Monday, March 31, 2008

Look what I found among the daffodils!

Ok, so she's no spring pig, but she has got to be the cutest chalk pig I have ever seen!

If she were mine, I'd trim that little branch from in front of her saucy face. But it could be that the people who live in her house on NW Everett only look at her in profile, from the yard side of the wrought iron fence.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Blossom by blossom the spring begins ... Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837–1909)

This teensy flower, colorful, delicate, with hardy-looking leaves, is among a short row planted in a concrete-walled bed at Elephant's Delicatessen, half a block south of our apartment building. I like this bed because it's almost waist high which makes taking photos quite easy. I don't like this bed because they've left way too much naked dirt. And I don't think it's because they've left room for these little plants to become bigger since they've set them out close to each other.

What I'm hoping is that the naked dirt is destined for less hardy blooming things as soon as the temperature moderates into what spring really is in Portland, not these near freezing nights and 50 degrees or less days. Our average high in March is 56 degrees while the low averages 39 degrees--today we're predicted 47, 31, while Wednesday's predicted 56, 36 comes closer to the average for March and that will be April 2, of course. I'm not complaining one bit, just reporting.

Does anyone know the name of this beauty?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

It was pretty where I was, while it lasted on Friday, March 28.

From the work window I can see a small park-like spot that is actually inside a circular street ramp. So that you could see the snow, I zoomed in on it and took a few photos as it snowed. By the time I could have gone outside at break to take photos, it had turned to mere rain. That's life.

8:48 a.m.
8:49 a.m.
8:52 a.m.
8:56 a.m.
I know the time and date of these photos thanks to my splendid digital camera, the Nikon D50, which I am proud to have in my hands, strap around my neck, at any given time.

I didn't post these Friday night for Saturday because I needed a nap and ended up sleeping until time to take Duncan out for his last walk of the day. I have to tell you something about that little guy and sleep and hunger, or hunger and sleep. Which to list first is a sort of chicken-or-the-egg thing.

Last Sunday I had to quickly take Duncan to the vet because his diarrhea returned. Thank goodness they were open on Easter Sunday because once he got back on the antibiotic and the steroid, it only lasted about 5 outdoor walks (through Monday), with no accidents in the apartment. The vet says that it appears his irritable bowel disease is worse than we'd want it to be since this diarrhea return happened just a few days after he had taken his last steroid from the previous prescription.

As the week went on and he continued to wake up any where from 3:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m., I thought more than once, "How am I going to last however many years of this we've got coming?" Since I take him out for that last walk of the day between 10-11:15 p.m., that just doesn't give me much sleep in a row.

Wednesday evening as I sat at my ibook Honk, working on the blog, commenting at other blogs, I rested my head on the wall, mulling over what to do about the little dog and my lack of sleep. A thought--he's waking up hungry, not because he has to go outside. This entered the mull-mix after that morning's episode--before I could get his leash attached, he had disappeared from the kitchen. I found him on the doggie steps that lead to his warm spot beside Mama, under the covers.

Steroids increase the appetite. Duncan's always enjoyed eating, an understatement of great proportion. We don't want him to gain too much weight because it's not good for his spine, so we had taken it upon ourselves to cut his lunch third of a can in half. Why not give him that other half before the last walk of the day, I wondered? Then it would not be around 12 hours between meals. Maybe he'd sleep until after my alarm clock went off?

He did, bless his little heart! Thursday and Friday mornings he didn't wake up until about 15 minutes after the alarm, and this morning he made it until 5:30 a.m. which is OK even if I didn't have the alarm set.

I'd like to think that this idea is my most brilliant one for the first quarter of 2008, but I can't take credit for it. I was talking about it with a sweet lady at work when she grinned at me and said that on Wednesday she had thought, "He is like a baby. He needs to be fed something so that he will sleep through the night." But she didn't get a chance to tell me. I grinned back at her and replied, "Oh, you told me, just not verbally. Thanks!"

Now Duncan has eaten, gone outside and is back under the covers with Mama. I'm about to eat something and crawl back in myself, for a warm and cozy read, maybe a nap, until they wake up later on.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Too good to pass up

Saturday, still on that trip to get Duncan's dog food--hey, it's 17.4 miles as the MapQuest flies from our apartment to PetSmart--I'm stopped at a traffic light, looking around, the camera on the seat beside me. I'm thinking, "I wish I had had the chance to take a photo of that jewelry store before ... oh my! That man's scratching his back on the support of that TriMet bus shelter, right beside that advertising poster for the Oregon Lottery!" I grab my camera and get a single photo before the light changes. I hope it's a decent photo because the situation was just too choice to pass up.


Here's why. One of the Oregon Lottery's campaigns involves Scratchercise, a totally tongue-in-cheek, advertising program to get your fingers in shape, using coins to scratch cards and find out if you've won any money. And there stood that man, right beside that big ol' word, Scratchercise, rubbing his back from side to side on that metal pole holding up the frame for the poster!


In the seconds that it took me to get the camera focused on him through the windshield, naturally he stopped scratching to check that hand-held device, but I know y'all trust me. Thanks!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Greetings from Portland

I took this photo on Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Go Dawgs! I'm fired up for the Mississippi State Bulldogs!

And if I were not a 60-year-old full-time employee, I just might fix my hair like this young man to totally illustrate how fired up I am! Yippee! Whooeee! Clang! Clang! Clang! Clang! That's my virtual cowbell, rapidly ringing, loudly marking my joy.

I wonder if they make non-permanent-more-maroon-than-neon-red hair spray? I've already got the hair products to mold my hair into a celebratory shape, so I'm half way there.

Dawgs 76, Ducks 69

Clang! Clang! Clang! Go, Dawgs!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The guys' muse . . . she's back.

Mama, Saturday, March 15, at the Taste of Tillamook, just about the time we finished enjoying the guys' demonstration plates.

The guys, Saturday, March 15, at the Taste of Tillamook, just about the time the other chef was presenting his food to the judges.

Roast beef and potatoes; butterbeans with okra; apple, banana and raisin salad; cornbread muffins, and a glass of sweet ice tea, Wednesday, March 19, at our apartment, right before we enjoyed Mama's homecooking. The guys couldn't be with us this time, but there will be other times, of that we are certain.

Thanks to Lindsay for those first two photos.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

ABC Wednesday - I is for Incredible Indulgence

Thank you for your kind indulgence at this show and tell of the food my sons cooked last Saturday at the Taste of Tillamook over on the Pacific coast. Lamont got invited to participate in the Chef's Blackbox Competition, and he asked his brother Leland to be his assistant.

Incredible appetizer--sautéed prawns (a secret ingredient), freshly made salsa verde, and sautéed leeks with bacon.

Incredible salad--quarter-sized cucumber slices surround a mound of match-stick-sliced fennel and Granny Smith apple, topped with paper-thin slices of red onion.

Incredible entree--pan-roasted cod (a secret ingredient), spinach sautéed with garlic and capers, and roasted fingerling potatoes.

The requirements were to make three demonstration dishes, using a different secret ingredient in two of those dishes, then prepare more of the same for the five judges to taste. At the end of an intense hour for the four cooks, Mama and I won the bidding competition for the demo dishes (a fundraiser for Food Safety in Tillamook County) and got to pick which chef's dishes we wanted to eat. That's a no brainer, right. While their food was delicious--we cleaned the plates in no time--the judges made the other guy the winner by 11 points.

Mama and I are incredibly blessed to have Lamont and Leland in our lives, and it's not just because we've not had to cook a single holiday meal since we moved to Portland, although that is absolutely nothing to sneeze at, right? All you always-the-one(s)-who-cook-holiday-meals know what I'm talking about. It's that and so much more. We love those two kind, creative, caring, talented, responsible men!

Thanks to Lindsay for taking these great photos.

Monday, March 17, 2008

A bit of this, a bit of that, and they're off . . .

Fresh ingredients make cooking fun, tasty, rewarding.
The secret ingredients revealed--fresh seafood and cheese. The competition required each chef to make three dishes and to use a secret ingredient in two of them. I'm not sure, but I'll find out soon, if that had to be two different secret ingredients.
I didn't get a shot of the secret ingredients themselves because I felt it would be uncouth to walk up there behind the chefs while they were competing. And afterwards I was too busy eating and taking photos to even think of it. More about eating tomorrow.











. . . continued tomorrow.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Before the big reveal ...

Leland and Lamont spend time going over the pros and cons of fresh ingredients, the ones that they could see there in front of them on the table.
Out of sight to the left of this shot sat a large plastic tub, covered with a white table cloth.
Lamont's taking notes on a restaurant order pad as they think about what would come next, the big reveal--the unveiling of the secret ingredients.

More tomorrow, if I can get my computer to cooperate--something about the startup disk. I don't even know what that is, so I just might be in a world of hurt.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

A symbol of one of the secret ingredients rests outside the building

Outside the Tillamook County Fairgrounds rests a symbol of one of the things the area is best known for--cheese. That's a giant baby loaf of Tillamook medium cheddar cheese in the grassy circle surrounded by National Guard vehicles. And how about that American flag, flying high over the whole thing? Neat.

As Mama and I left the fairgrounds after the Chef's Blackbox Cooking Competition, I noticed that cheese and pulled into the next driveway so that I could walk back and get these photos.

Lamont's efforts, and those of his brother Leland, were judged second to his competitor's at the competition. All of us took the decision in stride. We went over there to have a great time, and we did--even the guys who worked creatively hard at something they love to do.

Stay tuned. I have loads of photos to look through and details to get straight with the guys so that I can post them for you in the next day or so.

Friday, March 14, 2008

We're some kind of excited about this!


From Wednesday's Willamette Week:

"Saturday Mar 15

Taste of Tillamook County Black Box Cooking Contest

Chairman Kaga won't be there, but four of Oregon's top chefs will—competing Iron Chef-style with mystery Tillamook County food ingredients out of a secret black box. On Saturday, Portland's Lamont Hanson of 3 Doors Down will compete against Piet Vanden Hogan of Pelican Pub & Brewery in Pacific City. Sunday's challenge pairs Chris Holen from Astoria's Baked Alaska and Josh Anderson of Lincoln City's Blackfish Cafe. Don't miss the food court, jam-packed with local vendors offering small portions at low prices; the clam-chowder cook-off; and the oyster speed-shucking contest. Visit for more info. Tillamook County Fairgrounds, 4603 E 3rd St., Tillamook., . 10 am-9 pm Saturday, 10 am-3 pm Sunday. $4-$5."

When contacted about participating in this event as the chef this time--years ago Lamont was an assistant--Lamont said yes, if he could get off work. Dave and Kathy agreed, and Lamont asked his brother Leland to be his assistant. We're heading to the coast, to Tillamook, around 10 a.m. Saturday. The guys want to get a good look at the burners, oven(s), pots and pans, and ingredients in sight. They'll start mulling things over in their minds, pondering what they could do depending on what the secret ingredient(s) might be.

I'll be taking photos as long as I don't distract anyone--you'll be inundated in all probability.

Here's the link to the Web site, where our last name is spelled incorrectly except where Lamont submitted his bio--be sure to click on Chef Lamont Hansen.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Spring is in the streets!

Forewarned is forearmed--is that how it goes? Anyway, what I'm trying to do is tell you that I know from past experience (last spring, summer and fall) that I cannot control myself when it comes to taking photos of Portland's flora.

Sunday afternoon I walked out of the apartment after watching the end of the NASCAR race in Atlanta where my favorite driver again finished third, crossed NW 22nd Avenue at Everett, and walked about 300 feet west. There I stopped and took this photo, one I've been wanting to get since last week when this huge camellia began to bloom in earnest. I wanted a blue sky for the background, to do honor to that tree. Besides that I got the tiny red leaves that color the top of that tree to the left, farther down the sidewalk. What a great time of the year!
Blossoms up close for you.
Next, I walked back to the corner on Everett and turned right onto NW 22nd, heading north to Glisan. Just before I reached that intersection, I saw this flowering tree, one that I remember well from last year.
It's amazing to me that so many gorgeous tiny flowers can appear from such a tiny spot on the trunk of the tree.
Do you know what kind of tree this is, please?

What signs of spring are you seeing again this year?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Neon sign says it all

First let me say that when I took this photo last May, I never dreamed that all these months later those three little words would express how I feel right now, physically. Let me explain.

Most of us realize the saying "In the bag" means done, as in "It's a certainty." I read online that the meaning could go back to a baseball superstition involving taking the bag of baseballs to the locker room when the team was ahead in the last inning. Anyway, here's how this pertains to little ol' me. It's a done deal, and I'm certain that I'm give out, tired, done in, done for the work week, just about done for this evening.

Don't get me wrong. It's been a doggone good week, all things considered. Mentally, I'm very proud of how the week has gone, satisfied.

Last Saturday morning at 5 a.m. Mama had a falling episode (nothing broken) that necessitated a trip to the ER where it was discovered that she had a urinary tract infection. So, she's been taking antibiotics all week and is doing very well, thank goodness.

I knew not what we were looking at, effort-wise for the next few days, as I sat there in the ER, my head resting on top of a really thick paperback book by W.E.B. Griffin which I had put onto the counter beside my chair. While in that state, I decided as soon as Leland came to pick us up in the car, I'd get him to stay with Mama and I'd go to the Fred Meyer to stock up on groceries, etc. That's just what I did. Oh, I almost forgot, I asked Leland if he'd make us a meat loaf when I got home with the ground beef--turned out to be a delicious idea!

At the cash register I had blithely explained to the cashier that I'd be driving around to pick up the groceries, rode the escalator down to the parking garage, got in the car, turned right onto West Burnside. I called Leland and told him I'd be there in a minute, that he could come on down to help carry bags. I parked right across the street from the building, practically an unheard of thing to get to do. When I got out of the car and looked into the back seat, I gasped! The groceries were still at the Fred Meyer! Well, Leland rode the three blocks with me, being a sweet son, not making fun of his silly ol' mama.

By the time Leland left, it was 11 a.m. I put the meat loaf in the oven, baked it, and when 2 p.m. rolled around, I had already baked four BIG sweet potatoes and eight smallish Yukon Gold potatoes; blanched and sauteed Brussels sprouts; sliced zucchini, tossed it in a mixture of olive and canola oils and some sea salt, then baked it in a covered glass bowl; washed and dried green leaf lettuce and romaine. I had a goal in mind--can you tell? I wanted to get enough good food cooked, ready to easily eat, so that as the week progressed and my energy waxed and waned and came back, I'd have us decent meals waiting. One more thing needed to be done before I would feel like I'd done it--on Sunday I made a great big pot of chili. And I washed and dried--folded, put away, and put the sheets back on Mama's bed--four loads of laundry.

I also watched my favorite NASCAR driver finish second at Las Vegas!

Am I ever glad I did all of that. Here's why. Duncan, while doing much better all around, has lost his grasp on what time he ought to get up every morning. I take him out for the second time each at night either at 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. He used to sleep with Mama until 8, or 9, or sometimes 10 a.m. before she got sick in January. Now he wakes up anywhere from 4 a.m. to 5 a.m., and he's sleeping with me because I don't want her sleep disturbed since she's home alone all day. I've made it fine at work, and am so blessed that I get to walk to the bus at any bus stop that I choose, ride the it back and forth to work which means no driving or parking, and I've come home to easily prepared, good for-us meals with very quick clean up afterwards.

Nevertheless, I am one tired cookie. I wish that little dog would sleep until at least 5:30 a.m. tomorrow morning when I'll start all over again for next week. Mentally, I'm excited because I know that I can do it and I know that all three of us will be much better off for the effort. Physically I'm heading for the couch!

Before I go ...

In the Bag is on NW 23rd between Irving and Johnson. It's for certain sure that you'll find the perfect card or wrapping paper or ribbon--or bag--in this small shop. The only thing small about it is its square footage. A wide selection, helpful employees and delightful window displays make it easy to decide to return again and again.