Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Revolution and Resolutions

"A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear"
John Lennon

Two days from Christmas and I have been thinking about this past year, (and the one ahead), the losses, the gains, resolutions, accomplishments ...and the unfinished projects. What truly matters and what divides us, friends, countries and how it plays out overseas in the name of war, or here at home in the political drama waging over healthcare. Fearful uncertainty is prevalent and it takes a mindful attitude to live in the moment- hopeful and happy, at a time when bankruptcy is potentially a medical emergency away, or losing a job means losing your home and everything you have worked for and more. I remind myself to concentrate on what counts, and whats icing on the cake, like family and friends. I am so grateful to have the creative work I have been blessed with this year and a loving relationship of substance and support. I lost Maggie, my beloved border collie in February and then adopted another in June. Thanks to Facebook, my circle of friends has expanded, and as a result of Alzheimer's my Mother lost a little more of her mind and beautiful spirit. It is nothing short of providence to have my Brother back home taking care of her, his loving patience -challenged daily by a lack of appreciation, is simply beyond measure.

Looking ahead, instead of unrealistic resolutions I hope to start the new year with the best intentions: less stuff for starts, no more garage sales or treasure hunting the thriftshops - my cup and barn overflows. I'm embracing a 'less is more revolution'.
I reap what I sow... therefore I channel and commit to cultivate and nurture a positive attitude daily. My serenity haiku, "Don't worry be happy, The inbox will always be full, The only thing to fear is fear itself". Its the mental affairs in life that are the hardest to control and the truth is, its all we can control - unless like my Mom its totally out of your control. In her case, there is a pill to slow it down - but not one to understand it, change it or fix it - or the accompanying depression.
My desire is to end 2009 with compassion and understanding, and to look ahead to 2010 with hope and trust.
Peace on earth, goodwill to everyone.
May we all live without fear, and continually count our blessings that surround us.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

MO'regon and beyond...

After revisiting my trip to Myrtle Creek in 1995 in my last blog post I have thought about the random decisions that sometimes have unpredictable and life changing consequences. I still question what gave me the moxie to ask my client Annamarie that day if I could stay at their vacation home in Oregon. I do remember needing to get out of the city, road trips allowed me to be a balanced and happy urban dweller in San Francisco, and those days I was up and down the West Coast from Baja to Seattle in my little Honda hatchback. Gas was cheap back then and a trip of substance was accomplished on a shoestring.
When she said yes and added "you are welcome to take the dogs", in a New York minute I was mentally packing and planning my music for the drive. The girls were, as my friend Martina says, "outside of themselves" to be in the country. Everyday spent there that week was foggy but simply gorgeous. I had packed my watercolors to paint and the house was stocked with wood to burn and paperback books to read. I didn't want to leave, and twice extended my stay, exploring the countryside ...when I wasn't buried in a novel or hiking their land.
I had recorded a few cassette tapes for the drive, one got stuck in my car tape deck playing over and over an odd mix of Screaming Jay Hawkins on one side and Roger Miller on the other, (funny how music emotionally connects you with certain times and situations)... 'I Put a Spell on You', started one side of the tape and then 30 minutes later I'd be singing along with 'Trailer for Sale or Rent'. I clearly recall the death grip I had on my steering wheel driving Interstate 5 sandwiched between semi trucks first over Mt Sexton then the equally harrowing Siskiyou Pass. I don't think I ever listened to that tape again after returning home from that trip and getting it out of the unit.
That trip was the deciding factor for my move North.
My move to the West coast from New York was equally random. I probably should back track to my adventure hitch hiking cross country from New Orleans to Oakland and the motivating decision, but I'll save that for another post.
It was at a New York City Christmas party in the winter of 1977, and I ran into an acquaintance from college. He had been living in San Francisco and wanted to move back to New York, I had just returned from a six month trip to Europe and wanted to return to the West Coast. In spite of the fact that I had just spent three months hunting down an apartment and only moved in a short three weeks earlier, we joked about swapping apartments, and with hardly a phone conversation, two months later I was driving across country with two fantastic guys I connected with via a classified ad in the Village Voice, delivering a Stella Dora bread truck to San Diego with a fraction of my belongings packed in the back.
Phillip introduced me to a few of his friends in San Francisco before he headed back East to my apartment on the lower East side of Manhattan, and I settled into his rent controlled apartment in the Castro district, my lifestyle radically different from the one I left behind, along with all my friends and a relationship that had ended.
Supersize one door closes and another door opens ...and skip the fries.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fire and Rain

I've seen fire and I've seen rain,
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end...

The summer sunshine is of course a distant memory and the drone of icy rain rattles my windows along with the random squeal of tires skidding on the curve outside my driveway. Its a dangerous corner and when icy, cars easily underestimate the drop and bend and can go completely off the road or wind up nose first into the oak tree that once was. After two days without power except for a few brief respites, I am so grateful right now to have lights, internet, water flowing and the heater humming at my side. The temperatures have been hovering in the teens, coldest its been in eleven years.
Meanwhile, a blazing fire burns in my woodstove while I work.
My downstairs studio is a sweet space and currently unrented, it feels so cozy complete with two creatures cuddling and yes, holding hands in front of my warm and crackling' fire. I have missed the process of building a fire, the upstairs has a propane fireplace, a flick of a button activates the fake flames rippling behind some faux logs that resemble a pair of petrified steaks.
When I lived in my cute little cottage in San Francisco on top of Potrero Hill, after a few years I installed a Franklin stove. Along with my gravel driveway, ample parking, and drop dead views, it was a one of a kind rental for where it was. I lived there for thirteen years, fixing the place up from the funky shack it was when I moved in, to a place few of my friends could believe I was leaving behind for rural Oregon. Back then, I was the only one I knew in the city with a wood burning stove, and after some research, found a wood lot in South San Francisco I would drive to every month in the winter and load the back of my Honda hatchback with 20 dollars of wood.
In 1996 did the math on the rent times thirteen, and decided I could have bought a place, and so the hunt began. Up the coast of California from Bolinas to Mendocino, fueled by the roof that had started to leak in earnest and the fact that one of my aging dogs was having trouble negotiating the three stairs to the backyard.
It was the week that Bill Clinton was elected President, a rainy week spent at a clients' family house up in Myrtle Creek, Oregon that was the deciding factor.
It rained all week, and a fire burned in the woodstove, it was as good as it gets, and on the way south stopping to visit a friend I picked up a newpaper, and the rest was history. Six months later I was moving into this place where Stella could enter without steps to fall on, and I could rent the downstairs if I needed to.
Each winter I think about relocating to someplace warm and sunny and wonder if I can tough it through another Oregon winter, counting the days until Spring rolls around.
Brrrr, time to stop whining and make a fire!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Birthing my blog

"She's as cute as a Bug
Short as a minute
She's a pretty little package with
Everything in it"

One of my favorite blogs, Ruth at synch-ro-ni-zing has challenged fellow bloggers to post about how they named their blog. So I have decided to use the excuse to peel and reveal.
My blog title above was stolen mid-concert from a line in a Lyle Lovette song. I had a few other possibilities rumbling around in my bird brain that I was considering, but when I heard him sing that line, Short as a Minute, in the song "Cute as a Bug", chorus above, in that instant I knew that was it.
I took a writing class about 8 years ago at our local community college from a wonderful local author and a superb teacher by the name of Diana Coogle. My main excuse at the time was that I spent too much time wringing my hands over even writing a mediocre email, but it was coupled with the fact that I was recently divorced and needed to get out of the house and among other peeps. It was a fantastic class and little did I realize at the time, how in more ways than one it would prepare me for blogging. There were about ten students in the class and weekly when we arrived with our pads, pencils, and fears, we were given a topic or word to write about and 20 minutes to do it. Then each of us would read our singularly diverse stream of consciousness on that topic, out loud. What I remember the most is the cup of courage she gave each of us, her enthusiasm rendered with a sweet little southern accent and how she found the beauty in what each student had written. Initially I didn't think I could do such a thing - sit and just write for twenty minutes, but now six years later, and fourteen months into my blog, its a piece of cake and I have over a hundred posts.
Oh yes, my blog title, it was part of that line in a Lyle song and it also is in reference to my petite stature, a mere 4 feet 6 inches.

After the concert I hung around the exit, I had heard that he often stopped to talk to fans and pose for photos on the way to his tour bus. And suddenly, there he was, towering over me, shaking my hand, asking me my name, then dropping to one knee in his beautiful pressed suit to pose for a picture.
Thats how my blog was named....

New Work

Its been a wonderfully creative period for me these days with three jobs in house, a ten page website to design, some PalDog illustrations in the works and I just wrapped up a couple of wine label designs for one of my favorite clients, The Train Depot Restaurant.
When Darla called about the job I was thrilled, she wanted something retro and its my favorite kind of design era - frankly everything from the typefaces to the colors used in that period appeal to me, and the logo I designed for them a few years ago was a great place to start the creative process.
Valley View winery in Jacksonville, Oregon is one of the larger wineries in the Rogue Valley with outstanding wine that has won prestigious awards over the years. They were to be providing the cases of wine and as an added bonus I was given the opportunity to name the wines for the labels too.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Simple Abundance

I've been trying to find a way to use this photo I took a few weeks ago, when the last thing I wanted to do on that beautiful sunny day was a run with Dave to get kindling. Every year he makes a trip out to 'the Kindling Farm' and stocks up for the winter. I have never done the drive and only heard about the place for years. Still, nothing prepared me for the view, massively surrounded by wood bits at least a few acres wide, with some piles stacked up a good ten feet. The rub is to load the pickup with as much as we could jam in the back. Its ten dollars for a load and if you carefully lay them in- as opposed to throwing them wily nilly its a giant mess of wood, and a lot of bending over. Right now I am reaping the rewards of that day as my fire started this morning with ease and my front porch is jammed with enough fire starting material to last the winter.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

FulL mOoN Rising

Indian Summer in the Pacific Northwest is a reminder why I continue to live here.
My family and some dear friends are back East where I was born and raised....and at some point I will blog about what brought me out here, but for now this seasonal euphoria is what keeps me living here in beautiful Oregon.
The weather has been wonderfully warm, smokey from burn piles torched, and sweet sunshine. It will soon turn to rain and it is putting me in the brace for winter, and why did I not do this that and everything else in the summer I put off, state of mind.
I have had the interior exterior walls of the house plastered. Looks fantastic thanks to the expert help of Dave Blanco. It has been a total workshop to keep calm in the midst of the chaos that is temporarily my life these days. Everything furniturewise has been moved way from the walls in all the rooms accommodate the work. I know it will be worth it, but for now it is crazy and as is usually the case, stuff (****) happens. I cut my finger last night slicing veggies, and the sink started leaking and can't figure out where on the pipe....and the plaster is not exactly drying at the speed of light.
However, Maggie and the new kitty have continued to keep my spirits up with their playfulness, it must be the full moon, they are crazy funny cute.
A few assignments have landed, and I will be working on another website and twelve illustrations for a weather related calendar for 2011.
Gratitude abounds.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

27 years and counting (my blessings)

Twenty seven years ago today on Halloween night I was planning on staying home. Living on the fringe of the Castro district in San Francisco, it was an unprecedentedly crazy night to be out and about. A last minute invitation that afternoon changed my mind and my life. It was 1982, hope I did the math correctly, and I headed to my favorite thriftshop in the Mission for a costume.
Charlies Angels and Farrah Fawcett were everywhere including across the front of my outfit that night. Red boots and a leopard coat completed the look and I stepped out on a hot date starting out on my favorite barstool up the street. I was the party animal those days, youth and stupidity went hand in hand in my life back then. There was nothing I liked more than dancing the night away to the BeeGees or Donna Summers and I have fond if not blurry memories of those San Francisco nights.
I had been at the bar for less than an hour when someone taped me on the shoulder and said, 'your house is on fire'.
The exterior of the apartment building was being painted and apparently the painters had left cans of oil based paint in the cellar around the furnace that ignited and roared up the air shafts. It being Halloween night there were no parking places for blocks including in front of the fire hydrants. A ladder went up from one of the 5 trucks to one of the windows to rescue an old man who had stayed in for the evening and as they carried him down the ladder he had a heart attack and died. I stood in the street, watching the flames leaping out my windows for about 15 minutes before we decided to head to another neighborhood bar over in Noe Valley. I cleaned up on sympathy drinks that night and the pain of losing everything but the costume I was wearing wore off as the night wore on.
The next day the tenants were allowed back into what was left of our apartments. What wasn't scorched was soaked and I gathered a few things with a little help from my friends. Life went on, in a different neighborhood and I gradually rebuilt my life although it took many years to get over the trauma and drama.
Looking back I realize that I was in a state of shock for weeks, but it could have been so much worse had I not decided to go out that night. There were definetly some angels watching over me and I don't think it was the one on the front of my wacky costume.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Joe Coble

Back a few years ago, my friend Johanna asked me to please help her Dad out, an architect and architectural rendering artist by trade, the economic slowdown had taken its toll on his assignment work.
I have known Joe since 1982 and have always admired his watercolors of residential and commercial buildings as well as the way he lays paint to paper and makes it look fresh and vibrant, his paintings of buildings in the midwest where he lives are especially spontaneous-just like him. Joe is old school in technique, but totally young at heart, especially in spirit.
Recently, he sent me a disk of his new work and I designed and created a Powerpoint presentation to send to potential clients and last night uploaded a new website.
Take a look via the link below, and drop him an email via the contact link on his site, I'm sure he would love to hear from you, business or pleasure!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Welcome Home

"So many times I read about art directors/photo editors talking about the photographer's vision, talking about how it's not the style of the photograph but about the moment... forget post processing, forget about lighting... forget about technique... when does the photographer push the button.
As Cartier-Bresson called it "the decisive moment."

.....from an excellent blogspot called the Strobist.
My photographs have been like my kids and one goes astray or as has happened multiple times in my past, stolen in a random robbery or burned up in a fire, I feel the loss more than what should be the norm for a picture.
This past week thanks to Facebook a photograph of mine resurfaced, not just any photograph, but one I grieved and held in my mind for years. I had lost the box of my photos and negatives years ago in a fire that burned my apartment building down on Halloween night 1982, pictures from a rock concert we traveled to from Brooklyn at Watkins Glen, New York ten years earlier. An estimated 600,000 rock fans came to the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Raceway outside of Watkins Glen, New York on July 28, 1973, to see The Allman Brothers Band, The Band, and the Grateful Dead perform, we were four of them. I still have my original ticket. ...and very few memories of what turned out to be a insane weekend. Rain, mud, cold and I can remember people setting the porta potties on fire for heat. I remember a huge thunderstorm and being unable to leave, because everyone had simply stopped their cars on the jammed roads and walked the rest of the way. I remember having only a flimsy blanket and no rain gear, standing on a rain drenched hill looking down on a concert stage barely able to see the band playing. We rigged up a tent from a chenille blanket I had thoughtfully brought to sit on, hardly rain proof -but good background prop for the picture burned in my mind. I remembered that decisive moment, snapping that picture of Klaus and until last week I longed to reconnect with it to see if it was as memorable as I recalled.
Reconnecting with my old college friends via Facebook that are living on the East Coast has been sweet, one of them, Claude Pidgeon who was one of the four along on that concert trip wrote me what he remembered that I didn't.
"We were in my 1967 Lincoln Mercury Park Lane Braughm. It wouldn't start for the trip back. A hippie mechanic stole a distributor cap from a farm vehicle in the field behind a barn, and the car started right up. We made a shelter with bent saplings, your blanket and lots of hay from the field we were in. There were four of us. I know that you, Klaus and I were there, but I don't remember who #4 was. Very cold, wet, lots of acid...Who was with us?
Here and now, 36 years later, none of the three of us can recall the fourth person. I have thought about this picture for years, and when it popped up on Facebook on Klaus's profile last week, I did the happy dance and felt like throwing a welcome home party... if nothing else to embrace that decisive moment in back in 1973.
More pictures click here

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hellloo Fall

This season is the time of the year I used to drive North when I lived in San Francisco and visit a friend living in Merlin. I would relish the rainy weather that brought out the rich earthy smell of the woods, the pumpkins that decorated all the porches and I loved sticking around for Halloween to see the kids in their costumes, wonderfully engaged in a world that revolves around fantasy and trick or treating for candy.
Its a magical time of year, especially in Oregon, and the changing maple trees here are reminiscent of my youth and growing up in Pennsylvania.
Yesterday I went to mail a few packages down at the Wilderville store where Laura and John were hosting their annual pumpkin carving party. While I was walking around taking a few pictures, Maggie jumped out of the car window I had absent mindedly left down and was instantly surrounded by costumed girls soaking up her endless love.
Then off we went to recycle and pick up a few things at the grocery store feeling like we had just taken a quick trip to Disneyland.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sweet Surrender

I adopted a kitty. My second adoption of the year after driving up to Salem Oregon in June to rescue a border collie of the same name as the one I lost in February. This Maggie had been raised with cats and peacocks and the gal peddling kittens from the back of her SUV at The Wilderville store said the kittens had been raised with dogs.
A quick trip to get some propane for my BBQ and suddenly I was introducing Maggie to her new playmate. Seems like its working out, they are instantly the best of friends.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Seasonal Whiplash

Hard to believe we are creeping into September with 9/11 this Friday. We will be observing the 8yr anniversary of it at a Spearhead concert. Our fourth consecutive year in a row they have been at Britt- but the fact that it is on 9/11 this year makes it uniquely significant. A fact that I'm sure will not be lost on Michael Franti, it should be the concert of the summer and I am pumped.
I'm not working the Britt this year as a volunteer, not working the hospital surgery desk either, all due to the unpredictability of the production schedule for Young at Heart. Between the paper, a steady flow of company and the usual whiplash of summer days, suddenly we are full on into Indian summer.
We had a fun time in Jacksonville this past week, a fantastic Chris Isaak concert with great seats right in front of the stage, totally exceeded my expectations, at the end of the concert I worked my way up to the front of the stage to snap some pics and as they were taking a bow, I gave them back the SNL Garth bow and the drummer smiled and extended me his drum sticks and Chris flipped me a guitar pic.
Then there was Alisons' fantastic moving sale, a satisfying latte at The Good Bean and walking the dogs around Jacksonville. Simple pleasures, awesome treasures.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Planet Cornball

Opening Sundays performance was a theatrical and musical revue called "Oregon, Oregon" celebrating the states' 150 year anniversary and included the US Army band. Totally planet cornball, but the talent was impressive and the musical numbers amusing.... all the patriotic songs, guns and mini cannon, I would have gladly traded for another shot of Pink Martini at the end of the show. My oh my. Pink Martini was all it was cracked up to be and more. We had a fabulous time and were once again front and center on the lawn. One can never get enough of China Forbes voice and stunning looks.

Tonite we are off to see Chris Isaak, I worked his concert two years ago, but my friend Claudia had come in town for an overnighter before a planned rafting trip down the lower Rogue, and being it was was my limited window to see her, I worked my Britt shift selling raffle tickets, watched him open, perform two songs, and left wishing I didn't have to. Should be a stellar show, I remember seeing him in San Francisco in the late 70's when he had started playing with a friends' boyfriend in a band called Silvertone, Gail did their posters. He has come a long way, and I seriously doubt Jimmy is still playing with him. Got a line sitter in line as i type, but doubtful we will get close, there were line sitters getting in line Sunday evening for tonites performance.
I'm currently working on the September issue of Young at Heart, long days and hoping to make my deadline. It was so much easier, organized and content better a few months ago before everything got cut including my production help and my compensation to less than half. My focus is on getting this issue out, and exhaling.
But tonite we rock and roll!!!!!

Friday, August 28, 2009


Its not just the days getting noticeably shorter, the weather pattern is starting to change, a welcome relief even for us sun worshiping, winter hating Oregonians. My favorite time of the year, Fall is ahead. The kids are back in school, campgrounds are practically empty, and the fire danger is off, meaning you can burn. Torch the pile out back, start a roaring campfire and best of all leave it to Mother Nature to water the garden. In spite of an overpriced automatic watering system I put in years ago that waters the my so called lawn area, I'm tethered to a hose, watering, filling in and spot watering stuff around the back of the barn and the garden.
There are a few advantages to the lack of rain in the summer here, top of my list is the outdoor concert season at the Britt, it is a given to be picture perfect weather with the exception of the opening concert or two.
Its almost September, a year and 80 posts since I started blogging, and I have a lot of work to do all of a sudden... bids to get in on two or three jobs, Young at Heart has had a record month of ad sales and I went from wondering if I had a job, to having four days to finish the September issue and get it to the newest printer. Once again it is a mixed black and white and color issue, in order to trim my budget they decided to do all the ads themselves, and it is a disorganized hodge podge I will have the challenge of pulling together.
Speaking of pulling together I better bust a move, we are off to see Pink Martini this evening and I need to get a picnic packed for another perfect night of awesome music under a canopy of stars.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

True Love and Homegrown Tomatoes

There is a Guy Clark song i stole that line from and it refers to the two things money can't buy, in the song, and in life.
Dave grows the most awesome crop of organic tomatoes every summer, he has friends and neighbors that wait for his harvest and he sells them for a song. Well not really a song, but at a buck a pound it practically is.
August is always about setting up the overflow for winter. Traditionally we do salsa, roasting the tomatoes on the grill along with the other ingredients, onions, peppers, garlic, corn on the cob. Its grill and toss in the food processor, except for the corn, add fresh parsley and salt and pepper and the result is an amazing tomato base to make and freeze for pizza sauce, chili, or enchilada sauce.
You have to pour off a good deal of seeds, watery tomato juice and add a small can of organic red paste to it, and be sure to leave on the grilled skins they add a rich flavor and color.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Stayin' Alive

The three days of triple digit temps drove us out of town and out to the coast, where an hour and a half West on 199 we landed on a gorgeous sunny beach at Whaleshead, named appropriately for the shape of the rock and spray that looks like the spout rocketing a greeting to the shore.
Ruth Ann followed us, anxious to return to the river that hooked her last summer and our favorite camping destination heat wave or not.
It was a hastily prepared pack job and created some challenges cooking and eating wise. One plastic fork, no spatula, but thanks to Ruthie, plenty of excellent Oregon and California wine. Our priorities were in order if our camping gear was not.
After an hour of beach time and the thrill of feeling the fog roll in, we headed up river and set up camp. After releasing Maggies ashes into the river rolling out to the ocean, I put together some tomato slabs with mozzarella and basil, and Ruthie cracked a bottle of Williamette Valley Orange Blossom. Dave lit the mosquito coils and the evening closed lying on the rocks next to the rivers edge under an ebony sky watching the big dipper dip behind the trees intensifying the feeling of magical and spiritual serenity.
The next day, with perfect temps to bask in we hung out on a small island overlooking a pool of water so clear and blue it was hard to believe we were not at the Caribbean. A good swim was had by all, including the dogs who wore themselves out while we ate Fritos and indulged in some California Chardonnay.
After a memorable day Ruth Ann packed and headed up the coast to explore Coos Bay and Dave and I decided to stay another night.
Back in the Rogue Valley the heat wave is still happening but it is in the reasonably tolerable stage and my life and garden desperately needed some TLC. It is amazing to see the survival of the fittest nature wise as I have spent the majority of the morning watering all the parched and drooping plants AND playing with Maggie who is hardly outgrowing her water biting obsession. She makes it kinda difficult to really water at times but this morning when I finally lost my temper and made her drop and lay down, she finally did, right in front of the heart shaped rock that came back with us from the coast, picked up her head and gave me the biggest smile a dog can sport. I thought my heart was was going to burst, but instead I got my camera, fired up the hose and gave her a workout.
Another round of TLC please!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Turkey Tamale Pie

This has become the summers favorite and I have had multiple requests for the recipe so i am posting it, and I took some pictures the last time I made it to accompany the recipe.

2 pounds of ground turkey
1/4 cup chili powder divided
3 cups of salsa
2 4oz cans of diced chilis or fresh roasted ones
2 16 oz can of pinto or black beans ( mash one)
2 2.5 oz can of black olive drained
1 cup of fresh chopped cilantro divided
2 cups of cornmeal
2 tsp salt
2 cups, 8 oz of grated sharp cheese

Heat two 12 inch skillets medium heat and add the turkey and lightly season with salt and cook until it turns from pink to brown, stir in 3 Tbs chili powder, then the salsa, green chilis, beans, olives and 1/2 cup of cilantro simmer about 5 minutes.
Pour into two casserole dishes and sprinkle with half of the cheese.
For the topping, bring 6 cups of water, cornmeal, remaining 1 Tsb chili powder and 2 tsps of salt to boil in a large pot, whisking frequently until it thickens to a mushy consistency (like grits). Pour over hot mixture spreading with a spatula to completely cover the casserole dish, sprinkle with remaining cheese and cilantro.
Bake or broil until the top gets browned. Let rest 5 minutes and serve.
This recipe can easily serve a large gathering, I frequently cut it in half and it will serve four with a little leftovers. Reheats well and is awesome the following day!
One of the things I love about this recipe, its ground turkey, so much healthier than beef and wonderfully flavorful. As you can see in my pics I improvise and add whats in season, in this one, some fresh tomatoes and peppers were added that were grown in Daves organic garden. Don't be surprised if your guests ask for the recipe too!
Bon Appetite!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Blogs of note and poison oak

I know those little bumps, not a mosquito bite, not a fly bite, too itchy for anything but the dreaded poison oak bump. The cure in a bottle, Benadryl gel. And if i put it on soon enough the blistering will not happen.
Heres hoping, relief is a swab away.
I found out about the gel from my dear friend Deb who has since passed away. She was a ranger for the BLM and had the smarts about all things nature and outdoors related. It was her divorce and need for a place to move to after that motivated me to create a studio space downstairs where she lived for three years before getting cancer.
On another note I have gotten lost in a blog of note or two once again this morning, glimpses into other peoples lives, a few hours of voyeurism and procrastination. Its time to jump back into my life which has slowed down considerably these days since Young at Heart Publication has run out of money. Its been a month since I have been paid and there was apparently no money to print the August edition which is now going to be the September edition, good thing I didn't finish the Buzz and all the time sensitive happenings that will have to be changed. So I essentially have a couple weeks off to catch up on other creative projects, mow the lawn, post some stuff on ebay for sale and breathe. Thankfully my vintage trailer just sold to the sweetest couple in the world, giving me some needed funds. Thank you Nicole and Shawn!!!! I am so glad you love that trailer as much as I have, may you have many happy times in it as we have had!
The temps dropped back down after a record week of soaring triple digits, a power outage for 15 hours on a 109 degree day and the pump going down, requiring Dave to twist into a human pretzel for 45 minutes in the spider web filled pump house working on repriming and unclogging the unit that brings the water into the house from the ground. I am so grateful to have a man in my life with patience and mechanical smarts.
This month marks 8 years since we met on Julies back porch over home made pesto, and bonded instantly talking about music.
This week we did a much needed float down the river, our "old fogey float", spotting osprey, bald eagles and egrets.
Oh my....

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sunny Summer Sunday

Hope Frank dropped in Saturday evening on her way to the Bay Area and we had dinner on the back deck, savoring, as is the norm these days, Daves' homegrown tomatoes, topped with some fresh mozzarella and basil from the garden.
Sunday morning after some of Joans happy hen strangled eggs, I helped Hope get a blogspot and gmail set up before she hit the road for Nevada City -loaded down with organic tomatoes and garlic.
I worked on a couple website projects for a few hours, did some laundry, worked on getting some new speakers hooked up to my computer and it was suddenly approaching the time to head off to the movies to see Julie & Julia. Truly a delightful and entertaining film in which Meryl Streep is just incredible, and I will be shocked if she doesn't win an oscar for her performance. On the drive home we found out Ruthie was a big fan of her shows (Julia Childs) and has actually made many of her recipes. This explains why Ruthie is such a wonderful cook.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

This and that.......

I am listening to The Story podcast and cleaning up a cluttered desktop of files from things that I have been doing- along with production on the August issue of Young at Heart. I love the diversity of my job, especially writing stories or taking my photos and weaving them around an article on road tripping in the area. This month I wrote an article about going to Crater Lake, researching it was interesting and informative and I got to reminisce about a funny camping trip at Crater lake a few summers back with Dave and the dogs, and yes that would be Maggie and BuBu.
This past months' issue on the river enabled me to use my Applegate picture that I posted a while back, on the cover.
Been uploading some books that I have collected at garage sales and thriftshops and selling them on Amazon, its an easy process, and I have been doing it since I broke my wrist in 06 and started selling off my CD collection of three hundred plus cds, now all in my iTunes library and occupying a fraction of the space.
At times there are no photos of the book and this was the case of one I was posting called Grace and Favour, so i took a picture of the beautiful inside picture of the Duchess and added it, Amazon makes this very easy too. Also posted - a very cool art catalogue from a Lichtenstein ceramics show that is an out of print item i bought for 50 and is selling for nearly a hundred dollars used on Amazon.
I'm also getting together digital photos of the art I did quite a few years ago, this is a drawing I did on the Avocado farm in Escondido after hitchhiking cross country in 1977, after my camera broke, but thats another blog post or maybe a to be continued...
Stay tuned, stay cool in this heat.
Thanks for reading, i think.

well duh....

this just in, from my home state....
" Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, a Republican recently turned Democrat, said Sotomayor's much-maligned comment reflected a woman standing up for women and someone exhibiting ethnic pride. "I didn't find fault with 'wise Latina woman,' I found it commendable," he said.

I am hoping she sails through the rest of the approval process, I see a joyous swearing in ahead for Democrats, Latinos, WOMEN, and Liberals taking a second ride of pride for things moving forward in a positive and balanced political spin.
Here in paradise we are breaking records heat wise, seriously hot and demotivating upon impact. And thats what it feels like, a wall of heat..we have considered exiting back to the coast but the reality is I am on a good wave of production on the August issue, since the deadline was pushed back a week.
Its all about being inside and hitting the AC button in the afternoon.
Ruthie is in San Francisco sailing and I am watching her cat, Mia.
Who never comes out from under the bed. Here is a photo of her taken by Ruthie on one of Mias' good days.
Ruthie has taken some fantastic photos with her iPhone and put together a website called Summering in Southern Oregon. linked here.
I must confess, Ms Mia, I have those days too......

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Beating the heat

Back from a too short trip to the Chetco this week, mainly because I am supposed to be on deadline, but as has been the case of late there is a question as to wheter the paper will be printed on time or if I will be paid for my time.... three weeks behind I don't know where to draw the line. It is a job, and I am enjoying the work I do but scheesh, bills pile up and I wonder if continuing to invest my time in this job or finding another is the way to go.
Triple digits and the grass looks parched.
This is what I eek through the winter for...

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Chetco ahead...

Triple digits have crept into the valley and while we are barely cracking the 100 mark, areas of the southwest are in the 108-110 range, the mere thought makes me wilt. Its fortunate we cool down at night here and the saving grace is a window fan and closing up the house in the day, the brick house is also a bonus, keeping the place cool through the late afternoon when during these heatwaves around 5, I have to breakdown and hit the AC button.
Finally got paid from last months issue and starting the August Young at Heart today.
Today Julie lands back in Oregon, for a friends wedding. We haven't seen her since she left in 2001 and it was at a farewell dinner at her house that Dave and I met. We are looking forward to meeting her and Dwight at the coast in a few days. They have rented a cabin at Loebs for two nights and we are pitching a tent on the Chetco, just down the road. Oh boy, sun and fun ahead.
This past week, a too short visit and BBQ with Paul and Jamie and friends, Ruthie returned from a week in San Francisco and today we headed to Jacksonville, one of the sweetest towns in the area, to lunch and afterwards connect with a line sitter for a Britt concert on Thursday night. We took a drive up on Sterling Creek Road, one of my favorite roads with sweeping vistas (see photo above) and suprisingly, we ended up in Ruch, completely the opposite direction I expected to pop out in. Following a garage sale sign we landed at the home of Misty Stone were we spent at least an hour chatting and delightfully discovering she is an amazing illustrator. She showed us their private swimming hole on the Applegate River, and invited us back anytime to swim. Incredibly beautiful, Ruthie took this picture with her iPhone.
We all exchanged cards and hope to connect with her artistically in the near future. All in all a delightful day, and now I better start pulling out the camping gear, I'm so excited about meeting up with old friends and sharing a special place.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Seizing the Moment

Its hard to keep track of the amount of guests visiting this summer Deb, Hope, Geoff, the Pies and of course, RuthAnn moving in for the summer months to my downstairs studio rental, which she has totally transformed with her furniture and artwork, not to mention exzuberant spirit.
Last week Martina and Dylan, now 8 years old, came up for a numbingly short visit. Include a scheduled vet appointment in Eagle Point -always a day trip due to the 45 minute drive and assorted activities normally included, Costco, any yard sale along the way, and a primo spot along the river to stop, walk the dogs and watch the river flow, and I barely saw them.
Dylan bonded with Maggie and she with her as you can see in this sweet picture above taken of the two of them and the circle of love, her hand on her head, her paw on her chest. Martina, Ruthie and Dylan did a number of fun things and one of their creative accomplishments was creating a video of Maggie and Rowdy, shot the day before he went to live on Genevieves' farm, it can be viewed at the website Ruthie set up entitled Summertime in Grants Pass
I decided to try and place Rowdy, after six weeks, it was apparent that they were not bonded, but in fact, she was bullying him and simply put, he just wasn't getting the love he deserved for the cool dog he was. Two days after posting him on Craigslist I got two emails, both elderly individuals that had recently lost their dogs and Rowdy was placed with a sweet and charming 70ish French woman on a 5 acre farm outside Medford. It was quite the drive there, he was a totally different personality than when I rescued him up in Lebanon, Oregon the beginning of June... and I believe it was a good decision.
I watched him walk into the house with her, never looked back, Maggie didn't register any separation anxiety either.
The dynamic is better around the house, and with Dave and Pepper around a lot of the time, two dogs are plenty to handle!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Music on the Applegate

I am logged in and waiting on this weeks online illustrator class to start, hard to believe its been a week since last weeks class. Presented by Creative Techs in Seattle its an interesting update and tutorial for two hours on CS4.
Here is the link to log on.
They have a number of excellent classes and a schedule on their website,

Last Wednesday evening we headed out to see the Rogue Suspects at the Applegate Inn. Also wanted to show Ruthie another one of the more wonderful venues to enjoy music on a summer night. It turned out the music was instead two very talented musicians, one on guitar, one on sax.
We arrived at the Applegate River Lodge as the owner, Joanna, and Mr Kim, her PR man were finishing up a photoshoot outside. I mentioned that I worked for Young at Heart publication and was there to snap a picture for the article I was writing, about driving through the Applegate Valley via 238.

We were graciously given the tour of all the wonderful rooms, and then retired to the deck for some wine and music.
It was a great night in a special place, once again, on the river.

Monday, July 6, 2009

July 4th

The weathers been hot and sunny and after wrapping the July issue of the paper last Friday, I spent some time in and on the river, a necessity when its triple digits in Southern Oregon. Dave inflated my little kayak thats been packed away for a summer or two, and repaired another inflatable bought a few summers back that needed some TLC. Saturday and Sunday we went by Joans and Bills stretch of the Applegate with Ruthie, who is up for the summer. The July 4th holiday weekend was a delight, made a pie, scored some tiles at a garage sale to finish the kitchen backsplash, shopped the Growers Market, picked rasberries at Daves, paddled around in the Applegate and grilled salmon and zucchini.
I have been really enjoying the CREATIVE TECH online classes I have been taking for the past 7 weeks, InDesign, Illustrator and soon Flash is coming up. Even though I have been using these programs for years, the tricks and tips alone are worth the time and I'm learning new ways to use old tools. Its such a reason to upgrade to CS4 as well, since that is the Creative Suite version they are covering each week.
I just downloaded an animation software 30 day trial called Lightbox 3d I'm about to check out and see how it can be applied to the Mokie redo planned for his 10 year anniversary.
Company coming tomorrow, Martina and Dylan, looking forward to seeing some dear friends and the weather is cooling off significantly which makes it all the better.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Rub

Scheesh another one of those stretches of time flying wheter you're having fun or not. Its been an exciting few weeks of activities, and working on the downstairs studio with Dave in anticipation of my friend Ruthie moving up from San Francisco and into the rental for the summer. Each time the rental turns over we get a window of opportunity to do a few more things to improve it, this time we painted the bathroom, not been painted at all since I moved in thirteen years ago.
Also on the 4th of June I headed North to rescue two dogs I saw on Pet Finders. One named Maggie and with a remarkably similar face and her seven year old companion Rowdy, a 74 pound butterball now on the Jenny Craig diet.
Its taken them a few weeks to settle down, especially since there have been a stream of dogs visiting and creating new challenges daily for them.
I was lucky to have my dear friend Hope come through on her way to San Francisco and back and spend the night. Her sweet dalmation Dominique is eleven and I remember going up to Hood River when Maggie was still a youngster and them rolling and tumbling and playing like the wild childs they were back then.
Ruth Ann (and Geoff who drove the truck) arrived a few days ago and after selling her loft, she rolled in with all kinds of presents, the very best being a couple of queen size beds for the upstairs bedrooms.
This week its been a flurry of company and cooking and starting to work on the July edition of the paper starting in earnest with the articles and last minute ads coming in. Attempting to create order and guidelines into a production that is understaffed and busy with the Senior Fair that the paper is sponsoring in two days at the local college has been a challenge.
Its summertime here in paradise, Julies' jasmine is blooming and there is a stream of friends visiting, I love this time of the year when my porch light is always on!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Garlic Dressing

Tis' the season for fresh salad, and fresh ingredients, which after a long winter are now available from the local Growers Markets.
I headed down around noon today to get the ingredients to restock the GD we have been out of for well over a week. No small thing in this food oriented household...
Picked up some organic flat leaf parsley from Fry Family Farms produce stand and some fresh garlic so freshly picked, the skins were pure white and cloves still wet and packed with some serious heat. Along with some beautiful red onions, clearly the best purchase made on the way out, was a bunch of gorgeous Peonies for a mere three dollars.
Back to the garlic dressing, to provide a historical angle, it started with The Backroads' fresh salads and their incredibly delicious sweet garlic dressing.
We were hooked. They sell it there at the restaurant, but its ridiculously expensive for a small container, and they close down for three months in the winter.
Dave grows a crop of around 200 fantastic garlic each year, organic, huge and so tasty. Since I had the garlic to experiment with, I started working the waiters for clues to the ingredients. Coupled with some research online, I was off and running and eventually came up with this recipe.
My dressing varies depending on the amount of garlic I put in, and the heat the variety packs. Dave grows a mild sweet crop, but occasionally I will purchase some (like today) that is hot and adds a whole nuter' element.
We use it on and in everything, from salads to stir fry, grilled salmon, dipping sauce for home baked pizza, pasta, eventually, everything tastes boring without it poured on top, or worked into the recipe (must be the italian in me..) so I'm posting my recipe, I never measure specific, just general amounts, you can't ruin it.
Everything with garlic rules!

Roses' Garlic sauce/dressing

6 heads of garlic
one generous cup of EVO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
one cup of water (or more depending on the consistency you like)
about... 1/4 cup Cider Vinegar
about...1/4 cup or less of Brown Sugar
about ...!/3 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
a very generous splash of soy sauce
a generous amount of Kosher Salt and lots of Fresh Ground Pepper
....about two tablespoons each.
Get started by cutting the tops off three of the garlic heads and drizzle some olive oil on them, wrap in aluminum foil and bake in the oven until the kitchen has that fantastic smell of roasted garlic, about 30 minutes at 350. and let sit in the oven while it cools down. This can be done the night before or even a day or two before.
Start peeling the rest of the raw heads of garlic. I smash them with the knife-its supposed to make them more potent...
Squeeze the roasted garlic out through the cut tops, or strip them and put the raw and the roasted garlic together in the food processor along with the olive oil and process for a few minutes until combined, add the rest of the ingredients in any order or all at once, except for the water and process till thick and creamy. Then through the feeding tube in the top of the processor with the unit slowly running start adding the cup of water until it becomes a thinner consistency, if its too garlicky, add more oil or water to taste, I like mine totally heavy on the garlic....

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday again?

Shocking how fast the week flys by, I haven't even had a chance to count how many ads I've designed over the past few weeks, in addition to an additional 8 pages to layout this month.
Up visiting from the Bay Area last weekend, Deb gave me some fantastic tips and coupled with the online InDesign classes I have been taking from Creativetechs, I am having a great time designing the June issue, even if it has eaten my life and any free time.
On the homefront, its raining blobs of cotton from my cottonwood trees. A gust of wind and it looks like its snowing. The driveway looks like a washer has overflowed and the suds distributed along the gravel. Every year I deal with this in a different way, I've learned the hard way, not to bend up and down and pluck every blob on the lawn up - I can't move the following day. Raking takes forever, mowing it clogs the engine, and I sure can't afford to have my lawn mower go down... I might try leaf blowing it into the blackberries bushes along the edge of the lawn, or talk to the nice lawn maintenance guy down the road and see if he has such a thing as a lawn vacuum for hire.
Moving on to less stressful topics, we finally made it to Medford this week for the Britts' seasons summer concert tickets. This has to be one of the most disappointing line ups of the past ten years. I didn't sign on to volunteer this summer, my job has limited my available time. I cashed in my raffle sellers prize from last summer in exchange for two tickets to see Elvis Costello, and we purchased tickets for the Indigo Girls, Pink Martini, and Michael Franti and Spearhead, back for a fourth year, can't wait to see them again.
Well, the sun is now rising, my coffee helping to motivate me, and I'm reminded of a quote I just highlighted in a story we are running this month on Aggie Pilgrim.
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is our gift, and we better use it wisely.” Agnes Baker-Pilgrim
On that note, I think I'll wander outside, water the garden and take some pictures of the cotton everywhere!
Y'all have a great weekend, Ms Leah, hope you're not too sore to get back on those ponies and ride!

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Last weekend we took a road trip up to Applegate lake instead of the coast as planned and explored a piece of paradise close to the California border.
Its finally settling into some warm weather and I'm analyzing the pattern I moan about in the winter as I enjoy the benefits of the brick house I hate for 6 months and love the rest of the year. This time of the year I love sleeping with the windows open and hearing the birds calling to each other in the morning. The day closes with crickets cricketing and the sight of bats circling overhead fading out to a starry sky that is a canopy of twinkling diamonds.
When winter rolls around I'm scratching my head why I am still here in the miserable grey weather that is the Pacific Northwest, but in the summer its a love affair.
The picture above is worth a thousand words.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Whats Up....

I taught a class in iWeb this past weekend at The Guild, it was actually pretty fun especially creating the support sheets and learning some additional things via the awesome Apple videos. Here's the link to the excellent iLife tutorials starting with iPhoto, these are for the 09' version, but you can do a search for previous ones.
iWeb is a fantastic program, smoothly integrating with iPhoto, and its so user friendly. Equally impressive are the templates in iWeb and also the iWorks program- so well designed and a joy to play around with. I hope to do a class in the future on creating a portfolio with Keynote. One of the other impressive features is the ability to export to other formats, pdf, to email, or a Powerpoint presentation that is PC friendly for those not on a Mac.
I'm working on the Young at Heart June issue and enjoying the creative process, just added an additional 8 pages to this issue and there are so many more ads being sold, I'm cranking out ads daily! I just completed working up a logo/type design and PR kit, with Pages (the print part of iWorks) for the next event Young at Heart is sponsoring in October, A Medford Senior Affair.
There are times that my muse is satisfied with the creative challenges of this job and other times I am challenged by the limitations. Today I choose to see the glass overflowing.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Picking up the pieces...

If compliments paid my mortgage and kind words soothed my heart I would be flying.
But they don't, and its been a stretch since I have been able to find the time and the desire to return to this blog. Losing Maggie ran me off the proverbial road and I have been trying to find my voice and return to my routine and the gratification that this blog has given me since my last post.
I started working for Young at Heart publications in January, creating display ads and upgrading their marketing materials. At the end of March I was hired to redesign the newspaper and take over design and production. Having a number of additional creative projects has been helpful and rewarding and I have felt truly blessed by the work.
This months production just wrapped up and it has been an insane two weeks. I hoped to get off to the coast with Dave the past two days but the weather has been seriously stormy and its looking like the end of the week instead since sunny days and warm temperatures are returning.
The Southern Oregon Guilds'gallery, which was renovated as part of the RCC building project opened the past month and it was fun to see the transformation from the raw space we were assembling display cabinets in this past January, to a light bright open space filled with art and now awaiting the final touch, carpeting. As a member of the Guild, I have been pro/bono, working on redesigning their logo, website and print materials over the past two years, and was anxious to see the banners I designed for the outside of the building and road. It was a challenging project to get so much copy condensed and designed all into a pleasing vertical format.
We went out to Kerby for the opening and evening festivities and we toured Its a Burl, right down the road. Despite driving by numerous times over the years I had not been in there but one quick stop 12 years ago. I wanted to take some pictures since I was writing an article for the Young at Heart paper on exploring the Illinois Valley and road tripping up to the Oregon Caves, which turned out to be our spontaneous destination on Easter Sunday. It was a fantastic maze of burl art galleries and awesome pottery. Music was happening on the porch, dogs lay around in the dust and I loved meeting Joy and Harvey the owners while we were there. I took a lot of pictures (what else is new) making it so difficult to pick only two for the article.
This past week Jamie and Paul came up from the Bay Area, Jamie has a cabin in Wimer she bought years ago and spends a month or two a year escaping to, and Paul being the avid cyclist he is has a new hybrid road/mountain bike and enjoyed the local scenery and thankfully had no encounters this time with the local rednecks.
We went up there on Sunday and it was a sweet time. We left feeling grateful for making the call to do the hour drive to get there. As crazy as things have seemed lately, theres something so soothing and spiritual about feeling surrounded by tall trees and walking on pine needles with friends while the dogs run wildly through the woods.