Thursday, October 30, 2008

I Stepped Back Into the 1960s

Recently I took a step back into time. I didn't do it deliberately; it just happened.

I was making a 50-mile trip to an adjacent county when I thought (imagined) the car was pulling slightly to the right. Yes, I know the wind can do that, or the alignment, OR....a tire that is low on air.

I was already 20 miles from home and it was a considerable distance to a town large enough to have a "modern" gas where you could drive up to the "Air" and replenish your tire. But I was coming up to a tiny town where I knew there was an "old" gas station. I didn't need to top off the gas tank, but I trusted the owner would be willing to help me out with the suspected tire problem.

Sure enough, the owner, an old fellow (at least ten years Older than I), greeted me on this lazy summer afternoon, checked the tire in question and added a few pounds of air. He then checked the other three as well, finding them to be okay. I thanked him kindly (Thank you, Virgil!), and went on my way.

I was blessed by his assistance, of course. But I was just as blessed by this "experience from the past". These few moments were taken right out of the 1960s, when you could pull into a gas station and an attendant greeted you at your car, filled the gas tank, washed the windshield, checked the oil, and, if necessary, checked the air in your tires. These few moments were like a precious remembrance (except for the gas price on his signpost!).

Now we have "self-service". The small-town mechanic is almost out of existence. And we are the losers for it.

P.S. The three tiny wispy clouds over the water tower are not UFOs nor are they sunspots on my camera lens. I double checked my other photos as well as this one. They were simply tiny clouds. Aren't they weird?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

This One is a Giggle or a Groan, Depending on Your Perspective

I got a giggle out of Michelle Palmer's recent post that you can read here. You may think her "collection of things little" is a bit weird, but it resonates with me...I tend to have little collections around the house too. I don't have this one because I just don't happen to have a resident feline. (Hear me giggle! )

Monday, October 27, 2008

You Too Can Bake Sourdough Bread or How to Make Better Bread With Your Bread Machine!!

A year ago I read Willa Cather's "My Antonia", first published in 1918. The novel presents what I consider an heroic story of hard-working immigrant families during homestead years in Nebraska. A friend thought the book depressing but I thought it remarkable for I grew up knowing families whose parents homesteaded under similar conditions. They came from the "old country" (countries) and lived their first few years in dugouts or sod shanties, enduring poverty and hardships. They homesteaded in clusters; Germans, Swedes, Bohemians. What courageous people they were. And how fortunate are we, their children, that they endured those hard years and passed on down to our parents the courage and strength to work hard and teach their children the same.

In 'My Antonia', the Bohemian neighbor, Mrs. Shimerda, is said to make her bread from a sourdough type leavening as follows... "She mixed her dough, we discovered, in an old tin peck-measure that Krajiek had used about the barn. When she took the paste out to bake it, she left smears of dough sticking to the sides of the measure, put the measure on the shelf behind the stove, and let this residue ferment. The next time she made bread, she scraped this sour stuff down into the fresh dough to serve as yeast."

My mother said her mother baked bread in a similar manner, using a "starter dough" that she kept in a pan. When she was ready to bake bread, she used a bit of the starter to provide a natural yeast, making a sponge first, then adding enough flour to make a thick dough.

Last March I acquired a tiny bit of dried sourdough starter from the Carl Griffith Sourdough Page. (You can read a cool story about Mr. Griffith here from where I've swiped his photo) So there I was, in March, mailing an envelope with a modest contribution for expenses and time to one of the volunteers with the "1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough Preservation Society. What I received in return was less than a tablespoon of dried starter. I was busy with other things so put that little bag away in the drawer where I keep my bread-machine instruction book.

Yesterday I took out that small amount of white crumbly mixture, and began the process of reconstituting the starter. By end of today I had the completed product.

The first photo shows the actual amount of dried starter. Sure seems like a
worthless bit of nothing, wouldn't you say? Ah, but never judge a book by its cover, or in this case, a yeast by its appearance.

The second photo shows the initial step of reviving the starter. The dried bits are stirred into a tablespoon of warm water and left to dissolve for a short while. The bits are irregular in size and seem lifeless. But remember this! We already agreed looks aren't everything!!!

In the third photo you can see the product after a bit of water and flour have been added. The mixture is left to sit in a warm spot while the sourdough yeast ferments. Not too warm, not too cool. The mix begins to show a few yeasty bubbles and I imagine that I can smell a teensy bit of sourdough aroma. (I use a plastic spoon and a china bowl because I read somewhere that I should not use stainless steel. I don't know if that's a problem or not but it gives me a perfect excuse to use this little vintage bowl that I found at some yard sale. It's perfect for this task. It was made by the Hall China company and I have several pieces in different designs and I love using them.)

The fourth photo shows a much larger amount after the addition of more flour and water. More rest. This time I place a clean linen towel over the bowl and place the bowl in my oven. The oven light should provide just the right amount of warmth. To ensure the temp does not get too high I have a brilliant idea. (Brilliant ideas don't come along very often so I'm particularly excited when they occur! So humor me here, okay?) We have an indoor/outdoor digital thermometer. The sending unit hangs just outside the back door on the deck and I step outside to retrieve it. I place it on the oven shelf where it "sends" the oven temp to the readout unit on the wall. Ooops...getting a bit warm. Crack the oven door a bit to release a bit of warmth. The yeasty stuff bubbles a bit and there is more fermentation.

I love the idea of making bread "the old fashioned way" but I decide to use the modern bread machine for several reasons. 1) Kneading bread dough has always been uncomfortable on my wrists. Don't ask me why. I don't know. It just feels really, really uncomfy. 2) While my bread machine works I can be doing something else and 3) I'm no dummy. (Take that last one with a grain of salt. It may or may not be true. If you really need to know, ask my siblings. They grew up with me and can and will give you their candid opinion. I will not, however, hand out their email addresses so find them if you can. Gotcha!)

Instead of using one of the bread recipes that came with the starter, I decide to use a recipe that came with the breadmaker. It called for a "starter" and I figured Carl's starter would work just fine. I don't like the heavy-duty-difficult-to-cut crust that the machine produces, so I select the "dough" feature. This means the machine mixes and kneads and then stops before the bake cycle. I remove the kneaded dough from the machine and place it in a crock bowl for the first rising, remembering to cover it with a clean linen towel. The crock bowl retains the warmth produced by the growing yeast. If you don't have a crock bowl, use a glass bowl. Stainless steel just won't do the trick. Not that the stainless steel is's just that the crock (or a glass) bowl will hold in the heat generated by the yeast. In this photo you can see my thermometer sending unit resting on the oven shelf. (Don't be silly and leave the unit in the oven during baking time! Or you'll be heading to the local electronics or hardware store for a new thermometer and you'll be cleaning melted plastic off your oven floor...not exactly a pleasant prospect.)

After the first rising, punch down the dough and place in the appropriate loaf pan which has been sprayed with Pam or your favorite spray oil. (You can skip clicking on this photo, cause you'll be able to see immediately that I am no Martha Stewart. My baking pans look as if they get frequently used. Not that hers don't! It's just that I don't have the cleaning staff that she has! Come to think of it, I don't have her entrepreneurial spirit, either, or I'd be charging you to view this page! )

And here's the finished loaf. Even though the recipe I used was for "regular bread" and not a sourdough type, it turned out wonderful. Great crust. Great texture. And great taste.

I placed the rest of the starter in the fridge for next week's baking. This initial process was time-consuming but now that the starter batch is in the fridge, the next baking will go much faster. And next time I'll try one of the "real sourdough" where you create a sponge and let it ferment before adding the rest of the flour. This loaf was yummy. I'm betting the next one will be, too.

Don't worry about my thermometer sending unit. It's already back out on the deck. Sending the temp. Reminding me this is late fall weather.

And, since you are a curious soul, be sure to read the key Scripture for today: John 6:26-40. Good bedtime meditation. Food for the soul. (To make it easy for you, just click here.)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

This is to Remind You.....

I've always loved finding a praying mantises (some call it a preying mantis or praying mantis) in the garden. I found this one at cousin Jan's house in Colorado. As a child I was fascinated at their seemingly praying pose and thought they were very cool. I still do. (Don't can click on photos for a closer view.)

This particular mantises is a bit bedraggled for it is late in the season. It needed a bit of help in posing for the camera, falling off the geranium twice before I was able to get a photo. And since it is late in the evening as I type, this is just a reminder to you...don't forget to say your prayers tonight. It's the very best way to end the day.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Holy Experience

I just read this blog post by

The John C. Michael Co., Chicago, Illinois, and his "Mickey" Cut-To-Size Quilt Patches --- or quilts from the 1930s

Many vintage quilts from the 1930s were created from pre-cut quilt kits that were ordered by mail from various companies. Today my daughter gave me this little 1930s catalog by John C. Michael Co., Chicago, Illinois. The 51 page booklet describes pre-cut quilt patches for various popular quilt patterns of that era. Item No. 28 is a Grandmother's Flower Garden. I quote..."It is composed of approximately 3600 hexagon patches which make 72 different blocks of flowered prints and plain color with a row of white around each colored center and dividing patches and border of green......the finished quilt top measures 68x90, straight at the top and bottom and the scalloped edges on the sides..." And, Quilters, get this! The total price is $5.00 post paid. If that seems a little steep, the quilter could buddy up with friends to combine orders for a 10 percent discount on all orders of $10 or over shipped at one time to one address. (Click on the photos for larger views.)

The back of the booklet features a photo of John C. Michael and his seven sons. The fellow had a sense of humor...the back of the booklet mentions his seven sons and "not a quilter" amongst them.

Neither John C. nor his sons were quilters but I'll bet a ton of quilts were produced from their "cut-to-size quilt patches". And it's possible that your vintage 1930s Grandmother's Flower Garden or Trip Around the World or some other 1930s quilt was made from a mail-order kit.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Happy Package!

CinnamonGirl over at Happy Handwork surprised me with a package from her blog giveaway! When we arrived home from a three-week getaway her package was in the huge box of mail that the post office had been saving for us!

I was delighted to find a hank of Beautiful Yarn! Accompanied by a lovely assortment of teas, candy, and a clever hand-made card.

CG had posted the winners on her blog so I knew the package was in the mail, but I had no idea as to content until we arrived home. Suspense! This was a great "welcome home" package. Thanks, CG!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Know How to Write "SNORE" ! And now you, too, can write a new language!

I confess. I snore. Up until now only Hubby knows that. (Now you ALL know!!!) Snoring does not seem like something a lady should confess to, but there it is.

Recently, in the middle of the night, Hubby tapped me on the shoulder which is his signal to me to "Roll over, you're snoring." In that small moment between the tap and "awake", my mind had a mental pictuHow to Write a Snorere of how "snore" would look if it were written in snore language (not to be confused with plain English).

Here's a pic of that written sound. Just in case you ever need to write it out yourself. (You never know when this bit of info will come in handy!)

I'm an inventor of a new written language. But so far it only has one word.
She said with a giggle.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Spruce Goose, Largest Plane in Aviation History

This is the second time that we've visited the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon and the second visit was even better than the first. The first visit was some years ago and much has been added since then.

The unique item that always gives us a sense of awe is the Spruce Goose. Remember the movie, Aviator? The movie is a biographical look at Howard Hughes. He was a fascinating fellow and if you've never heard of him, you really should read his biography sometime. Hughes built the Spruce Goose and you can read about the plane here. The second photo will give you an idea as to its size...look at the people standing at the doors of the plane to estimate size.

If you're ever in the Portland, Oregon area, you really should drive down to McMinnville to visit this museum.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Laundry and Time

We've arrived at our granddaughter's home and it's our first opportunity in a week to do laundry. I tossed in the lights, first, and when I later took them out of the machine I spotted my watch in the machine! I thought I had left it on the kitchen counter of our friends near Roseburg. Aaach! My Seiko watch! My $4 Seiko watch! One of the best yard sale buys of the summer! Possibly ruined!!!

However, I'm an optimist. I was able to pry the back off the watch, remove the battery, and placed all on a sunny window ledge. It's very possible the window sill treatment was unnecessary... perhaps it was waterproof enough to survive a 20-minute cold-water wash... but I was taking no chances. An hour later, the watch is back together and running just fine!

Whew! I like this little watch. The dial is large enough that it's easy to read the time and I would have been bummed it it had died.

Talk About Coincidence!

We spent three days last week in Oroville, California, where my husband attended his 55th class reunion. It was great fun for him to "catch-up" with many of his friends from his high school days.

Hubby lost his yearbook decades ago and just on a whim, I searched for "Oroville" on eBay and found four yearbooks for sale for the four years Hubby was in high school. A friend helped us make a buy-it-now offer and the books are already in the mail. They will arrive just about the time we get back home. How cool is that! And what would be the odds of this happening the day he is gabbing with his old classmates?!

I took this photo the day after we arrived home. Hubby spent an hour or more perusing old photos and their autographs! Inside one of the books were report cards belonging to the previous owner.

Friday, October 10, 2008

We Should Fall Flat on Our Face

The news of the roller coaster ride on Wall Street is everywhere. Since I'm not in the market I won't begin to suggest I have advice for those who have money invested in stocks and bonds.
However, in terms of how we should live, I would suggest a return to the old-fashioned word "frugality".

We live in a time of consumption. (A century ago 'consumption' was a deadly, over-consumption is still deadly in terms of your wallet.) Sadly, we have taught our children well the illusion that their little special "Self" deserves "More". We have not given them the picture of "spend less than you earn" nor how to serve others. Instead, we've catered to their every whim and have done so at a high cost in terms of dollars. We want them to have "what we didn't have" as if somehow we deserved more and so do they. What a false idea of how to provide for family.

I'm going to step on some toes here, but if I do, it's not personal. If there were one thing that I could change in my family it would be how we celebrate Christmas. Perhaps I'm an old woman who has lost the "fun" of Christmas and who has become an old fuddy-duddy, wanting to take away the "spirit" of Christmas by eliminating the excess. (Notice I did not spell "spirit" with a capital "S").

Let's get real here. Let's stop playing the game. How many paper-wrapped packages does a little kid need under the tree? Does every aunt, uncle, cousin, grandparent have to provide the obligatory gift...a gift that the kid grabs, rips, discards in less time than I can say "Merry Christmas"? Aren't we a bit foolish to spend countless hours (not to mention the dollars) getting "just the right gift" for each that moments later are tossed aside or broken.

If one has cash to buy the above, okay, go for it if that is your wish. But, oh, how foolish, in terms of your family's economic well-being, if you are using your credit cards or the last dime you have in savings! How Foolish!

I prefer to celebrate the Christmas that is about the Christ, the Messiah, who came to rescue us from our sinful condition (Colossians 1:13). Christians too often limply state that "God is Love", leaving that to be the extent of their understanding of the Bible, making God this little wimpy god spelled with a small "g" who just loves us as we are and who somehow quite fruitlessly hopes that we will try to be good at least once in awhile. What a wimpy idea of the theology of the Bible. It may be a Santa Claus idea, but it is not a God idea.

The real message of the Bible is much, much deeper. Our condition of sin much deeper. And our rescue from a much deeper pit than some might suppose. Romans 8:28-39 is one of my favorite passages. The words therein are grand. Follow that with Romans 11:33 "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!"

The message of the Bible is deep. But we Americans love living on the surface of everything, never going deep, even in our faith, and seldom deep into our relationship with the Creator. If we did (go deep, that is) we might each have to face the depth of our sinful heart and have to fall flat on our face as Isaiah (Isaiah 6) did before a holy and just God.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Update on Shooting in Chico

It's amazing what you don't know. Like yesterday. We're enjoying a sunny afternoon at the Chico Mall. We hear the sirens and watch three law enforcement cars fly by on the nearby street. Yesterday I mentioned this. Here's an updated news article (with photos)and you will read that bullets were flying within a very short distance of where we stood. Unless we had seen the police cars (and later the police helicopter) we would have been completely unaware of a drug deal gone bad in broad daylight. We knew something had gone down for we had seen the cars and helicopter. I forgot to mention yesterday that as we stood there in the parking lot a vehicle pulled up beside us and a fellow with a very expensive camera pulled up and jumped out of his car. One of our friends is a camera buff and seeing the camera commented on it. When we saw him head down the street in the direction of the police cars we knew he was looking to photograph the action. I'm betting the two photos that accompany the news article were taken with his camera.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Gunshots in Chico

We were in Chico, California this afternoon ( October 8, 2008 ) and on our way back to our car when we heard sirens. Three law enforcement vehicles headed down the street. Soon traffic stopped and backed up and we knew we needed to take an alternate route back to Highway 99. Evidently five young men were involved in shootings earlier in the day and four were apprehended within a block of where we stood. A police helicopter circled the scene as we left the area. The fifth gunman was apprehended nearby. Here's the news about what was going down; you can read it for yourself.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Shoe Tree in Nevada

While driving on Highway 50 across Nevada we came upon a small roadside rest area, a place just large enough to pull off the road, park the car, and eat a picnic lunch. This photo is not very good (I have to admit I purloined it off the web) but it shows the huge number of shoes that travelers have tossed into the branches of the tree. (The tree is approx 100 miles east of Reno on Hwy 50.)

We Americans are a weird bunch of people.

Highway 50 is the shortest and best road to travel from Ely to Reno on the other side of the state. I noticed in our atlas that the road is known as "The Loneliest Road in America" and it surely deserves this name. This little-traveled two-lane highway is in excellent condition and provides for a quiet and speedy trip. I think in the first fifty miles we encountered less than ten vehicles. Later, as we neared Reno, the traffic built up a bit, but still it was not nearly as hectic as using the Interstate.

Besides...if you follow the Interstate, you'll miss the Shoe Tree!

She said with a smile.

I'm Backkkkkk! Aren't you Glad?

Heh-heh! I have been traveling with my hubby westward and we are moving closer in terms of miles and time to his high school class reunion to be held this weekend in Oroville, California. Oroville used to be a small little town and still holds its population at approx 14,400. That's a good deal larger than our current hometown which is under 3000. Oroville has grown considerably since my hubby attended school there and it is a slight bit amusing to me that his "downtown" is now the touristy "oldtown". The house he lived in is still standing on Bird Street although the church where his father was pastor has long since been replaced with a newer building.

Right's laundry time. We've been on the road and its amazing how dirty one can get riding 8 hours in the car. Picture chocolate stains, nacho crumbs, coffee spills. The motel has a coin-laundry. Yayy!!!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bunbury Red is the Name

It's about time to post a quilty post.

In 2006 an online quilting buddy and I entered a quilt challenge from a quilt guild in Australia. We each purchased a small packet of challenge fabrics and went to work on our original designs. It was great fun, partly because I had just the right fabrics on hand to add to the challenge fabrics and did not have to make a trip to the local quilt shop. The size is approx 24 x 24 inches and it hangs as a wall quilt in my sewing room. You can see entries from several years here.

I didn't expect to win any prizes (and I didn't!! LOL) but it was great fun to put this little quilt in the mail, ship it off to Australia, knowing it would be hanging with entries from all over the world.

Don't you agree that red, black and white are great quilt colors? I named my entry Bunbury Red.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Movie Recommend - The Gospel of John

We're using The Gospel of John DVD in our Bible class at jail. The 2003 video is a word for word of John's gospel based on the Good News Bible translation. The class members, most of whom are young and therefore visually oriented, love seeing it over and over. You can see clips of it here.

The ministry set has two DVDs, one is a word-for-word. The other is a shorter highlight version. We use the complete and since it is three hours long we have to break it down to segments.

Some class members are with us only a couple sessions. Others are with us for months. In other words, this is a rotating class with new faces every week. So we've shown this DVD more than once and each time the women in my class are attentive. (The men's class love it as well.)

Last night we finished up the last chapter of John with the women following along in their Bibles as the movie played out. After the movie ended, we immediately turned to Acts chapter 1 to read about the ascension and then to I Corinthians 15 to read about the resurrection of believers. I'm certain this was the first time for most of them to cover these Scriptures or to even hear about the resurrection. I'm certain when they went back to their rooms there was discussion of what they had just seen and heard.

All of this to say that this movie is an excellent opportunity to present Jesus to any group. I believe it is one of the best of any of the Jesus films. Leading out with actor Henry Ian Cusick as Jesus, and narrated by Christopher Plummer, the movie takes you into the heart of the Gospel. It is fascinating to watch the faces of the disciples as they experience wonder, fear, frustration, faith. John and Peter in particular are portrayed in all the intensity one would expect of those who walked and talked with the Savior. Peter's failure as he denies Christ is painful to observe and it is with much relief that we see Jesus' calling him in the last chapter to "feed my sheep".

There are only a couple minor flaws in this is that Mary Magdalene is visually presented in a couple scenes where the Gospel of John does not place her. It is possible, of course, that she was present in those instances, but the Gospel does not speak to that and if I were the director (obviously I'm not) I would have left her out of those scenes. excellent film, and a classic.