Thursday, June 28, 2007

New Term, Same Problems

Since so many of my troublesome kids failed my class last term (no surprise, they couldn't shut up and study) I started this term in full on scary teacher mode and seem to have terrified a number of my meeker students, especially the new ones. But the usual suspects? Same old behavior.

We use something called a success contract as a means of establishing consequences for inappropriate behavior. A bunch of students started the term on contracts and two have repeatedly violated the terms of their enrollment in my class by talking, yelling, name-calling, and even an episode which could easily be considered assault. So I've kicked two students out and am hoping that this will have a positive impact on my class and we can get down to some serious English now.

I feel really disappointed. I so wanted to get through to these kids, to help them grow up and succeed and thought that if I was patient and firm something would change. I am sure that these two have had nothing but trouble in their lives--the 17 year old boy, I know, is fatherless, and both come from an ethnic group that has suffered decades of discrimination in Russia. Unlike other Russian speaking students we see, the kids from this group have much lower academic skills which no doubt reflects, at least partially, inferior schools. But I can't sacrifice the rest of the class to these kids' issues. While I am looking forward to a more focused class, I am also really sad that I am just one more person failing these kids.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Curds and Whey

I blame Barbara Kingsolver. I've been thoroughly enjoying Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I respect and applaud her family's decision to break away from the world of corporate food and eat as locally as possible. Really, I do. But part of me (the insecure and immature part I guess) was feeling kind of like a loser as I read, thinking wistfully about the cook and gardener I could be if I would just get my act together and knowing that I probably never will. But then came the chapter on cheese, specifically the 30-minute fresh mozzarella recipe. Really, she insists, normal people can make real cheese in their own kitchens. Well, I was in.

I especially wanted to make cheese with The Spouse this weekend. It might seem like an odd activity for an anniversary but we are, after all, the couple who had to visit both the Tillamook Cheese Factory and the Blue Heron French Cheese Company on our honeymoon. We like our cheese.

I started out simply by heating a gallon of organic milk on the stove. My thermometer isn't terribly accurate at the lower end, so I had to guess about the proper time to add the citric acid. At this point it was more or less like making paneer, which I have done many times. Adding the rennet seems to change the consistency of the curds and make them stick together with more tenacity than paneer. Once the curds formed I scooped them out with a slotted spoon and mashed things around to press out as much of the watery whey as possible. Eventually the mass of curds came together into something resembling either a cauliflower or a brain, depending on your point of view.

The mass of curds is then heated in the microwave for a minute or so and kneaded. This is the fun part as the texture begins to change dramatically. Once it cools, you repeat the heating/kneading until most of the moisture is out of the cheese.
You can then form the cheese into whatever shape you like. I made about 12 2" balls of cheese. The flavor was incredibly delicate and buttery and the cheese squeaks just slightly when chewed which is a sensation I love.

It took a few phone calls to find vegetarian rennet locally but I figured if I was going to make my own cheese I might as well make it kosher as well. The citric acid also took a couple of calls but we were able to round up all the ingredients here in Portland. For those more patient folks wanting to do mail order, I'd take a look here as they seem to have a huge array of items for your cheesemaking needs.

This isn't particularly cost effective as there wasn't a whole lot to show for a gallon of milk, especially once The Dark Lord came through the kitchen and discovered the cheese. But I will certainly try this again, perhaps when I have a pile of fresh grape tomatoes. I can see rolling the fresh mozzarella into tiny balls, and tossing them with fresh basil, tomatoes, and a bit of olive oil for a variation on the Caprese salad. How lovely that would be in deep summer with home grown tomatoes and homemade cheese! I may not have a farm of many acres and I even fell behind in planting my vegetable beds this year, but I did manage to pop a few tomato plants in the ground last month, so that heavenly salad shouldn't be too far away.

Apologies for the photo quality. Given a choice between cheesemaking and documenting cheesemaking, well, the cheese won so I (or The Spouse) snapped what photos we could despite poor lighting.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

17 Years

It's hard to believe that 17 years have passed since The Spouse and I exchanged vows in a funky, home made, hybrid wedding ceremony one June morning. I remember a lot of frenzied planning leading up to that day, but what we've learned since is that it's the marriage, not the wedding, that matters.

I am blessed to be married to a man who is endlessly patient, incredibly kind, wonderfully creative, and surprisingly wise for his years. He is a marvelous father, and a loving son. Yes,he's forgetful but he pays attention to the details that really matter in a way that sometimes astounds me. We've watched quite a few couples falter in recent years and had a few good fights of our own, but never have I doubted that we'd be together forever.

One of my deepest desires is that each of my children will be blessed to find someone who can be partner, lover, and best friend in the way my sweetie has been to me.

A dear friend offered to take all the kids from "lunchtime to lunchtime" and we've yet to make our plans. But it hardly matters what we do as long as we have some uninterrupted time together. There's no one I'd rather spend that time with.

Berry Stained Fingers

Yesterday we bought four flats of fresh strawberries which works out to 48 little green pint boxes. Half were Laura's and half were ours. We went out to Thompson Farms where the berries are grown without chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. East Multnomah County was once covered in strawberry farms but the farms are shrinking or disappearing these days, so I was delighted to support a local family owned business with my berry dollars. The smell of the fruit in the back of the van as we drove home was positively intoxicating!

I wanted lots for the freezer as nothing tickles me more than to pull a bag of perfectly ripe local berries out of freezer for those mid-winter smoothies. Quite a few berries were quickly rinsed and spread in a single layer on a large baking tray covered in waxed paper (which keeps the berries from sticking to the bare metal). Each tray sat in the freezer for about an hour and a half, just long enough for the berries to firm up. Then I popped the frozen berries into 1 quart freezer bags and stored them away for winter.

Meanwhile, the jam berries were sitting, bathed in sugar, as we waited for them to soften and get juicy. Laura's favorite recipe looked astoundingly sweet to me, but I've had the jam many times and it's quite delicious so I wasn't worried. She brought along her steam canner, a marvelous contraption which was entirely new to me. It requires heating only a few pints of water rather than than the gallons and gallons needed to fill my old canning kettle so the water heats much faster, you can process numerous batches quickly and the kitchen doesn't get nearly as hot as with the big canner. I think I'll have to find one of my own.
We ended up with 18 half-pint jars of strawberry jam. At this point Laura left and I still had a full flat of berries. Continuing with the freezer routine, I also started poking around in Stocking Up looking for more ways to use my remaining berries. Since I still had some of my Mt Vernon rhubarb remaining, I decided to try the strawberry -rhubarb preserves. This is not always a flavor combination I love, mostly because the rhubarb is often overwhelmed by the berries, and that appealing tang is lost in overwhelming sweetness. One of the things I really appreciate about Stocking Up is that many of the recipes are written with a goal of reducing sugar so I figured their recipe wouldn't be overly sweet. Also, the recipe uses low-methoxyl pectin (I use the Pomona brand) which is great stuff. Regular pectin won't thicken your jams unless your mixture is at least 50% sugar. This stuff, made entirely from citrus peel, will thicken jams, jellies, and preserves regardless of sugar content. I made the entire batch--8 cups of fruit cooked down into 6 half-pints--using less than a cup of honey and no sugar at all.

The resulting preserve is tangy and tart and, as far as I'm concerned, perfectly delicious. I'm sure that some folks would find it way too astringent. Others might not like the way the preserves look in the jar. The finished product gets rather foamy and I need to do some research to find out why that is. So it's not exactly picture perfect but it is absolutely delicious. I had one jar that didn't seal in the water bath canner last night which meant I could dig right into it this morning. I toasted some thick slices of Pugliese bread, spread them with a thin layer of cream cheese and then topped them with a thick dollop of freshly made strawberry-rhubarb preserves....heaven!
If you feel like making a batch of your own strawberry rhubarb preserves, the recipe is here.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Rhubarb Coffee Cake

We always had rhubarb growing up. My dad had a few plants around and we always enjoyed his rhubarb pies as well as stewed rhubarb over anything: ice cream, shortcake, or (my favorite) tapioca pudding. I've always loved the jewel-like color and the tangy flavor of rhubarb despite the fact that for so many people it's either unknown or disliked intensely. I was delighted to find that none other than Nigella Lawson is a huge rhubarb fan and I took it as a good omen that our first home of our own included a vigorous rhubarb plant.
Not only did we snap up (and immediately eat) over a pound of the most delicious cherries at a Mt Vernon farm stand the other day, but I also spied a bunch of rhubarb going for a very reasonable price. Since our own rhubarb was mostly harvested weeks ago, I was happy to find more of the ruby stalks looking fresh and healthy and I brought home a few pounds with no particular plan.
Rhubarb was not immediately on my mind this morning as I got up early to prepare for making strawberry jam with my dear friend Laura (more on that later). Thinking that we needed something tasty to fortify ourselves before heading off to the wilds of south Gresham to buy our berries, I started dreaming of something along the lines of a rhubarb coffee cake. I did some online research and assembled something using bits and pieces of a number of different recipes. The result was quite tasty: hearty, tangy, and ever so pretty in a homely kind of way. If you'd like to give it a try, the recipe is here.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I Can't Wait....

...for Sicko, Michael Moore's newest film. It opens in New York City this weekend and around the country on June 29. This time he takes on the American health care system. Fahrenheit 911 didn't end the war in Iraq, but I'm really hoping Sicko will stimulate discussion about what our citizens need and deserve. I love the"Prescription for Change" posted on the website:

1. Every American must have full, uninterrupted health care coverage for life.

2. Private, for-profit health insurance companies must be abolished.

3. Profits of pharmaceutical companies must be regulated like public utilities.

I love that Moore is willing to take on the the big guys in this film. We won't get anywhere with universal health coverage until the insurance industry is taken out and strangled, blood-sucking vampires that they are. Anyway, I can't wait to see it. Watch the trailer here:


We've just returned from a few days visiting family in Anacortes. We made plans thinking The Spouse would need to work and that I would be driving the kids up there alone but, happily, he ended up free this week so we could all go together.

We drove north through gray skies and occasional drizzle but the sky grew clearer as we headed west off the interstate towards the sea. We were welcomed with multi-recipient birthday celebration (all our birthdays fall between May and August) which included two lovely bakery cakes and a generous amount of spending money for the kids.My aunt's house is on a hill overlooking the state ferry terminal and the westernmost San Juan islands. It's a lovely location and we were blessed with mild, sunny weather while there. We spent one day wandering around the town of Anacortes. We walked through the lovely city park and took in the views. It's pretty much all about the water and the boats, both of which proved endlessly fascinating. We also managed to find both the yarn shop and a lovely bookstore.

We spent another day visiting Friday Harbor on San Juan Island which allowed for an hour of ferry time each way. The ferries seem so grand to me--they're spacious and comfortable and you can wander freely at different levels. We traveled on a gloriously sunny day, but I think it would be wonderful to spend a stormy wintry day on the ferry as well, with some friends, perhaps, and a hot cup of coffee and some knitting. It sounds perfect to me.

That's The Dark Lord and me in the photo above, with our shadows on the water. Pretty cool shot, I think.
Friday Harbor was lovely as well. We had an OK lunch, visited more bookstores, ate ice cream, wandered about and enjoyed ourselves quite a bit.

We left fairly early yesterday and made a stop at a produce stand in Mt Vernon where we bought some of the best cherries I've ever eaten. I'm deep into reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle right now and was happy to shell out a small fortune for the locally grown fruit. We arrived home to find all the cats well fed and happy to see us.

I spent a great deal of time on this vacation doing...nothing, really. Reading, knitting, taking photos, and not much more than that. What luxury! I'm trying to hang on to that vacation vibe before gearing up to think about the rapidly approaching summer term.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Cherry Almond Chocolate Biscotti

This will be a quick post as we're getting ready to leave town to go visit my aunt in Anacortes, Washington tomorrow.

Ever since I was tiny, going to visit my aunt was thrilling. When I was young she lived in a number of fascinating places including a tiny cottage on Puget Sound and an apartment on Capitol Hill in Seattle which seemed wildly exciting to me at the time. She always treated me differently than other adults--she really paid attention in a way I've since learned that those who are parents can't always manage. She took me out for wonderful meals in exotic restaurants, some of which I remember to this day. She used to keep me well supplied with chocolate orange Frangos which, sadly, have become impossible to find. Every year we now eagerly look forward to her generous holiday gift, a tin of delicious Cougar Gold cheese.

I have all these wonderful food memories associated with my aunt so it pleases me to no end that she seems to be fond of my biscotti. I sent them up once and heard many times about how she loved them so I've come to associate them with her. I've made these a number of different ways including a version that honors those beloved Frangos using candied orange peel. Those are heavenly. Today I made the cherry almond version and they came out as tasty as ever. You'll find my recipe here and I hope you'll give them a try as homemade biscotti are nothing like the stale, tasteless specimens one finds in coffee shops. These are crumbly and light with a rich chocolate flavor and a lovely bit of crunch from the toasted almonds.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Happy Father's Day

Well, I am a completely lame daughter. In the chaos of this past week (finals, a birthday, a piano recital, preparing to leave town for a few days) I completely forgot about Father's Day. It just kind of crept up on me and here it is, late the night before, and this is all I have to offer:

I am blessed because not only do I have the world's greatest dad, but I have a wonderful stepdad as well. From the time we first met, many years ago, he has always been unfailingly kind and generous with me. He is warm and funny and has lots of passionate interests. Despite never raising children himself, he is a super grandfather and my children are lucky to have him in their life, as am I.

I've written about my dad here before. He's taught me so much about how to live my life and how to treat people. He really is a remarkable person and I owe so much of who I am and what I hold dear to his influence.

Both my father and my step father are big hikers. Together even. The Princess loves going on what she calls a "two grandpa walk" --isn't she a lucky one?

So I'm posting the photo below in the hopes that these two very special men in my life will get in a good walk in the woods very soon. I love you guys!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Final Exams Are Graded...

...and it doesn't look good. Only 6 of 17 students passed which is surely an all time low for my 16 year teaching career. What this means is that every single one of the students I had trouble with this term will be with me next term. My joy knows no limits.

Have I mentioned how much I've enjoyed this term?

My brief one week break will be spent pondering how I can have a significantly different class with the same students. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Bit of a Rant

Many students were absent tonight despite most of our classes giving the first part of final exams. Why? Many were scared to leave their homes and afraid to come to school.

There was a huge immigration bust at the Del Monte cannery in North Portland today. More than 160 people were arrested and sent to Tacoma leaving much of Portland's Latino immigrant community in a panic.

Yes, these folks were here working illegally. Working. Not causing trouble, not taking anything from anyone, but working to support their families. Working hard, nasty jobs for little pay, no benefits, and no job security. Not looking for handouts but paying taxes and rent, buying food, eating in restaurants, buying gas, contributing to our economy.

I'm so angry now when I read all the folks in The Oregonian's forums cheering this act: the incarceration of human beings, the separation of parents and children. How does having undocumented workers hurt us? What is the problem? What are people so afraid of? I hear so many ignorant, stupid comments from people, things like:

"They're all just lazy"--The vast majority of undocumented workers are men and 96% of undocumented men are working which, by the way, is a higher employment rate than that of US citizens or legal immigrants. Plus, if they were lazy, why would they be so eager to study English every night after putting in a full day of hard work?

"They're a drain on social services"--not only are undocumented immigrants ineligible for the vast majority of benefits, most won't get anywhere near government services for fear of being traced and deported. Yes, we educate the children of undocumented workers, but most of them (0ver 90%) are in fact US citizens.

"They're taking jobs from Americans"--when is the last time you lost out on a primo cannery job? Undocumented workers are mostly doing the work that American workers are unwilling to do, especially for low wages in poor working conditions. Illegal immigrants are consumers as well as workers and they are buying goods and services in numbers which actually stimulate the US economy to the tune of $300 billion annually.

"They don't pay taxes"--wrong again. The majority of undocumented workers pay sales taxes, property taxes (even if renting), gas and other consumption taxes just like everyone else. And most of these folks also pay payroll taxes in the billions. Needless to say, despite paying in to the system, few will be able to claim social security benefits, providing an enormous source of virtually "free money" to the government.

I wonder how many of us would willingly leave our loved ones behind, go into debt and endanger our lives to cross a border, work a dangerous job for low pay, and live in the shadows for months or years? It sounds horrible, right? But I think any of us would if we felt it was the only way to support our families. We should give thanks that most of us will never, God willing, be in such a position.

If you are not familiar with immigration issues, I encourage you to go and learn. Let the powers that be know that you support sensible and compassionate immigration reform. Our economy should not be dependent on an underclass.

Monday, June 11, 2007

I finally did it!

After this miserable term full of troublesome students, I finally kicked someone out of my classroom tonight. I felt some remorse, and he wasn't kicked out for good, just until tomorrow, but it felt good, like I'd finally gotten the attention of this most garrulous and lackadaisical group of students.

I'd listened to this young man kvetch and whine all evening about how he couldn't do this and I needed to do that for him, and he wasn't really interested in being there and it was my fault he wasn't understanding anything. (His English is actually better than that of many of his fellow students and he's quite bright) I tried to explain things to him but he would just talk over me, making wisecracks in Spanish. And then....his phone rang. One of my cardinal rules is that all cell phones need to be turned off in the classroom and nothing sets me off like the little warble of a phone. He actually got up to take the call in the hallway and I asked him to turn the phone off and get to work. I told him that he might as well take his books because if he left the room to take the call, he wouldn't be coming back. He opted to leave.

All the other students stared at the door with wonder and they were very well behaved the rest of the evening. None was more shocked than my number one troublemaker who looked almost hurt that I would send someone else home instead of him.

I always think that if I give these kids one more chance and explain the expectations again that they'll magically straighten up, be quiet, and focus on learning English. And many of them, thankfully, do just that. But there are a few who, given an inch, will take the proverbial mile. This term I seemed to have a super sized portion of those kids. Had I sent someone home weeks ago I wonder if this term would have been such struggle.

Mosaic Monday

Lots of water and shininess in this one, though I don't know why. Maybe all the rain we've been having?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Strawberries for MonkeyBoy!

My younger son, known in bloglandia as MonkeyBoy, has always been a fiend for strawberries. He can down a few boxes of them in an hour's time. As a tot he used to toddle through tall grass out to our strawberry patch, often eating them slightly green in his enthusiasm. I don't want to publicly embarrass him, but I feel I can at least say that his exit from the diaper-wearing community was achieved primarily through the generous use of strawberries as a bribe. He's had strawberry shortcake for his June birthday more than once. His first ice cream was, of course, strawberry.
He was born a few days shy of 12 years ago during a brief stint when we lived far from Portland. Shortly thereafter my parents came to visit bringing the perfect gift for a Portlander-in-exile, sweltering in the California heat: an ice cream maker. We had to return to Portland before making truly good strawberry ice cream with local Oregon berries. There's no point in trying with the early berries they ship up from California. Those woody, pale monstrosities have no flavor whatsoever so we happily wait for the real thing: local berries picked the day of purchase, red all the way through, dead ripe, enchantingly fragrant and, well, heaven.

MonkeyBoy headed off with friends for a camping/rock climbing extravaganza this morning. He won't be returning until late on his birthday and, due to my work schedule, I may not even see him until quite late that day. But I wanted him to start his birthday with a special treat so I ran down to the Lents International Farmers Market early this morning to pick up some berries to send along. Nice little market, by the way, so those of you in SEPDX should drop by.

They couldn't take all the berries along so we kept two boxes behind. Having recently checked The Perfect Scoop out of the library, I thought some ice cream might be just the way to use some of the remaining berries. The author lists a number of possibilities for frozen delights using strawberries including a strawberry-rhubarb sorbet which sounds wonderful, but it was the strawberry-sour cream ice cream which won out today. I had all the ingredients on hand and I guess maybe I'm still pining for those blintzes because that's what the combo made me think of.
I hauled out the trusty old Donvier and whipped up a batch of heavenly pink ice cream in almost no time. Had I followed the recipe exactly, it would have taken a couple of hours with chilling time but the rushed version was just fine. The recipe is here. The Perfect Scoop contains page after page of splendid looking possibilities, so I'm sure I'll be writing about it again.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Year End

I took this last night at a local school. There was a big year end celebration and a bunch of the kids enrolled in various after school activities performed, including The Princess and her tiny ballet buddies. They were, of course, tooth-achingly cute.

I don't know who this little girl is, but she clearly had such a great time with her paper bag kite--I loved watching her run around.

Fruity Bread Pudding

True to tradition, Parade Day dawned rainy and gloomy. We're not parade goers anyway, but while I lay in bed thinking of all the damp souls waiting for the fun to begin, I also started thinking about breakfast. A cool, early summer breakfast is a grand opportunity as far as I'm concerned. I can't think of how many recipes I've seen which look delicious but involve baking summer fruit. Baking. Summer. Fruit. You get the problem, right? Who wants to bake anything when it's hot?

One thing I love is a good bread pudding. We make them all the time, often using leftover challah. Mostly they are dense, eggy things, either a savory variety made with cheese or a rich chocolate variety. Today I wanted something lighter where the flavor of recently purchased blueberries and cherries would shine.

I started with this recipe, the first to pop up after I googled "blueberry bread pudding". It was a good starting point, but looked too sweet and too bland so I fiddled around a bit and made enough changes that I think I can fairly call this recipe my own. I cut back on the sugar, added cherries along with the blueberries, used more bread, replaced water with orange juice,and upped the lemon juice and butter accordingly.I even had the opportunity to put my grandmother's pastry tips to use for pitting the cherries after picking up the tip while browsing through a Martha Stewart magazine. Once I found the right size, it worked perfectly.

Served with a little half and half, this was delicious. If I were a bacon-eating person, I think that might be the perfect breakfast companion to this sweet bread pudding. I might try and remember to whip up some veggie sausage next time I serve this in the morning. But it would also be a delightful dessert along with freshly whipped cream. Do give it a try.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Lasagna With A Twist

Well I confess, I haven't been doing a whole lot of cooking. I've had some truly delicious meals in the last few weeks, especially here and here, but they weren't made by yours truly. I seem to be off my food again and not terribly interested in putting together delicious healthy meals in and around the growing chaos. But The Spouse has been making plaintive, mournful comments about my lack of output in the kitchen and nothing makes me feel guilty like the spousal whine. And when he complains that he has nothing to take for lunch, what he really means is that there's no delicious, cheesy, savory pasta to enjoy midday. Which, when you get right down to it, means there's no lasagna.

It's been uncommonly, horribly, global warmingly hot the last few weeks. Portland is beginning to feel like a city in a different latitude and I haven't adjusted. Ninety degrees before the end of May is just ridiculous as far as I'm concerned. Like the polar bears at out zoo, I just get lethargic when it's hot and could hardly care less about cooking or food in general. Firing up the oven for a pan of lasagna has had no appeal whatsoever lately.

So when today dawned gloomy and cool, I was in heaven. I ran around the house doing useful, productive things like scrubbing counters and tidying the laundry room. And thinking about cooking something solid and hearty and easily divided into lunchtime portions for my beloved.

I can only take so much of a big cheesy dish. While I love homemade macaroni and cheese, I really love a spicy kick-in-the-pants macaroni and cheese. Lasagna can work the same way. I found this recipe years ago in Vegetarian Planet, a great cookbook full of lively, fusion recipes influenced by nearly any cuisine you can think of. At first I rolled my eyes at the thought of "Mexican" lasagna. But reading the recipe I realized that the smoky chipotles in the sauce could make magic. And they do.

You can control the heat of the dish by leaving the chipotles in the sauce or fishing them out, as you prefer. The corn adds a surprising bit of texture and the flavors come together beautifully in this untraditional dish. Like most lasagnas, it reheats, travels, and freezes well, making it a versatile addition to your repertoire. Even if it does sound weird. The recipe is here. Let me know what you think!

Monday, June 04, 2007


Last month Cheri over at The Naked Sheep Knit Shop offered to put a piece in their monthly newsletter about the refugee knitters I've been working with. She kindly offered the shop as a drop off point for donated yarn and supplies. She called the other day to ask if I'd come by and pick up the donations so she could free up some space and I was stunned at how much yarn had been brought in. Naked Sheepsters, you are a generous bunch and I thank you for your donations! Thanks, Cheri, for collecting items for us. We'll be kept busy for quite some time.

I enjoyed sorting through things yesterday and was delighted to find a number of bags and boxes of yarn that was clearly purchased many years ago along with some fabulous vintage pattern books. My refugee knitters are a wash and wear bunch, so I am not sure that the baby mohair and astrakhan boucle will be suitable, but for the most part the donated yarn is just what we need and will be most welcome. Just in time, too, as we were beginning to run short of all but the most drab colors and these gals just aren't drawn to the browns and neutrals remaining in our storage closets.

As for that high maintenance, not-suitable-for beginners mohair boucle in sherbet colors, well, I know at least one pregnant mama who'd be happy with a baby blanket made of vintage yarn so I promise nothing will go to waste!

Mosaic Monday

Usually I use photos from other Flickristas I'm drawn to but today, just my own growing pictures. I love seeing them all together like this!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

A Walk in the Woods

Sometime last year we purchased a great book called Portland Hill Walks written by a Laura Foster who is not MY Laura Foster, artist and dear friend, but a completely different Laura Foster who has put together a wonderful guidebook with a series of fascinating and sometimes challenging expeditions. The Spouse took two of the three kids on this particular recommended walk last summer and MonkeyBoy wanted to go again. This time The Princess had to walk on her own as she has finally and completely outgrown and sort of carrying device, but she was a trooper and manged the whole nearly 3 miles on her own. We started in a charming neighborhood in NW Portland that I'd never in all my years here had occasion to visit: lovely little secluded streets and lanes, gorgeous homes, fabulous gardens. All picture perfect and charming, but I do confess to musing on the well maintained and clearly little used tiny streets when across town there are blocks and blocks of gravel and potholes east of 82nd avenue where I'm sure attention from The City would be appreciated. Maybe these folks pay for their own street maintenance? Anyway, our stroll through the neighborhood was delightful if a bit like Disneyland in its perfection.

Eventually we came to Macleay Park and spent a long time wandering through the forest in a leisurely manner. It was a perfect early summer day and we enjoyed exploring, from the remains of an old stone cabin to Balch Creek. The trails got a bit crowded with high powered runners decked out in fancy gear, but it was still possible for our family to poke along and take in the sights. I saw my first red breasted sapsucker in many years and there were all kinds of lovely things to photograph:

At one point a very jovial man came along and offered to take a family snapshot. Since I am always the one behind the camera, I happily took him up on it despite The Dark Lord's apparent fear that the fellow was going to run off with my new camera. He didn't, of course, and took a fine photo as well: