot sew or knit.
16. I especially like foreign movies and documentaries.
17. I used to read a lot, but I don't as much anymore.
18. In Jr. High and High School I used to read while walking down the hallways between classes.
19. I read War and Peace just to be able to say that I read it.
20. I found it surprisingly interesting and boring at the same time.
21. I like a variety of musical styles.
22. I don't like classical or country music (especially the twangy kind).
23. I love Alison Krauss and she can sing as twangily as she wants.
24. I was married on Dec. 31, 2003 at age 36.
25. I had only ever had 3 boyfriends before I was married and each dating relationship lasted about one month.
26. I had a "crush" on a different boy each year through grade school.
27. My name in Spanish is Teresa.
28. My friends in Bolivia called me "Techi" which is a nickname for Teresa (it is pronounced just like it is spelled with a ch as in church.)
29. I didn't like it when people called me "Trrray-cy" with a Spanish accent.
30. The most unusual nickname I have ever had was "John".
31. I attended church camp the summers of grades 6-8 at Camp Magruder on the Oregon Coast.
32. I was a camp counselor at Camp Magruder for 1-2 weeks each summer for 4 years after college.
33. I used to lead silly camp songs like "The Little Green Frog song" and "All the Little Fishies".
34. My favorite age group for camp counseling was grades 5-6.
35. I never wanted to be the camp nurse because I was afraid that an emergency would come up.
36. I'm a caffeine addict - if I don't have my two shots of espresso a day I get a headache.
37. I go to Starbucks before work each day.
38. I especially like the pumpkin spice latte, toffee nut latte or iced caramel macchiato.
39. I usually get a grande sugarfree hazelnut non-fat latte.
40. Before I go to Starbucks, I go to McDonald's to get a sausage mcmuffin with egg.
41. I like dark chocolate.
42. I don't think that white chocolate should be considered chocolate.
43. I like rich, creamy desserts.
44. I'm not a big fan of pies, cakes or cheesecake.
45. I don't like carbonated beverages very much.
46. I especially don't like brown carbonated beverages. (that includes root beer)
47. I like adventurous eating as long as I'm in the mood.
48. I tend to order habitually in my favorite restaurants.
49. I don't like it when the food that I order does not taste the way I expect it to.
50. I can still sit cross-legged.
51. I learned how to ride my bike when I was 8. My dad took off my training wheels and I fell. So I had him replace one training wheel and rode like that for a day before going solo again.

Check out Priscilla's list here.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


I had a good weekend and now it is almost time for a new one! :o) Denis worked last weekend, so I was on my own for most of the time.

I went contra dancing on Saturday night. Contra dancing is a bit like square dancing in that it is a called dance. But instead of being in a square with 8 people, you are in 2 long lines down the hall with you partner facing you. The moves are the familiar ones like circle left or right, do si do, etc. The dance is a set pattern that repeats over and over. You dance with your partner and one other couple. When the set pattern is over, you have moved one spot down the line and the couple you were dancing with has moved one spot the other direction. It is a lot of fun and good exercise. in Portland, I was able to go each week if I wanted to, but here it is only offered once a month.

Sunday evening I rode my bike up to visit a couple from my church. This was good exercise too, obviously. I was sweating profusely while we visited.

Monday, Denis was off work, so we had some time together. We had company over in the evening. I made won ton soup and Denis made his famous salmon again. This was part of our project of having people from church over. After dinner, Debbie and I visited while Denis and Brent played guitar. Their son got a rare treat to watch TV!

Starting this past Tuesday, I am working extra hours to help cover the vacation of one of my coworkers. I will be working four days a week for a month. I normally work half time - two full days and one half day each week. It is amazing how quickly I have adjusted to my reduced hours, and I know that I'm going to be tired by the end of the month. Even though I know it is still not full time! What a wimp I am...

Denis did a project this week that he has been meaning to do for a while. He touched up the finish on our kitchen and bathroom cabinets. They are natural birch wood cabinets with just a clear finish. Did you know that water is the enemy of most building materials? This is what I have learned from Denis. Unfortunately, we both have drippy arms when we deal with sinks. (It's a height issue). So now they are good as new again.

The weather has turned cooler now as summer is drawing to a close. The leaves on our baby dogwood are showing some reddish color and our adolescent maple tree has its little helicopters ready to fly. The flowers are finishing up their blooming time and some of them have already turned kind of ugly looking. We bought some new irises - two siberians and a couple of pacific coast varieties are on their way. We are also expecting tulip and daffodil bulbs to arrive soon for planting. Next year we really hope to put in a veggie garden in the open space adjacent to our garage. Denis' compost project has been a huge success. We have one bin with some beautiful stuff awaiting the next planting need.

Well, I think that about brings you up to date with our life.

New Music

The new CDs that I ordered arrived in the mail last night. I have them all in my CD player now.

Downhere - Wide-eyed and Mysified
David Crowder Band - A Collision
Jars of Clay - Redemption Songs
Amy Grant - Rock of Ages, Hymns and Faith
Sara Groves - Add to the Beauty

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Mystery of Mercy

I am the woman at the well, I am the harlot
I am the scattered seed that fell along the path
I am the son that ran away
And I am the bitter son that stayed.

My God, my God, why hast Thou accepted me?
When all my love was vinegar to a thirsty King.
My God, my God why hast thou accepted me
It's a mystery of mercy and the song, the song I sing.

I am the angry man who came to stone the lover
I am the woman there ashamed before the crowd
I am the leper that gave thanks
But I am the nine that never came

You made the seed that made the tree
that made the cross that saved me
You gave me hope when there was none
you gave me only your Son

(Lyrics by Caedmon's Call. How amazing is God's love to us fickle mankind!)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Silly Cats!

Meet Phoebe and Monica. They share our house with us and keep us entertained most days. Read about some of their escapades in a previous post.

Monica has decided that fresh water is the best and you get it right out of the tap! When she follows me into the bathroom and jumps into the tub, the message is clear. "I will have a drink now, thank you." Since she has some early kidney disease and is supposed to drink extra water, I indulge her.

Phoebe is the social butterfly. She always wants to be around the action. If company comes, Phoebe is sure to stay around to see what will happen. She often follows me around the house to whatever room I am in. Here she is "helping" me with the laundry. (her job is to decorate it with lovely soft fur).

There is great competition for the coveted spot on my desktop when I am there. Denis' desk does not have so much lovely room, and he does not appreciate cats sitting atop his computer keyboard. So my desk is the happening place. Most days there is a restless shifting and jockeying for position. But every once in a while, both manage to squeeze into the alloted cat space.

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Very Nice Weekend

Every other weekend, Denis is off and we get the luxury of spending two and 1/2 days together. Friday evening, we just relaxed after doing our respective chores and errands. Saturday, Denis accomplished some outdoor yard work tasks - mowing, watering etc. In the afternoon, we were invited to a picnic with some friends from church. They live out in "The Applegate" which is in the hills outside of the Rogue Valley where we live. We packed up some bread, cheese, hard-boiled eggs and sandwich meat, then stopped at the store to buy some fruit salad. When we arrived at our friends' house, we discovered that this was a big event with lots of families from our church invited. We had a really nice time visiting with various people. It was great. In the evening, there was a "barn dance" with the adults and kids all participating. Lots of fun!

Sunday after church, we didn't have anything planned so we decided to try to find someone to do something spontaneous with. A couple of calls to families we have been meaning to invite over resulted in future planned gatherings. Our third call was to our next door neighbors who jumped at the invitation. We had been intending to get together ever since we moved in here (2 years ago!), so it was wonderful to finally get to visit with them properly.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


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Thursday, September 07, 2006

A - Z Bread

Here is a recipe for my friends who like to bake. I got it from a fellow missionary while I was in Bolivia. I recently made it with zucchini and apples, gave some to friends at church and received rave reviews.

A - Z Bread:

In a medium sized bowl, combine dry ingredients and set aside:
3 cups flour (I used 1/2 white and 1/2 whole wheat flour)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp cinnamon

In a large bowl beat together:
3 eggs
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar (I used 1/2 sugar and 1/2 splenda for baking)

Add and mix to combine:
3 tsp vanilla
2 cups A-Z*

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and mix well. Add 1 cup chopped nuts if desired. Pour into greased and floured loaf pans (makes 2). Bake at 325 for 1 hour.

A - Z: apples, grated; applesauce; apricots, chopped; bananas, mashed; carrots, grated; cherries, pitted and chopped; coconut, fresh ground; dates, pitted and finely chopped; eggplant, ground up; figs, finely chopped; grapes, seedless; honey; lemons, 1/2 C juice; marmalade (omit 1 C sugar); mincemeat; oranges, chopped; peaches, fresh or canned; peppermint, 1/2 C; pears, chopped; pineapple, crushed and drained; prunes, chopped 1C; pumpkin, canned; raisins; raspberries; rhubarb, finely chopped; strawberries, fresh or frozen well drained; sweet potatoes, grated coarsely; tapioca, cooked; tomatoes, omit 1 1/2 C sugar; yams, cooked and mashed; yogurt; zucchini, ground or grated and well drained.

I bought bananas and dates this week to try out that combo. Doesn't it sound great?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Goodbye Andre

I just finished watching Andre Agassi's final match at the US Open with my mom. He is 36 years old and has played at the US Open for 21 consecutive years. That means he started at just 15! He has had an amazing career. I remember having a crush on him when he was first playing, with his wild hair and rebellious clothing. It's funny to notice that this year, he wore traditional white tennis garb. Even playing with a badly injured back, he managed to last through two matches before losing his third. You could tell that he was gingerly protecting his back as much as possible, coming up with creative ways to reach the ball as easily as possible. Yet he still zinged that ball with power and precision landing a lot of "winners".

I like tennis. My favorite sports are the ones that I learned to love from my mother: gymnastics, figure skating and tennis. I have been told that makes me "such a chick". (guilty as charged). My favorite mainstream sport is basketball. This is probably partly because in Portland, Oregon we had the marvelous Trailblazers to rally behind. I like the fast action of basketball. The other mainstream sports, football, soccer, hockey, etc. just seem to take a long time to get to a point won. It's hard for me to stay interested.

I have also noticed that I am more impressed with individual sports than team ones. I can't imagine where athletes can come up with the drive and determination to pull out a win all on their own. All my top favorites are like that. The gymnast has to fight to not cave under the pressure of only having one chance to get it right. The figure skater has to come up with the artistry and athleticism to go on even after a fall. And the top of the heap in my opinion is the tennis player who plays point after point of a long grueling match with no coach to turn to for advice. They have to come up with their own strategy, grit and determination to win each point. I don't think I have what it takes. But I'm happy to admire those who do.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A Monkey off my back

I had some errands this week that I was not looking forward to and now they are done. Yay! Through my work, I am on a committee to help plan and coordinate the American Diabetes Association's fundraiser walk for this area. I had a list of people who I was supposed to call and two businesses that I was to visit to request donations. I'm not much of a sales person, and I was not looking forward to calling complete strangers on behalf of a charity. You know, to be one of those people who interrupt your day to ask you for something? Not really my idea of fun. Anyway, I knew that once I started, it wouldn't really be that big of a deal, it was just the thought of it that paralyzed me into inaction. So I finally rallied my strength and made the calls this week. It is so nice to be done with that.

The walk is September 30th and I will be walking in it. I'm looking forward to helping with the actual walk - the set up and event itself. It will be fun. If you want to donate to my ADA fund, you can click here.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Here are some more

Week 2 pics:

Jami (sis-in-law) on right with her Partylite partner in front of the St. Louis arch.

Jessica (on right) with a youth group friend.

Jered and I play a monster game of "dots"

Jami, Jim, Jered, Jessica, Denis on the way to the airport for the flight home.

As Promised

Pictures from week one of our vacation

Brian and Kathy in front of the B and B.

David, Jean and Denis on a day trip.

Denis and I with the Missouri River in view.

Missouri River at sunset.

Pride and Prejudice

I coerced Denis to watch the BBC miniseries with me. It's the version that I was introduced to by my British roommate when I was living in Bolivia, so it's my favorite. There have been so many different TV and movie adaptations of this famous Jane Austen novel. I think this version is the least known by Americans, but I have read opinions that it does the best job of developing the secondary characters.

Denis' assessment was that it started out slow, but by the end it was more interesting. He quite liked the sarcastic lines delivered throughout by the Bennett father. I really like the way the story develops and how it explores different character's points of view. Charlotte is my favorite story line. When she first tells Lizzie of her theories of marital happiness, Lizzie doesn't believe that she means it. But as time goes on, we see that Charlotte did indeed mean every word she said.

And then Mr. Darcy. I like the scene when Lizzie is walking the grounds of the Darcy estate and finally starting to get an idea of what the man is really like. And it turns out he is not at all what she thought.

If you have never been acquainted with Pride and Prejudice, you get another chance with the recently made movie version. It has gotten good reviews.

What are your favorite lines or moments from Pride and Prejudice?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Myers Briggs

Have you ever taken a Myers Briggs personality test? That is the one which categorizes you with four letters which stand for a personality trait. They are:

Extrovert vs. Introvert
Sensing vs. iNtuitive
Thinking vs. Feeling
Judging vs. Perceiving

I am an ESTP. I never thought that the description that the MB gives really fit me all that well. I wasn't sure what use all this might be until the dean of women at my seminary gave us an little overview. She explained what each of these contrasting personality traits means.

E vs. T has to do with how you get energized. When you are mentally fatigued, do you prefer to be alone or with people? Does going to a party wear you out or make you feel refreshed?
S vs. N has to do with how you gather information. Do you like to gather a lot of facts and value the sources or do you get an over all sense of something?
T vs. F has to do with decision making. Do you think things through carefully or tend to make decsions with your gut feeling?
J vs. P has to do with planning. Js plan things out and like a schedule, Ps prefer to be spontaneous.

So what do you think you are? Do you think knowing this is valuable? How could it be used in your daily life?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Doritos and Cream Cheese

I just had this little snack that I discovered one evening while I was babysitting in Jr. High. I was feeling a bit peckish and couldn't find any crackers. I know it sounds weird, but trust me. It's a great combination!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Laundry Woes

When I got my new job about one year ago, I had to hang up my scrubs and buy some real work clothes. The dress code is business casual - wrinkle free, hosiery, etc. I'm still working on building up my wardrobe, but I have about 7 days' worth of outfits appropriate to wear to work.

It is such a hassle to maintain this kind of wardrobe. Most of the items require the gentle cycle on the washing machine. About half of them are supposed to "line dry". Since I don't have a clothes line, this means hanging them over the shower curtain rod or on a hanger and finding enough door knobs to hang them from. The other half are supposed to "dry flat" which is an even greater challenge. I don't have many flat surfaces which are not super inviting to small furry animals. So they all wind up sharing the crowded lids of the washer and dryer. Once they are there, doing the rest of the laundry is thwarted.

And then there is the ironing. I have been considering lately that I should do all the ironing on one day of the week and be done with it. This would speed up my morning routine significantly and allow me to iron Denis' shirts as well. I tried this out at the conference that I recently attended. On our arrival, before I hung up my clothes for the week, I ironed them all. All it served to do was get me into a very foul mood. Really, can they make clothes any more difficult to iron? The pants aren't too bad, but the shirts really won't stay put on the ironing board! Very exasperating... So, I'm afraid I will sacrifice speed in the morning for sanity. :o)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Stephen Wright is a funny man

I saw a stand up routine by Stephen Wright on TV when I was in high school. He was so funny. Have you seen him? He walked around on stage with a bewildered expression on his face and said his one-liners with a dead-pan tone of voice. Here are some of my favorites:

*I used to work in a fire hydrant factory. You couldn't park anywhere near the place.
*Last week, I went to a furniture store to look for a decaffeinated coffee table. They couldn't help me.
*What's another word for "thesaurus"?
*When I was a kid, we had a quicksand box in the backyard. I was an only child . . . eventually.
*For my birthday I got a humidifier and a dehumidifier. I put them in the same room and let them fight it out.
*I have a switch in my apartment that doesn't do anything. Every once in a while I turn it on and off. One day I got a call from a guy in France who said, "Cut it out!"
*I spilled Spot remover on my dog. Now he's gone.
*My neighbor has a circular driveway. He can't get out.
*Whenever I think of the past, it brings back so many memories .
*There's a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.
*How much deeper would the ocean be if sponges didn't live there?
*I bought some powdered water, but I didn't know what to add.
*I put instant coffee in a microwave and almost went back in time.
*I stayed in a really old hotel last night. They sent me a wakeup letter.
*I'm taking La maze classes. I'm not having a baby, I'm just having trouble breathing.

Salmon Surgery

My mom was recently passing through the Columbia River gorge and stopped to buy us a salmon from the native tribe in the area. Salmon fishing is highly regulated in the rivers of Oregon, but the restrictions are much looser for the native peoples who traditionally fished this area. My mom knows of some roadside stand where they sell some mighty big fish for a mighty good price. So she picked out an 11 pound specimen for us as a gift. The man gutted it for her in exchange for some cinnamon raisin bread and some blackberries. Not too bad a trade, it seems. But we still had a very big, nearly whole fish to figure out what to do with.

Not to worry, Denis is resourceful. He found an instructional website, complete with pictures (from which I borrowed the one above) telling him just what to do. The fish's head and tail exceeded the borders of the largest cutting board in the house (which is very large), but the fillet knife that we optimistically bought last year was good and sharp. About 15 minutes later, we had 6 portions of salmon which will each feed the two of us quite nicely. In fact we just cooked the largest one tonight and were able to invite Mom over for a thank you dinner. Now, if there is one thing that is my honey's cooking specialty, it is salmon on the grill. Several months ago, he bought a cedar board from the hardware store and cut it into foot-long segments. We take one of the planks and soak it in some liquid (preferably apple juice) for at least 30 minutes. Then the plank goes onto the hot grill with the fish on top. As the salmon is cooking by indirect heat, the plank is partially burning on the bottom half and lending a smoky flavor to the meat. It makes for a nice trick afterwards to show off the plank that now has the outline of the fish burnt into it's surface. To quote Rachael Ray, "yumm-o".

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Coming Soon

Pictures will be coming soon from my recent vacation. I have just two more pictures left on my current roll of film. (Yes, I still do it the old fashioned way.)


I am a Side-Tracked Home Executive (SHE for short). I tend to procrastinate projects that seem too big to me and when I start the project, I feel overwhelmed and stop. I am not naturally organized and clutter always seems to accumulate on unmonitored surfaces. Poor Denis, he is much neater than I am and is always trying to manage my clutter. Shoes magically find their way back into our closet, the coffee table surface gets magically cleared from time to time. He puts up with me and is so kind to do it without complaining (much).

There is a woman named Marla Cilley who wrote a book called Sink Reflections. It is intended to help people like me to bite off just small chunks of our to-do lists each day and not get overwhelmed and give up. She has a website that has lots of home organisation tips, but the scope of her advice really goes beyond just housekeeping. It is about taking little steps to improve yourself and your life and taking responsability for what you can control. Good stuff. I am trying to set just a couple of goals to do each day. Today I am going to clean my bathrooms and package up the meat that I bought yesterday for storage in the freezer.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Home Again

I flew back into Medford at 11:30 yesterday morning. We awoke at 5 AM so that we would have plenty of time to check in before our 9:30 departure time. It turned out that it only took us 30 minutes to make it through all the security steps and arrive at our gate, so we spent 2 hours waiting, reading, visiting.

It is so nice to be home. My cats were underwhelmed by my return but they have been pretty much following me around the house since I got home. Right now they are curled up on the desk while I type. :o) Denis was more visibly enthusiastic about my homecoming, and we just spent the afternoon relaxing. We went out for lunch at our favorite Indian restaurant and both had the buffet and a mango lassi. Yummy! It was fun to get the chance to try a variety of dishes, since we usually stick to our favorite two when we go for dinner.

Later in the day we watched the movie "Enron, The Smartest Guys in the Room". It didn't really make it any easier to understand the particulars about the financial aspects of the scandal. But it did give an idea of the corruption of the people. The interviews hightlighted how unchecked greed leads people to do terrible things and rationalize their actions. An interesting comment by Bethany McLean, a coauthor of the book, was that she believes that Ken Lay (the chairman of the Enron Board) was the one who had most gotten away with denying his guilt in the affair. She said, "I'm not saying that I think he was criminally guilty, but that he was ethically guilty, which is an entirely different thing." It was an interesting movie. (Those who read regulary may be noticing that I tend to really like documentaries. It's true, they are some of my favorites.)


I have been (slowly) reading through the NIV One Year Bible. Today some verses stood out to me that I had not really noticed before.

1 Cor. 4:3-4 - I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.

I tend to care too much if I am judged by others rather than simply relying on God's good judgement of my life. I had always wondered about the line from Sara Groves' song "I can't even judge myself. Only the Lord can say, Well done." This seems to be the passage that she had in mind when she penned those lines. This passage reminds me of the Old Testament men of faith who did not know what God's provision of an eternal answer for sin would be, but had faith in God to provide it.

1 Cor. 4:20 - For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.

How often do we get caught up in talk about the gospel, but don't implement the power of the gospel in our lives?

Ps. 30:9-10 - What gain is there in my destruction, in my going down into the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness? Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me; O Lord, be my help.

Am I fulfilling my role as a praiser of God? Do I proclaim God's faithfulness? Not often enough.

Friday, August 11, 2006


We are mid-conference now and it is go go go, from classes to evening events. They have an internet kiosk set up here, but there is always a line, so I'm not able to share a lot of thoughts. Just thought I would let you all know that I'm alive and still having fun. :o)

Sunday, August 06, 2006


That's right! I'm off again. This time, I'm heading to LA for the national conference of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. I'm going along with my boss and one of my coworkers and we leave tomorrow morning at 7. Yikes! Fortunately, our airport here is small, so I only have to be there an hour early.

I'm looking forward to the conference. It lasts 4 days and there will be all sorts of topics covered, from tips for using insulin and other medications to teaching strategies. My boss wants us to attend two classes about participative teaching strategies because she wants us as a team to switch to this type of teaching in our group classes. We had an inservice about it this past week. It's an exciting change. I did some participative teaching on my trips to India and it is really fun and productive.

We are going to be in LA two days early because the conference doesn't start until Wednesday. We didn't have the full schedule until after we made the reservations. So I have chosen two half-days worth of sightseeing to do. One day I will be with my boss, Debbe, and the other day with my coworker, Val for fun. Debbe and I are going to go to the ethnic centers of the downtown area to shop, explore and eat. Val and I are going to the Getty Museum, which was the most recommended thing to do on Yahoo's travel pages. It sounds like an impressive place and it is free! We just have to figure out exactly how we are going to get there. Today I looked at the bus maps and I think I've got our route planned out.

The bad news is that the dress code is business casual for the conference. Ugh! I have had to buy all new clothes for work since I started this job a year ago. Before that I always worked in the hospital where I could just wear scrubs. I still don't have a very extensive business wardrobe, so I'm packing just about all my work clothes and then some shorts for the play days. I also packed one dress outfit in case there will be some sort of semi-formal event. I'm just not sure what to expect.

I can't believe that I'm leaving tomorrow!

Friday, August 04, 2006


I've done every devotional, been every place emotional
Trying to hear a new word from God, and I think it's very odd
That while I attempt to help myself, my Bible sits upon my shelf
with every promise I could ever need

People are getting fit for truth like they're buying a new tailored suit.
Does it fit across the shoulders, does it fade when it gets older?
We throw ideas that aren't in style in the Salvation Army pile
and search for something more to meet our needs.

And the Word was, and the Word is, and the Word will be

I think it's time I rediscover all the ground that I have covered,
like - seek ye first - what a verse.
We are pressed but not crushed, perplexed but don't despair,
we are persecuted but not abandoned.
We are no longer slaves, we are daughters and sons,
and when we are weak we are very strong.
And neither death nor life nor present nor future nor depth nor height
can keep us from the love of Christ.
And the Word I need is the Word that was who put on flesh to dwell with us.
In the beginning...

And the Word was, and the Word is and the Word will be.

This Journey is My Own

When I stand before the Lord, I'll be standing alone.
Still I want man's advice, and I need man's approval,
but this journey is my own.

So much of what I do is to make a good impression.
So much of what I say is to make myself look better.
This journey is my own.

Why would I want to live for man and pay the highest price?
What would it mean to gain the world, only to lose my life?

I have never felt relief like I feel it right now.
Cause trying to please the world, it was breaking me down,
it was breaking me down.

Now I live and I breathe for an audience of One,
now I live and I breathe for an audience of One.
Cause I know, this journey is my own.

You can live for someone else, and it will only bring you pain.
I can't even judge myself. Only the Lord can say, "Well done."

Monday, July 31, 2006

Ice Show

Yesterday, my mom and I drove up to Portland (a 5 hour drive) and back to see the Champions on Ice show. It was fabulous! We were amazed to see who was there and couldn't believe our luck. You see, we actually got the tickets for free. Mom had heard about the give-away for a local store's anniversary celebration on the radio. All she had to do was ask for the tickets and they gave them to her. We were rather incredulous at first and figured either it would fall through for some reason or the seats would be lousy. But we were completely wrong. The seats were in the section closest to the ice, so we could see faces fairly well.

So, do you want to know who all was there? Michelle Kwan, Shizuka Arakawa, Irina Slutskaya, Sasha Cohen, Surya Bonaly, Jonny Weir, Victor Petrenko, Rudy Galindo, Evgeni Plushenko, Evan Lysacek, Stephan Lambiel, Tatiana Totminina and Maxim Marinin, Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat. Plus three specialist acts - a pair of men from the Ukraine who do acrobatic routines on skates, a woman who performs with hoops and Dan Hollander who does comedic routines.

Today I have been extremely lazy. I finally managed to do some laundry and go grocery shopping, but I didn't get started until 6 PM... I'm just wiped out from flying in late Saturday night and then the all day trip to Portland and back on Sunday. Hopefully I will have energy tomorrow because I have two meetings to attend.

PS. I added some links and pictures to my vacation reports.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Heading Home

Well, our time has come to a close and we fly home tomorrow. It has been a really nice visit with family here in Ohio. Besides the amusement park (see below), we managed to play several games of croquet and Clue with the kids, go to Jessica's youth group for "drive in movie night" and visit the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. We were all quite impressed with the museum - it was much more extensive than we expected to find. I found the information about the early years of flight to be the most fascinating - especially the military use of hot air and hydrogen balloons during three wars.

Today, I went to a Partylite Candle party with my sister-in-law, Jami, while Denis went to a church movie discussion group with Jim. Good times were had by all. :o) During the week, I tried out 3 recipes from my new Rachael Ray magazine on my family. All three were a hit. Apple cake was breakfast for two days. Dinner of "Two Tomato Pasta" and "Toasted Pecan Salad" pleased two sets... The kids preferred the pasta while the adults were impressed with the salad. (I was accused of using "strange lettuce", meaning that it was other than iceberg.)

So tomorrow we fly home. It will be good to be back in our own house and our own bed. Travelling does make me appreciate home more.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Vacation, Week 2

I'm writing to you from Ohio now, but first I will recap some highlights from week 1. As you know, we stayed 5 nights at Brian and Kathy's bed and breakfast (see post below). They did make us some lovely breakfasts and were wonderful hosts. They were in the process of finishing the attic by putting in insulation and putting up walls, so Brian was busy most mornings helping with the work. They would stop at midday because it was like an oven up there. The end result will be great savings on their heating and cooling. So in the mornings, we would visit with Kathy and about midday, Brian would come down from working and visit as well. They taught us a new card game called Golf that we then taught to David and Jean one night.

Once our espresso cravings could not be put off any longer, we would go into town to one of the fine coffee shops and hang out. On our last day in town, we tried out Osama's Coffee Zone. I tried the Arabic Latte, which was quite strong and had cardamom in it. It was quite good.

On one day, Denis and I went for a day trip along a scenic route out of Jefferson City. It wound through farmland and finally ended up along the Missouri river at Hermann. Hermann is a big tourist area with lots of wineries. So we decided to check out one of the wineries for a tour. It was 100 degrees (maybe 38 C?) out that day. The tour started outside along the vineyard and then continued inside the cellars where it was a nice 65 degrees (17 C?). It was very interesting - neither of us knew much about wine making except that grapes were involved. At the end of the tour was a surprisingly generous wine tasting session. We must have had the equivalent of 2.5 glasses of wine, including port and sherry. We were unsure of the procedure and whether it would be okay to just taste a sample and throw out the rest of a glass, so we just kept drinking. I was in no state to drive, so we had appetizers in the restaurant while we waited for our livers to do their jobs... :o)

So, on Sunday morning we drove up to St. Louis and met my brother and family for the drive to Ohio. We did stop downtown for a glimpse of the arch before we headed east. We arrived here about 6PM and had a house tour, church tour, introduction to the new cat, etc. My niece, Jessica, is 15 now and studying for her learner's permit to drive. My nephew, Jered, is 11 and interested in all sorts of things as all 11 year old boys are.

Monday (yesterday) we went for a day at King's Island, the local amuzement park. It was quite crowded, especially for a weekday, but we had fun. We went to the water park first until they closed and then over to the big rides. Denis and I both went on a roller coaster called "The Vortex" which goes upside down 6 times! Then my brother talked me into going on the other big coaster called "Face Off". On this one, you are riding under the tracks and you ride through the short course once facing forward and a second time going backwards. Quite a ride. I did feel a little queasy on the ride home, but it was fun to get the chance to ride such extreme rides.

The Vortex

Face Off

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

On Vacation

Well, we are in Columbia, Missouri on vacation and having a great time. We are staying at my friends' Bed and Breakfast and each day we get to spend time with both my friends Brian and Kathy and Denis' friends David and Jean. I knew Brian from the singles group in the church I attended in Portland. He and his wife bought this B and B December of last year and moved halfway across the country. In the same town lives Denis' best friend from high school and his family. Such a wonderful twist for us to wind up with two couples to visit in the same town!

Our plane arrived in St. Louis at 11 PM and we drove our rental car to arrive here at 2 AM. The next morning I attended church with Brian and Kathy and in the afternoon we met up with David and Jean. So far we have enjoyed delicious coffee twice at The Artisan twice. In the evenings, David and Denis play guitar together and they sound really good. They learned to play together just after high school and its a rare treat for them to get to jam together. This evening, we had a big jam session, Brian is learning the banjo, Jean played fiddle, Denis and David on guitar and I hammered on a drum. Afterwards, we went to dinner at the Flat Branch Brewery.

So, we're having a great time. The weather is hot and a bit muggy, so we are indoors mostly, but that doesn't hinder visiting with old friends! Sorry no pictures. Denis brought his digital camera but left the memory card at home. I will have to wait till I get my film developed before I can upload anything.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Macaroni and Cheese

I am making mac and cheese for myself. The noodles are boiling as I type. I love mac and cheese. I specifically like three different kinds:

1. Kraft is the only boxed brand worth eating as far as I'm concerned. I stock up on the single serving "Easy Mac" for the easy preparation. It also helps me not to over indulge. If I made a whole box, I would eat it all. I do add extra cheddar to the mix.

2. Stouffer's makes a good frozen version. It has a nice rich cheddar sauce - and plenty of calories.

3. And then there's homemade. That is what I'm making tonight. I don't have any elbow macaroni, so I'm having to make do with penne rigate. I make a white sauce and add some mustard and cayenne pepper and then plenty of sharp cheddar. The mustard gives it a nice tang and the cayenne adds a kick. You have to eat it while it is plenty warm, or it all hardens into a gooey mass.

Gotta go. I think my pasta may be done.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Latest

Our vacation is just around the corner. We leave on Saturday and visit some friends in Missouri for one week and then my brother in Ohio for the second week. I finally remembered to reserve a rental car for the time in Missouri today. We are both going to get hair cuts tomorrow in preparation. I am going to get mine shortened to about chin length so hopefully I will keep cooler in the midwest heat and humidity.

I had my last visit with the physical therapist today. The set of exercises that he has doing now for my jaw seem to be working. My teeth still don't fit together the way they used to. But now they connect on both sides and my front teeth don't hit together so hard anymore. It's not perfect, but I can live with it this way. He does recommend that I get a bite splint because I seem to be clenching my teeth in my sleep. My insurance only pays $500 lifetime maximum for TMJ problems, so I'm going to wait until I know how much of that I have left before I go to get the bite plate. I may have to pay for that out of pocket.

The last news of the day is that I had another artichoke attack. I found a decent specimen and tried to recreate the flavor of my first experiment. I used the broiler instead of the grill for the final step. It came out pretty good - quite good. So I think the problem with the one last week was the bay leaf that I put in the boiling water. It gave the whole thing a funny taste.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Artichoke Obsession

I made grilled artichokes on the 4th of July along with grilled chicken. I hadn't had a fresh artichoke since a college friend introduced me to them my freshman year. I was always intimidated by the spiny leaves and figured that they would be too difficult to prepare, but I was wrong. After just cutting off the stem and the top 1 inch of the leafy end, you place them in salted boiling water for 20-30 minutes.

Back in college, we dipped the leaves into melted butter - yummy, but not so good for the arteries. This time, I made a dressing of lemon juice, olive oil and tarragon. After cutting the cooked artichokes in half and scraping out the choke, I drizzled the dressing on and we put them on the grill for a few minutes. I had high hopes that through the magic of the grill, Denis would find them palatable. But he still found them a bit weird. So I got the pleasure of enjoying 2 whole artichokes. I talked him into trying a bite of the heart, but he wasn't impressed. MMMmmmm they were so good. I didn't remember how good they were.

They were so tasty, that I had to go on an emergency artichoke run to the store on Thursday night. But my second artichoke experience did not quite measure up to the perfection of the previous one. I'm not sure if it was a problem in the artichoke itself (they didn't look as fresh at Safeway, and I really had to search for one that looked okay) or my preparation. I added lemon juice and a bay leaf to the boiling water this time and didn't bother with the grilling bit. Anyway, it just wasn't as sweet and luscious the second time around. I think I may have to give it a third try if I can find another beautiful artichoke.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Music in my CD Player

I have been listening to some beautiful music tonight, and so I realized it was time for another installment of this popular segment. Previous episodes here and here. Tonight's set is composed of mellow worshipful Christian music:

Graham Kendrick - "What Grace" 2002 worship album. Check out arrangement of Rock of Ages.
Susan Ashton, Margaret Becker, Christine Dente - "Along the Road" A mezmerizing sound.
Rich Mullins - "a liturgy, a legacy and a ragamuffin band" Classic!
Sara Groves - "Conversations" Wonderful lyrics of Truth.
Fernando Ortega - "This Bright Hour" What a soothing voice.

I really think any Christian should have Conversations and This Bright Hour on their CD shelf. They are just fantastic!

Movie Review - The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill

We have finally seen a movie that I can whole-heartedly recommend! This was a great film. It is a documentary about a man who spent about 10 years of his life befriending and studying a flock of wild parrots that live near Coit Tower in San Francisco. The Netflix description of the movie did not do it justice. It describes the man, Mark Bittner, as a "bohemian St. Francis of Assisi" - an eccentric searching for meaning in life. In reality, I didn't think that Mr. Bittner seemed that eccentric or bohemian. However, he did become fascinated with these birds and basically adopt a full time job of observing them. This was in spite of the fact that no one was paying him and he could find no one else interested in his research.

No one is sure what the origin is of the wild flocks of parrots that live in SF (there are two). Somehow they escaped from captivity and have been propagating and doing quite well in the city. What surprised me about the film was how studious it was. Mark Bittner did his homework over the years, finding out more and more about the parrot social network, behavior and where they likely came from. In an interview with a zoo-keeper, we find out that not a lot is known about these topics because it is so hard to study parrots in their natural habitat. Bittner has maintained contact with this zookeeper over the years to ask him questions about the observations he makes.

And unlike Timothy Treadwell, who spent his years studying grizzly bears in Alaska and was profiled in the movie Grizzly Man, Bittner kept his role in perspective. He interfered in the flock very rarely, only when there was a bird that was severely injured or ill and then released them back to the flock if they were able. He was able to accept the natural cycle of life and death that is inherent nature. All in all, it was a very informative film about a fascinating group of birds and a very interesting and intelligent man.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

By Request

Our engagement picture.

Sisters mountains in Central Oregon

Painted Hills at John Day Fossil Beds. From our camping trip last fall.

Denis soggy in Duluth, Minnesota. On our 2004 vacation.