Sunday, February 24, 2008

Yes, I'm still here

Contrary to popular belief, I am still among the living - In fact, my sister actually called me to find out if I was OK, cause I hadn't blogged in so long! - (well at least someone is reading, huh?)

I actually have been trying to shake that darn cold I got a month ago - I decided that I would try getting more sleep - meaning I've been heading to bed at 10:30 instead of 12:30 - them's my blogging hours - night owl that I am - (doesn't do much for the ahem "married life"...when one is a night owl and the other is a morning person... TMI, I know)

That and combined with getting the business end of Washington Wool dot Net off the ground - we are now a Washington Corporation - ready for memberships to come rolling in the door!

Seriously, I really do believe that this web site will be a great thing for small farms like ours who cannot afford to do a big marketing push just for the few fleeces that we have each year - plus helping to educate the public about our animals and our farms. For instance, some of us have been asked if we kill our animals to get the fleeces - "Ah, NO!" These critters are our "fiber partners" - and speaking of fleeces and "fiber partners" - ours are all "nekked"- - Friday was SHEARING DAY!


We call them our puff balls on sticks -

After -

Look kind of scrawney, don't they? - but actually they are all in very good condition according to Marcia - she was very pleased at how they looked, and they actually behaved themselves (realitively) well this year

I took the morning off from work - thankfully our receptionist, who had been off all week due to some health issues was able to come back in, so I didn't have to worry about my co-worker being there all by herself on the phones (that was another thing that sucked up my energy last week - we have 12 lines on our phone system and it seemed like they were ringing in 2 or 3 lines at a time - all day long - thank heavens for headsets!)

The Shepherd had been devising sneaky ways to get the boys and Gwen & Pearl penned up until Marcia came - we were here first shearing on Friday - she has about a 2 1/2 hour trip including a ferry ride to get here - so it becomes a major deal to have her come. She has been shearing for us for about 7 or 8 years, I think - she starts off with giving each sheep a pedicure - which goes really fast, so I didn't get any good pictures - but what is there to see - a sheep on his or her butt getting their toenails clipped - you got the idea...

She did the boys first - get the squirmiest ones out of the way first - Scooter did real well - Arlo - not so much - here's how his "hair cut" went:

Help - I've been sheep-napped

Marcia is really fast - she shears over 2000 sheep a year - it is backbreaking work - starts on the belly and gets that stuff out of the way then goes up one side and down the other

And "voilla" - a big white pile of fleece - this is our first really white fleece - I think it will be NFS...

It took them a few minutes to sort out "who was who" They don't seem to recognize each other without their "jackets" on - silly sheep.

Well - it's past my 12:30 bed time- but here's a sneak peek of the rest of our shearing -

Saturday, February 16, 2008

About books...

I love books. If they were jewels, I would be like a crow - piling their "shineyness" in every corner - pleased with my booty.

As a child, the best day of the week during the summer vacation was the day the Bookmobile came. We lived 7 miles out of town - wayyy out in the country - nearest neighber (asides my grandparents who lived right "next door") was about a mile and a half away - you get the picture - pretty lonely for two little girls whose dad was busy farming and whose mom was, well, busy.

But during the summer months, once a week, the bookmobile came. My younger sister and I would climb on our bikes and pedal the mile and a half or so over the bumpy gravel road to "the schoolhouse corner where it would stop on it's route around North Central Washington.

This little one room school house was called "Mud Springs School" My older sisters both went to 8 grades of school there. The year I was to start first grade, they sent us all into "town" on the big yellow bus - (an hours ride to get 10 miles.) The surrounding community used the building as a community club for many years until vandals from out of town broke out all the windows and it was unsafe for use. All that's left of the old school house is the bell tower that was erected in the center of the corner, and lots of memories, of course.

Somehow my dad had gotten elected or appointed to the North Central Regional Library Board. He was adamant that the Library needed to serve the outlying communities of the region - so the Bookmobile was started. They would pick books that they thought would appeal to differing ages and off they'd go - and we'd be there to meet them - pick out our books, stash them in the front basket of my old green one speed (with balloon tires and back pedal brakes, of course) and we'd ride back home where, through the magic of books we would start out on our newest adventure.

I don't remember much what I read those days - I do remember spending one entire summer reading "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. These days, I favor romance novels, sci-fi fantasy, mysteries, and cookbooks. If you really think about it, a good cookbook embodies all those things - romance of finding a new food you'll love, fantasy of traveling to many different places through the foods of the region and the mystery of how particular ingredients mixed together could turn out, tasting delicious and looking just right.

That is why I was excited about a year and a half ago when my friend Greg Atkinson published his newest cook book, West Coast Cooking. (If you click on the name, it will take you to it's page on

As far as I'm concerned, this could be the new west coast food bible - Greg is very thorough about including the diverse global connections that make up our "west coast eating" - oriental, Mexican to name a couple - while he links our diversity to the history of cooking in America. Although there are no photographs, his stories about the over 400 recipes that make up this cookbook (and each recipe comes with it's own story!) are more than enough to satisfy the hungriest reader.

Greg is an accomplished chef, teacher and this is his fifth cookbook. He also writes a regular article called "Taste" for "Pacific Northwest", the Sunday newsmagazine of The Seattle Times, as well as being a guest host on local public radio and TV.

So, is this an unabashed plug for his book? You bet. But I have know Greg for over 25years, and his writing never disappoints. What the heck, has used copies for under $9 - what more could you ask for?

Here's his recipe for "Spanish Rice" - from the old days when we worked together at "Dos Padres" (a little Mexican Restaurant in South B'ham) in the late 1980's - he was a line cook and I was the Sunday night dinner music. If I asked nicely, he would make me a BBQ Chicken Quesidilla for dinner after my shift. And I'd have a big scoop of the Mexican rice that they served. Yes, those were the good old days.

Spanish Rice (Makes 6 cups)

Spanish rice may be thought of as a simplified form of paella, minus the sausage and seafood. This version though is even simpler. Instead of sautéing the rice in fat or oil, many Mexican cooks simply pile it into a pot with puréed tomatoes and onions and let it simmer until the rice is tender. The result is a fresh tasting dish of surprising subtlety.

2 cups Jasmine or Basmati rice
1 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
3 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
or 2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Water, as needed

1.) Rinse the rice in three changes of water, swishing it around in every rinse to remove as much starch as possible. Allow the rice to drain for 10 minutes.
2.) Pile the chopped onion and the tomatoes into a blender with the garlic, oregano and salt and puree until the mixture is smooth. Add enough water to bring the level of the puree to 4 cups.
3.) Put the puree into a large saucepan over medium heat and stir in the pre-soaked rice. Cover and cook until steam escapes from under the lid. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender and the tomato and onion puree has been absorbed.

Recipe Copyright, Greg Atkinson, 2006

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Three Beautiful Things

So, it's not Tuesday, but what the heck...

Happy Valentine's Day! No, this isn't blooming yet, but the buds are forming - and the anticipation of the sweet musky fragrance is there. It will be sunny when I leave for work in the a.m. (Yikes! I need to go find my V-day card for The Shepherd before I go off to bed)

  • I actually experienced these TBT on Tuesday, tho. I went to lunch at the Black Angus. They have a great coupon deal - you can get a really good steak sandwich for about the same as a burger deal at Mickey D's - who wouldn't want to do that. I really like one of the lunch waitresses there - she has been there for at least 6 or 7 years if not longer. She is always so cheerful. The coupon deal brings in a lot of Seniors - and she definately has her regulars. She treats everyone like they are her "BEST" customers. We all leave her great tips.
  • The sun was shining that morning when I went to work. It is supposed to be sunny ALL day tomorrow! What a welcome site!
  • Reading Becca's story about the surprises she found in the barn when she went out to feed on Sunday a.m. and laughing while reading her "Famous Last Words" list.

One more beautiful thing - Congrats to "Uno the beagle" who won Best of Show at the Westminster Dog Show! "Snoopy" finally gets his day!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Katherine's Cat Band

One of the blogs I like to read is called Apifera Farm - Where Art, Animals and Lavender Collide

The very talented Katherine Dunn, who lives in the Portland, Oregon area, has sweet stories of her donkeys and her other farm animals. She also has a great On-Line Store where you can buy some of her folk art, as well as a bumper sticker that proclaims "Cats & Sheep for working for Peace. We can all get along, can't you? (which I proudly display on the back of the "jelly bean")

This picture is Katherine's Cat Band - sometimes when life gets a little pressing her imagination takes over and this little band plays a few tunes to help smooth things out.

I'd like to dedicate the band's next "set" to our friend Rascal - maybe that's him on the guitar - playing a few tunes as he faces down his feline lymphoma. Get well Rascal, we're purraying for you.

And Thank you, Katherine, for your unique imagination.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

One of those busy, busy days...

It started last night with Al's cap. Chemo = hair loss = cold head.

My answer was to go to my LYS (Local Yarn Store) & ask Nancy what was the softest thing she had to make a cap to keep a head warm. Her answer was Blue Sky Alpaca's Wool & Alpaca mix - boy is that stuff soft! To tell you the truth, I have never made a cap for an adult before - I made some premie caps about a year and a half ago - but that's way different (I discovered) than making a big person's cap. I did, however have his head measurements - that was a plus. When I quit at 1:30 last night (or this morning, depending upon your point of view) I had the top done, it measured 22 inches, like Marsha said about Al's head. But it was time to go to bed. The directions weren't making any sense any more and I had places to go and things to do for Saturday.

The first thing was my spinner guild meeting

People were spinning, and knitting and carding- we had our meeting early so those of us who wanted to could leave early for our State Caucuses.

It always amazed me the differet types of wheels. It doesn't seem that there are any two the same!

This lady was working on some Romney locks - the results of her combing was very soft wool, ready to spin.

And I kept working on Al's hat - one of the gals said her head was 22 inches, so I had her try it on. It was a little big, she said - I needed to bring it in a little.

It was time for lunch, so I put it away for the time being.

Oh, but wait - does anyone know what this is? It's old, and I think crocheted - There were several of them in the belongings of a deceased aunt of one of our members.

See how it lays flat when it is folded in half?

Someone thought it might be something to do with holding small bouquets of flowers. Hmmm...

A mystery that we didn't solve.

Off to the Caucus. In Washington State, the Reps. choose their delegates 1/2 from caucuses and 1/2 from the primary. The Dems. choose theirs ALL from the caucuses - the primary is simply a straw vote, but it doesn't choose any delegates. I'd say there were probably about 200 people there for three precincts. John has caught a bad cold, so he stayed home.

We split up into precints - & they tallied our "preferred candidates" . After that several people talked about why they liked the different candidates and why they thought that person should be supported.

Truth be told, I'm not a very political person. I come from a pretty solid Democratic family background - well almost all of us (*you know who you are - ha, ha) but I've been known to vote Republican once in a while (you can do that here in Washington in the November election, but just not in the primary any more). I will say, I was pleased with today's outcome - and listening to Obama speak at a rally for the people of The State of Virginia tonight - I was filled with hope and inspiration. But, that's all I'm going to say about it - as this is not a "political blog"

After the initial ballots were tallied and we talked a little, then they called for volunteers to be a delegate at the County caucus in April. No, I kept my hands in my pocket, thank you very much - After we voted for our favorite six delegates, I headed out - the Platform seemed to be "business as usual" - no need to stay any more.

I headed into Ferndale to go to Walgreens - This is a picture of one of the Lummi totems that were put up in the new "River Walk" park, that coincidentaly, the company that the Shepherd works for put in the landscaping. I think if you click on the picture to biggify it, you'll get a better idea of the beautiful colors and the patterns that are carved into it. Our Lummi Carvers are very well known. There are three totems erected in this park - this one stands in a bed of oyster shells - see the salmon swimmin through the water on the bottom?

I had pretty much finished Al's cap at the caucus meeting, so on the way home, I called to see if he was up an around - so he could try it on before I finished it off.

Handsome guy, don't you think?

I was someplace between astonished and proud. It fit him like a glove - a very soft glove, too. Wear it in good health Al. Get well soon!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Good luck x 10, New books & Lollipops!

It's Three Beautiful Things Tuesday!

  • I got out of the car at the Paper Zone today at noon and there were 10 pennies scattered on the ground right in front of my door - Since finding a penny on the ground is supposed to bring you good luck - does this mean I'll get good luck times 10?

  • I recently joined a "Craft Book Bookclub" - you got 4 books for .99 - I picked out two crochet pattern books, a book on how to make garden art and a scrapbooking book. The package came yesterday - they are really nice books and the crochet pattern books actually have some things in them that I might make.

  • At choir tonight one of the sopranos brought us each a little bouquet of "See's Candy Lollipops" Oohh - they are really good!

Monday, February 04, 2008

da Boyz

dey be hansome now, doncha think?

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Happy Groundcat's Day

News Flash #1!

"Puxatawnee Neelix" sees his shadow!

Tradition says there will be 6 more weeks of winter.

News Flash #2

The ultrasound showed two (maybe 3?) beating hearts.

Sometime around April 17, we'll be saying "Houston, we have babies"