Thursday, July 30, 2009

Harry Is An Uncle

The births happened uneventfully and not in the middle of the night. Lia, Harry's puppy raiser in Reno, had seven pups born last Tuesday. The first picture shows mom Darlan not long before she gave birth. Looks a bit like a Labrador sausage. Her weight came down 20 pounds once the pups were all delivered.

There are four girls and three boys. The yarn around their necks indicates the birth order. All I know is Harleen had a hot pink collar, which meant she was fifth to be born. No idea if this is like the first born for humans. I'm a first born and proud of it.

Lia says everyone is doing well; pups are gaining weight and Darlan is keeping them clean and organized. As I've gotten to know Harry, I think it's a really good idea for him to not be there. He is rather rambunctious.
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Dog Family Reunion

They are having a great time. Kerry bought them some new toys today; they destroyed three of them in record time. They mostly just growl at each other, bare their teeth and chase each other around. Rarely does either of them come in contact with the other.

Harry's head is much bigger than Harleen's; we don't think he's any smarter, however. He's wearing the red collar.

They spend a lot of time sniffing each other's butts. Both are intact so they sort of think they know what to do. Harleen has not gone into heat so every time he tries to mount her, she sits down. Sometimes he mounts the wrong end.

Harry will be here for two weeks. Lia, his puppy raiser, is whelping her first dog for CCI. Darlan is going to have seven, maybe eight, puppies tomorrow. When they are a couple of weeks old it will be easier for Lia to have rambunctious Harry at home.
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Sunday, July 26, 2009

One Local Summer: Week 8

This is one of those dishes that can be served at any meal. So far I've eaten it at breakfast, lunch and dinner. When I saw the word zucchini in title for this recipe on I knew I had to make it. We were drowning in them.

Everything in it is local with the exception of the Parmesan and ricotta cheeses. It has eggs, fresh basil leaves, plum tomatoes, zucchini, onions, and four slices of day old bread that is diced. I made a pretty big batch so I'll probably end up freezing part of it. I'm going to spice it up a bit more next time I made it.
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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Two Cats And A Mockingbird

Both have disturbed my sleep the last couple of nights, but for very different reasons.

When it's as hot as it's been, we leave the house wide open at night. That includes the front door which has one of those rolling screens that stays shut due to a magnet. A couple of nights ago I was awakened by the sound of the screen door opening; it's pretty loud when the magnet lets go. Took me a minute to figure out what was going on. Kerry was sound asleep.

Groggily I went to the front door to find the screen wide open and the cats outside. They were disinclined to return to the safety of their home. I mention the safety aspect because we live in the country with coyotes, skunks, possums, feral cats, dogs and owls. Nora and Giorgio (pictured above) have no idea about the wild. They have lived this blissful existence in a 3,200 square foot house with an automated litter box and a food bowl that is always full.

For three nights they have managed to open the screen door by throwing their collective bodies against it which weakens the magnetic hold on the screen. Tonight we will close the front door. That means it will be hotter in the house and that Giorgio will howl because he can't get out. Not sure how I'm going to deal with the howl; Kerry sleeps very soundly.

Just about the time I got back to bed I realized that the Mockingbird had begun his/her night time aria. For the most part it's beautiful; I can fall asleep to it. But, our Mockingbird has learned the sound of our microwave timer. Yes, the timer, which I listen for when I have something I am baking or waving. Now, it's 4 a.m. and all of a sudden I hear that sound and wake up. It's the bird. They are very clever this way. Our mockingbird also mimics the sound of a phone ringing. And off in the distance is the sound of a train. It's not so bad. I just don't want my cats in danger.
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Sunday, July 19, 2009

One Local Summer: Week 7

With tomatoes in such abundance, we like to have caprese whenever possible. The tomato and mozzarella are local. Sun dried tomatoes from last summer's crop are in the salad dressing. I planted Greek basil this year instead of the other but I don't really like it. So no basil on this salad.

The potato salad is all local except for the mayo and mustard. I added some of my homemade sweet pickle relish. The contrast of the sweet with the Dijon mustard gave it a nice sweet/tart flavor. Plus I added hard boiled eggs from a local ranch.

The BBQ flank steak once again is from Chaffin Farms. Great meat with just a little salt and pepper.

Tonight it's BLT sandwiches and leftover potato salad. It's 105 outside right now; I don't feel much like cooking. Just took lamb shanks out of the freezer so they will be ready for the crock pot in the morning. Everything just seems to be about food here. Can't complain about that. Back to quilting.
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Friday, July 17, 2009

Walter Cronkite

My decision to become a journalist came somewhere during my sophomore year in high school. I had this amazing teacher, Mrs. Lindskog. As early as second grade I had written short stories; I read everything I could get my hands on. But Mrs. Lindskog just let me know that I knew how to capture the moment in words.

From there I joined the high school newspaper. Kathleen Burke was the editor. I worshipped her intelligence. Only recently I learned she had died. Still have no idea how or when. Dick Teresi and Doug Armstrong were also on the newspaper team. Lost touch with both of them after our 20th high school reunion when we stole silverware from the hotel. Chuckle.

In high school, I was in the AP classes, which today would classify me as a geek. All I knew back then is that I felt I belonged with these people and not with the class council or cheerleaders. I wanted to interview the quarterback for the football team not date him. I called him for an interview and he never called me back. His last name was "Peterson" which was worth about six pages in the Robbinsdale phone book.

Fast forward to the University of Minnesota School of Journalism. I loved it there. I remember when Kennedy was shot; I remember when Cronkite lost his composure when he was reporting the news. I have trouble imagining any of today's anchors losing their composure.

Luckily I got to practice the art of journalism long before newspapers became archaic and long before Brian Williams and Katie Couric became the norm for the evening news. I no longer watch the evening news. I do read the New York Times every day. It's the only journalism that I trust.

Harleen And Her Sleepover Buddy Chelan

The pose I captured (after many out of focus tries) pretty much characterizes what they have done today. Periodically they separate and rest but that doesn't last long.

Chelan is three months younger than year-old Harleen, but she is used to living in a multiple dog household. It's like watching a dog reality show with the crashes and barks.

One thing we learned; white dogs shed on black dogs. I have no black fur on me. Chelan will be here until Monday. Should be an interesting weekend.

The cats have kept a very low profile. It's 106 outside and two killer dogs inside so they choose to stay away from it all. Smart move on their part. We have 10 more days of 100+ temperatures. July is the cruelest month of all in northern California.

Leftover quiche tonight.
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Thursday, July 16, 2009

My First Pizza From Scratch

I've been toying with the idea of making one starting with the crust. Yeast was a big mental barrier; I've never been very lucky with it. I found a recipe for the crust on a great local web site:

Elise is wonderful about explaining how to do things. In this case she actually had pictures about how to make the dough. Plus she has the same Kitchen Aid mixer that I have.

Warning: in making this dish I used just about every pan and dish in the kitchen. Kerry, the person who cleans up when I cook (bless his heart), was dumbfounded at the mess I made.

The recipe is enough for two pizzas so right now I have another dough in the freezer (keeps for two weeks well) to make yet another pizza.

Kerry had a pizza stone, which I placed in the oven to heat up. I learned, however, that getting the pizza to the stone is not best accomplished with a cookie sheet. Elise suggested and piece of very stiff cardboard if you didn't have a pizza peel (the big paddle you see restaurants using to get the pizza into the oven). I will do that next time. I ended up putting the cookie sheet on top of the stone which had been heating in the oven for an hour at 450 degrees.

The basis for the topping is small pieces of chicken from our last bird (we got a total of four meals from that Chaffin Farms chicken) mixed into homemade BBQ sauce. I placed zucchini from our CSA on top of that and then cut slices of mozzarella to lay on top of that. It was heavenly. Cold leftovers have been great for breakfast with my coffee.

My relationship with yeast has improved thanks to Elise. Try her web site. She's great.
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Saturday, July 11, 2009

One Local Summer: Week 6

Two variations on the same dinner. The purple plate (mine) has BBQ tri-tip with a wedge of bleu cheese in the middle. Kerry decided to have some of homemade BBQ sauce I made yesterday on his tri-tip.

Had to use up potatoes and turnips so made turnip mashed potatoes. Love them. Salad has fresh figs and yellow tomatoes with a olive oil and vinegar dressing that included sun-dried tomatoes.

The only thing that wasn't local was the vinegar in the dressing and the spices in the BBQ sauce.

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

On My Design Wall

This is the sixth block for my Baltimore Album Quilt which will have a total of 12 blocks. The color scheme for this was to have darker colors at the bottom and lighter shades on top but all colors had to have the same value. The idea was to try to hide the birds. Well when you give them eyes and beaks, it's pretty hard to hide them.

I'm leaving for the sewing machine store in a minute. I need to get a foot so I can do cording for a fabric art quilt class I'm taking. I think I've been trending away from big quilts to the fabric art quilt for a while now. The woman who teaches the class is Rose Hughes. You can see some of her spectacular work at

The book on the left on her home page is the basis for the class. I can hardly wait. Meanwhile I'm going to work on my free-motion quilting skills, which right now are nil. I took a class and then never did anything with it. Time to free up my spirit and my hands at my machine.
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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

A Birthday Today

Harleen is one year old today. That's seven in human years which means she would probably be a second grader in the fall. The top picture was taken this morning. The bottom one is the day we picked her up from CCI, August 28, 2008.

She still likes to sit under my computer desk where my feet would normally go. When she was tiny, it worked out just fine. There was room for both of us. Apparently she still thinks she's tiny.

Lately she's also been trying to sit in my lap. Cute but painful to my lap. The ribbon is from the groomer whom she visited on Monday for a complete clean up. She still has not gone into heat.

Her brother Heron is coming to visit at the end of the month for two weeks. His puppy raiser is also a breeder caretaker for a pregnant dog. She'd prefer to have Heron out of the way when she whelps her first litter. Can't say that I blame her.
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Sunday, July 05, 2009

One Local Summer: Week 5

This was our Fourth of July dinner. The green beans and beef ribs were local but the dozen or so spices that I put in the dry rub for the ribs and the green beans were from all over the world.

I marinated the beef ribs in the dry rub for about 6 hours in a Ziploc bag. The rub consisted of sugar, paprika, salt, cayenne pepper, salt, celery salt, onion power, chili powder, cumin, black pepper and mustard powder.

I covered the ribs and baked them for about 3 hours at 250 degrees; the meat literally fell of the bone.

I've made the green bean recipe before but with the traditional long chinese green bean. We had a lot of regular green beans in our CSA box; they worked just fine. Lots of Chinese spices make the green beans delicious. You cook the beans in peanut oil first until they are nearly burned. Take the beans out of the wok, cook the sauce quickly and then add the beans back in. We both cleaned our plates.
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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Some Thoughts

In the past 11 days we have lost three people from our extended family. First Mark's grandpa who died at 90 in a very peaceful way; just fell over. Then Kerry's niece's father, Jerry, 67. He ended up on life support with no brain function. And finally our good friend Steve lost his father at 89. It was peaceful in the end but still he ended up in the hospital for an extended stay. Never good for anyone.

With that much death around us, it has set me to thinking about life. I have always been someone who spent a lot of time thinking about the future. Everything from what will happen tonight to what will happen in six months.

Maybe being six months away from turning 65 and being surrounded by death has made me re-appraise my way of looking at life. The phrase, "living in the moment" is pretty trite but it really describes something that I need to do.

For the past few days when I start to "future trip" I pull myself back to the moment at hand and remind myself that this could be all I have so I'd better enjoy it. So far that has been pretty calming for me. I'm certainly not doing it perfectly but I'm giving it a good shot.

So on this Independence Day I'm declaring my independence from spending too much time worrying about and planning for the future.

Two other wonderful things happened on this day. Richard and Charlotte got married five years ago. Just so this won't be an entirely gloomy post, I've included a photo from their wedding. And Mark and Julia got married nine months ago on the fourth of October. And everyone is very happy.