Thursday, September 29, 2011

Off On the Next Adventure!

I'm sitting in the airport in Portland heading to my daughter's home in Michigan. Here are a few random things:

*My house is under construction. In my scramble yesterday to get my eight mile long To-Do list finished, I forgot to take a photo of its current state. The walls have siding and windows but there is no roof. It looks interesting! I wish I had taken a photo, darn it. This weekend the trusses come and young, able builders will be cat-walking the upper framing to put them in place. Someone take photos for me! Then the roof sheathing gets put on before the rain starts Sunday night. That's the plan.

*Alyssa and I are now an apple turnover machine! Together we turned out twenty dozen apple turnovers that Alyssa will bake and deliver while I am in Michigan snuggling grandsons and nuzzling a newborn.

*Speaking of my young daughter, I said good-bye to her last night and will not see her again until almost Thanksgiving. That kind of separation is a first for us. We have been together nearly every day since she was born. She will fly to Michigan to her sister's the same day I leave there and we won't even meet in the airport. keeps moving on and taking my children with it.

*I have been so ridiculously busy and my mind has been so cluttered with details of sundry life activities that I haven't been able to take enough time to reflect on the event about to occur. A new member of our family is about to arrive. I am only now thinking about the imminent birth, my role as a mother to the one giving birth and my blessed occupation as grandma to some little guys that I don't see often enough. It's time for me to switch gears and submerge myself in this special time.

*My thoughts are also with the family I am leaving behind. It's not going to be easy for them to soldier on with Mama gone. I'm thankful for a daughter who grows more competent every day to fill my shoes and for two boys who are also growing more mature and responsible.

Time to board my plane for the next adventure!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Delicious and Nutritious Black Bean Salad

It has been a crazy gardening year. We had such a long, cold spring and a late start to summer without ever having much real summer heat. The garden grew but not vigorously. The hot weather crops have produced slowly so that we are still picking corn and tomatoes though it is almost October. Some things seemed to thrive with the cool weather. We had more blueberries than we could pick. Some of the bushes are still hanging to the ground with berries. Peter counted sixteen gallon bags of blueberries in the freezer.

The peppers also liked the cool summer because we've had an abundance of them from just one or two plants.

I had never planted jalapenos before, thinking that they needed hot sunshine every day but I took a chance on them. They loved our cool mountain summer and produced many perfect peppery pods. What to do with them? Last night I threw together a big jar of pickled peppers. A first for me in thirty plus years of gardening and canning! Oh, and that eggplant there is also a first. I put a plant in the raised bed on a whim and it made a fruit! There are actually about six more fruits coming on but we'll see if a frost doesn't take them down soon.

During the month of September our evening meals have been loaded with our homegrown garden produce. Sometimes everything on the table, including the chicken or elk, potatoes and vegetables will have come from our own efforts to feed ourselves. Those are some very satisfying meals.

So despite our cool summer I have had an abundance of vegetables from the garden in my kitchen every day. Here is one recipe that uses a variety of them.

Black Bean Salad

Black bean salad is a great side dish for taco or enchilada suppers. I also make it for pot lucks and picnics and eat it for lunch. The kids love it. Black beans are very nutritious and with all the vegetables it is a truly health-building salad.

I start by chopping lots of vegetables- sweet peppers, jalapenos peppers (very finely chopped), sweet onions or green scallions, tomatoes and lots of fresh cilantro. I also add fresh or frozen (and drained) sweet corn.

Drain and rinse two cans of black beans.

The dressing is simple. The juice of one lime, cider vinegar, sugar, cumin, oil and salt and pepper.

Start by squeezing the lime for about two tablespoons of juice. Add two tablespoons of cider vinegar, a tablespoon of sugar, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of cumin (to taste), 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.

Whisking with a fork or a whisk, add 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil until emulsified.

Pour over the beans and vegetables, toss and serve!
Simple, delicious and nutritious.
A great way to use the garden harvest.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Season Finale

One last wedding cake of the season.

And I am exhausted. I have never been so tired at the end of wedding season as I am now. Tired of baking cake. After thirty-something weddings in four months I'm just tired of it all. I really need a break for awhile. It's been a great year- the best ever. I've met some wonderful people and been challenged by their unique ideas. I've learned many new things about providing this most special of desserts for the most memorable of events. I still have much more to learn but I have made great strides this year. Many people in the wedding industry in our valley- the venue owners, the caterers and florists, wedding coordinators- have blessed me with opportunities and support that have grown my business and I am grateful.

I have had a few unfortunate events too, disasters and almost disasters and customer relation issues. I'm told that as a business grows these kinds of things are inevitable. I found each one to be a valuable learning experience, the kind that is painful to learn but will stick so that I do not need a repeat lesson.

This week I am leaving for a break from my routine at home to help my daughter, Katie Rose, as she and her husband bring their third child into their fold. I can't think of any better way to step back from the cake then to snuggle up with my grandsons and read books and to nuzzle a newborn. It's going to be great!

One last minute birthday cake order. Thank you, Karen, for the beautiful flowers that made this cake just right!

Now my focus is to prepare the family as best I can for my absence and to try to pack for colder climates. There is still lots of construction taking place here. Once again I'll be returning from a trip to find a house that is not the same as when I left it.

Life continues to be an adventure.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Morning Surprise

Some secret friend left this bouquet of loveliness on my door step this morning!

Thank you, secret friend!
Whoever you are...

UPDATE:  I'm happy to say I found out who my thoughtful secret friend is! My neighbor, Annette, read this article about me in our local paper and was so excited about it that she went out and found these beautiful dahlias for me. I taught Annette how to make pie a couple years ago at one of my classes so we have a pie kinship and she was thrilled to hear about the Pioneer Woman Lodge pie workshop. 

Thank you, Annette! You are so thoughtful!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Getting It Done

Construction projects usually progress pretty slowly with us. A little here, a bit there, as we have money and time. The current addition on the house has been getting done in record time since -the rains- they are a' comin'!

The last two weekends and the next three or so will be work parties from dawn until dusk. Last weekend the sons helped their dad and so did my little brother.

Son Neal would like to just build the whole thing himself except that he has this regular job he has to go to every day.

Even the little boys have been busy. Sam is in his element. He loves anything that involves tools and working with the men. He's getting very proficient with tools too. Peter is always cheerful when asked to complete a task. Both boys are learning about the satisfaction that comes from working hard and doing things for ourselves.

Though Samuel prefers tools over toys, he also can set a very pretty table. He spent a lot of time and thought tonight setting the table for our al fresco supper on the decking of our new construction.
The boy is a paradox. Actually, he is simply creative and has an interest in many different things.
Kind of like his mama.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Carrot Harvest

The kids harvested a nice crop of carrots from the garden.

I've tried a number of ways of storing them including keeping them in a spare refrigerator but inevitably the carrots end up getting moldy or rotten pretty quickly. This year I just don't have time to blanch and freeze them all so we're doing what I did successfully last year for long term storage.

In a large heavy plastic container the carrots are being buried in clean play sand and the whole container will be kept in the cold storage/root cellar where we keep potatoes and pumpkins. The sand keeps the carrots from freezing in the winter while keeping them dry enough to prevent mold growth or decomposition.

The kids got most of the wheel barrow load of carrots into this container and completely covered them with sand. We'll pull them out as we need carrots and they'll be as crisp and fresh as when they were harvested.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Buried- But Not Treasure

The foundation had been poured and finished and it was time to back-fill the trenches before starting the floor joists on our home improvement project.

I decided that those open trenches were a good opportunity to get rid of some junk pottery that has been collecting in my kiln studio for years and years.
Every potter has a certain percentage of work that comes out of the kiln with cracks, warps, glaze drips and other undesirable effects. Old, ugly pots qualify as junk too. There are seconds (pieces with slight flaws) that can still be useful but then there is garbage. There was a time in the beginning of my career as a potter when I had a hard time parting with anything that I had put my blood, sweat and back muscle into. My family collected my cast-off junk and I used the rejects in my own home. Some of my ugliest, most poorly made work still exists and occasionally comes back to haunt me.

As I've gotten more mature in my thinking as a potter I have become more jaded and hard-nosed about getting rid of the junk and keeping only pots that I am happy to leave behind as my artistic legacy.  But a box full of stoneware garbage is a heavy box. I couldn't just dump it at the curb so junks pots have been collecting in the corner of my studio for years and years.

Filling the trenches gave me an opportunity to clear out my studio and follow the lead of centuries of potteries in cultures all over the world that have shards and pieces buried under the ground.

It makes me smile to think that someday in the far future this property could be excavated and all these bits could be unearthed. Or, they may just stay there forever, leaving a reminder that once a potter lived here and she made things with clay, things that don't decay or decompose but that can last for centuries underground. The good work, the work I'm proud of, stays above ground in the hands of family, friends and collectors, to be seen, used and enjoyed.

The rest- good riddance!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Digging the Money Pit

Work on the Money Pit has progressed in earnest this week. I love it! ...and....I hate it!

I love it because it's progress. Moving forward is always good.

I hate it because I am conducting household business without a mudroom and with this.....
...right outside my kitchen door. Can we say DIRT? Blowing in the windows and doorway, coming in on the bottom of shoes and boots. Speaking of shoes and boots....

Without a mudroom/entry way there is nowhere for those dirty critters to go except piled in my kitchen. This photo actually shows them in a somewhat orderly presentation. Normally they are sprawled everywhere for maximum trip-over and dirt-spreading capacity.

For the first time in thirty years and three home remodels we hired some guys to do part of the work- the foundation forms and cement work. After the day of constructing the forms I heard one of the guys declare I can't believe how dirty I got doing this! I feel like Pig Pen.  I feel your pain, dude.

These two are in hog heaven with all the tool trailers, cement mixers and masculine grunt work going on here.

Who can concentrate on schoolwork when there is manwork to be done?
If I play it right the noisy outdoor activity can be a motivating factor. You want to get your tool belt on and help? Get that math lesson finished!

But there are certainly good life lessons to learn in hearty physical labor like building and construction.

The big boys got to learn lots of building skills with their dad when the first Oregon house project was done as well as the barn and farm building that has taken place over the years. Now is the time for these boys to get their experience.
And will have plenty of opportunity for that here in the next few weeks.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Summer Tomato Tart

It's finally fresh summer tomato time here on the homestead. It seems like it has taken forever for the green tomatoes to ripen during our cool summer. Doesn't everyone always wait impatiently for the first juicy tomato of summer?  The wait this year seemed so much longer and it probably was considering the harvest of all the valley fruit is at least two weeks later than normal. I only plant the earliest of tomato varieties like Early Girl and Oregon Spring yet still have to wait and wait for their maturity.

I am going to make a confession here on Pie in the Sky.

I never ate fresh ripe summer tomatoes until I was well into adulthood. I mean... I was at least in my late thirties before I really ate fresh tomatoes and I haven't eaten and appreciated them regularly until much more recently.

Isn't that sad? Pathetically sad!

This terrible omission in my culinary appreciation came out of my childhood and I have to blame my sweet dad. My dad, for some unknown reason, did not like fresh tomatoes. He was not shy about saying so when he eschewed them at the dinner table. I think he must have had some kind of traumatic childhood experience with...picking tomato worms in the garden or....nasty rotten tomatoes in the military...or something. Because he wouldn't ever eat a fresh tomato. This was good enough for me. If my dad didn't like them (and my mother did but that didn't matter) then there must be a good reason for me not to like them either. So, I never ate them. Ever.

As a parent I have remembered this effect I can inadvertently have on my offspring. Though I didn't eat fresh tomatoes I never talked about it and so my own children didn't repeat the behavior. They all eat fresh tomatoes and some of the kids adore them. I believe that parents should keep any food aversions to themselves and let their kids discover their own palette preferences, which by the way are very fickle in childhood and will change from day to day and week to week if those finicky aversions are pretty much ignored. That's been my experience anyway and all seven of my offspring have grown to be very adventurous eaters.

But back to fresh summer tomatoes.

Now, I love them. I look forward to the day those orbs hanging on the plants in my garden finally turn a deep red and are ready to be made into something special. Roasted tomato pasta sauce. Salsa fresca. Tomato sandwiches! (On toasted garlic sourdough bread with a wee bit of good cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper.) I could eat tomato sandwiches two meals a day every day til the end of summer and not be ready to give in to winter.

Another special treat reserved for the time when the tomatoes are coming fresh off the vine is tomato tart.

When I was still waiting for my own tomatoes to ripen I brought a few beauties home from the farmer's market. Some gorgeous garlic and hand made artisan cheese fell into my market basket too.

A tomato tart must have roasted garlic. Roasted garlic is simple if you plan ahead, which I almost never do.  Since I am a rebel in the kitchen I don't follow the conventional wisdom of taking a head of garlic and chopping off the top portion before roasting. Instead I break off the number of cloves I want, or use the whole head in tact, and place them in a baking dish (here I used a ramekin for three cloves) so that I don't waste the tiniest bit of garlic. Drizzle olive oil over, cover in foil and bake in an oven at pretty much any temperature until the scent of garlic permeates the house and drool starts to ooze from my mouth and the garlic is soft when given a gentle squeeze.

This delightful and fragrant garlic paste can be squeezed out on some toasted bread or a cracker but since I'm making a tomato tart, this soft garlic will get smeared over a buttery pie dough that I have rolled out on parchment paper.

All three roasted garlic cloves were smeared on the pie dough. Then I sprinkled some grated cheese- pecorino romano is great or a good parmesan works- over the garlic.

Then the fresh tomatoes, sliced about 1/4 inch thick, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper...

Finally, some more shavings of cheese...
Bake in a hot oven (425 degrees) for 20 minutes until the tart is just browned.

I won't take credit for this amazing tomato treat. It comes from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. For the best tart it can only be made with flavorful summer tomatoes.  Try it and enjoy the end of the summer season.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Wedding Review

Three weddings over the weekend and all three had the color of the year incorporated in their designs. Sometime I'm going to sit down and count all the weddings I have done in 2011 that have used orange. I think that color has predominated, even over purple.  I've seen orange and grey, orange and purple, orange and pink and this weekend, orange and red, a nice combination for September.

I was challenged by our heat wave over the weekend. It got near 100 degrees all over the state. That kind of heat doesn't work well with any kind of cake icing but I take particular care with my specialty icing made with whipped cream. I had to work carefully to keep everything cold, delivering the cakes and cupcakes at the latest possible times to ensure that nothing was served in a melted state.

I loved the dahlias for this cake. Paired with the ivy I was pleased with the results.

These mokara orchids come in a rainbow of colors. The red is especially beautiful.

This outdoor wedding had a bevy of garden flowers in colors including orange. For the cupcakes and bridal cutting cake the bride wanted to use pink rose buds only.
This was one tempting buffet of scrumptious chocolate fudge cupcakes with chocolate cream icing. The chocolate-loving bridal couple had a fudge cake covered in rich dark chocolate ganache.  A few vanilla treats were thrown in for those occasional folks that don't like chocolate.

The wedding season, like the summer, is winding down. A few more events are on the schedule and soon I'll be preparing for my trip to greet the arrival of a new grandbaby!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Random Friday Stuff

I have three weddings on the schedule this weekend which means I'm going to be a little tiny bit busy.

Did you know that tomorrow is 9-10-11? Lots of people want to get married on 9-10-11.

So today, besides contributing to the scholastic education of my two youngest offspring (aka homeschooling) I need to bake marionberry cobbler for 100 guests, 150 cupcakes in chocolate fudge and vanilla flavors and I also need to bake four dozen of those pesky apple turnovers. The kitchen is going to smell yummy. And it will be hot considering we are finally having our summer heat wave. Now. In September.

Better late than never? No going to the beach today.

This afternoon I have to do three separate flower pick ups. Orchids, roses and...something else. I don't know what the third cake will have until I see what they give me.

We got our building permit yesterday! Yay! That means work will quickly progress and it may only be one more week of walking the balance beams over the trenches in front of my door. See how positive my thought patterns are?

The mountain is still on fire. It feels like it is burning up and there will be no trees left. Over 4500 acres of forest have burned.Yesterday again there was no wind which meant that the smoke hung heavily in the air. We sit in a valley with lovely views of mountains all around us but with the smoke we can't see anything. We can't open the windows for a breath of fresh air.  Those of us with asthma feel it a bit more than others. The evening sunsets have a more brilliant palette of color with the smoky screen. I heard that Lost Lake, my open water practice swim place, is now closed because of the fire's proximity.

This fire is burning only trees now but there is another fire across the river in Washington that burned nine homes yesterday. And of course there is the terrible conflagration in Texas. We can be thankful that only trees are burning here. Let's all pray for rain!

While I sugar up the marionberries and mix up some cobbler dough you can take a look at this fun little slideshow of the cross channel swim last Monday. And here's a great shot of Mr. Alligator taking the plunge into the river.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I know summer's over when my kitchen smells like cinnamon.

In September and October you will find apple turnovers in my kitchen every Friday. I bake them for Saturday customers of an orchard farm stand that is open seasonally in my little mountain village. We are fully into the harvest time of pears and apples with pickers in the orchards and trucks on the roads hauling bins of apples. Despite our uneven weather this year good fruit is in abundance.

The farmer gives me the fruit that he wants to feature in the apple turnovers. This week I am using Tokyo Rose, a small, early apple that is packed with bright tart flavor.

We use a couple mechanical peelers to peel and slice a large box of fruit.

I then chop them up with a knife and mix in sugar and spices. I have learned through much trial and error that pre-baking the filling makes the assembly of dozens of turnovers a much easier process.

Working with my daughter, Alyssa, who rolls all the dough by hand using the parchment paper method, we turn out hundreds of these every season. We hear that no matter how many we make they all sell out the first day they appear at the farm stand.

I had some plans to sell turnovers and pies at our local farmer's market. Wouldn't these treats be great with other fillings- strawberry, blueberry, marionberry, pears, peaches...? Can't you just see a table covered in baskets of these flaky pastries and customers lining up to score some home made pie? I'm not sure we are going to be able to do this since finding out that the liability insurance required by the market has such exorbitant cost that it will suck away any profit.  Hhmmm....not sure what to do. Anyone know a good insurance company with great prices? (Is that a dumb question?)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Scratch This Off My Bucket List

Yesterday morning I was awake at four o' clock thinking about the swim across the Columbia River. By 5:30 a.m. I was making a protein smoothy to fortify myself for the task. My husband drove me to town to check in with the crowd of swimmers at 6:00 a.m.

This is significant in that I have never, ever been a morning person. The months that I baked at a cafe in town, arriving at the kitchen at 7:00 a.m. was the closest I ever came to being a morning person. During those months I marveled at the morning world that I had never really experienced. The distinctive morning radio programs in the car, judging my timeliness by where the radio personalities were in their morning routine of schtick; the sunrises; the quality of the air; the waking up of the world. I usually sleep through all this.

You morning people who are possibly tsk tsking me don't know the advantages of being a night owl. The quiet sleeping house at midnight when I can work or craft or read without interruption or threat of interruption has been the biggest one. But it's a morning world and I've always known it and felt the discrimination.

So here I am at 6 a.m., the sun just beginning to glow, the air chilly and crisp, getting ready to exert myself physically in 64 degree water for 1.1 mile with 400 other morning people.

Understand that that was the most significant part of my feat. If I had been swimming the river at 3:00 in the afternoon it would have been no big deal at all!

I had never before done the Roy Webster Cross Channel Swim and had no idea how it worked or what I was supposed to do to prepare so I just made my best guesses and followed the crowd. I checked in at the chamber of commerce (who was running the event), eschewed their offer of banana and energy bar, squeezed myself into my son's surfing wet suit and hopped on the shuttle that took the swimmers to the pier where the sternwheeler was docked.

My husband took my clothing back to the car and went to Starbucks to wait for me.

The swimmers were divided into "flights" of ten who would jump off the boat together, group by group. I was in flight 31 so I went to the top deck. I watched as other swimmers walked up the plank and boarded the boat. I was completely amazed at the variety of humanity who were participating in this event.

There were fit, athletic types in wet suits and goggles to be sure but there were also many, many people that did not look so fit or able to swim a choppy river for a mile. Many were wearing only a swim suit, shivering in the 55 degree air. Some were wearing black plastic trash bags which baffled me. Another swimmer told me the bag was a disposable wind breaker since we could take nothing on the boat that we would want back later. I asked why some people were wearing clothing, I even saw a couple fur coats, and was told that all the clothing left on the boat would be donated to Goodwill. I saw a young man wearing a tuxedo but I was never able to determine if he swam in it or left it on the sternwheeler.

I saw young and old, adolescents and grandparents, boarding the boat to swim in the event. There was a lady in a black swim suit who was quite overweight and needed help walking. There was another large lady with a prosthetic leg! She's going to swim the river? After the swim my sons saw her emerge at the shore where she was met with her leg and a chair at the water's edge. Way to go!

So maybe this thing isn't really that challenging after all?

The sternwheeler took us up river and tied to a barge near the Washington side. Immediately sailboats and pleasure boats, kayakers and stand-up paddle boaters began taking their positions to edge the route we were to take. The county sheriff's water crafts started motoring around the area with their lights flashing.  An angled, arching swimming lane began to emerge, though not very distinctly. Off on the distant shore there was an area of orange and red that marked our finishing line.

I was starting to tremble from cold or excitement as I stood on the outside upper deck watching the activity. The majority of swimmers were inside the heated boat and it was a crowded party atmosphere in there. I jumped up and down in place and swung my arms to warm up my muscles.

Finally the swimmers began jumping off the lower deck in flights. The first swimmer to emerge had a large inflated plastic alligator tied to himself. I was told that this pair has always been the first in the water and the first out of the water. As the man swam the alligator skimmed along the surface behind him, leading the pack across the Columbia.

All the swimmers were wearing orange swim caps with their flight number on them. As group after group jumped in the water and set out, the water soon became a sea of bobbing orange globes that slowly spread down the swimming lane toward shore.

I decided to head to the bathroom for one last quick stop before it was my turn. After I mashed my body back into the wetsuit, I stayed on the now emptied-out lower deck to wait my turn. The flight numbers weren't being called out and I wondered how I would know when it was my turn. I put on my cap and suddenly heard someone say the number 32. What? I'm 31! Did I miss it?? As my brain was calculating what to do I heard someone yell 31! 31! 31! Yikes! That's me!! I was not ready but ran to the opening, apologies spilling out. The rest of the flight was waiting to jump and weren't allowed to because one imbecile was not ready.

One, two, three! Nine people jumped in the water. I was trying to decide if I should put on my fins, my swimming goggles or just jump.  

You have to get in the water!

Okay, jump it is!

I plunged in, grasping my fins in hand. The water was ten degrees warmer than the air so there was no cold shock. When I popped out on the surface the river immediately began slapping me in the face for my incompetence. I did an armless backstroke to get away from the boat so the next group could jump, all the while sputtering and choking as the river continued to punish me. I think the nearby paddle boaters probably thought this was one swimmer they were going to end up pulling out. I managed to get my fins on and my glasses in place without swallowing a gallon of river water.

Whenever I swim, whether doing laps in the pool or crossing Lost Lake, the first half of the swim is always the most difficult part. It takes about twenty minutes for my body to get into a rhythm and for my muscles to warm up. If I am tired at all it is during the first part of the swim. At some point I am suddenly energized and the inner Mark Spitz comes out. I can go on forever. I've enjoyed the open water swims because there is no stopping. No walls to turn me around. No pauses to change direction. Just keep going. The problem with this in open water is that inevitably I end up swimming the wrong direction and if I don't stop there is no painted line to correct me. I have to pause, locate my goal point and reorient myself.

The Columbia had a 1/2 knot current that morning, just enough to cause people to leave the swim channel if they weren't pausing to redirect. The paddle boarders and kayakers were kept busy chasing people that were heading off to Portland on the current. I got redirected a couple times myself. Swim left! Swim left! Stay to the left of the sailboats and keep heading toward the orange goal line.

While swimming there was no thought about the depth of the water, the fish below or the distance to go. Just swim. And try not to bump into the others doing the same. Back stroke. Free style. Breast stroke. Eventually, when the rhythm is found, all free style, watching for other swimmer's legs underwater.

As I passed a big sailboat I paused to get my bearings. A happy-go-lucky style swimmer that I had seen on the sternwheeler wearing nothing but a speedo was bobbing in the water near me. He pointed out a man on the sailboat chilling in a hammock watching the flotilla of orange caps. Look at that guy! Someone needs to splash him!

Before I knew it the shore was just before me. There were hundreds of people gathered to cheer each swimmer as they emerged from the water and an announcer on a microphone encouraging the crowd.

The bottom was rocky so there were helpers stationed near shore to help anyone feeling wobbly while trying to get their land legs under them.

My husband with camera in hand and four of my sons greeted me on shore with pats on the back.

The bright sunshine reflected the joyous mood on shore as more swimmers accomplished their feat . I gave the staff my number so they knew I had made it out, got the commemorative t-shirt and mingled with the celebrators.

The motel on shore that was hosting the event provided a few rooms for swimmers to shower and change. There were also hot drinks and sandwiches waiting for the finishers.

I joined my husband and boys for a lovely breakfast at a restaurant overlooking the water.

I'm ready to do it again next year. Anyone want to join me?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Random List of Updates

1. All the pie talk last week motivated me to make two pies for us. Two pies in one week for us. There was a lot of pie for breakfast.

Oh. And a tomato tart with beautiful ripe tomatoes that I brought home from the farmer's market.
But that's okay. I can eat well because....

2. ...I've been working off all that good pie- a swim across the lake Friday was another practice run for the cross channel swim happening Monday morning at the crack of dawn on the Columbia River.
If you see a 49 year old grandmother of three in a wetsuit, that would be me.

3. The mountain is still on fire. I took this photo Friday night on the way home from the lake.  The fire is much worse now, two days later. The mountain is completely obscured by smoke and depending on wind conditions, so is everything else. It smells like a campground around here.
We've never seen fire at such low elevation and so close to home.

4. Alyssa and I made about ten dozen apple turnovers to kick off the farm stand season. After two years we've got it figured out and are pastry making machines!
I've got some farmer's market plans for these babies too. Blueberry filling, strawberry, marionberry, peach....

5. This showed up in my yard Saturday morning. The men started digging the money pit.

And the little boys had some fun with the man toys.

My patio. My yard. My flowerbeds. They'll never be the same.
It's a good thing we're starting so late on this project. Now there is time pressure to git 'er done. No dilly dallying. I'm glad I didn't have to spend the whole summer walking planks over the moat around the house. A few weeks of carrying the groceries over a balance beam is quite enough for me.