Monday, July 19, 2010

Our vegetable garden 2008

slide show - our vegetable garden 2008. It worked, it worked, it worked and it was a lot of work! At the time I was strongly into growing and eating local, 100 mile diet, shifting to more self sustaining kinds of activities and worked on growing a garden that would feed us. For the most part it worked, but so much to learn, so much work and while we won the slug fest (literally - the slugs of Pacific Northwest climate) that year, we have been losing the slug fest annually.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Congressman Brian Baird's Successfully Civil Town Hall Meeting in Ilwaco – Health Care Reform

Kudos to the Congressman and his staff for hosting a successfully civil discourse Town Hall meeting last night in Ilwaco, in Pacific County, WA. And of course, the primary range of questions had to do with Health Care/Insurance Reform. Death threats to the Congressman aside, he still managed to conduct his usual in-person Town Hall meetings in several Southwest Washington counties.

What was the process?

I can't speak to the in person Town Hall meetings he held in other counties except for what I've read in media (some of which has been reported at Washblog). I can speak to the TH we attended in Ilwaco last night. Also Baird has added telephone Town Hall meetings as well to his usual array of in-person TH meetings in the SW counties.

The Ilwaco TH meeting was orderly and permitted the many to hear both the questions and Baird's responses without interruption or interference. Which is precisely what I wanted - information and not the drama of interference that has been the hallmark of many other TH meetings across the nation.

We arrived at the high school, and yes, there was a tiny contingent of less than impressive 'protesters' with their home-made cardboard signs. They kept their behavior under control and did not molest the people as they were coming into the auditorium. We signed in, and we were asked if we wanted to ask a question of the Congressman; if so, we were given a number (kind of like at an auction).

We were seated and it was explained by the moderator that corresponding numbers were in a twirl cage (bingo comes to mind), and numbers would be picked at random. Those persons who held those numbers would come forward to be seated in the first row of seats. Each would then get 3 minutes of time at the microphone to state their concerns, ask their questions and the Congressman would have 3 minutes of time to respond.

Questions came from both parties. I think people are sophisticated enough to filter out what is rhetoric and focus in on the actual question, when there is a question and not just a 3 minute pulpit for speech making. The Congressman's opportunity to respond, or better said, give the facts as he knows them, provided a format that helped enormously to dispel some of the rhetorical myths, giving the auditorium of people an opportunity to listen to and hear the information.

In Congressman Baird's Town Halls that we have attended in the past, even when my own emotions have been highly charged, (ie, his vote in 2007 for the Surge in Iraq where our son-in-law was deployed), he has been respectful to all, including us, in responding to concerns and questions. Last night's Town Hall was no exception. He was respectful, courteous, and responsive to every question, even the few who formulated their questions in what seemed designed to bait him. He actually was skillful in handling those baiting type questions, both responding and further elaborating on concerns and situations that led to the current Health Care Reform issue.

It was a 2 hour TH meeting, so obviously, there was not time for everyone who might have wanted to ask a question to have a turn at the microphone. But with the quality of the kinds of questions asked, and Baird's informative responses, I think probably most of the concerns people had in their minds received air time in a very Civil dialogue.

Earlier in August, I was also on one of Baird's telephone TH meetings (Pacific County), and got to ask my question of him; specifically what concerns about the Health Care Reform Bill did he have as he has said he is unsure how he will vote when it comes up for vote in Congress. Frankly, I would like to see him vote for the Bill with all of it's warts and flaws rather than to vote against it. I sense that voting for the Bill starts the ball rolling, probably with a lot of tweaks needed in years to come. Whereas to vote against it because of it's imperfections does little to alter or change the current deeply flawed Health Care 'system'.

As Baird explained he has heard from doctors, it is not really a system so much as an evolution that has evolved into a complex hodge podge of health care that some get and some don't.

On a personal note, I do have to be a bit amused at one of the questions last night. The Chair of the Republican Party in our 3rd Congressional District was among one of those whose number was called, giving her time at the microphone. She has had time at earlier Town Hall meeting in another county to state her concerns to the Congressman and she did make an offer of her home as a venue for the Congressman to hold an in- person Town Hall, guaranteeing him an assurance of safety she would personally provide. He did thank her for and it did seem he accepted the offer; I'm not sure he intended to hold a Town Hall in her home, nor would that be logical. He did hold the in person Town Hall in Ilwaco, at the high school - a more appropriate venue and approximately 2 miles from her home. She has not been deprived of opportunity of access to the Congressman, nor of opportunity to state her concerns or questions.

She has had a beef with what she terms his rejection of her offer, labeling it as evidence of an unwillingness on the part of Congressman Baird to hold in-person Town Hall meetings. She has both blogged it and arranged for a newspaper article in The Columbian, of her account of his rejection of her offer. In my opinion, it goes to show the 'slant' of her perspective in presenting the situation as a rejection, as an unwillingness on Baird's part to conduct in person Town Hall meetings. And it is a perspective she is pleased to broadcast in the media and telegraph to her party. It was, in fact, Baird offering a more appropriate venue with a wider opportunity, for the larger populace in the area to participate in an in person Town Hall. Probably safer for everyone also, with the County Sheriff there, and the presence of uniformed officers stationed along the side corridors.

Her concern as she stated it in the question last night to Congressman Baird were some remarks he had made in earlier years; favoring universal health care and duration terms of office. Baird corrected the perception she had of his earlier remarks on terms of office. She spoke again indicating she was in favor of all people having access to health care, and when Baird asked if she was in favor of universal health care, she said no, she was not, and promptly sat down. There was a bit of a buzz talk after that exchange amongst the people in the auditorium.

Highlighting this more to illustrate, in my opinion, a tactic of intent on the part of the Republican party in trying to direct attention away from the Health Care Reform issue, while offering little of substantive value as an alternative method to adjust the disparities in health care as we know it today. Congressman Baird is not the issue, nor is the next election. Health Care Reform is the issue on many people's mind and they seem to want information, not politicking.

My thanks to Brian Baird for the opportunity to learn what I felt I wanted and needed to learn about Health Care Reform - less the noise of disruptive interference. Good job in putting together the Ilwaco Town Hall meeting.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Our weekend out of town; The Story.

Our weekend;   The Story.  I have a peridontist appointment about every three months, in a town about 2 + hours from where we live.  So we have turned it into a weekend getaway, and a visit with my mother who lives in a nearby town to the town where my peridontist is located.

Had my peridontist appt Friday and the report was good - some small improvement actually.  Not much improvement, but far better than deterioration.    Then we went to my mother's home, spent the weekend. and then came home to our animals.   Our cat and dog remain at home, and so our time away is limited to a safe duration for the cat and dog to fend for themselves.  Now that my cat bite is healing and the cat is healing, life is returning to normal.   (A couple weeks earlier the cat was bitten by an animal, and in not knowing she was bitten, I picked her up, more rather tugged her out of her hiding place and she bit me…not at all her usual behavior, she is a very loving cat.   We didn’t see her wound at the time, but knew something was wrong with her.  Arthur spotted her wound, and we took her to the vet, who gave her a vaccine, and told me was more concerned that I get myself to hospital to treat the cat bite.  I did, was vaccinated and given antibiotics, the incident reported to County Health, the cat quarantined at our home for 10 days and we are both mending without incident, the primary concern being exposure to rabies).   When we returned home, our dog Jake resumed eating again.  He misses us when we are gone and gets sad - depressed.  Dogs have feelings.  Oh, and our cat too, she has feelings, misses us and glad when we return home. 

After my peridontist visit on Friday afternoon we drove to my mother’s home, picked her up and went out to eat.  We live in a rural town, and there aren’t a lot of restaurants or places to eat, so we enjoy the opportunity of eating out at different restaurants on the days of  my peridontist appointments.  It’s an eating out together date we look relish.  Choosing a restaurant in the town where my mother lives proved not to be as obvious as it might seem.  We kind of scoured what we knew to be restaurants in her neighborhood, opted to go further away, settled on Black Angus, since I was hankering for a nice steak lunch.  We got there and it no longer has lunch, open for dinner only.  Must be the economy.  The hour was growing late into the afternoon, I was hungry now, and we had not eaten breakfast that day,  or at all, so we wound up at (oh yuck!) Old Country Buffet.   Arthur likes the many choices of buffet restaurants, and sometimes so do I, but Old Country Buffet is not one of my favorites.  We both really enjoy the buffet variety of primarily healthy choices at  Sweet Tomatoes restaurant, but there were none the town where my Mom lives.    

Saturday Arthur spent the day home, defrosted Mom’s freezer for her because it had become so full of ice that the ice on all the shelves were touching each other, no room for food.   He took care of some other taskings for her, then spent the rest of the day fooling around with installing stuff in  his old fashioned computer.  Not the laptop kind, the big bulky kind.  Some guy he knows had given him some Linus software to download or told him about it.  Anyway, it was a dead computer (not working) and when Arthur finished the download it sprung back to life, installed Windows XP and is sort of functional again.  He was delighted.  Still needs an audio driver and something else that would permit it to link to internet.  He was just intrigued that it started working again...kind of like a guy tinkering in his garage with his power tools, only Arthur likes to tinker with puter.

Saturday I took Mom to Farmers Market in Proctor area of Tacoma.  That is a district that more resembles Portland or some Seattle districts; organic, green living, conscientious choices - that sort of thing, and an amazingly cool, fun grocery store with very upscale item choices.  For a mere $309.00 you can purchase a wheel of gourmet cheese!  An experience in itself.  (I’m being a bit snarky – it would be very unlikely we would ever spend that kind of  money on cheese.)  We visited a new consignment shop in her immediate neighborhood – delightful items, colorful, fun, upbeat, cheerful.  I liked it.   But I didn’t buy anything, because in truth, neither of us need another thing!

And more for the hunt of treasure than because either of us need anything more in our homes, we went to a few garage sales. What was being offered wasn’t the kind of garage sales we were looking for - more like junk sales.  We had fun anyway because we toured many of the University Place neighborhoods, the million + $$ homes with breathtaking views of the Narrows water, Narrows Bridge, the outlying island.  And alongside the million + $$ homes, are more modest ranch style homes.  You can be on a ‘house of dreams’ street and turn to go down the the next street which could well be a quiet and modest street of different ranch style homes.    University Place neighborhoods are in interesting mix of income levels.   After our tour of neighborhoods,  I took her to visit Charlie at cemetary where his ashes are placed.  It is a beautiful, peaceful cemetary, a place of quiet serenity amidst the hubbub of getting from here to there.  Nice place to quietly reflect on life.  I know, it may sound like a strange juxtaposition to reflect on life when at a cemetary where the dead are buried…..but that is how it works for me.

We went back to Proctor district that evening to have dinner at a niche Mexican restaurant (not a restaurant chain) because Mom said she heard good things about the food and atmosphere there.  Lively atmosphere with mix of old and young people dining.    I had a Taste Assault dish called Chicken Mole, although it would be better named Chicken in Mole (prounounced molay)  Sauce, because the sauce was Outrageous -  6 ingredients, and I can remember plums, almonds, mole (an unsweetened chocolate), and some other ingredients.  It wakes up your taste buds like wowza!   Not hot or even spicy, flavorful would be the word I would use to describe it.  Flavorful with each bite.  Arthur took a menu and will experiment at home with making the mole sauce because I liked it so well. 

Sunday we took Mom to her church (St Andrews Episcopal Church).   A bit of history here; my mom lost half her sightedness recently and is vision impaired now.  Mom had been saying she felt she needed something inspirational amidst all the doctor appointments and bad news.  Along the way, I decided to call the Priest at St Andrews to talk to him about Mom.  When she was a child, she attended Episcopal church in Spokane.  I explained to him her childhood church exposure, and her current medical condition with being sight impaired, being told by her doctors not to drive anymore. He agreed to visit Mom immediately and arranged for someone to pick her up and take her to church on Sundays.  

She has been to St Andrews now, a few times, and wanted us to visit her church.  We wanted to visit it also, as I enjoyed the upbeat conversation with the Priest - he was energetically young, even though he isn't young.    That Sunday they had special guests, a singing group who livened up the entire worship service with renditions of the hymns done to foot tapping music.  Guitars, tambourines, horns, and one of the gals playing guitar was barefoot!   Felt like we were at a campfire gathering!  Geesh!  But the worship service having a combination of traditional liturgy, the laying on of hands for healing, the Eucharist, and the lively music with a welcome invitation to all does reflect ‘The Emerging Church’.

We loved the church, it had accommodations our little church building isn’t equipped to have, and if we lived in that area, we would likely attend that church.   Afterwards we ate at a restaurant in her immediate neighborhood that she is fond of - an old fashioned restaurant left over from approximately the 1950’s era.     So lots of eating this weekend, way too many calories, and Mom had a nice weekend.  So did we.  

Oh and at the Farmer's Market I bought some snow peas that were priced below what is usually charged for snow peas, so I bought enough to freeze.  Bought a couple of tomato plants already bearing tomatoes, and a basil plant.   I didn’t plant a vegetable garden this year, and haven’t spent much time outside with the herb and flower gardens, so keeping it light this year.   Weather hasn’t been too cooperative where we live – cold, rainy, then unseasonably blistering hot, then cold again.   At the market, I found a growing salad bowl planter that I wanted and Mom bought it for me for my birthday gift.  The planter has growing  lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro plants  - salad ingredients, and that is the extent of my vegetable garden this year.   Except all the herbs I have been growing for a few years now. 

And I was delighted to learn about a lovely tasty sauce called Chimichurri?  Oh, I tasted some at the market, and just had to buy one - lime Chimichurri.  Great to use as braising sauce for grilled vegetables, on meats, or just straight on healthy chips or fresh veggies.   Taste delight!

It was a rather sweet weekend.  Last year around this time, we had visited Mom and she and I went to Lavender Festival on Vashon Island, ferry ride over and back, a beautiful, clear, sunny day, making the waters deep blue and picturesque. There was a Farmer’s Market there too, and we visited that Farmer’s Market

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Win This Business - Cool Cow Coffee Company in Naselle, WA

Came across this information this morning from another blogger.  An ad she found at Facebook and at YouTube.    I wasn’t able to find what she found at the source on Facebook, so it is copy and paste with a shout- out to her blog

In Naselle, Washington, just down the road from us, another local business person is having to close up shop.  The why details are included in her offer (below) to win her business, and have it relocated to within 500 miles. 

The Cool Cow Coffee Company

             The Cool Cow Coffee Company

You Could Win This Business!!

Enter by May 31st 2009

Host: Natalie Morgan - Owner - The Cool Cow Coffee Company

Type: Other - Retail

Network: Global

Start Time: Friday, March 19, 2010 at 3:55am

End Time: Monday, May 31, 2010 at 6:55am

Location: Naselle, WA

Street: SR4 & SR401

City/Town: Naselle, WA



Business Owner
Offers Hope to One Lucky Entrepreneur
And It Could Be You!
Pacific County, Washington

Natalie Morgan, owner of The Cool Cow Coffee Company in Naselle, closed its doors for good, after the town’s most recent disaster. Ms. Morgan had owned the drive thru espresso and deli for eighteen months when she witnessed the rising water from the Naselle River engulf the entire neighborhood before encompassing her business. Now she is hoping to give the opportunity of ownership in a new location to one hopeful entrepreneur and create even more jobs in the process.

Natalie had spent almost two months on the remodel after purchasing the business from its previous owner in June of 2007. She painted it apple red, added cedar shingles to the base of both of the buildings and adorned the structures with all sorts of country details including a life size Holstein cow that had been shipped in from Texas and proudly displayed on a platform at the front of the building. The cow is such an eye catcher that people would often stop to take pictures of her. Natalie even held a contest to name the cow and then let her employees pick the winning name. She planted flowers and hanging baskets in the summer to make the space even more beautiful and painted the picnic tables outside to match the buildings. No detail was overlooked, from the black and white cow patterned tip cups which read “Cow Tipping Allowed” to the little chocolate cow cookies that were given out with each and every beverage and ice cream treat, it was apparent that the new owner had poured her heart into every detail and it did not go unnoticed.

On the day of the flood the water had already overwhelmed the local fire and rescue building located directly across the parking lot from her espresso stand when the phone call came in from the red cross warning people in the area to evacuate. Natalie and her husband quickly moved as much of the equipment as they could up off of the floor, and then they locked the door and drove out through the rising flood water now just inches from the base of their building.

The Cool Cow Coffee Company had already been struggling in it‘s present location and the weak economic condition of one of the poorest counties in the state was not helping the locals to afford the luxury of one of the treats from the towns best coffee kiosks and delicatessen. In December of 2007 Naselle, Nellie the life-size Holstein cow that is perched high above the drive through eatery withstood the one hundred mile an hour winds that had crumpled the metal roof of the fire department next door, but this December that cow would find herself abandoned due to heavy snow fall and an inaccessible mountain of snow and ice left at the entrance of the business by plows clearing the nearby highways.

By the time a local contractor was finally able to clear the two feet of snow surrounding the coffee stand, it had only been open for five struggling days when the flood waters surrounded the buildings causing a power outage to the storage unit and a complete loss of perishable inventory.

The shop has not been opened since that dreadful day, January 6, 2009. With revenue dwindling, cash flow almost nil, inventory gone, quarterlies and property taxes soon due, Natalie had no choice but to close her shop. She applied for assistance from the Small Business Administration’s Disaster Loan program, but was denied because of her inability to pay back the loan due to her recent loss of income.

Even before the flood, like so many other communities and businesses in and across the nation, Naselle’s economy has also been hit hard and with the impending threat to close one of the areas main employers, the Naselle Youth Camp, Ms. Morgan feels that there is simply no hope for her shop to prosper in its present location. Buyers in the area are far and few and even if a buyer were to come along and make an offer equivalent to her initial investment, she could not sell it with a clear conscience knowing full well that it will probably flood there again.

It’s become obvious that if this business is to prosper, than it needs to be moved to an area with improved economic demographics, but Natalie and her husband, Pete, have spent the past five years physically building their home in Naselle and they still have a great deal of work to complete before they could relocate, so moving the business and relocating themselves is not an option at present. With so many people out of work, so many layoffs and so many struggling financially right now, she hoped that somehow she would be able to turn this tragedy into a positive experience for someone whom lived in a more prosperous and populated area and maybe even create a few more jobs in the process.

So she logged onto the Washington State Gaming Commission’s website and while reading through the state gaming regulations, she came across something called an essay contest. In this type of contest the prize is awarded to a winner based on a skill not chance and in this case the skill that each person’s entry will be judged on will be a creative writing project where the subject matter is based on a desire as well as a need to become self employed.

Interested persons are asked to write an essay describing why they should be given her coffee shop and are to pay a $25 entry fee with their essay. The entry fee will help Natalie to recover her initial investment and pay for any sales tax due to Washington State, the cost of the structure(s) relocation including relocation permits and fees by the contractor, free consultation on new site selection and location, all of the business’s equipment by way of a U-Haul rental truck, one week of free training in the shop at it’s new location by the shop‘s previous owner, all signage, menus and $2,000.00 cash to aid with the business’s start up costs, plus a new floor and sub floor to be installed at the building(s) new location.

It’s a win-win for everyone involved. Especially in today‘s difficult economic times. Natalie gets her investment, not to mention her health, back, the state gets a healthy sum of revenue out of the deal, some lucky, possibly even presently unemployed person gets the chance at owning and running their own business and perhaps even creates a few jobs in the process.

Here’s how to enter…

Write an essay explaining your current economic struggles and why you would like to own The Cool Cow Coffee Company.
250 Words Minimum - 500 Words Maximum

Mail it to:
The Cool Cow Coffee Company Essay Contest
Attention: Natalie Morgan
PO Box 502
Naselle, WA 98638

Be sure to include your written essay with your name, address and telephone number printed on the top, include a self addressed stamped envelope and the $25 entry fee. Entries must be postmarked no later than May 31, 2009. We must have at least 2,500 entries in order to award the prize. If we do not receive enough entries by May 31, 2009, your entry fee will be mailed back in the SASE you provide.

If all goes well and we get enough entries to award new ownership, the winner will be notified by phone on June 6, 2009 at 7PM.

Please, due to the high cost of structure relocation we can only relocate this business within five hundred miles of its present location in Naselle, WA. If the business’ new location is to be outside of that five hundred mile radius you will be responsible for paying the difference in relocation costs at the time of signing. The winner must sign title of ownership within 5 days of acceptance of The Cool Cow Coffee Company and will have 30 days from the date of signing to find and prepare a new site for the business to be relocated upon.

A foundation for the main structure of 9‘X18“, all utility hookups, local permits, fees, lease contracts and/or rental agreements are the sole responsibility of the winner. All such arrangements should be made within 30 days of signing the title. The business structure(s) and their contents must be relocated within 30 days of new ownership, or no later than August 15, 2009. The $2,000.00 cash award will be given to the winner on the first day of training. However if financial assistance is needed to aid the new owner with utilities, rent/lease, fees and permits etc., arrangements can be made to draw off of the cash award in the form of checks written directly to these agencies and/or land owners, but not to exceed the total sum of $2,000.00. Training will begin on a date specified by the new owner and will not exceed a 7 day training period in succession.

If you have any questions you may e-mail Natalie at If you would like to see more pictures of The Cool Cow Coffee Company go to You-Tube and view my video.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Flowers Arrived; doesn’t the gift of flowers just make you smile!


Daughter and son-in-law had flowers sent to my house; meant to arrive Easter weekend.  Since we live as far away as we do from urban centers, it takes UPS a bit longer to deliver, so the flowers arrived a couple days later than they planned, but the flowers did arrive. 


Came in a florist box that looked like long stemmed roses might be inside.    Opened the box to find fresh spring flowers, a hefty square glass vase and florist preservative packet, along with a happy greeting card from my daughter and son-in-law.


I learned later in talking to my daughter that she had chosen another arrangement, but where we are located there are no florists in close by vicinity that could accommodate the choice she made.    I am happy with what was sent – fresh spring flowers that are still looking fresh a week later.   Picture below.





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Two new oil paintings - just finished and still Wet! Unoriginal title of 'Cabin by the Lake'

After a too long time away from my paints, brushes, and the messy operation that is oil painting, yesterday I completed two paintings! The paintings I've accomplished grow fewer and fewer over the years since 2006. Lots of reasons why, but I hope this change in momentum means 'I'm Back'!

I sought out the old painting clothes and found I've outgrown them (that means I weigh more now than I did when last I wore them). Time to set aside another set of painting attire, in larger size.

Painted this scene in 16 x 20 size. And then painted the scene again in 11 x 14 size, although it has variables from the larger size, making both 'originals'.
I took photo of the larger size and the paint is still Wet!

The house just doesn't have much accommodation room for paintings to dry. There is the cat who can jump up anywhere, so the paintings need to be in a room with a door that closes. And as I looked around the house, I see we don't have many 'roooms' that have doors that close. Then there is the odor of oil painting that can permeate the air. If I'm going to paint frequently, I need to figure out the logistics for these challenges.

So we put the Wet Painting on top of a wardrobe (a place the cat has not yet figured out how to climb) and I snapped a few photos ... not very good photos due to the angle of looking up at the painting, and the paint is still ..... well Wet!



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Makes me smile….unexpected and joyful - video at Centraal Station Antwerpen

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