Thursday, July 16, 2015


Last night our puppy Yogi played Hallelujah on his iHowl player. This was the original song writer, Leonard Cohen, but many artists have covered it, some, I think better than Leon. In fact Newsweek has an article on 50 different artists covering the song.

Here are a couple that stood out for me:

Regina Specktor rocked the song early in her music career. She is not one of my favorite artists, but she certainly covers some ground between That Time and Us.

Elena Ravelli, I love the accent when she does the Delilah verses. If you like that give Come Foglie a chance.

Sons of Serendip, (America's got talent), do a skilled rendition, but I think they strut their stuff a bit more with Don't You Worry Child.

I think Rhema Marvanne was 8 years old when she sang this. At about 2:01 into the song she really opens up. Hurt is a video of a studio recording also when she was 8, warning best have a hankerchief handy.

I know some Christians criticize the lyrics of Cohen's Hallelujah, I personally think he was in a seeker phase. According to Wikipedia, there were as many as 80 verses before it was paired down to the four that are covered. However, here is another young person singing a different song, Hallelujah 2, that is very uplifting.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Amtrak Cascade - Tacoma to Portland

We took the Paddywagon ride service to the Tacoma train station. Then we picked up #507 to Portland OR. The train was only seven minutes late which is a huge plus.

The train was a bit nicer than the East coast trains we are used to. The doors have sensors so you do not have to manually open them. The cafe car has a healthier menu, (I had the vegan burger with vegan bun).

Then we pulled into the station. Grabbed a taxi to Thrifty parking. Got our truck and headed back across I5 to Vancouver WA and stayed in the Vancouver Hilton, (all the hilton properties in Portland were sold out). Ate in the hotel, Gray's in the park. Ho Hum, they charge steakhouse prices and do not keep the water glasses full.

I am tired, tomorrow we get up early to go get our puppy as he graduates from boot camp.

Disaster plan Lahar flow, (staying put)

The area where we live has the potential for natural disasters. One is that volcano in our backyard, the majestic Mount Ranier. The odds of it erupting without advance notice are near zero, but it has caused mudslides, (Lahar flows), similar to what happened in Oso. These have happened enough times that one must consider that threat. We are not in a flow path, but all evacuation paths out are. So, one part of the plan has to consider staying put. The basic essentials would be food and water.

Need to purchase:

  • Replace shed by Joe Cheff's house. Top priority. Same footprint, but taller.
  • Wrecking bar
  • Additional food and lifestraws. The food should be well chosen so we are willing to eat it. We can get water from the lake and purify it.
  • Additional shed for food and water storage, it can go on the concrete pad the previous owners poured for a hot tub. Would it be possible to buy one of these plastic sheds and make it look nice? Consider a propane powered refrigerator. If we are feeling wealthy, consider removing the blocks and replace with a poured wall.

Kauai Coffee before early morning service

You know the old drunk joke, "but officer, I only had two drinks." "Aye laddie, but how big were they?"

When Kathy had her wild child heart adjustment almost ten years ago, they told her to avoid coffee. So, in solidarity I gave up coffee as well and we did the green and white tea thing.

Now we have moved to the Pacific Northwest and Kathy's heart is far more stable than it was. Coffee is part of our daily ritual. Today, before the 0830 service at church I got to have two cups of coffee.

Aye laddie, but how big were they?

I do not know how big they are, but a full coffee pot can only fill three cups. At the family reunion in Nashville, Hunter gave both Kathy and I the Starbucks mugs we favor in the morning.  Usually when I drink too much coffee I feel a bit bad, but this felt great. And it kept me wide awake for today's lesson:
The three keys to a victorious christian life, (all from Ephesians 6):
V 10 Put on the full armor of God, daily
V 18 Pray in the Spirit which includes listening to the Holy Spirit to intercede for the saints
V 19 Covet prayer for yourself from the saints. And that works best if they actually know you.

For lunch, we had a side salad, GF Penne with Cannellini  beans and a chili with 99% lean turkey. What made both of them really rock was Trader Giotto's, (actually Trader Joe's) Rustico Pomodoro  sauce. This is one of my very favorite red sauces. I only put a tiny touch in the pasta, but it made the chili rock.

Now I have a bit of landscaping to do, I will not be on my feet much in a few days, so will try to get things done while I can.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Blueberry healthy pastry breakfast

As a chef, you try to please your consumers and also meet their needs. I am not gluten intolerant, (in fact I love high quality durum flour pasta), but I know people that are.  I wake up hungry and ready for breakfast, but Kathy and my friend Rudy need time to get their systems going.

So today, I made a gluten free pastry that can be left out till someone wants to eat it.

Mix right in a small non-stick skillet, equal parts:
hemp hearts
walnut pieces
quick oats
low fat shredded cheese as binder

Add agave to taste, I do not go very sweet, same thing with cinnamon. I did not add any salt, but a pinch would taste good, I added a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.

The liquid is egg whites, you want to get to a mixture slightly dryer than a blueberry pancake mix.

After the mixture is stirred, add blueberries, I tend to be generous and went for a half cup, with the egg and cheese as binder and a careful approach to cooking they will not overwhelm the pastry, (I gently smash them a bit before adding).

Cover the pan, put on a low heat, let cook while you drink a cup of coffee. Turn off the heat, let it rest. Now, comes inspection time. Is there enough binder, has it rested enough that you can flip it? In my case no, so I finished the top under the broiler.

A hasty exit: Nashville to Seattle

Our chance to stay and visit with the extended family got cut short. Some medical tests we had done before we left finally got analyzed and they said, "Cut your travel plans short, go home and go to the emergency room immediately". Dramatic, yes?

We called United Airlines at 0900 and had a flight to Seattle at 1415, not bad. Didn't score the best seats in the house, but we got er done. This was the day United's routers crashed. We were already on the plane, already on the TARMAC, so this was only a twenty minute delay for us. Others were not so lucky.

You can probably guess everything was overdone on the medical front, we finally met a level headed doctor who said while things need to be treated, it can be done outpatient. However, here we are back in Seattle WA with our truck, (and dog), in Portland OR.

Current plan is to take the train from Tacoma to Portland, I hear is is a pretty route, and take a cab to go rescue our truck. Then we can pick Yogi up the next morning.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Trey, Madeline, Sam, Hunter at the pool - Nashville videos

Hunter and Madeline

Trey and Sam

Calvary Chapel Nashville

Kathy and I are in Nashville for a family reunion. Most of the family wanted to visit a mega-church called Crossroads, but we didn't want to visit a massive church.

So we went to CCN. I was really surprised when I went to their web site and found out they did not have a domain name. We had a bit of trouble getting there, I think we must have missed a GPS instruction, but we were there before the service started.

It was much smaller than I would have expected, in essence a church plant. Good praise team. Imagine my surprise when Hunter showed up, he drove from Richmond to Nashville the day before and I would have expected him to get some sleep.

Great preaching and it was as if the sermon was tailored for Hunter. He picked up on that as well. I love a good Godincidence.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Portland to Nashville

Yesterday, we woke up at 2:45 AM for an early set of flights to Nashville for a family reunion. The Portland airport seems nice, though not much is open at 4:30 AM. Our truck is parked under a set of trees at Thrifty parking, ( they seem like a nice outfit). We cracked the windows and opened the truck box since it is supposed to get really hot in Portland.

United flights UA 504 to Denver and UA 789 were on time. I love the WIFI online. I slept through the first flight and did a book review of The Florentine Deception on the second.  Great landing at Nashville, they are having thunderstorms, (more on that later), in the area so the pilot seated the flight crew and came in fast. I like the Nashville airport, (BNA), it is what I call right sized.

We got a car from Enterprise. That is the least helpful Enterprise group I have ever met. If the parking works out, I may try Thrifty next, (Hertz lost my business by misplacing my reservation twice in a row, I had even printed my confirmation).

Baggage with United at Nashville took an incredibly long time to come and they changed our carousel. While I was waiting, they changed another flight's carousel, not sure what is up with that.

Easy drive to our hotel. While we were unpacking the thunderstorm hit dropping the temps a few degrees and making everything smell nice.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Seattle to Portland

Our puppy Yogi is going to spend two weeks in-home training with Mark Dunlap from Leader of the Pack Dog Training. Mike Poor recommended Mark.

Early on June 30, we put our pre-packed bags and headed South on I5. Traffic was not bad though there was an auto accident that resulted in a car fire and that slowed things down and of course once you hit Vancouver WA, you have to set your patience bit to true. We were staying at the Hotel Monaco, which is dog friendly. It was Yogi's first hotel and he was very excited. They even had his name on a welcoming sign.

The have a wine and local beer meet and greet and we got down early because my brother's family was coming down to meet with us. Wednesday, Kathy and I went to the Chinese Garden, but it was so hot we cut it short. I saw they are having a fund raiser concert with Storm Large at the end of the month and I would love to hear her, but I do not want to sit in the heat. Then our families had a lovely dinner in the hotel's restaurant and chatted. We turned in about 10:00 and met again this morning for a leisurely breakfast and more catching up. Then we hugged and they were headed home and Kathy and I wanted to see the Portland art museum. The hotel was kind enough to store our luggage, right under a security camera; THANK YOU. We walked to the museum, toured, and then had a lovely late lunch at South Park Seafood. I had the Trout and Kathy had the Steelhead, both were excellent.

Then we checked into an airport hotel since we have a really early flight tomorrow.