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Friday, July 31, 2009

Tacoma tour of temperatures

July 29, 2009 shattered temperature records all around the Northwest.
The only air conditioning we have is in the car, so we took a drive around Tacoma in the afternoon on that hottest day ever to escape the heat.

Digital thermometer readings we noted on our tour:
  • 104 degrees at Tacoma Mall
  • 105 degrees at 56th & South Tacoma Way
  • 106 degrees at South 96th & Hosmer
  • 111 degrees at South 84th Street

Like Sands Through an Hour Glass, these are the Days of Our Summer

Today is the end of July and it’s the last working day of the month so it’s payday—yeah! Tomorrow is the first of August, the last holiday month of the summer—boo! I have a bittersweet relationship with August. While I love the fact that it is still nice weather and the first fruits of the harvest are being reaped, I feel the sands of summer trickling through the hour glass of my time away from school.

Now is the time for thoughtful parents to prepare for their children to return to school. Me, too. September can be an extremely expensive month with the purchase of supplies, clothes, shoes, backpacks, emergency packs, and pictures. When mine were going to school they also sold insurance in Fall. I don’t know if they still do that. I never availed myself of that which I purchased, but I guess it bought some peace of mind for me. I remember September as being a month where the money just flew out of my wallet. Nowadays if you’ve a child in high school you also have to pony up for a graphing calculator which in all likelihood your child will never use after fulfilling their math requirement and you will not know how to use for that garage sale because the thing is too complicated.

If you aren’t sending a child or grandchild back to school, remember those low-income children who do not want to arrive on the first day in last year’s things and no supplies. There are always donation bins at banks and grocery stores where you can put in a package of paper or box of pencils that will be greatly appreciated.

If interested in my thoughts on August, read more.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Keeping Cool on the Coast

Monday my daughter Amy and I escaped the heat in Gig Harbor and came to the Long Beach Peninsula. I nearly left at 10 PM Sunday and it wasn’t nearly as hot there as it has been yesterday and today. Although it has been beautiful each day here and we watched beautiful sunsets last night and the night before, cool ocean breezes have kept the house very comfortable, even upstairs in our old Victorian with the low ceilings and no AC.

This afternoon as Portland and Seattle were experiencing record temperatures the fog began to roll in here, quickly dropping the temperature from a high of 70 today down to a current 58. The fog is so thick I cannot see the Ilwaco headlands from our front porch.

This evening my husband had to drive home for work tomorrow and said that he hit a wall of heat in Olympia that was “bat @#$% crazy.” I cannot tell you how blessed I feel to be sitting in my cool kitchen, looking out the door at the darkening fog. I’m not going back to Gig Harbor until things get better!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Meet Tacoma's Newest Gritizen, Kona Thompson!

Hello, Neighborhood!

I'd like you to meet our new addition, Kona Thompson. This tiny little five pound three ounce Gritizen officially came home, this last Saturday. She is a border collie pup who was born in Spokane (we won't hold that against her, hee, hee). She was born to mom, Sara, and dad, White Diamond Pete. She has one sister and three brothers. Now she has a new adoptive mom and dad and new siblings! She is adjusting nicely to her new home and new family.

As the mama, it's been hard work, but I don't mind so much. I like Kona's disposition and these are one of the few breeds that don't make my allergies run wild (and yes, those who know me well, know my allergies are notorious). I've had some minor skin irritation,but that's it. No runny noses, nothing. I am doing well.

The kids were so excited to get her (her "dad" too). Lots of anticipation, discussion, you know the drill. The kids were kind of helpful at first, but now, well, they are pretty useless caring for the dog. But their hearts are in the right place (I think) and we need to be more organized in the dog's care (e.g. MOM does NOT do everything). We are getting there, albeit slowly. I think my poor pups (the kiddos) didn't quite realize how much work a pup is and were a little shocked. Today, I wanted to use (no, HAD to use the bathroom). The second I closed the door, both kids are yelling, "MOM! Kona is chewing on the chair, do something!"


Thankfully, we've had little indoor damage, and the pottying stuff is going much better than I thought. Just a few accidents, but not bad ones. I feel pretty lucky really.

Now, let's wager if I'll change that statement by tomorrow.

Hot diggity dog!

Beyond the Borders (and all the way to Home)

And now a word from our own lovey Lady Lorraine, who due to technical difficulties beyond the cable company's control, is currently unable to post for herself.

Beyond The Borders 2009

It’s that time again! The world is about to come to Longbranch…with music, food, a beer and wine garden, Arts & Crafts, Free-Trade World goods for sale, and a juried art show with a People’s Choice Award. Yes folks, it’s the third annual “Beyond The Borders” Festival at the Longbranch Improvement Club, this Saturday, Aug. 1st. This event is the brainchild of Mark Runions (my pianist, great photographer, salty sailor and all-round swell guy!) and supported by the Two Waters Arts Alliance, along with the LIC.

If you’ve been reading here, IYN, long enough…well, you know this is one of my favourite events of the summer. I will never forget Kim’s son’s warrior-dance to the drums last year; he worked-up the crowd, alright! This year promises to also be something very special.

The first band up for the day, starting at 12:30pm, will be the Erev Ravs, a Klezmer band with that something special. Shall I tell you what that something…or rather, someone…will be? The guitarist, Daniel Landin, is a son to me. He’s a good friend and former band-mate of my son’s, from NY. I’ve watched this man play since he was in high school…and he gave me goose-bumps then. Then I watched him grow into a man of good spirit, heart, and flying fingers.

As I write this, my son is driving across Montana, on his way here, and looking forward to Saturday’s reunion with Daniel. It makes me smile to think of it! If you’ve never heard Klezmer, a joyous sound, be prepared for it to be kicked-up a notch to start the show.

At 2pm, the Pacific Northwest’s beloved son, Neil Andersson (of Pearl Django fame) and Peter Pendras are set to give us a little something they call, “Malibu Manouche.” I know I’m going to want to dance when I read the poster’s description, “Gypsy jazz meets surf guitar!”

Jami Sieber takes the stage at 3:30pm. Here we have some World Music, with electric cello, vocals and percussion. We will certainly be cooking by then…and reapplying sunscreen!

At 5pm Sambatuque rounds out the show with Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Cuban music. I know I’m going to be in trouble with my hips by then. You can talk to hips and tell them to behave all you like…but all they hear and respond to is rhythm!

In the breaks between bands you can peruse the goods and the Artworks while you listen to the Washington Association of South Sound Ukulele Players and our wonderful, local drum ensemble. Ooh…don’t forget the specialty desserts from the LIC kitchen!

On year three, I have to say, I think the world spills into Longbranch with exuberant goodwill and this festival will have long and lovely legs. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Mark Runions, with his “Build it and they will come” great idea, indeed, to thank everyone who works so hard to put this on.

Take Highway 16 west to the Purdy/302 exit…take a left at the lights to go across the Purdy Spit and follow the Key Pen Hwy to Longbranch. Be there…or be square…in a very round and beautiful world!

Sunday, July 26, 2009


I hope you enjoy this picture of part of the wonderful garden my two college friends have developed in front of their home.
I had known deep inside that the time we would share, after more years than I want to remember, this weekend. I expected that our conversation would be very deep and that I would find myself enjoying the company of two wonderful people and I would find myself thinking that the separation we had experienced over all those years would in no way block us... and that I would find that time and distant would not in any affect our relationship. Rather I would find myself thinking that, really, we had been talking to each other frequently over those years.

We spent some wonderful hours sharing stories here, at the back of their home.
I quickly settled in, and I enjoyed listening and being listened to by my friends. We had faced many challenges, and the ups and downs of our lives kept us visiting until late in the evening.

Early Saturday afternoon my friend grilled some very tasty hamburgers for his wonderful wife and me.
Saturday evening we had a great time dining out. The food was very good. The conversation...priceless! Sunday morning... tasty food, and the conversation continued.

And always, I could see the Sound from their back porch. I came home refreshed and feeling very, very alive.

Any refreshing moments you would like to share....!!!!???

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Historic Hearings

Case in Point: Broken Healthcare System

Lyme Patients Gather in D.C. and Around the World to Push for Better Treatment and Recognition of Chronic Disease

Story Summary:
What happens if a tick borne illness is missed, or left untreated? Millions of patients say they suffer from chronic (or long term) Lyme disease. But gatekeepers in the medical community refuse to recognize illness.
Connecticut Attorney General sued gatekeepers (Infectious Disease Society of America, or IDSA), forcing the oversight panel to review its controversial treatment guidelines that bar patients from getting a chronic Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment.
Hearing to review long suppressed scientific evidence that Lyme disease can become persistent and debilitating.
Lyme disease patients from around the world will watch the DC-based hearing via webcast & participate in an international Twitter Chat to share reactions
(Washington D.C.) – It's a pivotal moment in the heated medical debate surrounding Lyme disease. Controversial treatment guidelines that chronic Lyme patients say keep them from being diagnosed and properly treated will be reviewed in a landmark hearing Thursday, July 30 in Washington D.C. Lyme disease is the fastest growing infectious disease in the United States today, affecting up to 300,000 Americans each year. Many think the tick-borne illness is easily cured, but what happens when it's missed initially or improperly treated? Patients argue that Lyme disease becomes chronic—or long term.

"The medical establishment will be forced to consider the strong scientific evidence that Lyme disease can become persistent and , long term infection that may require more aggressive treatment than what is allowed in the current treatment guidelines", says Dr. Daniel Cameron, President of the International Lyme & Associated Diseases Society (ILADS). Cameron will join several doctors, scientists and patients testifying at Thursday's hearing.

The Infectious Diseases Society of American (IDSA) holds this hearing in response to an antitrust investigation by Connecticut' s Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. In his groundbreaking lawsuit, AG Blumenthal charged that the IDSA guidelines for Lyme disease prevent many seriously ill patients from getting necessary treatment. A 2008 settlement resulted in the IDSA agreeing to create a new panel to review its guidelines.
Doctors treating Lyme disease aggressively with long term antibiotics are targeted by medical boards and insurance companies and face losing their license. The Connecticut Governor recently signed into law legislation that would permit physicians to determine what treatment is best and, in effect, overruling the current IDSA guidelines.
"These current guidelines have had a devastating impact on patients", says Dr. Joseph Jemsek, Infectious Disease Specialist in South Carolina—and a member of both IDSA and ILADS. "In the midst of the healthcare reform crisis, these hearings offer a microcosm of a broken healthcare system."

The media is invited to a Lyme Watch Media Center, where they can interview patients, advocates and doctors in response to the webcast hearings. The Center is in the Congressional Room on the lobby level at the J.W. Marriott Hotel, 1331 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, from 8am to 5pm.

MEDIA INQUIRIES: ILADS President Dr. Daniel Cameron and Lyme disease patients are available for interviews. For more information contact: Marc Silverstein at (202) 716-9123 or at marc@onthemarcmedia .com

Friday, July 24, 2009

Open letter to the USFS Regarding the "Greenwater Floodplain Restoration Project"

Sent by Email To:

District Ranger, Snoqualmie Ranger District
902 SE North Bend Way
Building #1
North Bend, WA 98045
(425) 888-1421
fax (425) 888-1910,

John Wise
City of Enumclaw

Reagan Dunn
King County Councilmember
Council District 9
516 Third Ave.
Rm. 1200
Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: 206-296-1009
Toll Free: 800-325-6165
TTY/TDD: 206-296-1024
Fax: 206-296-0198

Shawn Bunney
Pierce County Council
930 Tacoma Ave S, Rm 1046
Tacoma, WA 98402-2176
(253) 798-3635
FAX (253) 798-7509

Christopher Hurst
31st Legislative District
Olympia Office:
314 John L. O'Brien Building
PO Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7866

CC to

James Neff
Investigations Editor
Seattle Times

Jeff Mayor
Area Reporter
Tacoma News Tribune

Michelle Nicolosi

Kevin Hanson
Enumclaw Courier Herald
P.O. Box 157
Enumclaw, WA 98022

Dear Sirs,

The US Forest Service is proposing a habitat restoration project on part of the Greenwater River. The plan is called the “Greenwater Floodplain Restoration Project,” and is stated as being organized by the US Forest Service in collaboration with the South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group and Muckleshoot Indian Tribe. The US Forest Service has established a web site that provides details for this project. A link to that site can be found here:

According to some Greenwater residents, there was no organized effort to inform local residents of this project, including residents directly affected by this project. Many property owners whose property abuts the Greenwater river were not informed. One of my neighbors found a reference to the project proposal in the Enumclaw Courier Herald Newspaper, dated June 24, 2009, under Legal Public Notices. She recently sent a copy of the notice to me by way of email.

Part of the proposed project is to construct 16 engineered log jams along a 3.5 mile reach of the Greenwater River. According to some with expertise on the topic, including notably the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, this kind of log jam has a known and studied history of failure over time. Here is an example of the risks as stated by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:


Engineered log jams pose inherent risks to infrastructure and human stream users. These risks include:

· safety hazards caused by the log jams or the cables that anchor them (this risk can be somewhat reduced by placing warning signs upstream from the log jams to alert boaters),

· blockage of culverts or bridge openings by large woody debris that has been dislodged from a log jam upstream,

· unanticipated erosion across the channel or to the adjacent streambank,

· increased channel roughness and constriction, and/or

· increased flood stage.

When this kind of log jam fails, typically during high water volume storm events, the engineered log jam may travel a way down river and become in effect an engineering failure turned disaster. If one or more of these proposed log jams were to block a portion of a river, or become lodged against a bridge footing, the force of the flood water would soon be redirected around and/or over the jam, with likely ruinous results for nearby property.

I have concern in two areas regarding this proposal.

My first concern is for my neighbors, who were not properly informed of this plan.

My second concern is regarding a bridge a little downstream of this proposed restoration project, that may be put at risk. This is bridge number 410-125, found on SR-410 between mile post 42 and mile post 43, in King County. The bridge was last inspected in 2008. The bridge is a concrete T beam construction, built in 1932, and identified as “functionally obsolete” by the State DOT due to non-compliance with current building code. The bridge is considered to be in good shape given that it is 77 years old. There has been some rip-rap added by one of the footings under the bridge, due to erosion.

Until about 5 years ago, storm related timber buildup by the bridge was removed by Greenwater local Mr. Mel Southworth. Mr. Southworth performed this service for many years, often as a volunteer and also as a paid contractor. Mr. Southworth recently stopped performing this service. Neighbors are concerned that storm debris related watch on the bridge may have become inconsistent due to many years of local monitoring and maintenance.

This bridge provides access for up to 2 million people per year who transit the area. Were the bridge to become damaged, visitors and the local residents of Greenwater, Crystal Village, Crystal River Ranch, Silver Springs, Crystal Mountain plus the Northeast entrance of Mt. Rainier National Park would be 100% inaccessible by motor vehicle for about 6 months of the year. Clearly this bridge is critical providing access to this area.

I contacted someone in a field office of our State DOT. He said that typically the Department of Fish and Wildlife provides management for these restoration projects. He added that the Department of Fish and Wildlife does not necessarily check with State DOT on potential impacts of Fish and Wildlife projects. Furthermore, accordingly, the Department of Fish and Wildlife may pursue a project without requesting feedback from the State DOT about the potential impact of their projects to the transportation system.

I don’t know if the Department of Fish and Wildlife is playing a role in this project. Someone with engineering knowledge of bridges and bridge maintenance should be part of this process.

I am asking your help for two goals. One is to provide an extension for the time to comment, and the other is to help secure a responsible state certified group to inspect and provide an analysis for this Floodplain Restoration, with regard to potential impacts on my neighbors properties and the Greenwater bridge. The time for comment on this project is very short, ending July 24, 2009, and given the urgency, I seek assistance from those who might be best able to help.

In addition, I request information, regarding:

1. Documentation regarding the risks of engineered log jam failure and also documentation regarding who will be responsible for maintenance and/or remedial action.

2. I request that each of the logs used in constructing these proposed 16 engineered log jams be permanently branded to help identify them.

Lastly, kindly understand that I think this renovation project is good for the river, but it is vital that any risks for the home owners and the bridge be clearly addressed prior to moving the project forward.

Due to the short time before the comment period ends, I request that you acknowledge receipt of this request prior to July 25, 2009.

Thank you for your time and assistance.


Tracy Lebenzon

PS: Additional information can be found here:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

United For Iran, July 25th, in Seattle

If you believe in freedom and democracy let the people of Iran know they are not alone. Saturday, July 25th is United For Iran day with demonstrations being held all over the world. Like cockroaches tyranny prefers the dark. Iran has kicked legitimate journalist out of Iran, but 21st century technology continues to fan the flame of freedom.

A rally is planned in Seattle at Freeway Park, Seneca Street at 6th Avenue from 1 to 3 PM. For the sake of the Iranian people and for freedom and democracy for all people, come and raise your voice in a cry so loud that Ahmadinejad can hear it.

They Were Sittin' On Top of the World...Nearly

The Neighborhood’s Mizu turned me onto Grandma Lorrene’s Pet Peeves blog several months ago. Grandma L. is in Yakima and she writes about her family, her life growing up in Oklahoma, and whatever she happens to be up to.

I liked Grandma L’s style well enough to put her on my favorites on my View From My Broom blog so I keep pretty close tabs on what is happening in her world. Recently she posted a picture and announcement for the engagement of her granddaughter Laura. When another granddaughter asked in a comment if the happy couple was going to get married on the bridge, Lorrene responded that the engagement had happened on the bridge. I assumed it was a bridge in Yakima. Wrong my fellow South Sound folks. Our Neighborhood stretches to Yakima. Lorrene has a connection to the South Sound. Check out exactly where Laura and Terry got engaged.

Saying Goodbye to Mom Casey

One of the many ways I realize that I am getting old is where I see friends and acquaintances. It used to be that I saw the people I grew up with at weddings, first at each other’s and then at our children’s. Now it is funerals. I’ve another to go to Friday and it’s a tough one.

My ex-mother-in-law passed away Monday night at home in Milton, WA after a long decline in health. For many the loss of an ex-mother-in-law does not disturb the surface, much less the depths of the pond of life, but mine was special.

I married at age 19 which was a time when my mother was largely unavailable emotionally for me. Connie Casey welcomed me into the family and immediately became a source of love, support and guidance when I needed it and could always make me laugh. She was a good Catholic and a good Christian. In the truest sense she tried to live the very best sort of life and to offer love to everyone who came here way. I wanted to be just like her when I grew up.
From Mom Casey I learned that there is always room in the dishwasher or refrigerator for one more thing. I learned that regardless of how many show up at dinner time you can "do the loaves and fishes thing" and there will be enough for everyone. I learned that when St. Anthony is done with a thing he will bring it back, but he can't be rushed. I learned how to be a mother. I hope I learned how to be a mother-in-law

When her son and I divorced eight years later I did not feel as though I was divorcing the family and continued to think of them as Mom and Dad Casey. Only in the last few years, when my exhusband's wife felt I was usurping her place in the family, did I back away from more frequent contact with my one-time family.

Mom Casey had breast cancer in the early 1990s and the chemotherapy caused her mind to become quite confused. The doctors said that it would clear up when the therapy was over and to some extent it did, but she was never entirely the same. Still she was a loving force in the family and my children loved her dearly.

So Friday I will be going to another funeral; one where I am not a member of the family per say, but feel as though I have lost another of the important grownups in my life. I will never forget the things I learned from Mom Casey when I was a young woman and mother. It was an honor knowing her and to be able to call her “Mom.” If I can be half the mother-in-law to my daughters-in-law that she was to me then maybe I will have achieved my desire.

Cool Morning

I must admit I'm relieved to be wrapped in a fuzzy shirt, sipping my cuppa this morning. A little moist coolness is a welcome change from the hot, dry days that have been...and will be coming again. Even the leaves on the trees look grateful for the sky's silver lining, after twisting in the heat yesterday. They're dancing in this morning's breeze, a moving frame for the incoming teal tide. The blackberry bushes don't wave so much, laden-down with their little green, tight-fisted fruit.

The birds seem happy for the cool morning too. The little hummers orbit around the purple butterfly bush and butter-yellow hollyhocks; goldfinches, black-headed grossbeaks, rosy-breasted nuthatches, juncos and chickadee-dee-dees squabble over the best seats on the swinging feeders. Jazzpurr the cat watches from the back of the recliner at the window, already stuffed with his proper breakfast.

It seems like forever since I've been able to write in the neighbourhood and share my little piece of paradise with you. We are under yet another upheaval about cable on the Key. Broadstripe has taken over and is in the middle of replacing useless, worn-out equipment. The service guys are working really hard and trying their best. The customer reps in Michigan are about as useless as a polka-dot dress on a bull...but talking about them will only rattle my peaceful morning. At least I am able to write a post...just have to stand on my head and wrap my butt in aluminum foil to send it in!

Yesterday afternoon, Rani the pup and I spent some time in the side garden. We call this Rani's playpen because it's the only part of the property that's fenced-in. We put a kiddie pool and chairs in the shade so I can cool my tootsies and Rani can tune-in to her water-dog side. She climbs in and puts her whole snout under the water, blowing bubbles as she tries to get those fishies painted on the bottom! After she's splashed herself wet and cool, she has a good roll around on the grass with that goofy grin.

The roses are as pale as old paper, the palm fronds rattle like dry old bones and the grass is prickly gold, like straw...but the purple clematis and honeysuckle cascade down the wooden fencing and busy bees are everywhere. The fruit trees seem to like this hot weather. We had a bumper crop of juicy, deep garnet-coloured cherries from two trees this year. Every morning when I took Rani out we'd head to those trees first, racing the crows and ravens. Looks like a good crop of apples coming too.

We have a new Bambi! One morning, a few weeks ago, a neighbour stopped his truck to tell me the exciting news. He had seen mama and fawn, right after the birth, in his garden and couldn't wait to tell me. Well, it wasn't long before they came visiting the Aerie...and stepping up to the buffet! I managed to get a picture one morning, after my hubby forgot to close the back gate to the playpen and they came in for the goodies.

The spring and first part of summer have been a bit of a struggle, health-wise, for both my daughter and myself...but we all struggle with something, while hoping for the best. Meanwhile, unusual weather or not, the natural world is still there for us to measure and balance ourselves. The gifts from the earth are many, if we will only take the time to look with different eyes and a quiet mind. Namaste good neighbours...may you dine on gratitude today.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Good Heart...A Moral Compass

Former president Jimmy Carter has something to say with grace, decency, intelligence and with a deep loyalty to the truth of love and equality. As a human, a woman, and a minister, I thank him for his heart and for his service to the Creator and Creation. It takes a strong man to stand up for truth, even against their lifelong church-membership.

Sir, I applaud you.

Important HBO Presentation

July 20, 2009
Prom Night In Mississippi
In 2008, Mississippi's Charleston High School held its first racially integrated prom.

Yes, you read the year right. 2008.

Producer/director Paul Saltzman was on hand to film the prom and the events leading up to it. His documentary, Prom Night in Mississippi, airs on HBO tonight at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Summer is frequently the time for reunions whether they are high school or family such as Joseph’s Seattle Prep reunion. defines the word “reunion” as “a gathering of relatives, friends, or associates at regular intervals or after separation.” Obviously these people know neither my family nor my graduating class since we do not reunite at regular intervals. What were the odds that either one would plan a reunion for the same decade little own the same day? If you’d like to know how I feel about that, click here. Are you attending a reunion this year? What sort, what do you think it will be like or how was it? I know that Kim and Joseph have had great ones. Anyone else?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Fifty Second

My friend, Brian R, and I drove to Seattle Saturday to celebrate with members of our graduating class from Seattle Prep (those whom I definitely consider some of the best and brightest young men (Seattle Preparatory graduates, Class of '57, when Prep was an all boys' school) I was ever so very fortunate with whom I had a chance to spend some of the most important years of my life. We quietly remembered the members of our class who had died, told some old, old stories, laughed and teased and ate and drank and had a good time.
I had a chance to talk to some of my friends' wives (graduates of Holy Names and Forest Ridge...still girls' high schools), and hear the stories about the rolled up skirts and the nuns who checked out the necklines of their formals before the big dances and the movie theaters where one could sit in the back and do some smoking and have a little fun. I enjoyed myself, learned a lot, and enjoyed sharing and feeling the love. I am already smiling thinking about our fifty third gathering.

Tacoma, I Am So CHEESED

After primarily visiting the Proctor Farmer's Market this season and getting organic produce delivered from Terra Organics, I finally made it to the downtown Tacoma Farmer's Market this last Thursday morning. The market was great (as usual), lively, and bustling with customers, vendors, gawkers, families, and downtown business people. I made my traditional purchases at my favorite farm, Terry's Berries LLC (delicious red and golden raspberries and a variety of summer squash), got my daughter's traditional snow cone purchase (bubblegum flavor), and got some fresh crusty bread from a local baker.

Then I got totally CHEESED.

Not the cheesed of slang (mad, P-O'd) but literally I fell in love with the beautiful cheeses being sold. Various goat cheeses and artisan cheeses abounded from a bunch vendors. And the samples flowed generously. I stopped at one vendor where I sampled a cheese variety that had the taste of a buttery, melt in your mouth, mild white cheddar. This particular cheese was able to be melted easily or sliced for a beautiful cheese plate.

One bite--sold!

Now, I'd plug the vendor normally, and will, alas in the future. We devoured the product so fast and the wrapper got thrown in the bowels of the recycling bin.

Variety seems to now be the spice of all the local farmer's markets. For this localvore (perhaps, Tacomavore), what a treat.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Oregon Lavender Festival

I spent this weekend roaming the highways and byways of Oregon, going from farm to farm as part of the Oregon Lavender Festival 2009. If you are interested in reading about my journey, click here.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Dear President Obama

Several weeks ago my then four-year-old grandson Gabriel came to me asking how to spell Obama. A few weeks before that at dinner out of the blue he had asked my husband and I if all the soldiers just went home wouldn’t there be peace then? When he brought the subject up again two days later I told him that he ought to write a letter to the President and tell him his idea.

Three weeks went by before he came to me with paper and pencil (I got him a pen) and asked how to spell Obama. His patient Mamae sat with him and made him sound out every word he wanted to write. It went something like Dear President Obama, If you let all the soldiers go home then there would be peace. Sincerely, Gabriel Francis Casey-Aguinaga. I briefly contemplated writing a note of my own to include with his explaining that this was the singular work of the mind of a four-year-old alone, but by the time I asked if he’d sealed the envelope it was too late so I addressed it, put a stamp on it and the next day put it in the mailbox in front of the house we share with Gabriel and his parents.

Many more weeks have passed. This morning I left for Oregon to attend the Oregon Lavender Festival. This afternoon my son called me saying that Gabriel had something to tell me. “Remember when I wrote the letter to President Obama?” Of course I remembered. “I got a letter from him today!” He sounded so excited! I told him I couldn’t wait to see it when I get home on Monday. When my son got back on the telephone he told me that one of Gabriel’s comments had been “It’s just like the President is right here in the room and we’re having a conversation!”

I had hoped that eventually Gabriel would get some sort of response from the Oval Office. My son says it is a form letter, but I will decide for myself when I get to see it on Monday. In the meantime I have a very happy and impressed grandson.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

There's Gonna Be Girl Trouble in August

My friend Tracy told me that Tacoma's homegrown, old time fave Rockabilly band,
Girl Trouble is playing at Wright Park in Tacoma next month. I'll post the details when I know 'em.

I shall be there, jumpin' and jivin'.

Here's a little something to wiggle to.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Summer Reading

I always have a tall stack of books waiting to be read. For me summer is an opportunity to read that I don’t get the rest of the year. Just being out of school doesn’t mean I have no responsibilities, but I manage to get in a book or two of summer reading. Our Neighbor Kim has said that she’s reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable and Miracle this summer. I’m just finishing up Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation Speaks, the sequel to his first Greatest Generation book. What are you reading this summer?

Keeping an Eye on Iran

To get an idea about how Iranians are using technology to spread dissent check out “Rebellion Network” on the Australian Broadcasting Company’s Mark Corcoran. Click on "Rebellion Network" to watch. It is a 25 minute video that is very worthwhile. It also gives an insight into the Basji militia which has been responsible for the violence against protestors.

It is important that the world consciously watch what is happening in Iran. If you can do nothing more, watch. Keep watching.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Showing Solidarity with Iran

July 25th Americans have the opportunity to demonstrate their solidarity with the people of Iran as they struggle for a more open and democratic society and government. On that day rallies will be held all over the world and here in the US to allow free people to stand by Iranians who are struggling and dying for freedom.

Barak Obama has been criticized for not making more forceful statements of support for the Iranian opposition. It is not his place. He has to deal with whatever government Iran has, but we, as free American citizens, can make a statement of support and thereby demonstrate what a democratic society is about.

In 1979 Jimmy Carter did not enter into dialog with the Ayatollah Khomeini because the United States was responsible for reinstalling the Shah following his ouster and the democratic election of Muhammad Mossadeq in 1953 and because there was a personal friendship between Carter and the Shah.

You can also show your solidarity by wearing a green wrist band. Freedom for Iran wristbands can be purchased either at Free Iran Bracelet or Freedom and Democracy in Iran.

I am trying to find out where there will be a rally in the Puget Sound Area on the 25th and will post details as soon as I have them.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Thanks Rick

Summer time... I remember many a lazy teenage summer... nothing to do but get under my grandmother's feet, watch television, or go to a movie. The good old days... hah!
When I got to college I put in some serious, sweat filled, muscle straining hours helping with college tuition. If I were working for the wages I made back in THE DAY... I would never darken the doors of any private liberal arts college, that is for sure.
Some of the young folks at Bellarmine High School are plugging away at bringing the cost for their education down... doing work study jobs during the summer... and one of the more visible ways I see teens making a difference here are out in our gardens...
Good for them.

And one of the gifts they have is their supervisor, Rick K... (who teaches on the side during the school year.) I had a chance to chat with him the other day.
Here is a video of our wonderful discussion. Thanks Rick!

Come Smell the Oregon Lavender Festival

Is the economy keeping you home from Hawaii this summer and the notion of murder, kidnapping and Swine Flu making Mexico unappealing? Try Oregon and the Oregon Lavender Festival for a sweet smelling summer get-away. The festival begins this Saturday, July 11th and ends Sunday. Get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for the rolling hills and fields of our neighbor Oregon. Whether it’s a day trip or you decide to stay over in one of Oregon’s villages, new views are right next door at very little trouble and expense.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Red, White & Blues Festival A Big Bang In Federal Way

Above: Anticipation for the evening's display grew as the dusk soon arrived. Photo copyright 2009 by Mizu Sugimura.

This year's Federal Way Red, White & Blues Festival featuring live entertainment, hot dog eating contest, activities for kids and much anticipated public show of fireworks in Celebration Park also according to festival sponsors marked the tenth birthday of the facility.

The occasion was duly noted on Saturday night by attending civic leaders observed by an enthusiastic crowd of local citizens and their families. Musical performances included appearances by the : Randy Oxford Band, GruV box, Randy Hanson and the Federal Way Chorale.

Above: It was a definitely a crowd pleaser. Photo copyright 2009 by Mizu Sugimura.

Above: And there was something for everyone. Photo copyright 2009 by Mizu Sugimura.

Above: No doubt about it! Photo copyright 2009 by Mizu Sugimura.

Red, White & Blue Festival sponsors included: 4Culture, Federal Way Arts Commission, Federal Way Mirror, Rainier Pacific Bank, Red Canoe Credit Union, Waste Management and Woodstone Credit Union.

Note: Next year's festival planners might wish to provide additional microphones. As it was dignitaries and the Federal Way Chorale were poorly covered which minimized a clear hearing their remarks and performances. At the conclusion of the fireworks a warmer touch would be added if show organizers appoint a representative to gracefully wrap up the evening and bid goodnight to the crowd.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fireworks or gunshots?

When you hear them, can you tell the difference between fireworks and gunshots?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

We Got Crabs, Tacoma Style

Our first Dungies of the season! Yum! I love summer, July, and our awesome bay!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Ban on Firearm use on Some Forest Service Property.

I read an article today in TNT. Thanks to Jeffery Mayor for the article. The article is about the Forest Service putting an outright ban on gun use in a small area of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Here is an excerpt from the ban:

“We have a serious public safety concern,” said Snoqualmie District Ranger Jim Franzel. “If we don’t do something immediately, someone will get hurt. We are closing the smallest land area possible to prevent an injury and provide for public safety.” The target shooting closure area encompasses concentrated recreation uses with multiple roads, campgrounds, trailheads and picnic areas. Franzel said that the local geography doesn’t provide for natural target shooting backstops, so target shooters often use trees and vegetation as backstops, not realizing there may be a trailhead or people recreating within range.” Source

While some gun rights advocates may be raising their blood pressure and perhaps even stomping their feet in anger over this ban, it serves as an extremely over-due acknowledgement by the Forest Service that the current gun use regulations in the National Forests are out of touch with reality and that the Forest Service needs to acknowledge the kinds of visitors to an area. Typically the Forest Service has too few people to enforce firearms use laws, and that is made worse by what appears to be a vast culture of indifference to the problems associated with nearly unrestricted firearm use where there are numbers of visitors.

I spend a lot of time on and near Forest Service roads in Greenwater. I hike and ride my bicycle throughout the area on roadways including UFSF 70, UFSF 73, UFSF 74, as well as other roadways. On all of these roads during nearly any warm weather day, there are up to hundreds of people within a few miles of each other, each shooting up a storm, and typically doing so with absolutely no regard to the dangers they present to everyone around them. I've seen trees shot in half. I've seen people bring in everything from beer bottles, to old appliances, to propane bottles to abandoned motor vehicles, to a plastic statue of Santa Claus. Target shooters will typically put these near the river and shoot them, with nothing as a safe backdrop. Virtually every time they will leave the area with their bullet shells and bullet strewn trash left behind.

I have seen people “target shooting” with the head of trails leading into Mt Rainier National Park, immediately behind their “target.” No back drop, and not the slightest care or evidently comprehension that others use the area. I remember a time recently when I was resting by the West fork of the White River, after a long uphill bike ride. I was catching my breath and enjoying the view when someone walked to within about 20 yards of me and yelled to me: “Oh, it’s a good thing I decided to walk up here. Me and my buddies are going to shoot across the river by where you are - at some random trees. No one could see you.” I was as obvious as anyone at the side of the road in the open, and wearing a bright white bike helmet and an orange jacket. I left the area immediately.

During this time of year, on any given day, Greenwater endures more firearm use than the most crime ridden areas in any city on planet Earth, except perhaps Baghdad. It is appalling. It is highly dangerous, and it mostly takes place on and near Forest Service roadways.

As a reminder to all: “The Code of Federal Regulations prohibits discharging firearms within 150 yards of a residence, building, campsite, developed recreation site or occupied area. Violators can be fined up to $5,000 and/or imprisoned up to six months in jail. Signs are posted marking closed areas. Visitors can get maps at Snoqualmie Ranger District Office in North Bend that show where target shooting is prohibited. Map is also online here.

If you are in the Greenwater area and see someone shooting recklessly, report them. Call 911 and note the location you saw them, the time of day, and how many shots you saw or heard fired. Get a license number, if possible. Take a photo, if possible and note that when you call. Even though it is more than likely no one will come to investigate, your call will help to notify the county of firearm use in the area.

Perhaps, some day in the dim and distant future, the Forest Service may ban firearm use around Greenwater. Clearly they have the means to do so if they deem it necessary. Of course even if they do, they still won’t have enough people around to enforce it. But if enough calls come in, maybe some day they will.