Thursday, September 30, 2010

Stockings and Updates

Well, this week has been eventful in it's own right, which follows last weekend which was full of fun, love, and entertainment.

David and I took the Amtrak Cascades train to Portland last Friday and spent the weekend visiting Frank and John, and of course, Rachel. We had nice hot weather (and muggy), and we all took advantage of it. Having been away from Portland for so many years, it's fun to rediscover my native city, and really fun doing with our kids.

Frank and John picked us up at Union Station, which has been the train station in Portland since 1896. It's beautiful, and believe it or not, comfortable. From there it was over to Podnah's Pit for real pit barbeque. The sandwiches are huge so I opted for the brisket sandwich sans bread. It was still a LOT of food. It did my heart good to see this part of North Portland coming alive again. It's a neighborhood full of character, lovely old homes, narrow streets, and history.

After lunch we headed over to Kennedy School. It was an elementary school when I was growing up in Portland, and is now a hotel/restaurant/brewery/bar/theater thanks to the McMenamin Brothers. The character of the school is still there, with the theater in the old auditorium, and the restaurant and bar in the old cafeteria. The bathrooms haven't changed much either. Most of the toilets and sinks in the Girls Restroom are low, and I understand the urinals in the Boys are a bit small as well.

Time to go to the hotel for a nap.

David and I then took Max to downtown Portland, got off at PGE park, and walked over to the Pope House Bourbon Lounge to meet up with John, Frank and Rachel. Now what does one do on a warm muggy September evening but find an outside table and order a whisky. Makers for me and Jamison for David. While I was sippin on the Makers, I did some knitting on my July 4th sock. It's always COLD on July 4th in the Pacific Northwest so I decided next year my wool socks are going to be stars and stripes forever socks.
After drinks we went next door for dinner at the Blue Olive Restaurant. We had wonderful conversation, great food, and a lovely wine with dinner. Needless to say, after dinner, it was a cab back to the hotel. Full and a bit tipsy.
Late Saturday morning (we needed to sleep in after the food and beverage of Friday night) David and I took Max back into Portland and went to the Saturday Market. It's been over 30 years since I've been, and guess what? It hasn't changed a bit (time warp again) except it's larger, and the portion of the market on the Waterfront Park is nice. I didn't find anything I needed or wanted, but it was interesting to watch some of the people.

From there it was Pioneer Courthouse Square and watched a protest parade get underway.
After that it was off to Powell's Bookstore, then the bus to Frank and John's for dinner.

Sunday we came home on the earlier train, rushed home to say hello and feed the dogs,
Poor babies! After they ate, had a romp outside, and snuggles on the laps, we said good bye, see ya' later, and headed out to Chateau St. Michelle [must be at least 21 to enter this site] winery to see Harry Connick Jr. in concert. The concert was amazing, so amazing that no one noticed it was raining, and raining hard.

The week started with one of my favorite activities. The monthly meeting at the Eastside Knitting Guild. The members are delightful, kind, generous, caring, and just plain fun. It seems like this Guild is always supporting several charities at once, one of which is Operation Holiday Stockings. If you live in the Bellevue area, stop by next month. You will love this group.

The president of the Guild, Susan M. (we have five Susans, need to include the last name initial), has set a goal for herself this year. She is knitting one stocking per day for Operation Holiday Stockings. She has it down to a fine science, and each stocking takes an 75 minutes. So far she has stockings completed for January through July. Look at this!
Other knitters are knitting stockings for OHS. I am so amazed by the love and beauty of each stocking.
Knitters are wonderful people, and they are everywhere. Jan in Barre, Vermont sent 75 stockings that she knit for us this year. Jan's son is currently deployed so we are praying for his safety, and ask that you do the same.
I do look at each stocking as they come in and am in awe of the love that goes into each. These knitters don't have to do this, there is always something else to be knit. They choose to do this in support of our troops, and to let the troops know they haven't been forgotten.

We have about 360 stockings, and some stocking stuffers. Now is the time for us to really crank up the needles, turn on the sewing machines, and start collecting items for the stockings, and donations for postage. We are going to need about 2000 this year, and we will do it. The group behind OHS is serious about what they do, and what they do is work hard to tell the troops we love them, support them, and want them to have a little bit of home for the holidays.

Well, I'm off to go prop my leg up again. I have a bug bite that has gone very bad on me so am having to do what I can to make it go away.



Tuesday, September 21, 2010


We were a bit late for the chiropractor yesterday. We had to stop for traffic. Goose traffic.
In fact, all traffic stopped.
While the geese took their sweet time.

Including the goose who had to stop to smell the weeds.



Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pears and Peppers

It's the time of year for football and fall crops. Time to start wearing wool socks and fleece. It does seem like it got here too quickly, but it's that time warp thing again. I do love the fall crops because of the variety, color, and durability of them.

The color ... just look at the califlower available yesterday at Sunny Farms. Vibrant.
Then we have the green of the green beans (this is the Pacific Northwest area remember, where tomatoes and beans are fall crops).

Finally, the glowing red of peppers.
Yesterday Susan and I processed pears and peppers for good winter eating. The pears are packed in unsweetened apple juice with a cinnamon stick in each jar. The peppers are the long sweet carmen reds, standard green bell, and pimento peppers. Yum. These have been cleaned and seeded and will be kept in the freezer for cooking this winter.

Dinner last night was amazing, and I'm taking credit for coming up with a winner. We had apple juice left over (in which we had blanched the pears), and some apples. I decided to roast the pork chops using the juice and fruit, with a brown sugar rub on them. I also put a red onion and fresh garlic on the chops and let them cook in the oven for an hour. Wow, I had a winner (you never know when "experimenting").
I made a big pot of stir fry veggies with some peppers, and other veggies from the garden, which included chipolini onions, garlic, bok choy, green beans, zucchini, patty pan squash and broccoli. With just a bit of salt and pepper, and a tablespoon of olive oil, we had another hit. I really do like it when my dinners come out alright.
Our garden is on its last run for the most part. We have harvested acorn squash and potatoes, and will harvest more in a couple of weeks. We will be harvesting collards, bok choy, and spinach for winter greens as long as it doesn't freeze. We are hoping the brussel sprouts will have some little baby cabbages for us, but we aren't holding our breath on that. The asparagus have done beautifully through the summer and are getting ready to hunker down for the winter.

Finally, the beds are ready for planting the garlic in a couple of weeks. With that task done, it will be time to do the final cleaning of the garden, and put it down for the winter.
Even though it's been a cooler summer than usual, our garden has provided us with many rewards for which we are grateful. One of the fun things about gardening is you just never know what each year will bring.
Like this volunteer cherry tomato plant growing out of the compost bin. There are a few green tomatoes, but I doubt we will get any ripe tomatoes from this plant. I did find, however, this ...

Looks like a sock for Halloween, or more specifically, to wear in support of the Oregon State Beavers. Go Beavs!!!!!!



Thursday, September 16, 2010


I am feeling so scattered right now that I can't tell if I'm coming or going. I've got so much to do. What I can't figure out is how I got to this point. Maybe it's the late harvest season this year, the year flying by (it's the middle of September already), or my age, but I feel like I'm running around in circles not getting anything done.

Anyway, since I see no end in sight right now, I thought this would be of interest to those of you who love to knit socks. This guy is amazing. Brian at Skacel took on a challenge to knit seven pairs of socks on one needle and he did it.

Meanwhile, back to whatever.



Friday, September 10, 2010

Daughter's Day

I think I'm going to write my esteemed legislative representatives and demand that they declare the first Sumday in October as Daughter's Day. A day to honor the unsung heros in this world. You see, daughters are the forgotten family members. Daughters are the ones expected to be there for their families, and when the time comes, for their aging parents.

I speak from experience here, and know many, many daughters, who when push comes to shove, are there for their aging parents, especially their aging mothers. In return all we ask is a thank you from (1) our parents, and (2) our siblings. We don't get the thank you but we get the privilege of being there when we are needed, and do it without hesitation. We can sleep at night knowing we give our gift of love and compassion.

Mom and I had a real love/hate relationship, but when she needed me I was there. She knew I would be. The older she got, the more she needed me. Fortunately my brother was there to help out as well, so I wasn't on the road alone, but ultimately it was me that Mom looked to for help. It was a surreal adjustment in our relationship, with me becoming the "parent" and it wasn't easy on either one of us.

I had friends ask me why I cared for my Mom considering the way she treated me. My answer was always the same, she took care of me at one point in my life so I'm taking care of her at this point of her life. It was the right thing to do, the expected thing to do, and who would do it if not me. You don't turn your back on your aging parent when they need you.

Becoming old and frail is scary, and you need to have someone you trust step up to the plate to care for you. When Mom got sick and frail I could see the fear in her eyes, and the trust she had in me. I couldn't let her down. This is true for the daughters who have and who now are caring for their aging mothers. Our mothers trust us. Sure, in many relationships there is a lot of angst, but there is always the trust.

Now that time has past, I can see that one of the kindest gifts Mom gave me was making me pull out the love and compassion I had in me, and putting it to use. Caring for Mom was hard, I won't deny it. It was exhausting physically, mentally, and emotionally. It was a strain on my family life, my marriage, and on my professional life, but in retrospect a gift. She also knew that I loved her enough to put everything slide to care for her, but she also learned I had my limits.

Caring for her taught us both where we stood with each other, and what we meant to each other. We fought, we cried, and we also laughed alot. I grew up while caring for her, and learned a lot about myself.

For all of you daughters taking care of your aging parents, especially your aging mother, thank you. You are an angel on earth, and your parent knows this. In time you too will see the gift given to you by being selfless, giving your care, compassion, love and time when it is needed the most.

As for my Mom she did say thank you in the end. The day before she died she came out of her coma to say "I love you." Those three words said it all for me.

Would Mom support a national Daughter's Day? You bet she would. Who knows, maybe she's already contacted our esteemed legislative representatives and has them working on it.



Monday, September 6, 2010

The Marathon is Over and I Survived (Barely)

Dear Cousin Pat.

I'm writing to let you know that I ran the Tomato Marathon this weekend and managed to finish. It was a three day race, and I almost gave up today, but with David's encouragement, and my shear stubbordness, I made it to the finish line. My feet hurt, my back is tired, and I was close to deliberium, but I've had my foot soak, and I'm now hydrating with Chardonney so I'll should be fine tomorrow. I've so admired you for running the New York Marathon and have been looking for one I could run. I have no desire to try to keep up with you, but wanted to give a marathon a try. (I did particiate in a 40-hr dance marathon, but many years ago.) The first goal was to find a marathon I thought I could finish, and one where my limited skills would help. I'm not sure if you could finish this marathon, as the skill set is different than the one you use for the NYM.

Saturday consisted of the Salsa leg of the marathon. This involved a lot of planning, prep work, and then the final push to get to the finish line before 5:00 p.m. There was some concern about the breathing and coughing during the jalepena curve, but I made it through that okay. We celebrated this first leg with grilled pork chops, grilled okra, and red cabbage/garlic cole slaw, together with a lovely Chardonney.
Sunday was the Tomatoes leg of the race. This involved timing myself in order to get the race done for the day. It started out with 80 lbs of tomatoes, and ended with Tomato and Basil Sauce, and canned tomatoes. At the end of this leg my feet were screaming and my fingernails were yellow. After resting with wine and dinner, I was set to finish the race today.
Getting back into the marathon this morning was tough. Everything hurt, and I had the last 40 lbs to go. I made it though. David was there to cheer me on and ignore my whinning and complaining. The Tomato Soup and Tomato Sauce got done. I finished the marathon.

I am sure you are wondering my I entered this marathon. It wasn't to prove anything to anyone. It wasn't to amaze or awe anyone. As Jody put it, it was to answer a a passion of mine. A passion for good and safe food for my family. I've run this marathon before, and will run it again. The difference this year ... I'm getting older. The passion will stay with me, and the next marathon will probably be shorter, but I'll be in it again.

Happy birthday to you my dear Cousin Pat, and good luck on your run in the NY marathon.

Love you and miss you,

Cousin Sue

Saturday, September 4, 2010

40 lbs down and 80 to go ...

The Labor Day Weekend started last night in the Rambin Kitchen. I froze broccoli, zucchini and patty pan squash. This morning I got up at 7:30 and by 8:00 was cleaning, blanching and freezing okra. Things were going along fine until the blanched okra was put into an ice water bath to chill, and then put into the freezer bags. David didn't tell me that handling cooked okra is like handling slugs. The things we do out of love...

The big project today was the Salsa. Thanks to Kathy R. in Eastern Washington for her wonderful guidance.

First, the tomatoes. I blanched, peeled and chopped 20 lbs of them.
I also cleaned 4 lbs of onions, 4 bulbs of garlic, 4 lbs of green peppers, and finally, 4 lbs of jalepeno peppers.

I had on the rubber gloves while handling these little babies, but boy, when I was cleaning out the seeds, I was coughing like crazy. Talk about fumes.

After all of the produce was cleaned, we chopped and chopped. David chopped up the onions and jalepenos, and I chopped up the green peppers and tomatoes. Was it worth all of the work? Oh, you bet. Look at these pretty jars of Salsa, all 21 pints of them.

Late in the afternoon, I peeled and quartered another 20 lbs of tomatoes to make spaghetti sauce. Now to let it cook down. Yum.
In the meantime, I'm in love with my current sock. I am knitting it out of Alpaca With a Twist's Socrates, and am loving every stitch and minute I spend with this sock. I'm calling this sock the Cabernet sock. Goes together nicely, don't you think?
The stitch is the corded rib from Charlene Schurch's book, Sensational Knitted Socks.
With this yarn, the stitch is a delight to knit.

Well, now to find out why the washer's spin cycle isn't working.



Friday, September 3, 2010

Tomatoes and Such

My Labor Day weekend is all planned out for me. Tomatoes, 120 pounds of them. David went over to Pasco and picked up tomatoes for me so I can make tomato sauce, salsa, and canned tomatoes.

He also came home with 5 lbs of okra. Not sure how to handle this, but there is always a first time.
Then, there is the never ending saga of patty pan squashes ...
and zucchini.
If I don't show up for work on Tuesday, call out the produce cops.

Enjoy the weekend, and may your labor be fun.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Stitch In Time ...

As you all know, I love clever knitters. Frank sent me a link for a clock he thought I'd be interested in. Interested I was, and fascinated I am. This takes knitting to a new level. Congratulations to Siren Elise Wilhelmsen for your design, and award. The photo I posted comes from an article at Design Milk.