I've been looking for old hand-turned, shallow wood bowls… used for dough rising, and often painted on the outside. I’d like to build a nest of them for my country kitchen.  It would be very cool to find some of these dough bowls outside of eBay. The ones I prefer are either naked (no paint), or painted only on the outside. That way you can sand and oil them, and be able to actually use them. 

I’d also like to finish up my nests of old yellowware bowls (I'm working on nests of dark brown, and green). These are heavy earthenware bowls with rims, in graduated sizes so they nest together (thus the name given to a complete set). The smallest is about 4 inches across, the largest is 12 inches (a guess; I don't have the largest size). Nests are usually 6-7 bowls. I was way behind the 8-ball on these—by the time I started collecting them, prices were pretty high. This is the McCoy ivy design; one of the more expensive bowls. Mine are simple, with a striped glaze.

But a lot of primitive wood dough bowls are still affordable, although really large bowls that are signed with the maker's mark are really expensive. I've seen 20+ diameter bowls going for $650+ on eBay. Both of these fit right in with the decor in my antique farmhouse kitchen.

I sure miss antiquing expeditions with Linda...  there are shops near Yelm in the old backroads towns that I’m just itching to visit, and it's so much more fun with company.


Getting to breakfast is gonna be a challenge

After a decade of watching the Green River Gorge bridge slowly become misaligned with the highway, the Washington Department of Transportation has finally closed the bridge. They’re routing SR-169 traffic through Ravensdale or Green Valley for at least the next 6 months while they figure out why the land on the south side of the bridge is moving.

The final straw was a recent landslide that came pretty close to the south bridge abutment, and they're not sure the bridge is stable any longer. So until they drain off the water and figure out how to prevent another slide, they’re not taking any chances. Since the road and bridge have been misaligned for years as the land moved sideways, the only surprising thing is that it took the DOT this long to start working on the problem.


No GPS required

A new cache near the Soos Creek trail was announced this morning, (I get e-mail notifications), and I thought I'd go home by a different route, and pick up the cache on the way. At lunch I pulled up the cache description and found it on the map, and knew exactly where I needed to park. When I drove in and looked around, I knew exactly where it would be. The cache description was all I needed; I didn't even take my GPS with me! Sometimes finding a cache goes this way, sometimes it doesn't. That's one of the things that makes this sport so much fun!


Goodwill by the pound

I spent the day with my sister, niece, and great-niece (and also got to see my nephew). Our day included a walk in the Arboretum and a picnic lunch, both wonderful. But our visit to the Goodwill store near Boeing Field was a tale I need to tell.

This Goodwill is unusual—everything is just dumped into large, roll-around bin-style tables (each about 3 x 6 ft). The tables are lined up in rows, and if there is a missing row, it means they’re busy stocking a new set of bins in the back room. There’s even protocol for this: everyone lines up on either side of the missing row, and waits until all the bins in a row are in place. Only then can you start digging for treasures. People toss things around, turn the bottom stuff to the top, and move on.
It’s also cheap: this Goodwill store charges by the pound. For $9.00 I got a big canvas carry bag with gusseted bottom and inside pocket, 8 ziplok bags of old wood alphabet blocks, a nylon shoe rack that hangs over a closet rod, 4 pieces of pink Depression glass stemware, a tiny little stuffed zebra to go with my zoo animals collection, a huge cream & brown enameled stock pot (new home for my alphabet blocks collection), a new red wallet, and a brand-new Igloo insulated lunch bag.

My niece, Caroline, has an eye for designer and vintage clothing. She comes to the Bins (as they all call this place), and buys clothing to sell in consignment shops. A lot of the regulars here are doing the same: looking for items to sell in consignment shops, or on eBay.


Washing gutters

I offered to clean out the garage gutters today while Dave scrubbed the deck. It's a nice day, and the garage roof is low, so the ladder wasn't an issue. I'm not a fan of ladders, except for the short one I use to get things off the top shelves in the kitchen cupboard. I don't do extension ladders or get on the house roof… too tall, too steep.

Cleaning the gunk out of the gutters wasn't bad, just a boring routine of scooping the leaves and needles into my bucket, climbing down, dumping the bucket into the wheelbarrow, moving the ladder a couple of feet, climbing back up, and on (and on) until I reached the end of the roof.
When I finished, I stood back to survey the results, and noticed that the bright white gutters are sadly green with algae. So I got the shop rags and glass cleaner, and cleaned the entire length of gutter until it was bright white again. That rather blew Dave away… "Did you actually wash the gutter?!"


Entering the digital age

For half a decade now, I've resisted giving up my Pentax SLR and going digital. Dave made the change in 2002, and recently upgraded his digital camera. I inherited his Pentax OptioS, which fits into an Altoids tin. It's the perfect size to keep in my pocket or bag, and it takes pretty good pictures. But I miss the ability to zoom in close, and using the zoom to crop photos.

With the Alaska vacation coming up, I finally decided to do some research into digital cameras, and finally replace my SLR. Can I find a long-zoom digital without going to a DSLR, one that still takes great photographs? I keyed in on the ultra-zoom digital cameras, because one of the best features of my film camera is the 70-210mm zoom lens. I love the photos I can take when friends and family don't know I'm there. I've gotten some wonderful close-ups, with no posing or artificial smiles, and don't want to give that up.

So with the help some great camera review sites on the Internet, I'm narrowing the field. There are so many things to consider with digital, from sensor size to image quality, noise to soft edges, speed to power up, and time between shots. Things strictly digital, not even issues with SLR camera. So much research is needed... which is fine with me. I love doing research.


Ellensburg Blues

When we cleaned out Martin's storage unit we found a small bag of Ellensburg blues. Martin bought them from Jerry’s here in Kent back in 1982, and there are three: a dark blue rough piece about an inch across, a dark blue oval about 1x2, and a small narrow piece about ½ x 1.  They're beautiful, and since Linda keeps me entertained with stories about her own search for the elusive blues, I've become very "tuned in" to the beauty of this particular type of agate that isn't found anywhere else. In fact, it's considered to be a precious stone.

Since my father-in-law kept the receipt for everything he ever bought, I know what he paid for these stones 25 years ago. Have they become more scarce in the past couple of decades? I don’t know much about them, but sure love the color. I'm looking forward to seeing the stones that Linda has found. 



We spent the afternoon going through my father-in-law's storage unit, sorting through all the garbage to find anything worth saving. It was stuffed to the gills with tools, specimens of minerals and rocks he’s collected over the years, lots of newspapers and magazines. Now that the house is sold, this is the last repository. Martin kept his mining equipment there, but it was stuffed with much more. His dad loved prospecting, but he also loved going out in the hills, digging for agate, jasper, thunder eggs, and especially sapphires. I had no idea he made so many trips to Montana to dig for them. It’s sad… it’s something he and I could have shared over the years, if he’d just told us what he was doing. Such a secretive man. We set aside all of his specimens, but no one in the family shares his passion, so they will probably end up in the dump unless the Boeing club will take them off our hands.

We hauled one load of trash to the Highlands dump, then decided to finish up today rather than come back and get the recycling another day. It only took three trips to get rid of all the paper. Dave suggested dinner and a beer at the Dog & Pony, which sounded great to me. Back to the dump with recycling, then to the D&P. I stayed pretty clean today, but Dave is a grub! Oh well, they won't mind. We got a parking spot (a miracle), cleaned up, and ordered beer and food and settled down for a nice couple of hours.


Grown-up Mac & Cheese

Davey got a treat tonight: I made the Barefoot Contessa grown-up macaroni & cheese. It used every saucepan in my cupboard, but was worth it. The recipe uses three kinds of cheese (Gruyere, sharp Cheddar, and blue), and has bacon. Paired with a big green salad with chicken, it was a great meal. We loved it!


Lunar eclipse

It turned cloudy mid-afternoon, so I didn't have much hope of seeing the eclipse. But by 6:00 pm or so, the eastern sky was clearing up. I went out at 7:00 to look, and there was the moon with a beautiful orange glow as the earth's shadow moved across it. I went back in and dragged Dave outside to see it; being halfway up the hill, our house is in the perfect spot to see moonrise across the front pasture, and the valley. Lunar eclipses take a long time, since the Earth's shadow is so big. I checked it again at 8:15 when I headed to bed to read, and the moon was cut in half: bright below, orange above. I opened up the blinds so I could lay in bed and watch the moon. The eclipse was neat, but the stars were, well, the stars of the show. We rarely see such bright stars this close to the city.

How many cookbooks are too many?

I know what my hubbie would say: if you don’t cook from all of them, you’ve got too many. With that definition, I should sell some of them on Half.com, or offer them to my friends who love to cook. Some would be easy to get rid of: cookbooks I got for shower gifts when I got married, or ones that reflect a cooking style or tastes that have changed over the years. But I have a lot that I use frequently, and will never give them up!

So, answering my own question is tough. I will confess, however, that at present I share my farmhouse kitchen with 102 cookbooks.


Cat spa

The cats got baths today, after Dave wrinkled his nose over James and said, She stinks!" James howled and howled when she hit the water in the tub, not a happy kitty. But she was very good, didn't even try to climb over me to get out. I thought she'd object to my holding her under the faucet for a rinse, but that went fine. It took two big towels to blot her dry (she's a big cat), then I gave her to Dave to hold while Phoebe got her bath. Phoebe was not so good. She didn't howl, but she kept trying to grab hold of me and eventually managed to swarm up and over my shoulder, soaking my sweatshirt! Only one towel needed for Phoebe, she's so small. Both cats spent the rest of the day washing themselves in front of the wood stove.

All of our cats over the years needed a bath at one time or another. Some were good, some weren't. The best was Muffin. She was a grey & tan tortoiseshell cat that I adopted from the Richland Rider's Club stables, just before we moved back to the west side. She loved baths, and would stand in the sink and purr, then snuggle in the towel as I rubbed her dry.

I still remember the first time I gave Taffy a bath. He was the first cat that Dave & I got together, and our first orange cat. He loved to sit on the corner of the bathtub when I took my bath. One day, I scooped him up and dunked him. He was so good about it, just went back to his corner and started grooming himself. With his long hair, you couldn't see his bone structure until he was wet, and he was so funny-looking, all knobby bones. Dave got out a bath towel and rubbed Taffy until he was almost dry. Silly cat…  he came right back to his corner and kept me company!


Beagles Rule

I can’t believe I almost forgot to watch the Westminster Kennel Club dog show…  I never miss this dog show, and remembered just in time.

For the first time in the history of the show, a beagle took Best In Show. And what a Beagle... cute, lively, he owned the show ring. He beat out more than 2600 canines to come out top dog. I think he has the perfect name for a winner, don't you?  Uno... Number One.


False spring

We‘ve finally made it to our false spring (only two weeks late). It‘s odd that it‘s been so mild here in the foothills, when the mountain passes have been closed more than they‘ve been open the past couple of weeks. Saturday afternoon, all three passes were closed. I can‘t remember the last time that happened... with North Cascades and Chinook closed as usual, that means the only way in and out of Eastern WA was along the Columbia River.

Actually, I do remember the last time this happened, but it had nothing to do with winter weather. It was when Mount St. Helens erupted, 28 years ago. The highways between western and eastern Washington were all closed due to blowing volcanic ash.

I‘m taking advantage of the temporary sunshine to plan out my gardening strategy for spring. The goal is to gradually transition the flower beds to low-maintenance plants, with fewer annuals and perennials that need pruning and deadheading. I‘ll probably put in more hostas & lavender this year, plus hellebores (they love the shady beds near the fir trees). And I think I‘ll pull out the old woody lavender, and replace it with new plants that I can keep small.


Men’s weekend… and me

A tradition at Bernie’s cabin is the annual (or somewhat annual) men-only bike trip. It often includes me, since we have the cabin next door. We used to ride with the group, and actually introduced them to our favorite place to ride, Banner Forest. It’s now a favorite with the guys, too.

When we got to the lake, it was shrouded in snow. Snow piled deep around the cabin, where it had slid off the roof. And the lake was frozen, and covered in snow. We've only seen this a couple of times since we bought our cabin.

I wish I'd felt better today. We hung out with the guys, talking and enjoying ourselves, but I wasn't hungry, and didn't want to drink (although I had a glass of red wine with Bernie). They all grilled huge steaks, potatoes, and Greg made a huge green salad with chicken and peppers. We did bratwurst. Everyone sat indoors to eat and talk—with all the snow, it was too cold to be outside (but not too cold to light up the fire and cook outdoors, one of Bernie's favorite things to do!).

I enjoyed listening to them, but I didn't talk much, and once when I was in the kitchen, Bernie came up behind me and whispered in my ear: "You really don't feel good, do you?" Nope. But not sick enough to miss out on a gathering of my favorite guys.

I stayed until 8:30, then gave it up. We only brought one lantern with us, so Dave walked me back to the cabin. Then he walked back to spend the evening down by the fire with the guys.

Sunday morning, the guys walked over to see if we needed help digging the truck out; Dave had moved it up the hill to the turnaround, where we'd have a better shot at the hill, so we had no problems. Bernie said they had to dig out their trucks—they parked one behind the other in a line up the driveway, and the last one in line couldn’t get traction.


Snow? Oh no!!

The radio clicked on this morning, right in the middle of a list of school closures. Oh no. I shouldn't have been surprised; we were supposed to get snow on Sunday, but it didn’t materialize. I always plan to work from home during the winter, one of the benefits of working as a technical writer. I brought home a new installation manual to edit.

So I got up and dressed, rebuilt the fire, and made coffee. Dave headed for work but called 15 minutes later to say that the roads were very icy, and he was coming back home. He's my own litmus test: if he doesn’t want to drive on them, they must be really bad. So I just stocked the woodstove, and started a pot of coffee.

While we ate breakfast, we watched the morning news. Always entertaining during bad weather. I sent an e-mail to Linda: Well, this feels weird... sitting in the living room, watching news coverage of the snow (and all the foolish people trying to get off East Hill), and feeling oh-so-glad I can take a day off. I went out for a load of firewood a while ago, and saw one of the traffic helicopters flying along the creek. They’ve spotlighted 132nd as a bad spot, and also 240th. Getting across the hill and down to the Kent valley seems tough… glad I'm not out there.


The last farm dinner

Tonight was a bittersweet evening. I’ve been cooking dinner for Bernie & Greg since fall of 2002, and tonight is the last. Bernie is retiring and moving home to Ellensburg, and Greg is getting a new roomie (a dog named Schrader) who isn’t likely to appreciate my cooking like Bernie did!

The guys were later than planned, because they went for one last road ride together. I was in the middle of something at 5:45 when the doorbell rang, so I just opened the door and walked away. Greg said, "That's risky. No telling who might be at the door. Could be Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer." I just laughed, but I almost said, "Jeffrey Dahmer would have been on time." It would have gotten a good laugh, but I didn't want Bernie to feel bad, not on his last Pennylane Farm dinner.

Tonight I went all out. We had a Brie & baguette appetizer, followed by garlic chicken with roasted veggies, grilled rosemary potatoes, and homemade foccacia bread. Dessert was simple: melted Brie with sliced Granny Smith apples. I served several different wines, and we laughed all evening, played our favorite music, and talked. I will miss these evenings.


Fourth week

Welcome to the fourth week of January. Cold (27° here), full moon, blue skies and sunshine. I’m not sad that it’s Monday, a beautiful day is beautiful, no matter where I am! It’s been too cold to get out and clean up the patio and haul brush to the burn pile, badly needed. I will wait for our false spring, when it’s 60° and sunny!

Yesterday I spent the day in the kitchen. I made a pot of tomato sauce, baked focaccia bread, and gabbed with a friend when she stopped by to borrow my John Sandford books. I’d planned to make some rosemary bread, but ran out of time (and space in the oven). Next weekend!

Book List For An Expecting Mom

My niece, Anna, is getting ready for the birth of her first child, and wisely is preparing for a siege! She asked for book and author recommendations, so she can find books on tape, and load up her iPod. I confess to having a LOT of favorite authors, so it was hard to narrow it down to just a few. But I hope she'll enjoy Nicholas Evans, Julia Spencer-Fleming, and Kate Wilhelm. For giggles, I suggested Donna Andrews and Janet Evanovich.


Missing Winterhop... just a bit

We missed the Ellensburg Winterhop festival this year, choosing to forgo travel over Snoqualmie Pass in winter, and instead attend a series of travel seminars by Europe Through The Backdoor. A new friend in the club works for Rick Steves, and he got us a good deal on new travel bags. And we're hoping to make another trip to Europe next year.

We spent the day watching slides of Ireland, France, Great Britain, and Italy, picking out new travel gear, then finished off the day with dinner at a French restaurant. We've done Rick's travel seminars before, and I highly recommend them. We learned a lot of "ropes" before our first European vacation a decade ago, travel tips and sights not to miss, that we may not have discovered on our own.

Winterhop would have been fun, though… Walking around Ellensburg in the bitter cold, drinking beer, walking some more, then crashing at Bernie & Linda’s house with a bunch of friends. Maybe next year.


Engineering brats

Hmmm... I suppose some might come up with another definition to go with this title. But this actually refers to my friend Eck’s periodic bratwurst barbecues on the sidewalk outside the Engineering offices. He makes a Costco run for food, then hauls out the Weber and cooks up a feast.

A brat, soda, and chips for $3. Can’t beat that.



I thought Bernie was kidding when he said Greg was going to get a dog. Nope. He's apparently already picked it out, a Lab-Australian Shepard mix that he’s adopting from a shelter near Colville. We'll probably meet him at the upcoming weekend at the cabin. Hope he knows what he's getting into (the dog, I mean). He'll be expected to run miles through the woods each weekend, following (or leading) the mountain bikers. Endless ear scratching, a warm place to sleep, and good kibble. Hmmm... sounds like a dog's life to me!

I took this on Shrader's first visit to our cabin; good name for a mountain biking dog, yes?

End of an era... again

I’m having trouble wrapping my brain around this. Our best friend, and one of our oldest friends (since Dave was 13, and I was 18), is retiring from Boeing and moving to Ellensburg. Bernie has graced our table frequently for farmhouse dinners, followed by cards or just relaxing around the fire. We've mountain biked together, and we bought a cabin next to his, so we spend lots of vacation time together. He's always been at the other end of the phone or e-mail. Now he'll be 100 miles away.

The past three years, he's roomed with another good friend while he continues to work. Bernie is getting a lot of mileage out of telling everyone that Greg is replacing him with a dog.

He's doing his best to quell my fears that we'll lose touch. I know from firsthand experience how hard it can be. But he says if we all take care to continue gathering as each side drifts through the territory of the other, we'll be OK. And we'll always have the lake.

Long distance

Our oldest friend just retired from Boeing at 55, just as he always planned. He's been a regular visitor at the farm for years... our families tried to get together every Saturday night, our place or theirs, for dinner or movies or just hanging out. We have cabins on the same lake. Then in 2002 they bought a house in Ellensburg, and he started commuting on weekends. The social dynamic changed, too... the advent of my farm dinners, with Bernie and a mountain biking friend, Greg.

But the social life is changing once again, and it's worrying me. At his retirement gathering tonight, we found a quiet corner and talked about it for a while, about his plans, Linda's plans, his mother's plans. I reminded him that our guest room is theirs anytime they want; he said he knows, and plans to make good use of it. Even as a stopping off point between the cabin and Ellensburg, our place is theirs.

I hope we can make it work, can find another routine to make into a habit. Otherwise it will be really hard to stay together, keep the closeness going. He said from now instead of the Dave & Lissa & Bernie & Greg show, it will be the Dave & Lissa & Bernie & Linda show. Linda has missed out the past few years, and she feels it. I think we have the chance to get back to where we were, getting together on a regular basis. But it will take commitment and effort by all of us, or it won't work at all.



Home sick today. I almost went in at my regular time, but decided to sleep in and consider it later. Glad I did. When I got up at 8:00 and sat in the living room with a glass of juice, I felt really woggy.

So I brought out my down pillow and a quilt, and made a nest on the sofa. I finished the last few pages of Deja Dead, the first Temperance Brennan novel. I slept. Up again for more juice and a banana, and did a few Sudoku puzzles. Back to sleep. Late afternoon, tired of lying down, I emptied the dishwasher, fixed a salad and leftover teriyaki for dinner, and watched a really bad Billy Bob Thornton movie. I moved my nest back to the bedroom and let the cats sleep with me for a change. Tomorrow I'll head back to work and see how that goes.

Bad satellite movies when you’re sick is just wrong. Shouldn’t this be a crime?


First Geocache

The sport of geocaching was invented right here in the Pacific Northwest. Did you know that? Right up there with microbrews and gourmet coffee, the brainchild of folks right here. The first cache, located southeast of Oregon Falls, is long gone. Today you'll find a bronze plaque there to commemorate the First Cache, and a tribute cache, placed in honor of this very first cache.

The day after New Years we decided to brave the winter weather, and cache our way south to the spot of the very first geocache. Our friend and fellow geocacher is celebrating a milestone of his own: his 1000th find. I found a geocoin that depicts the plaque, and gave one to Dave for Christmas. We thought it made a great photo, sitting on the actual bronze plaque. It was drizzling and cold, but we lingered for photos (including our modeling of great-niece Callie's wild glasses) before retreating to the local McMenniman's to hoist a Northwest microbrew to geocachers everywhere.


Full Circle

Before the break, Sustaining Engineering group found out that we were moving offices, and spent the last week of work packing. When we came in this morning, our stuff was waiting for us in our new offices. I’m now back at the south end of the building, within about 25 feet of my first office when I came to work here in 1993. I have a 12 foot wall of windows looking toward the greenbelt next door. It’s heavenly. No door; I’d love to have a door. But this is pretty darn good.