Friday, September 29, 2006

I'm Grateful For Our Co-op

Read this horror story about a food co-op: Won't Work for Food -

Our Co-op is a joy to experience.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Congress - working for us

This is our government, working for us. Where "us" equals big business.

Feature: Congress says "fuck you" to Net Neutrality with blatant pro-big-business push poll - Valleywag


We biked down to the farmer's market today with Simone - there won't be many more weekends with such great weather to allow that. Other than our usual stops at Dennison farm and Great Harvest (for samples), we stopped by a little stand selling honey.

They had samples for the tasting, which I thought was quaint because honey usually tastes about the same to me. Wrongo!

They had a few jars left of their Meadowfoam (pictured here) honey. It tasted like a super sweet vanilla syrup. We bought a jar and had some on top of fresh peaches and blueberries.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Canning Pear Sauce

When we picked apples a while back, we also picked a bag full of pears.

What do you do with a grocery bag full of pears? Make pear sauce.

What do you do with pear sauce? Make pear sorbet. mmm....

It's as easy as mixing pear puree and honey (8:1 ratio) and throwing it in the ice cream maker. It came out fluffy and light, tasting deliciously of pear.

But we had a bunch, even after taking some to a potluck and to Mary's book club. So I canned it. It was my first time canning, and I believe I was successful. At the least, I got a good seal on all 6 pint jars.

Now we can have a taste of autumn in winter or spring. Can't wait.

Lookit the size of that thing!

We've been eating flame raisins lately. Mostly because they're different and exciting - when compared to the regular raisins you get. Their most notable feature is their size. They're HUGE!

I never really noticed just how big they are until I was eating a handful of raisins and pecans. They're as large as a pecan half.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Slick idea

While I still like the concept of the MoGo mouse for simplistic design, these batteries recharge through a built-in USB port. Way slick - you don't have to tote around a charger for your batteries - just plug them in directly to your computer. If my current mouse batteries ever die (they're rechargable), I might give these a shot.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Simone Update

Simone is nearly 4 months old now. She's making bunches of new sounds. We're calling her our little pterodactyl because she squawks like one. Her sounds are getting longer - some of the pterodactyl war cries hare a good 15 seconds long and have a couple of different sounds now. Sadly, I think the "coo" sound has gone by the wayside never to appear again.

Lately she's been playing with her hands more, and she's actually sticking her fists out straight ahead. If she were walking - she'd have the Frankenstein arms down pat, but she's still lolly-gagging on her back it kind of looks like she's getting ready to box.

Last week, the two of us went on a nice walk before I started to work. After gazing at the leaves on the trees for a while, she fell asleep with her standard flip-top head position:

She's dancing around more than ever, and is now tracking us with her eyes. Just two days ago she looked me up and down (like that song about the bear with tennis shoes). Bath time is loads of fun (though I've yet to master the drying off and dressing stage afterwards).

Mary and I are a little shocked as how she's more self-entertaining and we can actually leave her in her play seat or on her mat for little bits of time. And she's starting to laugh now. We've had lots of smiles and giggles, but I've seen a couple of little laughs.

It's all a constant change, a good change. Eventually she'll laugh at one of my jokes.

Awesome book

I recently finished The Omnivore's Dilemma. I can't say enough good stuff about this book. I loved it.

I won't go over all the details of the book (I mentioned it in an earlier post here), but it does a great job of showing how our eating choices can affect the world we live in.

The big insights for me were: how incredibly over-dependent the typical American's diet is on corn (and thus oil), and new insight into how a "beyond-organic" farm could operate.

It really reinforced and confirmed the dietary choices Mary and I have made. Almost all of our grocery purchases come from the co-op, which focuses on organic and local. Our produce is almost entirely local and organic. Our beef is mostly grass-fed (which, it turns out, is actually healthier to eat (not to mention better for the cows/environment/etc.) due to a better balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids).

Anyway, I highly recommend the book as it not only explains the state of things, how things have gotten the way they are, but also gives you enough information to make changes if you so desire.

Garden Tour

We went on a tour of a few gardens in Corvallis this last week. The tour was cut a little short
because Simone decided we'd been busy too long (we had been out from 8 in the morning and stopped at 2:30 in the afternoon). But we did get to see a couple of neat gardens in people's yards.

Of all the ideas we got to see, I liked this tool shed the best. The open roof design was real nice.

Crappy car

I was walking through the parking lot at work the other day when I noticed this car.

I just had to take a picture.

I don't have a problem with people driving a beat-up car. Hell, I drove Xena (who was looking a little better than this even at her end) for years, and now I'm driving a 14-year old Protoge whose paint has been peeling for years.

My issue is that they're clubbing the car. This is at Intel - where every car around it is worth more.

Get over it buddy, nobody's taking your car.

Mary makes steak

As you probably know, I can be kind of picky about my food. Now, I'll eat all sorts of junk food, so it's not that I turn my nose up at pop cheese-its.

I have, however, come to appreciate a properly cooked steak (rare - and it's a really good cut, almost bloody). Mary isn't as picky - and likes her steaks more well-done than I, so I've been the one to do all the steak grilling in our home.

The other night, Mary came home with a couple of steaks. I was hanging out with Simone, so Mary decided to cook the steaks herself. We both inwardly thought, "hmmm.... Mary's cooking the steaks."

I must say, Mary cooks a mean steak. I wish I had another one in front of me right now.

Monday, September 11, 2006


I wondered the very same thing when I read that the Senate was going to outlaw butchering horses for meat. Seriously, isn't there anything more important they could be doing? I dunno, perhaps impeaching Bush?

Whiskey Bar: Horsing Around


I'll join the 9/11 meme.

First, the politics: I can't believe we are where we are right now. In a war in Iraq, with strained relationships with Iran and North Korea (axis of evil), and pretty much ignoring the other country we invaded (Afghanistan). The world used to side with us, and we've lost that political/moral clout, and are now just the big bully on the planet. sigh...

Five years ago today, Mary and I were on our honeymoon in Greece. I believe we were on the island of Naxos. I remember looking around this little shop - they made cheese that was stored in tall/skinny baskets (I bought two baskets - no cheese). They had a little 12" TV (ok, it was probably metric, 30cm) that was alternating showing two smoking buildings and 4 people gabbing away in Greek. I remember thinking, "wow, someone's pissed." Little did I know.

We later sat at a cafe and had drinks, watching CNN.

When talking with other people we ran into, people from other countries seemed sorry, but they had the undercurrent feeling, "it has been happening to the rest of us for years now, it's your turn."

We certainly haven't behaved any better since the attacks, and I'd (sadly) be willing to bet that there are more folks now than ever that would love to fly another plane into some of our buildings.


A week ago, Mary, Simone and I went over to a friend's house to help her pick her apples. They've got a lot going on, so we thought we'd come and harvest their apples for them. The tree in the front has small Liberty apples (and is a small tree). The apples were very tasty. Here are Mary and Simone after our harvest.

We picked all those apples in a mere 30 minutes. Picking apples is much easier than picking strawberries or raspberries.

This weekend we went over to another friend's place. They live on a farm and have several huge apple trees - and far too many apples to know what to do. So we went over after church and took some off their hands.

Their trees are real tall, and we were able to pick a bucket full just standing on the ground, or using a small step ladder. Frank asked if we wanted more, and when we said, "sure" he pulled out the fork lift.

That is a picture of the fork lift from my vantage point. I was standing about 15 feet in the air - on top of half a dozen pallets being held up by this fork lift. I could reach the tallest apples from there with ease. In no time I'd picked another 3 buckets full of King apples.

And to think I thought the 30 minutes was productive the weekend before. We picked 4 times as many apples in just over 45 minutes.

So, what do you do with that many apples? Well, we're gonna make some apple sauce, and we'll dry some apple slices. But, if you really want to concentrate apples, you make apple cider.

Back to the first friend's house - because they have a cider press (and all those apples we'd picked the week prior). Without hardly trying, we pressed 5 gallons of cider - with apples left over.

Here's a picture of one of the daughters of our friends, Nicole, and the cider press:

Made Some Hot Sauce

I made some hot sauce over the weekend. There's a booth at the farmer's market that sells peppers of all sorts, so I picked up some paprika peppers (for sweetness) and some cherry bombs (for spice - a little hotter than jalepenos) and whipped up a concoction.

The last time I made hot sauce I just threw the peppers into vinegar, but I got fancy this time. I roasted the sweet peppers, and briefly cooked the hot ones in vinegar (with a couple of garlic cloves). Now it's all stewing in the refrigerator. After a month or so, I'll try running the mixture through our food mill to get a nice texture.

Soon the thai peppers in the garden will be ready, and I'll make another batch. mmm.... hot sauce.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Go Bears!

Mary just gave me my anniversary gift, a new fitted baseball hat (my old one was pretty ratty), and a licence plate holder that says "Berkeley Alum."

The hat might make sense to you, but a licence plate holder? You know I don't really care that much about where I went to school... I'm proud to have gone to Cal, but what makes the licence plate holder even more sweet is that it replaces the one that had the dealership name on it (may they rot in heck).

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Crocodile hunter, Steve Hunter (website: Welcome to The Crocodile Hunter Website) died a few days ago while swimming with a sting ray. It startled and stabbed Steve in the heart with its barbed tail. Evidentally, Steve pulled the barb out of his chest and then died.

I imagine his last thought was, "Crikey!"

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Dinner notes

Mmmmm.... Mary made a great beef and barley soup tonight, and we had our favorite red wine. Very tasty.

As I finished dinner, I started to get up and hit my toe on the foot of the table. Simone laughed, and I swear I saw her think, "It's funny because it's not me."

She certainly is mine. I've got to be more careful as to what I teach her.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Her first bike ride

Simone went on her first bike ride today. She didn't actually pedal or anything, we've got another two years before that can start. At this point, she gets to ride along for free.

The church threw Simone a baby shower a while back, and when asked for what Simone might like to have, we said a Burley bike trailer would be keen. The folks gave us a nice nest egg to help buy one.

I picked one up this week on my way home from work, we assembled it (stroller attachment as well), and this morning went on our maiden voyage.

The trailer has all sorts of fancy straps and snaps. It's way easy to use - the universal hitch was a cinch to get on my bike (Mary's is a little tougher b/c she's got an old fashioned "girl-style" bike, but it works). It's got a sun shade, is rain proof, and has plenty of room for groceries. We got the one big enough for two kids because ... we figure we'll probably have a second one - as overwhelming as having just one seems right now.

Simone is technically too young to be in a trailer. You're supposed to be able to sit upright before you go for a ride. But we can't wait that long - it'll be the middle of winter by that time. So, we put the car seat in, strapped it in place, and put her inside.

See - she's as happy as a clam at high tide. Her tongue is sticking out - her standard proboscis pose.
There you can see the whole get-up, baby in car seat in trailer.
I didn't get a picture of her with the hat down over her eyes. It kept sliding down while we were riding, so I don't think she got a very good view during the ride.

She seemed happy during the ride, all the bouncing and jostling didn't bother her too much. Simone has always liked being outdoors, and this is just a natural extension to that.

We figured her first trip should be to the farmer's market, and she slept in my sling the whole time we were there. Everyone commented on how cute she was. While she's getting bigger, I think she looked especially tiny tucked in a sling on my chest. I'm big enough to make most people seem small.

It was just the first of (hopefully) many trips in the bike trailer.


Mary, Simone and I were on a walk this evening - to feed the horses in the field down the street.

While approaching the field we both noticed a black cat standing in the dirt road that runs alongside the field. Mary wondered aloud, "Could it be Milo?"

For those of you not familiar with Milo, he's the cat that went missing over 3 years ago when Mary and I were in Australia. He loved him very much - putting up fliers and knocking on all the neighbors doors. After a while we just figured he was gone, hopefully to a loving home. Though I secretly figured he'd been caught by a coyote. You see, he was just too happy a cat to not come back home to us.

Anyway, as we got closer, the cat looked up and walked toward us, showing of a white patch under his neck. Milo had a white patch under his neck. He then flopped out, and we saw the white patch on his belly between his hind legs. Milo had a white patch on his belly there.

Long story short, we think it's him.

It's been three years, and he seems very healthy - a good thick fur coat. The horses spooked him a little bit, but he was pretty friendly other than that. He growled a couple of times while we pet him, but he kept coming back for more lovings.

But, he didn't seem to respond to his name (it has been three years), and we don't really know we'd integrate him back into the home. We now have two other cats, and there are three cats in the two houses next door, so we couldn't really pen him up in the back yard during the transition.

We've got high hopes, but still aren't sure what to do... at least we know he's alive and healthy.