Monday, October 31, 2011

All Saints' Eve

The little goblins, princesses and Ninjas that came to our door probably know little about the importance of a good fall harvest.  They are not particularly bothered by the shortening days, nor worried about how to light the longs nights ahead.  They will not gather around a bon fire at the edge of their village and make a celebration to the gods and good fortune that brought them food to put up for the winter.  They will not look out into the very dark night and fear that they might freeze or starve before the spring.  I have many small bags of M&M's left.  I have only some ornamental climbing beans from my garden to show for my ability to feed myself off the land.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


874.  That is the number of Border Collies, Aussies, Kelpies and other herding dogs whose lives were saved by Mary Ann Lindsay.  Mary Ann died this week.  The cancer she had fought for 10 years took away one of the best friends dogs in the north western states have ever had.  Helped by her husband Jim Mary Ann took in the stray, the hurt, the frightened and the out-of-luck dogs collected off the streets of Eastern Washington and the Idaho Panhandle. She made them well both physically and emotionally.  She found new homes for them - homes in 40 different states.  Each new owner made the trip to Hayden Lake, Idaho to be scrutinized by Mary Ann.  Knowing her was seeing the best.  No board of directors, no fund raising committee, no marketing program.  Just Mary Ann (and Jim).  Read her own words about why she rescued dogs.  Many dog owners are comforted by the prospect of visiting Rainbow Bridge where their pets wait for them after death.  Mary Ann is there as surely as there is hope and love in the world.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


My husband and I drove east last week.  We had our dogs with us and were headed to a sheep dog trial.  we left our home near Puget Sound well before dawn.  The road we travelled took us due east across White Pass just south of Mt. Rainier in the Cascade Mountains.  The Cascades have a long gradual slope to the West - a steeper slope to the east.  We drove into the rising sun.  The mountain peaks were backlighted as dawn approached.  We drove through nautical dawn, a time that I know well from years lived in Ketchikan, Alaska at latitude 55.35.  At that latitude, in the weeks near the summer solstice the night gets no darker than nautical dawn.  Nautical dawn - or dusk - is the time when the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon.  At nautical dawn objects begin to stand out.  In Ketchikan, we started out fishing at nautical dawn. 

We drove on and crossed White Pass onto the eastern slope of the mountains at civil dawn.  In Anchorage Alaska, latitude 61.17, city league baseball games are scheduled in civil dawn which lasts all night at the solstice.  At civil dawn the sun is 6 degrees below the horizon. As we descended the pass, the sun rose.  We looked back at the red glow on Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens.  This was a good way to start the day.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Squash Soup Addendum

Add shrimp or prawns, or for a spicier meal add andouille smoked sausage..

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Squash Soup

Get a winter squash.  My favorite is a big blue Hubbard.  If you are cooking for a crowd, this is the squash for you.  Any winter squash will do and many ripen at a smaller size.  Pumpkins are squash.  The varieties sold for carving are a bit stringier than the sweeter pumpkins and many of the other winter squash.  I have used carving pumpkins for many recipes.  Squash is good for you.  One cup cooked provides 5.74 grams of fiber which is excellent for cleaning out your intestinal track.  Winter squash is also a source of potassium, niacin, iron and beta carotene.

I don't specify quantities in my recipe.  More carrot makes the soup taste more carroty.  More onion, more oniony.  Etc...
Winter Squash
Chicken Stock
Canned Coconut Milk
Salt and Pepper

Cut your squash in half, scoop out seeds and drizzle with olive oil.  Add salt and pepper.  Turn halves cut side down in a baking pan and bake at 350 degrees until tender.  Scoop out flesh.  While the squash is baking, dice a sweet onion and saute in olive oil or butter.  Add a bit of garlic if you like.  Cut up some carrots and add to the saute.  Add chicken stock - enough to cover the carrots easily, bring to simmer and cook until the carrots are tender.  Puree the squash and the onion-carrot mixture.  Blend all together and return to the stove.  Salt and pepper to taste.  You might add a little ground nutmeg.   Just before serving stir in coconut milk.  Don't let the soup boil once you have added the coconut.  Put as much is as you want.  Serve.  This is comfort food.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I have read, and reread Nicholas Kristof's column about rape.  He has been traveling in Africa.  His facts are difficult to fathom.  Rape.  Of children.  Of toddlers.  A 2 and-a-half month old infant who died of her internal injuries.  What man would do this?  What others condone it?  We are not civilized if such atrocity exists.  This is not beastiality.  Only the human male with his so-called superior intelligence is capable of such depravity.  How do you help these young victims?  A baby might be born by some of the older girls.  what will those new mothers tell their children?  How will that violent beginning end?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

And Now, the Scores

With those words the radio host read the scores - just the numbers, not the teams.  And not even what sport they played.  This was some years ago in Ketchikan, Alaska.  A small town by "down south" standards but fourth largest in Alaska at the time.  There were two stations, one AM and one FM.  The FM was mostly staffed with volunteers.  The sports-scores-man reliably reported.  The newspaper filled in the details. 

I looked at the scores in this morning's papers.  I thought of the sports-scores-man.  Listening years ago, I usually could tell which sport generated the scores: 2 to 1, probably hockey; 7 to 5, baseball; 14 to 10, football.  Yesterday's college football contests were a rout for the losers.  The top ten teams won their games by an average spread of 34.33 points.  Boise State beat Fresno State 50 to 7.  In the top 25 contests, the average spread was 24.75.  Where were the squeakers?  The games that kept fans glued to their seats, hearts pumping, cheers and waves rolling? Did the cheer leaders keep their pace?  Did the bands roll a crescendo to urge on the side?  Or did the crowd thin, drawn to the tailgates or frat houses, or home to rake leaves?  Its not much fun to watch a rout. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Heaven's Gate?

Perhaps you noticed the award of the Nobel Prize in physics.  It has left me scratching my head.  The prize was awarded "for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe through observations of distant supernovae".  You can read the details on the Nobel website.  Words are important.  The award citation which is quoted above speaks of the "accelerating expansion" of the Universe.  The science reporter for the Washington Post, BrianVastag, was apparently confused.  In his article today he offers these summaries of the citation: "...for showing that the universe is flying apart..."; " galaxies continue to pull apart from one another..."; "... how fast the stars...were racing away from the Earth..."; "...the universe's inflation was speeding up..."; and finally, "...mysterious anti-gravitational force must be pushing the universe...".  Well. Pushing?  Pulling? Inflating?  I learned from his article that scientists have calculated the mass of the universe.  Whether it is pulled or pushed, where is it going?  If the universe as we know it is flying away to someplace else, where is that place?  One of the winning scientists comments that these are very philosophical questions.  I'm not sure if it is an advantage or disadvantage to understand their work.  You can accept the Nobel winning calculation that the result of the accelerating expansion will be a black and cold end.  Or you can believe that this is all part of a greater design that is beyond human comprehension.  Your choice.