Tuesday, August 28, 2007


We recently noticed a slow loss of air from the front right tire on Scoopy. You can't call AAA to come on over and fix your tire when it weighs a hundred pounds, so we scouted out a Les Schwab shop in Port Townsend where we could get the tire repaired. We folded up Scoopy early Monday morning and headed over. All went smoothly. I even drove Scoopy home (wait a minute... since Scoopy IS home...!), renewing my faith in my ability to drive the big rig.

With that chore kicking off our day, I figured it would not be a particularly memorable one... fix the tire, take a walk, drive over to Costco for some goodies...

Boy, oh boy - did we find goodies! Looking for the wild salmon that they typically carry fresh at the Costcos in the Pacific Northwest, we came upon a 5 pound bag of fresh mussels, locally harvested in Coupeville on Whidby Island. Even though 5 pounds were way more than we could eat, we couldn't (didn't, I should say) resist... we snagged a bag.

Next, cruising the vegetable aisles, the scent of fresh peaches slapped me in the face. It was SO STRONG and delicously sweet that I followed my nose to a stack of flats of white peaches. The regular yellow peaches to the left had no scent at all; the white peaches smelled like ambrosia. TWELVE peaches! Too irresistable. So we left Costco with food for 4-6 people.

I've never cooked mussels, but knew I would steam them in a broth, so we needed sourdough bread for sopping up juices. One last stop at an artisan bakery in Port Townsend and we were set.

As Odel began to wash and clean the mussels, we got a call from our friend Dave from Sacramento. He had been sailing north of here and wanted to stop in to visit us as he began his drive home. Perfect - another willing eater! I mixed up a broth of garlic, tomatoes, wine, and fresh parsley with a bit of homemade pesto stirred in, steamed the mussels, and sliced up the bread. It smelled good, looked good... but the first bite was even better than we anticipated. The mussels were totally, completely, tender - soft, plump seafood pillows.

We picked, slurped and sopped our way through 4 pounds of mussels (I kept one pound for chowder tonight), a loaf of sourdough, and a bottle of wine. Can you believe we even found room for peaches and ice cream for dessert?

Dave hopped back into his Prius to head south, Odel cleaned up the mess... and I made a mental note to do it again, soon!

Friday, August 24, 2007


Here is an unusual photo for the blog: both of us in the same picture!

As we traveled from Portland north to Port Townsend, we stopped in Gig Harbor to meet up with our friends Jim and Diane. As soon as we settled in to the nearby Elks Lodge, we took off with them for an evening walk in town. Dozens of photos were snapped in this beautiful little waterfront town on this perfect afternoon - including this one.

Doesn't this look like a lovely place to spend a few days? Nice level sites, big trees for shade, a cute little Elks Lodge...

When we met Jim and Diane at the Elks Lodge in Gig Harbor, we planned to spend two or three nights there to explore the town and area. It was just as nice at it looks here, with one problem: behind Scoopy, on the other side of a healthy crop of delicious wild blackberries, is a 4-lane highway that carries commuters and semis from Tacoma to the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas.

MAJOR traffic and MAJOR noise. Sitting outside for happy hour, we had to raise our voices to be heard, and the commute traffic woke me up by 6 am.

So, after one night in Gig Harbor, we all took off. As soon as we settled in Port Townsend (another Elks Lodge), we had an email from our new friends here, David and Ann, who hosted the wine tasting we enjoyed so much on our earlier stay in Port Townsend. Happy hour at their place at 4:30!

You don't have to convince us to have fun, so off we went. Around the table beginning on the left: Ann, David, Mary, Odel, and Elaine. We had tried to visit Mary and Elaine a week ago, but they left their camp hosting job before we had a chance to visit, so we were happy to lift our glasses with them on a beautiful afternoon near Port Townsend.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Thanks to the magic of the Verizon aircard, I am writing this from the comfort of my passenger seat lounge chair (feet up) as we roll north on Interstate 5 from Portland to Gig Harbor, Washington. We're planning to spend a couple days there visiting with our traveling friends, Jim and Diane.

Due to the noise of jet plans taking off overhead, we didn't care much for our RV park in Portland - except that it had easy access to the metro line to downtown and excellent walking along the levee on the south side of the Columbia River with some great views. We picked it for convenience, anticipating a visit with my friends Becky and Jewel from Sacramento.

What a great time I had with them! Becky flew, Jewel drove, and we all met at the downtown hotel where they were staying. I did a sleep-over with them Tuesday night, and we spent all our time talking, eating, walking, and shopping. Odel got a night to himself.

I can never resist the food shots, and my two days in Portland with Becky and Jewel were no exception. However, instead of photos of our delicous lunch, the bakery window displays, the delightful fresh produce... take a close look at this, the window display of a yarn shop we passed as we walked to dinner (double click on the photo if you want to enlarge it), proof that food is on the minds of everyone in Portland, not just me.

Friday, August 17, 2007


Today is a travel day for us, so no long blog posts. Instead, I get a chance to share this striking photo. Kossiwa Lanyo lives in Togo, and borrowed money on Kiva. Yes, that is a baby on her back.


Our benefactors - yes, I previously called them our "hosts", but I think we got the best of this deal - returned home yesterday. We drove to the Portland airport to pick them up, in their Prius. Yes, that was another fun part of "sitting" for them: we got to drive their Prius hybrid a few times, a first for us.

We moved Scoopy back a few feet in the morning, so Richard would be able to get his plane out of the hanger if he was so inclined - and he was. Check out the toy lot.

This is what I will remember from our stay here, and of the Willamette Valley in August in general. There are blackberries EVERYWHERE. We take containers out when we walk and fill 'em along the way. The berries are sweet, juicy and - the biggest surprise - low on seeds. Nothing like free, yummy, food as you wander down the lane.

Across a gravel road from the Dopps, this red barn always caught my eye. It sits on the edge of a Christmas tree farm which is lined (this time of year) with tall, ivory, Queen Anne's Lace.

The solid red barn, the thick, sturdy, blue-green fir trees, the tall, graceful lace... it is a lovely contrast to contemplate as we stand picking and eating blackberries, and a very typical scene in this rural, farming area.

Tomorrow we are heading north to the other side of Portland, where we will squeeze into a typical RV site (boo-hoo) in a park on the banks of the Columbia River (YAY), in the shadow of the airport (yikes). Laurie's good friends Becky and Jewel are arriving on Monday for a two day visit in Portland, so we wanted to be conveniently located. Lucky we have that fun visit coming up; otherwise it would be very difficult to leave here.


I suspect that only ONE reader of the blog will be interested in these photos - Dueling Cameras at the wine tasting we attended in Port Townsend at the site of our friends Dave Brown and Ann Howell.

Obviously, we had a GREAT TIME! Or, at least, it is obvious that I did.

David has a Mac, I have a Windows PC, and we have been trying for a month to figure out how to exchange photos between these dueling operating systems. This is proof, for David, that his obsessive trials-and-errors paid off. Was it worthwhile?? He, he.

Monday, August 13, 2007


At the end of July, I posted a story about Mark Agnowah, a Kiva borrower who was murdered, apparently by the local police. His death left his mother and two members of his extended family without support.

Thanks to the focused work of a group of Kiva Friends, a fund for donations to Mark's mother has been created. If any readers are moved to make a donation, you can find information here: Fund for Mark Agnowah's Mother - the Mama Mark Fund. A PayPal account is required.

And, hey... hug YOUR Mama today!

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Today was all about food. Ha, ha, ha, ha... he, he, he, he. Yes, yes, I know... EVERY day is about food with us - but today was EVEN MORE SO.

When we went tearing through the Portland area last summer, I happened to read an article in the local paper about an "Epicurian Excursion", a food-centered walking tour through the Pearl District of Portland. Oh, I wanted to go! But we were enroute to the crab festival over on the coast... no time, no time, must keep moving.

I filed it away in the "not-to-be-forgotten" lobe (very, very small) of my brain and - what do you know - I got tickets a couple of weeks ago. Today was the day.

The company is called Portland Walking Tours. They offer several different tours, but we stuck with our specialty: food. Our group of 14 set out at 10 am; we walked about 2 miles in 3 1/2 food and fun-filled hours.

Our first stop was a nearby deli, where we paused while our guide, Damon, set the tone for the tour with a brief discussion of the Slow Food movement - slow down, involve all your senses, taste completely- and our motto for the day, FLOSS: Fresh, Local, Organic, Sustainable, Seasonal.

Thus enlightened, we went in search of our first taste experience, a bit of delectable Tomato Orange soup. We were off to the races.

These first three photos show one of the "behind the scenes" experiences we enjoyed on the tour. Out on the sidewalk, before we trooped into the kitchen of a small, artisan bakery, we all donned hairnets. Good look for Odel, no?

The baker in the second photo is "laminating" dough for croissants. After removing a layer of waxed paper from a 1/2 inch slab of butter laid on a thick sheet of dough, he ran the combination through the laminating machine (basically, an automated rolling pin), folded it, ran it back through the machine, folded it... and on and on and on until it was thin layer upon thin layer of dough and butter.

A few steps past the laminating machine brought us to our next tasting: four different breads and a delicious, fruity, local olive oil. Yummm... and it lead to our first purchase, a rather sweet, anise flavored bread (for later).

Then we were off again, to where?? Was it the tea house, where we sampled three teas with two different cookies? Or did that come after the cooking school/gourmet food shop where we sat around the big kitchen counter to taste an Oregon Pinot Noir and three kinds of mustards (two of which we bought to take home)??

Well, it was that kind of a day... sensory overload. The weather was perfect - blue sky, sunshine, seventy-something degrees. Damon, our guide, clearly LOVES Portland and stopped frequently to point out a garden, an interesting building, to tell us a little history or to describe why downtown Portland is so vital and invigorating.

I clearly remember our last two stops. At the first, we had a slice of a "seasonal vegetarian pizza": thin, chewy-n-crispy crust with cilantro pesto, fresh tomatoes, crunchy fresh corn kernels and local cheese, washed down with home-made blackberry juice sodas. After that, two different microbrews - and an apple tasting.

Last stop: the gelato shop. Two gelatos - bananas and cream, and cookies and cream - and a pina colada sorbetto. Italian coffee for anyone who had a tiny bit of space left to be filled.

It was a GREAT way to learn about the little slice of Portland known as the Pearl district, and we recommend it to ANYONE who visits Portland (purchase your tickets on the internet in advance to reserve a spot on this always sold out tour).

Friday, August 10, 2007


Here is an unusual photo of Scoopy, huh? Kind of hard to figure it out? That's because I took it out the window of a little plane in our neighbor's "driveway" (or whatever you call the area where you "drive" your plane).

I had lots of photos in the queue to post today, from our hike over near the coast yesterday and Just Stuff that has come up in our stay in Canby... but yesterday evening our neighbor, Bob Johnson, invited us to FLY to breakfast this morning.

Richard Dopp, our host here in Canby, had invited both Odel and me to go for a flight with him - one at a time, because he has a two seater plane - in our first few days here. I declined, since I have a touch of claustrophobia and I was concerned that it might be a not-so-comfortable experience.

Still, I had been thinking about it since then. When Bob suggested a ride, Odel and I looked at each other and said "Why not?" (Gulp!)

When I saw Bob roll the plane out of the hanger this morning, I walked over and explained my concern. I must not be the first to express fear of flying, because Bob had many thoughtful ways to set me at ease.

So, with breakfast awaiting us in Independence, Oregon, we got ready to roll.

I got the front seat, where all the dials, bells, and whistles would take my mind off of the close quarters. Bob got us buckled in, headsets on, explained a bit of the instrumentation, and off we went.

What fun! We taxied past the neighborhood homes, rolled out onto the grass airstrip, and ZOOOOOMMMM. We we off, bumping along the grass and then... we were airborne!

It was a beautiful morning, and we flew low enough that we could see everything: cars, RV parks, the river and boats, the patterns of the plow in the fields, bales of hay sitting in recently harvested hayfields. Lakes. Swimming pools. Homes and estates. Little grassy airstrips.

Before long, we were landing in Independence, where we had a big (and delicious) breakfast at a tiny restaurant on the fringe of the airfield there (paved). Then we were off again, with a little sightseeing before we headed home.

It was so relaxing in the air, maybe because I had absolutely NO responsibilities and NO multi-tasking to be done. I sat, looked, photographed and enjoyed.

Thank you, Bob. It was a delight.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


We've been "on our own" here in Canby for a week now. We're well settled, have explored our surroundings a bit, and feel like we have the watering and harvesting under control. We are completely contented in our situation.

This is yesterday evening's harvest. Naturally, we weren't planning to eat it all: 3 zucchini, 1 yellow squash, uncounted green beans (which we pick DAILY), two Yukon Gold potatoes (one of which weighed 20 oz.), a bit of rosemay and basil for seasoning. We now warn each other not to look at the cucumber vines or the bean bushes when casually walking by... or you get sucked into picking handfuls. What a food riot!

I added a new link in the Favorite Recipes section of the blog (left hand column): Quinoa, Mango and Black Bean Salad. This is from the cookbook I mentioned previously, Eating Well Serves Two, and the link will take you to the Eating Well website. This is a vegan recipe that nicely serves two for a main course, or serves four as a side dish. Outstanding!

By the way, the recipe directs you to first toast, then rinse the quinoa. I have done that, and also have skipped the toasting - I could detect no difference, so I don't bother with the toasting. I use red quinoa, which tastes nuttier and is more chewy than yellow quinoa; perhaps that is why toasting seems unnecessary.

Sunday, August 5, 2007


My cousin Rosanna, of Paws and Hooves Ranch in Cochise County, Arizona, has joined the rest of us World Bankers on Kiva. Check out her lender page: Rosanna's Kiva Partners.


Buddy and Jackie Bartee, our friends from Texas, are traveling in Oregon and took a short detour to visit us. On Saturday, we set off together to explore Portland.

We parked in Oregon City, a southern suburb of Portland, and we four stepped onto the bus still looking at our transit map to determine where the bus went, where we wanted to get off, whether the fare was shown anywhere on the map.

The bus driver took one look at the four of us and said "Where are you from?". Long pause from us, as this is always a difficult question for Odel and me (and we were in front). California? South Dakota? And, did he need to know that the Bartees are from Texas?

I finally chose South Dakota. He shook his head, tore off 4 "All Day" passes, said a few things that made it obvious he was giving them to us for free, and impatiently told us to go sit down. Which we did.

Free bus passes for the Hicks from the Sticks. Off to a good start! (Just FYI if you visit Portland... we determined, over the course of the day, that all locals have headphones or earbuds on/in, so that was the "giveaway" that we are out-of-towners.)

The first "sight" we encountered when exiting the bus was this unusual "band", drawing the crowd to an event put on by Portland General Electric, about energy savings and conservation. Check out the "tourist" in the gap between the second and third players on the left.

Then we were off to Portland's well known Saturday market, an ongoing arts and crafts (and food and music) fair held each Saturday. FUN browsing.

I asked a young woman staffing an information kiosk for a recommendation for lunch and she sent us off to House of Louie in the nearby Chinatown district - a "Dim Sum" restaurant. Odel and I love Dim Sum, small plates of Chinese delicacies served from carts rolling down the aisles of the restaurant, but it was all new to Jackie and Buddy.

This photo captured the Bartees' somewhat tentative exploration of their first Dim Sum meal. What, no Dim Sum in Lovelady, Texas??

Well, they are nothing if not adventureous and loved the meal: ghost-white steamed bao filled with pork, deep fried, in-the-shell shrimp (we ate the shells but not the legs), spring rolls, baby bok choy cooked with onions and a bit of something spicy, three or four different preparations of "wrapped" shrimp (fried or steamed in interesting little pouches of dough or wrappers).

This is one of the typical dishes: a ball of sticky rice molded about meat or shrimp, wrapped in lotus leaves and steamed.

The carts kept coming, we kept eating... and finally slid out of the booth ready to walk off some serious calories.

Another famous Portland sight is Powell's Bookstore, covering a city block on the edge of the Pearl District, quite nearby. Off we went, Jackie and I to visit the bookstore, Odel and Buddy to wander the Pearl District. I took this photo in the smallest room of the bookstore (a maze of rooms, mezzanines, floors), the "checkout" room... we can study these trendy shoppers if we want to "blend" next time we visit The City.

While shopping at the Saturday Market, Odel bought a catnip mouse from "KittyHooch.com". The vendor told tall tales of how it drives cats wild, and Luna does love catnip.

When we got home, Odel tossed his pack on the table and went outside. I was in the back and heard Luna meowing in a very strange way, a worrisome way. I came up front to see her wandering around slowly, head raised, looking a little bewildered.

As I watched, she approached Odel's pack, meowing loudly, and I remembered the catnip mouse (well packaged in plastic, of course). I called Odel, who opened the package and gave her the mouse. She went absolutely berserk, as you can see from the photo!

Saturday, August 4, 2007


The internet brings all sorts of amazing information into our home. Have you seen this, or heard anything about it? I hadn't, until I read about this council of "Elders" on the Kiva Friends website. I have shamelessly plagarized and reposted the information here for you. Thank you, Richard, for posting it originally so that I could read it.

My question: why isn't this the sort of story the national news media share with us? Or did I just miss it? (ha, ha, ha!)

Mandela unveils 'council of Elders'

Nelson Mandela has marked his 89th birthday by forming a "council of elders" dedicated to finding new ways to resolve some of the world's longest-running crises. The former South African president launched his fellow elder statesmen on a new venture to foster peace, reduce conflict and despair during a birthday celebration on Wednesday [July 18, 2007].

Among them are Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general, Jimmy Carter, the former US president and Desmond Tutu, the retired South African archbishop. Mandela said he hoped the new humanitarian alliance of Nobel peace laureates, politicians and development experts could make a difference.

The group called The Elders was an idea of British entrepreneur Richard Branson and musician Peter Gabriel, both of whom were present at the launch. Branson and others pledged $18m to fund The Elders over three years.

Other members include Ela Bhatt, a women's rights campaigner from India, former Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, Li Zhaoxing, the former Chinese envoy to the UN now based in Africa, Mandela's wife Graca Machel, a children's rights campaigner, former Irish president Mary Robinson, and Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen bank, the pioneering micro-credit institution.

For more information, visit The Elders website.

Friday, August 3, 2007


As of yesterday morning, we have officially begun our "caretaking" duties at the Dopps' property. Our crop of photos has grown during the past few days, but we've been too busy learning about the property and the area for me to keep up with posting 'em.

So, here are more photos and fewer words than usual.

The first photo shows Scoopy in Full Deployment mode: everything is hooked up, screens and flags in place, chairs out, awning down. It takes us about an hour to set up like this, and about an hour to get ready to leave.

Note Queen Luna on her "grass". She doesn't like the hot driveway bricks on her feet in the afternoon, so we make sure her lawn is out.

I took this shot the first evening we were on the property. Luna had a lot of exploring to do once we got set up.

Our main responsibility here is to keep the plants alive and the garden harvested. This photo shows the little Red Barn in one corner of the vegetable garden.

Right now, the green beans, cucumbers and zucchini need daily harvesting. There are way more than we can eat but, if they aren't harvested frequently, the plants falter - so we get out there and pick!

This delightful, shady deck is 30 steps in front of Scoopy. We, Luna, and a couple of the other neighborhood cats spend a lot of time here.

The Dopps' little neighborhood is situated along a grassy airfield, two rows of around a dozen houses each separated by a road/taxiway. Using it as a road, cars can access the homes; as a taxiway, planes drive to either end to access the airstrip. Planes have the right-of-way on the road, and just about everyone owns a plane (including the Dopps).

In this photo, our neighbors are heading out of their driveway to the taxiway.

Now the plane has left the driveway and is heading down the taxiway. At the end, they will cut through the houses on a grassy accessway to the airfield, then take off. Of course, Odel and I ran around to the other end of the airstrip to watch, and the Johnsons waggled their wings at us as they flew over our heads.

They were back home in a couple hours... they had flown to breakfast over near Salem!