There Is a Place

There Is a Place

There is a place

where the museum houses thousands of paintings
seen nowhere else in the world,
the colors so bright they grab your eyes
and hold you there, looking,

where the library is filled with brand new books
waiting for you to open them first,
to tell stories only you could know,

where fresh cherries have no pits,
where puppies never grow old.

There is such a place,
hidden deep
in me.

- Janet Wong

Porch Swing French Toast: A Keeper from the Recipe Box

This overnight french toast recipe was a perfect choice when I had family here last week. It is easy. You make it ahead and people can eat when they want. Enjoy!

Porch Swing French Toast
From the Porch Swing Bed and Breakfast, Cheyenne, Wyoming 
courtesy of Carole Eppler

2 TBs. butter
4 eggs
½ cup orange juice
½ cup cream ( I used fat free half and half)
1 8 oz. can crushed pineapple
¼ cup sugar
1 TB.  grated orange zest
½ tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. nutmeg
1 loaf French bread, cut into 1 inch slices
Topping: ¼ cup butter, softened, ½ cup brown sugar, 1 TB light corn syrup, ½ cup chopped pecans
The night before melt butter in 9x13 pan and place bread in pan. Combine all ingredients and pour over the bread. Combine topping ingredients, except the nuts. Spread topping over bread and sprinkle with nuts. Cover and refrigerate. The next morning, preheat oven 350 and bake 40 minutes or until golden. Serves 6

The Pleasures of Ordinary Life

Even though I have posted this poem before, it is worth repeating. I work at taking the time to appreciate the pleasures of ordinary life, especially through photos.

The Pleasures of Ordinary Life

I've had my share of necessary losses,
Of dreams I know no longer can come true.
I'm done now with the whys and the becauses.
It's time to make things good, not just make do.
It's time to stop complaining and pursue
The pleasures of an ordinary life.

I used to rail against my compromises.

I yearned for the wild music, the swift race.
But happiness arrived in new disguises:
Sun lighting a child's hair. A friend's embrace.
Slow dancing in a safe and quiet place.
The pleasures of an ordinary life.

I'll have no trumpets, triumphs, trails of glory.
It seems the woman I've turned out to be
Is not the heroine of some grand story.
But I have learned to find the poetry
In what my hands can touch, my eyes can see.
The pleasures of an ordinary life.

Young fantasies of magic and of mystery
Are over. But they really can't compete
With all we've built together: A long history.
Connections that help render us complete.
Ties that hold and heal us. And the sweet,
Sweet pleasures of an ordinary life.

Judith Viorst


Gathering Around the Table: Where the Stories Are Told

 Visits from family always remind me how gathering around the table is a meaningful ritual we engage in many different places.  It doesn't matter if my sister and I are surveying the coupons Mom just cut out for us while tasting a new french toast recipe, trying my favorite Indonesian Ginger Chicken recipe while relaxing on the deck,
 sampling wine at China Bend,or moving to another outdoor table this evening surrounded by home grown green beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes. It is all about gathering around the table. ( Above are JEJ and Mom at China Bend)
Our family could have conversations that revolve around food and drink for a whole day and more and never run out of stories. An old recipe takes us back to dinner at 516 W. Cameron in Kellogg twenty years ago. Having a special Brandy Alexander reminds us of how our dad had finesse when he mixed drinks. Simple green beans with bacon can bounce us around from Grandma Woolum's to Grandma West's to Auntie Lila's,then back home to Mom's house. Bloody Marys now hold a newer special memory of the Cousin Reunion in Orofino last summer.
Tonight at dinner RP and me discussed food we liked as kids, didn't like as kids, and what foods we want to have now. We recognized that we are pickier.... not in what we eat, but more in where it is purchased or how it is prepared, baked, or stirred. He may want a better cut of meat or a fresh baked bread from a favorite local bakery. I  want homegrown tomatoes, peaches from the orchard up the road, and eggs from my chickens.
As we remembered food and formed opinions about our recent eating habits, Mom's voice crept into my head. She is always reminding all of us to read the ads, cut the coupons, and buy on sale. " I was a Depression Baby you know!" (Above is Mom in a deep discussion as we enjoyed lunch at the White Bird in Northport.)
 My  brother must have heard the same voice in his head today when he went to town shopping. He found the shrimp on sale at Safeway, got free Starbuck's Via Iced Coffee attached to the Pike Street Market Roast, and used his Club Card.
Whether we drink coffee that was a bargain, enjoy corn on the cob regular price, or have top shelf brandy in our Alexanders.... it is really more about what happens while we gather around the table. The table can be in Kettle Falls, Orofino, Kellogg, or a restaurant in Northport. It is around the table where the stories are told.
( SVG and RP solving world problems at the White Bird)

China Bend Winery: Another Beautiful Site on Lake Roosevelt

Yesterday we took a road trip around Lake Roosevelt and stopped at China Bend Winery. It is nestled on the western banks of Lake Roosevelt south of Northport.

 This winery is well-known for its organic wines, but also canned food products and garlic that are raised on site.
 There is also a bed and breakfast on located close to the winery. Victory has added beautiful touches both inside and outside.
 I loved all the wine glasses illuminating the window.
Bart Alexander, the wine proprietor educated my mom on the finer qualities of organic wines.
 It was a relaxed, fun day full of beauty, good food, sunshine,delicious wine tasting, and lots of conversation and laughs. Above my brother also took time to capture some beautiful photo images.

Tackling the Eyesore Gardens.... One Garden at a Time

  Do you have those parts of your yard, garden, or property that you might call an eyesore ? We have a few of them, but today we tackled a big one. Once upon a time we created a iris garden on the east part of our house. It was lovely at first. Then the iris stopped blooming, the huge pine by the garden sucks out all the water, and weeds started to grow. We have talked about doing something about if for over a year.
 Today JEJ tackled the garden. He dug up the irises and weeds.

 I divided about a hundred irises into two hundred irises. Perhaps not quite that much, but it seemed like a lot.
 JEJ cleaned up the bed and put a new border around it. We will move yarrow plants in the fall. Yarrow can grow anywhere!!

Now I have my work cut out for me. Deciding where to put these plants and when to do it!!

The Tastes of Summer

When I was a child the tastes of summer were Popsicles, frozen Milk Shake Bars, Green Rivers, and lemonade. The tastes only changed when I visited Spokane or Orofino where grandmothers and family members had gardens. Then it was corn on the cob, green beans cooked in bacon, beets, fresh carrots, dill for pickles,and ice cream from the creamery.
As an adult I have acquired new tastes of summer, especially since we began gardening. Summer tastes like fresh picked green beans, a tomato off the vine, the first rhubarb in a pie, and steamed Swiss chard.

 It also tastes like fresh cherries, peaches, and apricots picked from the orchards close by.
Summer squash sauted in butter, radishes eaten cold, and cucumbers off the vine also say summer. I love this time of year and look forward to  harvest as the fruits of our labor continue to flourish.

Homegrown Tomatoes



“It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.” Lewis Grizzard

Whether I am photographing their richness, smelling their vines, studying them in my hand, or tasting my first pear tomato ....nothing beats homegrown tomatoes from a summer garden.

Geography 2: A Poem for This Social Studies Teacher

  I will return to teaching social studies in the fall. I love reviewing geography, Washington State history, ancient history, and current events. I was looking for ways today to combine literature and history. I was reminded of this lovely poem.

Geography 2
The land wrote itself before any
came to chart it: continents broke
and reassembled;two masses crashed
and threw a mountain range, a border
waiting for customs posts; glaciers cut
narrow valleys, close and separate,
each shuttered cautiously from its neighbour.
A coast curved itself into a haven
for shipping; a hill kept watch
on the landscape till the fort was built,
A river spread rich gentle living
over these fields; elsewhere, the want
of water made the contours stand out
like starving bones.

And when it was all ready
they came, at last, to be masters
of it all; to take up the lives
mapped out for them.

Sheenagh Pugh

Variations on a Bouquet

Practicing new settings on the camera works very well with bouquets of flowers. I tried different lighting with the first set of photos here.

Next I tried different angles,zooms, and position with the bigger bouquet.
 I tried to keep the big lily in every shot. How can you miss with flowers?

Faith and Hope

This is the time of year I have grown to dread. The air is hot and dry. The temperatures are climbing. The wells in our community have had some difficulty. Our gardens are suffering.I have faith that all will be back to normal soon and we can give our trees some water.
 Can you believe some leaves have already turned?

I have hope that the weather will also cooperate so our beautiful flowers and vegetables and fruit trees won't suffer too much. I am in the harvest perserving mode, not the leaf raking mode!!