Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Reformation Day

    36. Any Christian whatsoever, who is truly repentant, enjoys plenary remission from penalty and guilt, and this is given him without letters of indulgence.

    37. Any true Christian whatsoever, living or dead, participates in all the benefits of Christ and the Church; and this participation is granted to him by God without letters of indulgence.
From Martin Luther's 95 theses on the sale of indulgences (tickets to heaven), posted on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany, October 31, 1517.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I'm not so sure I want to write about this, but I got nuthin' else so what the heck...

My son, Kris, recently had a movie trailer on his blog. I had never heard of the movie before but the trailer was intriguing. The movie was Collapse.

I happened to find out that tonight the movie was being screened at our little town's pizzeria/movie theater. It was being shown here a month before it goes to New York and two months before L.A. Who'da thunk it?

The guys are gone on an elk hunting trip so I decided to take myself to see this. (Kris, I know you are excited to hear that and would've gone with me.)

There was a documentary filmmaker present who was filming audience reaction to the picture. His footage may be used on the Collapse website. I didn't stand up in front of his camera to state my reaction but the people who had gathered after the movie ended up having open discussion about it and I was a part of that so I did end up on camera. Not sure how I feel about that either...

Anyway, as usual, I don't fit in with the crowd. On either side. This movie is either about Michael Ruppert as a burned out conspiracy theorist struggling to be heard, or it's a movie about his predictions of global economic collapse caused in part or mostly by the Peak Oil syndrome (that is, hitting the peak of oil reserves on the planet). I was told that the movie was about Ruppert but I didn't personally feel that he was the main focus of the movie, (though he was the sole messenger) but that may be just me. Certainly his message of collapse, economic and social, is causing a stir. I can definitely see how any person viewing this movie without any understanding of the economic and social changes of the last fifty or more years could leave the theater disturbed or even terrified about the future.

The bottom line of my reaction is that I felt Michael Ruppert or this movie told just enough truth to be dangerous as they say. There were many nuggets of true and important information that were buried in incendiary rhetoric. It is one thing to want to shake awake the herd from their drowsy self-absorbed cud-chewing, it's another thing to startle it into a stampede. Anyone remember Y2K?

At first I came out of the film feeling like Michael Ruppert was disingenuous and manipulating the audience with his facts. But after listening to the discussion by the audience afterward, and especially after hearing the comments of a woman who claimed to be a close personal friend of Ruppert, I now think that maybe Ruppert was perfectly sincere and it was the filmmaker, Chris Smith, and his editing of the fourteen hours of Ruppert's words into 90 minutes that made him look insincere and manipulative. Maybe it was Smith's lack of understanding of the issues that Ruppert was discussing that caused him to leave so much important information out- leaving just those scattered nuggets. The rhetoric was part of the characterization of Ruppert as a conspiracy theorist.

For example, Ruppert discussed fiat currency but there wasn't enough information in the film for people to understand the problems with it and why the U.S. economy is a house of cards and why Ruppert is so passionate about telling people to prepare wisely for when the cards come down, as they most surely will. Several times in the film he patted himself on the back for "accurately predicting" the current economic state, and yet the film ended by showing us how Ruppert is living alone in a small rented house fighting eviction. If he knew for years that this was all coming and he was preaching preparation, why wasn't he prepared? I recognize that the film maker's editing comes in here because maybe there is much more to the story.

I will be interested in seeing what happens when/if this movie comes out nationwide.

I hope it won't be stampede.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Maybe I need a Muse

Over the last three months I have spent almost no time in my pottery studio. So little that it's almost time to remove "potter" from my resume. With gardening, baking dozens and dozens and dozens of apple turnovers, canning tomatoes, jaunting off to Europe, giving speeches about pie, (well, a speech) and homeschooling, I would have had to give up sleeping to have any time left to spend in the studio. And anyone who knows me knows that I don't give up sleeping for anything less than a jaunt to Europe.

I have decided not to do a firing of Christmas work. I'll sell what I have in inventory if I can but I'm not going to stress myself out trying to fill the kiln (that's a hundred pots) for a firing before Thanksgiving. The holidays are stressful enough without adding the pressure of getting that much work done in my cold studio. I'm thinking that with the pressure off, maybe I can find some inspiration and new direction to revitalize my work. It sorely needs some inspiration and revitalization.

A couple weeks ago I managed to squeeze out an hour or two in the studio.

The first hour was spent evicting all the spiders that had taken over the place. Then I spent some time trying to think outside my box. I played with some ideas with texture.

I haven't done a much hand-building in the last few years and I wanted to try something new.

This was all I managed to turn out in that short afternoon.
Then it was back to canning salsa.

One afternoon this week, the boys managed to finish their schoolwork before dark. That actually left me!...two hours of time to do something else besides try to keep my eyelids from slamming shut while I listen to another reading of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf". Seven kids and I've heard that one a few times.

More playing with texture yielded this:

Not very inspired but very different for me, don't you think?

And this was it. Not very exciting.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hardcore Mom

Today I read a really fantastic blog post on parenting. Since I know some of my readers visit the same places I do, it may be redundant to bring it here, but for those who haven't read it....

Go here- Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Deadbeats. It has a message that is well-worth repeating.

This post addresses the alarming and landscape-changing trend in parenting: molly-coddling the kids. A generation of parents that wanted to give their kids what they never had led to a generation of kids that know little else about parenting. Kids are consequently now being raised without having to earn their own perks in life and so come to expect that everything should come easily.

On the one hand it could be said that some parents don't have the backbone to let the baby cry a little, make the toddler take a nap despite the tantrum, ignore the grumbling of the kid who doesn't want to do his chores and stand up to the teenager who is defiant and disrespectful. But on the other hand, I feel sorry for the parents who simply have never been shown the skills to do these things and feel frustrated with their own lack of empowerment. Haven't we all been there at times?

The author of the blog post I read had some very good responses to the most common excuses for spineless parenting:

~Life is short…you’re only a kid once. (Unless your kid never grows up and never leaves home, and, then, trust Mrs. G. on this parents…life is long.)

~She works so hard at school. She’s tired when she comes home. (And? We all work hard. We’re all tired at the end of the day. She has youth on her side!)

~I get so much pleasure when I see how happy he is when he gets the new iPod, cell phone, whatever. (Consider offering him the pleasure and sense of pride that comes with working really hard for something you really want. Plus you’ll be surprised by how much better care he takes of it.)

~I get tired of the yelling and the nagging. It’s just easier to do it myself. (Consequences, consequences, consequences…when Mrs. G’s daughter lived at home and was in charge of cleaning a bathroom, if she did a lousy job, Mrs. G. would send her right in to clean it again or if it was an emergency situation where company was coming over, Mrs. G. would clean it and then leave a note on her daughter’s bed saying she expected $20 dollars (the going rate) on her dresser in no less than 24 hours.
But with little ones, let them do them do their best and be happy with it! Praise their work and if you are a perfectionist, never let them see you go in and finish the job! This applies to spouses too.)

~I don’t want him to hate me. (You aren’t his best friend…he’ll get over it…or he won’t and he’ll get over it later.)

Love that. "...or he won't and he'll get over it later." So true!!

I've often been nominated for the Mean Mommy Award. Won a few times too.

We haven't had much money to spread around over the years and that is the primary reason the kids grew up without the latest in electronics and gear. Sometimes I wish we could have provided them with a bit more than we did, but when I know how proud each kid was when they earned their own money for the new snowboard or mountain bike or flute, I know it was a good thing to grow up slightly underprivileged.

My grown kids have all proven to have fantastic work ethics. Even the ones that were lazy goodfernuthin' fifteen year olds trying to skip out on chores finally came around to what they had been taught. They cleaned so many bathrooms, chopped and hauled so much firewood and planted so many gardens, that they know there is a pay-off at the end of every hard thing worth doing. The credit for their work ethic goes to their dad. He not only patiently taught them how to work by working with them, he consistently modeled a productive lifestyle. I am proud of how hard-working and productive these kids are in spite of my own failings and inconsistencies as a mother.

I'm trying to not lose steam with these last three kiddos still at home. They are still in training and so far so good. With a big sister and big brothers setting a good example and reminding me that kids grow up so quickly, I hope to persevere.

So now that I've been rambling, I almost forgot that I wanted to tell a story about a Mean Mommy standing her ground.

One of our kids actually had a cell phone when he was a teenager. It was a privilege he shared with no other sibling. (Life is not fair kids.) But when the rules of use were broken there were consequences. One day this young man was out with friends and he discovered that his cell phone service had been disconnected. His friends were incredulous. One said,

"Dude. Your mom is hardcore."

It was a proud moment.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bingeing and Purging

My daughter recently did a post on her blog about magazines and their copious presence in modern life. Well, in her life anyway. And I felt it. Deeply.

Somehow, despite having no magazine subscriptions, I still have stacks of magazines waiting to be perused on slow rainy days. Those same rainy days that I need to clean closets and do laundry, work in the studio, bake, sew and take a nap. Those slow days.

I mean it, I don't subscribe to any magazines. All the magazines I read come from the library so they won't be tempted to take up residence on my flat surfaces and procreate.

And yet- I have stacks of them. Nearly all were given to me by friends who were purging their own houses but who couldn't bear to throw these glossy temptresses out. The gardening magazines were picked up at garden tours where hosts had tables stacked with the tomes that they were purging from their houses.

Oops. I confess. This one stack I paid for. One year's introductory subscription. But I didn't renew. I swear. But these little things are so full of useful information, how can I just throw them away? Someday I may need a recipe or and quick supper idea or the inspiration to try something new. I can't get that anywhere else can I?

Ei, yi, yi!

But these really do me in...

Italian kitchen!

120 pages of dreamy Italian farmhouses, pastas, wines, articles, recipes and gorgeous photos.
A friend parted with these weighty publications and generously passed them on to me. I must read every single page before I can make myself pass them on.

You know I'll be dead and they will still be here, right?

They'll be stored with the homeschooling magazines from fifteen years ago and the quilting magazines from twenty years ago. And of course several years worth of pottery magazines.

Is there some kind of counseling for this defect I have? The inability to get rid of something informational until I have gleaned all the information? Magazine Hoarders Anonymous?

I remember my dad's collections of Outdoor Life and The American Rifleman in the basement. And everyone had their National Geographic stacks too.

I think I tend to think that magazines are like mini encyclopedias- without the alphabetized indexes. If I need to find something- an article, recipe or whatever- it takes hours of paging through the stacks and I just end up getting bogged down looking at other things in the process.

Okay, I have decided to purge these. I will pass them on to a gardening friend.
I haven't read them all yet either but I've given myself three or four years on these already.

And here's a pile- yes! it's a pile!- for the recycling box.

That's a little progress isn't it?

I've whittled it down to this...

And I'm not even showing you the Martha Stewart Living collection. We aren't going there.

Oh, yeah. And yesterday I made a purchase online and a free subscription to Better Homes and Gardens came with it.

I'm in big trouble.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Colors of October

Doesn't it seem like some years, the colors in autumn are just so much more vibrant than other years?

My daughter said she learned in biology that the intensity of leaf color is related to the amount of sunshine in a year.

We certainly had one of our most sunny summertimes in recent memory. Maybe that's why the valley is positively glowing in color right now. Even on an overcast day like today, this orchard was on fire!

Since I have a new camera, I can't resist slamming on the brakes when I am out and about to photograph the spectacular show. I loved this "lemon-lime" tree.

This glowing gold is the color of my dining room. Against the blue sky it just knocks me over.


I just can't stop taking pictures. I know the colors are fleeting.

Soon these trees will be bare and I'll be facing five months of grey skies, drizzly rain, slushy snow, wet boots, soggy socks, muddy rugs, cold sheets, and foggy mornings.

There will be no more flower bouquets on my table, no more coffee breaks on the deck over-looking the gardens, no more patio suppers with fresh garden veggies, no birdsong, no sun to warm me, no flowers to cheer me.

Woe is me! Oh, woe is me!

I might as well shut this blog down until April because what in the world will I take pictures of?

I just can't think about it any more. I'm going to enjoy the colors...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

School kids in costume

I had some fun looking at photos of my kids dressed up for various productions.

The early days of homeschooling-
This was a co-op homeschool group that I taught once a week.
My Katie is on the far left, Kris is on the far right.

Church school- Bobby Shafto, a musical
Kris has a beard, Neal has a mustache!
The kids painted all the scenery and hammed it up at the performance.

Alyssa's got a walrus 'stash as a pirate in The Ballad of the Pirate Queens performed at the local public high school. I tell ya, kids love to wear mustaches!

Seth and Alyssa both got into the local public high school's production of Beauty and the Beast. The costumes were all regulation wear from Disney. The two lead parts were played by homeschoolers as well as a number of supporting and chorus parts.

As a vase, she got to do the "can-can" dance.

Seth sported mutton chops in another B&B scene.

Alyssa sang a solo as a daughter of the General in Pirates of Penzance performed last year at the Christian high school.

Frankly, I think they don't miss out on much.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Buttery Pecan Cookies

With all the cookie baking I do -at least twelve dozen cookies a week- for the little coffee bar at Expertec Automotive Repair, I'm starting to assemble quite the cookie recipe file. I tend to tweak and twiddle with the standard recipes and come up with my own versions that work the way I want them to. This is one of my favorites for its simplicity and buttery goodness. I made a mess of them last night.

Buttery Pecan Cookies

1 ½ cups good quality butter (3 sticks), softened
1 cup brown sugar, plus more for dipping
1 egg
¼ teaspoon vanilla
3 cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, plus more whole pecans

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour, salt and soda and mix until incorporated. Stir in the chopped pecans. Scoop dough into rounded teaspoonfuls. Dip one side of the dough ball into brown sugar and place sugar side up on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press a whole pecan on the top of the cookie. Bake for 10 minutes until cookies are set and edges are golden.

Yum, yum, yum!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Let's talk about my favorite subject!

Another day, another reason to eat...well!

I spent the day with my gourmand friends. Remember the ones that create a bouillabaisse sublime enough to make grown men swoon? These are also the girls that made artisan bread in my very own kitchen with my first born child. These girls can cook! And boy, do we love to eat! Well.

Today, Revelyn arranged for us to have a cheese tour at the imported foods company where we buy some of our indulgences. At Provvista Revelyn buys goods for her catering company and I buy my premium butter for the thousands and thousands of pies and turnovers that I torture myself producing.

But we also get the special imported goodies like olives and premium chocolate and truffle oil.

But today was all about cheese.


Hundreds of kinds of cheese.

We heard about the importing process, of the pallets of cheeses brought here from around the world...

There was cheese from Italy...

And France...


And farm cheeses from right here in the Great Northwest.

This is a goat cheese wrapped in grape leaves.

The cheeses were beautifully packaged...

And many had wonderful rinds.

Have you ever seen a cheese rind like this?

Oh, and we saw charcuterie also...

I'm pretty sure we saw these hanging in the delis of Switzerland.

Salamis, chorizos, and prosciutto de parma....

Pancetta....from Iowa!

So after getting thoroughly and completely chilled in the 38 degree warehouse touring the stacks of fromagerie for an hour we were treated to a cheese tasting with the cheesemonger.

Boy, were we ready to taste!

We tasted camembert style artisan cheeses, a wonderful gouda, and a bleu from the Northwest, among others.

This cheese was delightful.

Buttery silkiness...

The bleu cheese knocked our socks off...

We finished off our day with what else? More eating!

Lunch was Thai food with no cheese in sight!