Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Older, crankier, needier.

I changed . This is ny new profile picture.
I 'm older.
And not prettier.
Cranky at the smallest thing.

I miss normal.

A little pain in the knee. Rest and heat. Can't stand too long; can't walk too long; can't ride or drive too long. Knees are On my mind, all the time. 
Age has krept  in my joints like sand , irritating a bit at the beginning, worse as time moves on.
This time last year, I was walking four miles a day and barking at slow movers.

Now, I pace myself through the day.
I nap.
I eat my favorite foods.
I watch comedy.

I still have my eyes and my fingers!

Signs o fLlife

Who lives here besides us?

What do we know about their lives?

What's our relationship?

Will the tide affect us equally?

If  the other is sick, will we be sick too?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Back in the Old Days...

Oregon is a relative young state. Our town, Port Orford, is the oldest township on the coast, founded in 1859 or so, as a fort, a military outpost to protect the lumber that was being cut and shipped to Eureka and San Francisco. Port Orford Cedar became a cash crop for young pioneers with money and resources to set up lumber operations.

Oregon Trail, wagons bringing young families to the  West, followed the Lewis and Clark expedition notes, settling down in places that promised riches and sustainability.  The Lewis and Clark expedition got in trouble for months up at the mouth of the Columbia, in present Astoria.  Pacific storms forced them to set up a more permanent settlement until they could resume their exploratory travels.

Oregon has these two sides, a stunning summer/fall weather and an incessantly wet winter/spring that can chill the bones. People who visit us in the summer, wonder why the place is still lightly inhabited.  We tell them that most people are chased off by the first winter storms.

Here, on the shores of the Great Pacific, my grandchild and her friend rode horses on the beaches for just an hour or so, stopping just long enough for photographs. The next day, they had to rest, as  aches and pains connected them to the pioneers whose mode of transportation was horses.

If you come to Oregon, you get this sense of history as you recreate on our rivers, beaches, back roads.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Summer Time is Reading Time

A friend of mine gave me Delizia, an epic history of italians and their food by John Dickie.
And I have been devouring every word.

"Boisterous, gluttonous stories-some verging on the salacious..." Publishers Weekly

"A book that is as much a feast of horrors as delights..."The Sunday Times (London)

You don't read this kind of book when you are hungry or on a diet.  You read it when you are sitting down in the shade of a big tree, with trade winds blowing, with a glass of wine in one hand and the book in the other, savoring history one sip at a time.

I swear, there is as much history here as there are recipes and how they came about.

If you are curious about how Italy came to be a great place for food, read this book.  History was never this much fun for me.
If I were not already Italian, I would convert!

Buon Appetito!

Friday, August 20, 2010

All around, the drama of survival

Usually, this area is under water during our beach walks. When not, it is full of sea life, sea urchins, crabs, star fish, and other small marine life, clinging for life on the rocks, waiting for the next wave to wash them ashore.

I'm not sure you can see much in this picture, though.

But, life is fragile, we are reminded.
Yesterday, as we stopped on I5 for a rest stop at the Umpqua Natural History Museum, we experienced feeding time for snakes.  Little tiny white and black mice, scampering around, trying to escape the cage and their ultimate demise became a good moment to ponder the cycle of life, the drama of survival among living things.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Lauren can dance!

I have watched  the Fox show "So You Think You Can Dance" for the last few seasons. By the end of the show, when the final winner is declared and paraded I'm holding my breath.  I don't pick up the phone and vote with the rest. No. I observe, ponder, enjoy and then bet on the winner.

For the last seven seasons, I have picked the winner all but once.  Not a bad performance on my part. Just ask me how I figure this out, and I couldn't tell you. Something there is in me that loves dance and dancers and can sniff the most passionate and unique among them.

When a special choreography touches me deeply, I begin to watch for the dancer that got lost in that dance. I follow his/her trajectory, notice the unique way he/she interprets the story line.

This year  I lost. I had picked Adachiche to be the winner.  Unfortunately, he was not selected.  My second pick was Billy, but he too got voted out.
Lauren beat them all. She is quite a dancer, I might add, a joy to watch.
If the company of winners come to your city to perform in the near future, do attend. The performers are outstanding. The choreographers are amazing.  The shows all promise to be stunningly beautiful.

If you have young people, do take them with you. They will fall in love with dance.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The tail's end.

Some of you may recognize this picture, my attempt of capturing Butters-short for Buttercups-fetching/retrieving balls  in our cold lake. I almost erased this picture, not exactly sure what I was proving with it. It does not contain a full body, nor does it tell you about the medium/background.  It is a vignette, a moment in time, dislodged and uncontexted.

Most of our moments are like this. Artists/writers see these moments and are able to contemplate their uniqueness, their lines, the feelings they evoke. Artists can separate a moment, a feeling and shower their attention to it.

Sometimes, freezing a moment and framing it, helps us appreciate the fluidity of our lives, the impermanence of it all.

We have stopped life by art.

Art becomes a beautiful feeling captured.
And art makes life worth living.

THIS THEME and more are explored in The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barberry.
For a review of this book, visit ds at

(p.s. blogger spelling tool questions odd things I do, such as the spelling of uncontexted. What would you do?)

Monday, August 9, 2010

How Wolfgang Puck sent me back home.

Year after year after I married, had children and worked full time, I took liberties with my mother's recipes. I began to use frozen meals, canned products, simplified version of the dishes she cooked.  My minestrone began to taste like the water-down version in a can of Campbell soup.

I stopped eating the minestrone I prepared.

My husband, raised on Chef-boy-R-D tought everything tasted fine.
I was too tired to care, actually.  After an entire day on high heels and tight girdles-yes, the picture is important because my legs and calves suffered-walking around a classroom of unruly teens, I wanted to collapse at the end of the day, not fix a meal that took hours to develop all its flavors.

I opted for quick meals, and knew not what I was doing to our health.

Then, after we visited a Wolfgang Puck cafe in Santa Monica, and I saw how the chef sauteed the vegetables on the side before adding them to the cooked beans, after I tasted the authentic minestrone of my childhood, I swore never to take shortcuts again. 

It's just not the same thing.
So, I have to give credit where credit is due.  I'm plagiarizing Chef Puck's recipe. It is also the original recipe my mother passed down to me. She would be proud of me.

Should you wish to see this recipe, it's on my  Real Food blog.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

An Update and a preview...

This summer is a mixed bag. My garden has been delayed by weather and other circumstances beyond my control. By now, I should be harvesting favas, peas, onions, broccoli... I blame the wet and cool weather as well as the many crows that are now making their nests in these trees.  Last year, bluejays invaded this space, the year before, moles and rabbits.  Everyone comes to the water in the summer.

Two of our big machines, the tractor and the weed whacker broke down. Two of our bathrooms were upgraded, taking months, with people in and out of the house.  My daughter  had surgery and I was gone to her place to provide assistance.  My husband needed emergency dental care that pushed everything else aside, including the mowing and weed whacking with the new machines we purchased.  Plus, we had company!  And we are expecting more.

No wonder my head is spinning and I'm taking refuge in my new blog. Real Food
There, I can stay positive and calm . Cooking relaxes me.

This is really typical summer stuff here.
All winter and spring we live predictable lives.
Then, the rain stops, weeds take over, fences need mending and we are outdoors getting hurt and tired.
Ah, the fun of summer.
The expenses of summer.
The excitement will last us for the next nine months.
I'll keep you posted so you can send your sympathy cards this way. I should be feeling sorry for you in sweltering mid western heat.
 I do. Hope your weather improves.

Friday, August 6, 2010

New topics, new blog, new adventures


I'm back home, surrounded by sea, mountains, water.
Life is good again.
I'm looking forward to my grandchild's visit and the activities we'll be involved in. For a few weeks, we will not think of doctors and meds and life's inconveniences.  We will fish and cook, eat and talk.
I've started a new blog to record the simple activities of cooking and preparing meals
things for her to savor
to remember
to try on her own
to connect her to these moments
to connect her to this place
and this time.

Do drop in and visit
Loving Real Food 
with Food and Fun

simple cooking

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Flag Season

Summer is Oregon's Flag Season.

After eight months of rainy weather, roads are pounded day and night by water, wind, debris, hail and snow.  By summer, these roads need help.

Hence, delays and detours on  major highways and on country roads.

Here we are on Hwy 101, going south from Port Orford, to Gold Beach, 24 miles away, and we met three interruptions, each time with a waiting of fifteen minutes or more.

This trip was recreational, and didn't have any time constraints. These views kept us entertained and relaxed while waiting to resume our driving.  Some people pulled off the road and parked to enjoy these vistas.

This is the view of Port Orford from the highway. Most days, it is this clear over Coast Guard Hill. The marine layer that gathers on the horizon is blown away by constant winds,from the south in  winter, and from the north in  summer. 

People always wear windbreakers in this town.

Tomorrow, when we drive to Eugene for our medical procedure, we need to allot more than three hours to make the 150 miles trip. Country roads are usually two lanes, one in each direction. Even a small repair can take time.  This year and last Federal recovery funds are financing bridge repairs as well. We will have to budget many delays.