Category Archives: Laughter

Portland Food Odyssey — Shut My Mouth!

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Durfur Oregon

There are thousands, if not hundred’s of thousands of millions of words written about food; how to grow it, buy it, cook it, eat it. Words written attempting to describe a flavor or smell, texture or color of food.  I have a friend who is not a foodie; she’s described food as fuel and can eat the same breakfast, lunch, and dinner for days and be satisfied.  My sweetie on the other hand loves food; meal planning, purchasing, preparing is a joy for him and partaking of the finished result is most often a joy for me. Though at one time I did ask that he cut down on garlic … everything, no matter how distinct the dish sort of tasted the same.

With the hundreds of thousands of millions of words written I will not attempt to describe the foods we’ve enjoyed these past two weeks, but I will share a few of the restaurants, joints, bakeries, and spots that when you find yourself wandering around Portland you really should try. These places are in no particular order, and are spread all over the place.

Though it did start with an impromptu decision on our drive through the Columbia River Gorge to stay 12 miles south of The Dalles, OR at the Balch Hotel in Dufur. No that’s not a misspelling.  The hotel was built in 1907. Restored beautifully and located in a small town farming community which isn’t tumbling down and nearly deserted. Our room was full of antiques and original light fixtures, the bed and pillows were totally comfortable, and the claw foot tub was the highlight of the renovated modern bath. The morning’s surprise, the included breakfast was fresh with homemade yogurt and granola, sun-dried tomato and spinach omelet, a blueberry muffin, and fresh squeezed orange juice.  I think that breakfast was an omen of our forthcoming culinary ‘joys’.

After Sweetie did some urban forestry, removing some poorly placed old trees in son’s backyard we were taken on a 20 minute ride to try our first ever Khao Man Gai at where else? Nong’s Khao Man Gai … Rice, Chicken with Asian spices and too-die-for chicken broth soup.

Later that night we Google Mapped our way to downtown Portland located on Mississippi to taste oyster nectar at the Olympia Oyster Bar , just so you all know, I don’t eat raw oysters … they creep me out. I did have the seafood bucket overloaded with clams & mussels. Their bread was thick and rustic, just perfect for soaking up the liquid gold at the bottom of the tin. Sweetie’s son runs the kitchen and cooks (you don’t cook oysters) and sitting at the bar we watched him in action.

Remember that was just our first afternoon in town …

Breakfast was en’joy’ing perfectly cooked eggs, while sitting next to a lovely fireplace, on an enclosed patio at the Tin Shed Cafe, which is dog-friendly in case you wanted to know. They have a Fido Menu, served along with a dish of water for your furry friends.

Truly mouthwatering vegan, gluten-free lemon bars

Wandering through the Alberta District where the Tin Shed is located, we were introduced to what I think  is the first time I’ve eaten vegan, gluten-free baked goods where the sweets taste like desserts. Shut my mouth! Yep! On a scrumptious lemon bar. I heartily recommend the Back to Eden bakery … it’ll be worth the hunt for a parking space, I promise. And I don’t make promises lightly …

Mid-afternoon found the gaggle of us meeting at Cathedral Park and then a cross-town jaunt again downtown (where we found an actual parking garage) and later a very large bowl of fresh raman from at an eatery called ???? that’s right I don’t remember, but it was tasty and I can’t even tell you where it was. I nearly forgot brioche donuts from Blue Star Donuts … they were sold out of my favorite lemon poppyseed so I settled for spicy mexican hot chocolate (and a few other varieties that disappeared just as quickly)!

Can you believe I didn’t take any photos of dinner? No family snaps, snaps of food, or the building. you’ll just have to take my word that the Authentica Mexican restaurant was worth the hike after finding a parking spot a few blocks down the street. Opps! I almost tried to describe the food… I’ll just say “try it ” we loved the Chili Relleno.

Come Saturday and topping off our food odyssey the daughter of my heart  had us over for brunch before we headed home … my mouth is watering thinking of it and I think I may have to try to recreate the potato, egg, and asparagus dish, and hope I don’t forget the fresh mango on the side.

After our tantalizing odyssey I’ve decided that we’re in a food rut .. a stuck-in-a-rut make the same easy favorite recipes when it’s time for a meal kind of rut; or when we head out for dinner we go the the same 3 or 4 places and it takes a road-trip and time with family and friends who really are foodies with a capital F to shake things up and get us thinking on another plane. My other local food plane will include trying that small, place down the street that’s tucked into the little shopping mall, stop at a new food truck … or that Bosnian sandwich shop whose parking lot is always full … I’m thinking of looking for a Khao Man Gai somewhere in Boise … well a girl can hope, can’t she?

Life is soooo good and tonight’s dinner is quail with mushrooms, asparagus and basmati rice.  See ya later friends … quoting Julia C. “bon appetite”!

Livin’ in the Boonies … Crackin’ Ice

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Perks of Rural Life

Holiday preparations … started. We headed for the hills on our annual Christmas tree hunt. What is so cool about that? First, the permit cost only $10 and, well, we had ours already staked out.  You see, it’s like this, while we were elk hunting  we kept saying “that’d be a great Christmas tree”, “Oh! Look at that one” so Sweetie said let’s do this …  out came the Garmin Montana and he way-pointed the trees.

On a sunshiny blue sky Saturday last Sweetie tossed the saw into truck shell, Mala into the backseat, and I filled the old Thermos with hot chocolate before we hopped into the truck cab and turned on the GPS … easy peasy.

One & 1/2 hours later, 2 trees cut & tagged and we were sitting on the tailgate drinking chocolate & tossing logs for Mala to chase into the still running not frozen stream below the road. There are some very nice perks for living in the boonies.

Which makes for days where it doesn’t take much to keep me entertained … this was my afternoon the other day. Ice crackin’ and listening to ice melting. Living near a town of less than 800 people situated in the middle of a beautiful view on a pile of burnt dirt and rocks in the high desert with snow covered mountain tops (snow covered now, sort of … not enough to ski yet) … what else to do but go ice crackin’ and watch drippin’ icicles.

It’s the season my friends … get out there and crack some ice!

 

 

Denial to Acceptance … Really

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Last week … Indian Summer

Each seasonal transition I have a mini meltdown … I become so invested in the current season that I never want it to end.  Tuesday last I moved from foot dragging, whining denial that fall is giving way to winter and Indian Summer won’t last into acceptance of winter’s charms. Icy winds and night frosted branches, snow dancing down and sun peeking from beneath clouds to glitter on said frost.

This week @Cascade, Idaho … yes, in November … like 3 days ago

It’s here … although on the calendar we may have more days of Indian Summer which I will revel in … winter is coming, snow is falling and plans for the winter months are starting to bustle to the front of my brain. They are the indoor, quieter activities, interspersed with days of mountain shusshing skiing (alpine & nordic), a trip or two south of the snow meridian, and maybe I’ll get the first chapter of the life story of my Great-Grandfather Hyrum Chase Nicol outlined if not completed.

What’s on your late fall and early winter want to do list? I hope it includes giving Thanks with family and friends, and giving secret service where it’s least expected. I hope your list contains stuff that will make you break out in bubbles and giggles of laughter, and trying recipes that will waft great smells from your kitchen, and will your list contain projects to actually be completed before (like me) your mind wanders away?

So my friends, I’ll keep wandering, even if it’s only in my mind and soul and finding that perfect run, on the perfect snowy powder day … you’ll join me, won’t you?

 

Indian Summer … “I gather sun rays”

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Taking a break …

My prayers have been answered! Indian Summer keep on coming!! On Wednesday in the warm sunny it was a little fishing while Sweetie went bird hunting and Monday if the weather dudes have it right we’ll be wadin’ a river, tossin’ a line savoring time.

Today Mala and I took a short hike over the hills and dales on a chunk of state property behind the pastures out back. No hurry, no rush just wandering inhaling the perfume of broken sage, sun warmed soil, and listening to the pop and rustle of die-hard grasshoppers.

Leaves are almost gone from branches, seed heads are dipping toward the ground in the slight breezes and deer tracks wander wraith like through the grasses. It’s a good place for a walk. I am grateful for this moment to build memory for the dark and snow filled days ahead, like Frederick by Leo Lionni “Frederick, why don’t you work? they asked. I do work”, said Frederick. “I gather sun rays for the cold dark winter days”. When the darkness of winter closes the doors with drifted snow, and colors are hidden by white piles and grey clouds I will remember this day; the dusty motes of sage floating in the golden rays of sun, the brilliant reds and oranges of leaves letting go of branches to drop into piles below, the green tops of carrots lonely in the garden box, red globes of tomatoes in shining jars, and I’ll remember turquoise blue water bumping a sandy shore while my fly line drifts gently with the river’s tug.

Take a moment and find Frederick, read it today then read it again in the darkest of winter days and your heart will spill out all the brightness of this Indian Summer day.  Until later my friends, I’m reveling in another day of Indian Summer … such days are truly a blessing.

 

 

 

Summer Over? No! I’m Not Ready … I’m in Denial

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North Fork Clearwater River … in the smoke at sunset … River on Fire

I hope you’ve been out doin stuff … We’ve been doin’ losts of fishing stuff these last months of summer and I’ve not been writin’ about doin’, oh I thought about it, but  why write if I could fish, or hike, or … but it really is fall now, isn’t it? Well, I’m not ready for summer to be over …  I’m in Denial! I’ve started praying for a long, lovely Indian Summer.

Sweetie and I have packed as much into the last months of summer and first weeks of fall as I have filled bottles and freezer bags with the abundance from our garden. Whereas the jewel filled jars of peaches and Sweetie’s tomatoes sauce, and grapes are bottled shining reminders of those summer days, I took few photographs to jog my memory of these past weeks and months, but lots and lots of memories. (uhh, like watching Wade submerge in the Owhyee, hat only floating atop the water … or me submerged LOL).

I can tell you that here out west we were still dealing with the awesome winter of 2016-17  until mid-August or so … the rivers were scoured out; river beds and banks torn asunder and high water debris in many places 10-20-30 feet above the water line. Powerful and mighty torrents of snow melt crashed through these canyons. There was little to not very good fly fishing until mid-summer, but then woah! Nelly.  We hit the road, and went into fishing mode full time. Did we catch fish? Lots of fish (catch & release folks), except for one rainbow who became dinner.

Jill & Me on the North Fork with Maggie & Mala dogs

After early August fish camp  and the total solar eclipse we really got down to summer business.  Leaving Sweetie at home working, my fishing friend Jill and I headed to the North Fork of the Clearwater River in northern Idaho for a girls only trip … for those of you who couldn’t come this year, remember the invite is open for next!

The fishing was exciting and I lost as many flies and line on BIG fish as I caught … thinking about it makes my heart pump a bit faster. The air was smokey from the huge fires that burned through Montana and Oregon all summer and though we coughed and couldn’t see stars, the smoke filter made for some beautiful sunsets.

Fun Fishing Group … Me, Tommy, Greg, George, Paul, & Jim …

Then we had more than several days on the Owyhee and more days on the South Fork of the Boise … and I came home “fished out”.  I never thought that would happen, but I was like “Nope! I’m staying home … clean the garden, mow the pasture of a backyard, bottle those peaches gathering fruit flies and…and…and…”

However, after a few weeks off, tomorrow I’m going to find a riffle or two and spend a couple of hours listening to Fall. My Sweetie has moved into hunting mode: elk, upland game, and so on and so forth…so I’ll be on my own. Which is mucho okay, as solitude rejuvenates my soul since I’m an introvert in disguise. I know, you’d never guess would you?

Today’s weather is supposed to be rainy … it’ll be a great introvert day.  Enjoy your days my friend. 

 

 

Zone of Totality …

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So there was this thing about 10 days ago that created a sensation across the states (and the world) … the total solar eclipse. Now I’m not an astronomer (I tried, but I can’t stay up all night), and it’s taken me almost my whole lifetime to learn the names of and recognize the phases of the moon. But I LOVE eclipses; total or otherwise.  I haven’t traveled across the world to watch one (or I haven’t yet), but after being an eye witness in the Zone of Totality I just might.

We’re ready … total solar eclipse 2017

Check the light, the sun is about 1/2 covered and the night wind started blowing.

When the hype started 5-6 months ago I realized that our little ‘ranch’ although not in the exact center of the path was in the zone and I immediately thought PARTY!! And what a party it was … 17 peeps made a 7 hour trek to experience totality, plus our next door neighbors (next door meaning they get in their truck to get to our place).  The hype and Facebook and twitter and newspaper articles are awash with photographs … I heard folks were disappointed they didn’t turn into vampires, at least that was one rumor floating around… yeah, well … it’s what I heard.

This is soooo cool!

So, just 2 days before the eclipse I was talking to my little sister about how I wanted to experience things and stop seeing them through my camera lens … My point was I spend too much time ‘capturing’ the moment rather than ‘living’ the moment. So, what did I do? I wasted precious time trying to ‘get a shot’ of what my eyes were seeing (which didn’t work) and I wasted time that I could have seen the stars that came out, I could have, I could have … but I didn’t. But I will when I see the next total eclipse August 12, 2045 which goes dead-center over Utah, and after all I’ll only be 91 … guess that’s something to put on my I need to see and experience again list.

What else do you do at Grandpa’s ranch but ride the 4-wheeler

Just so you know that I did invite everyone I know and talked to in Boise and surrounding areas to come up and see the Total Eclipse … and what did I hear? “It’ll be 99.5% total here, why should I drive 2 hours north and get stuck in traffic”? What’s the difference? What’s the difference? It’s like running 26.195 miles of a marathon and stopping because 99.5% is good enough”. It’s like Neil Armstrong peeking out the window of the lunar module and saying, “this is close enough”.

In the Zone of Totality
Photograph Credit: Wyatt Taylor (yes, he’s my gson) Follow his Instagram @ High_Peaks_Adv and webpage

We were Here! We experienced the light dim to colors I’ve yet to have words to describe, to feel the temperature drop 15+ degrees and the night winds start blowing, to keep tipping solar viewing glasses up and down to see the light change, to look at the corona, to see the colors change again.  Then to watch that brilliant blast of solar light as the sun exploded into the beyond just as the moon slipped infinitesimally past  totality … it was a diamond ring.

But I missed stars! and I WANTED to see the stars. What a hard lesson that was … again.  My lesson? Be Here Now!

What an AWESOME display of the perfection of the universe and of God’s love to put the planets in such perfect alignment that on August 21, 2017 we were in the Zone of Totality … we saw & felt a Total Solar Eclipse!

The fam & friends had packed and were on the road before the end of the light show .. attempting to make it to the interstate before the throngs plugged the 2  lane running past our house.  It was a good plan, but an hour south they became part of the miles of traffic stoppage with other like-minded folks.

The total eclipse was worth it, and to add to our excitement Saturday night we had a 3 hour find Max the Schnauzer (dog with a heart condition) scavenger hunt. After many tears and recriminations he was found under a bush 100 yards from the house after a search of 90+ acres, and several miles of the rails to trails.

Idaho Eclipse Weekend Artifact; found in clothes dryer. Finder quoted saying, “I thought I said NO”.

Not to be outdone, Sunday was the evening of the RATTLESNAKE ! My theory is the old school gangsta rap they were listening to called the snake across 30 feet of burnt dirt and rocks, to hunker under the trailer & coil up next to the boombox between two girls.  Later the daughter discovered that No to a 10 year old son isn’t no to his grandpa.

Isn’t Life Grand?

Where will you be for the next Total Eclipse? https://www.greatamericaneclipse.com/future/

 

No Bears are Out Tonight

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Bear River Campground Me & Jill, the Mini Winnie & the Tiny Trailer

Last week, heading southeast to Wyoming to fish with my friend Jill, I started wondering about place names … it started when I noticed the next exit to Rattlesnake Pass. We’ve had a lot of rattlesnake sightings and funerals this summer up at the ranch and we are in hyper-watch mode. I imagined  homesteaders trailing into the desert sagebrush frightening and frightened by enough rattlesnakes that the place became a landmark. You know, turn right across Rattlesnake Pass.

If names reflect the landmarks then what do I think as I pull into the Bear River Campground, which is next to the East Bear River Campground, both of which are right on the Bear River? I’m thinking that I didn’t bring bear spray only my new little Kel Tec 22 pistol with snake shot … then to enhance my awareness of place names there were the bear warnings everywhere in the campground. Do NOT leave any food outside, nor in tents, nor in tent trailers that could attract bears. Do landmark names really reflect the truth? As I set up the Mini Winnie I wondered if it was bear proof?

Forgetting landmark names  and thinking FISH, the first morning out we headed up the Mirror Lake highway past all the private property & no trespassing signs to park in an off highway spot (remember to pick up your parking passes at the Ranger Station). Down to the river through willows and brush and trees. Jill went downstream and I went up.

Day one was eventful … I was sucked into a quicksand/mud bog hole crossing a side water stream to reach a rocky island where I went from mid-calf water to over my knee in a blink … luckily I fell into the bank, desperately holding my fly rod in one hand and some wee grasses with the other,  hoping I didn’t fall all the way in and wash downstream. Slowly I  pulled myself out of the water with a mucky sucking fuoosh as the black goop let go of my foot. All that and I didn’t catch one fish … notta … zippo.

Fire Scar Meadow …

Day two started with a beautiful hike to the East Fork Bear River through an old fire scared meadow down to the river … I caught a few fish, evaded some extremely large bovines and fell in the river (again). Yes, you heard me right … I fell in the river.

Wet wading in t-shirt, shorts, and my trusty old Asolo trekkers with my wading staff floating at my feet I caught a flash of fish out of the corner of my eye. I turned too quickly, not watching my feet placement on the slippery stones nor my wading staff floating between my feet. I turned, the staff didn’t and I went down on my butt, water to my chest and my backpack acting like a balloon on my back. Not good. After I righted myself and found my footing again I stood dripping in the still cold, winter run-off water, holding my legs still so my shorts wouldn’t touch them.

Then, planner that I am I remembered the change of clothes in my pack, just in case, because, let’s face it … I tend to slip on rocks in a rushing river. However, opening my pack it was obvious that it wasn’t waterproof. Everything was wet or wet enough that it wouldn’t have made a difference if I changed or not.

I just started fishing again (further up stream from my debacle) hoping the sun would peep between thunder storm clouds which didn’t happen, but I got a double soaking when the heavy clouds opened up  as we hiked the miles back up to the parking lot.

Evening found us up at Lily Lake, named for the thousands of lily pads that clog about 1/3 of it  and it was a beautiful spot (to lose a lot of flies) … I’ve not fished lakes with a fly rod much. Score: Lily Lake Trees about 10, Fish 1 and Me? Zero.

Bear River off the Mirror Lake Highway, Wyoming

Our last day I headed back up river while Jill packed up her tiny trailer. After catching a few fish and enjoying a sunny morning I headed back to the truck … when I arrived Jill was waiting and watching the river. She worried I had fallen in and drowned myself … she was checking the river to see if I floated passed. Day Three … I did NOT fall in the river. I count that a plus.

If you’re looking for a quiet night and pleasant camping, and aren’t pulling a gargantuan sized trailer the Wyoming side of the Mirror Lake Highway is a nice, peaceful place to stay and it’s away from the heavily packed campgrounds on the west side of the mountains … I highly recommend giving it a try.

Though the fishing could have been better the camping was great, we didn’t get many thunder storms and there was plenty of firewood to be picked up from old slash piles. But, we didn’t press our luck and play no bears are out tonight … we just watched the fire burn to coals and listened to the river’s song.

Next trip, Sweetie and I are heading to Washington state to fish near Mt. Rainier with his daughter & son-in-law where I’m hoping to catch a few more fish and NOT fall in the river.

Until next time friends, tight lines and blue skies.