Saturday, October 29, 2016


Hand mixed, hand stretched, hand cut. Dressed with a simple butter/olive oil/garlic/parmesan/salt sauce that's traditional in Northern Italy. Maybe all of Italy, but I learned it when I worked in a Northern Italian restaurant decades ago. It was all I had on hand to use as a sauce, or I'd have made something a tad more photogenic. Photogenic or not, I can testify that it was delicious, even well before lunch time.

They also taught me to make fresh pasta and while I didn't make the pasta we used there, I've made plenty of it at home over the years. Then some years ago -- and I don't remember when it was -- I sold my pasta machine and they are pricey to replace. The importance of the above photo, however, is that they taught me to make the pasta using a food processor and pasta machine. Not by hand. A few days ago I decided that this was a skill I wanted to learn so this morning I made the effort.

Didn't take photos of the flour with the egg in a well in the middle. I really didn't think at that point that it would end up being a successful effort. More of a learning experience. Maybe its because I once had such a good feel for what pasta dough should look and feel like, but I had to adjust the moistness of the dough until it felt right to me. Kneaded it for around 10 minutes, let it sit for 30 minutes then starting stretching it. Again I was surprised at how easy it was! The dough was perfect, if I may say so. Here's where the photos start.

All stretched and ready to rest and dry for awhile before cutting. Notice that you can see the grain of the wood through it.

You can also see my hand through it, and it's pliable enough to pick it up and move it around as much as I want to, without breaking or tearing.

And of course, you can also see the stripe of the kitchen towel I moved it onto for drying.

I'm not certain just how thin I'm supposed to have made it, but I felt this was enough. It would have stretched more, but how much more? Again I suppose the old tactile memory of what it would have felt like run though a pasta machine came in handy.

After it dried for awhile, I hand cut it into fettucine noodles, then piled them loosely on the board to dry a bit more before cooking. I think I might have almost waited too long to cut it because it was a bit dry and a couple of pieces broke. But for the most part, it was perfect.

If you are thinking that I'm proud of this, you are right! For something that was expected to be a throw-away, this turned out better than I could possibly have expected. Now that I've got the technique, I'll certainly be making more. It didn't take very long and wasn't very hard. In fact, it was great fun.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Long walks and flood control

We've had a lot of rain these past few weeks and when today dawned rainfree, as predicted, I couldn't wait to get out there and walk.

I've walked in the rain more than once -- including yesterday, the day before, and a day last week -- and don't mind doing so. But lack of rain makes it much more fun, to be sure.

So armed with a walk that was longer and faster than I'm used to a couple of days ago with a new friend in this building, I decided to try the even longer route I've been contemplating.

This one took 1 hr 45 mins, according to my watch. Granted, that included maybe 5 minutes in the market waiting for a bathroom to open up, and maybe 15 minutes browsing around Goodwill in an effort to get a bit of rest before heading out on another 30 minute leg of the walk.

I was tired, certainly felt it, but it also felt really good.

I love photos that make you take a second look, wonder what it is. The above photo kind of does that. Just an uplook at some clouds above a wooded walkway.

The river is really full and flowing, which is always good to see, but certainly a very long way from reaching flood stage. Last flood stage here was in 1964, according to city website, so it's not something we really worry about. There are too many places for it to go both here and beyond the city where it can really spread out.

Nevertheless, yesterday when I was walking along the river and the Delta Ponds in the rain, I noticed the higher level in the river as well as the higher level in the Ponds, and my mind wandered off into what a great absorber these ponds are for river overflow right in town. Then I thought of the few things I actually knew: There are a couple of re-opened spots that connect the river with the ponds, and the ponds are connected by huge culverts under the river path as well as the road. That was about the extent of my knowledge, but it was clearly enough to help these 150 acres of ponds take a good bit of overflow.

Now, if you know me at all, you know  I couldn't leave it at that. So I dug into the City website on the area and found a wealth of information, including this map. Unfortunately, since it was a PDF and Blogger won't import those, I had to go the route of print screen and Paint to come up with this, which is blurry as a result.

In the fine print, though, it shows every thing that's been done and proposed, all the culverts and excavated channel and tons more information. I was happy to read that none of this existed when I lived in this neighborhood before, as the city didn't begin improvements until 2005, which was the year I moved to this neighborhood. Happy because I sure didn't remember any of the improvements that now exist.

If  you're interested in this kind of thing, I refer you to the city's webpage on the project which has lots of information on the history of the entire site.

Originally part of the river floodplain, converted to gravel pits in the 50s & 60s, abandoned, eventually bought by the city, now restored to much of its original nature but improved.

In other news, such as it is, I just went out to add some kitchen scraps to my in-ground composting and found that my newer hole was fuller than I'd thought, somehow. So I checked the other hole and was shocked to see that all that was left other than dirt was a few shreds of the corrugated cardboard I'd put on top just 2-3 weeks ago, and a few eggshell scraps, all the way down to the old clay at the bottom! I knew the worms, insects and microbes would make short work of it, but I sure never expected it would happen this fast. So the new stuff went into the old hole. Somehow, in ways I could never explain to people out there reading this, it's really very gratifying to see this happening.

I need to go sit in the sunshine, I think, because I sure don't have energy to do any more walking today.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Ponds and peacocks

After a weekend of on and off storms, I took advantage of a lull to take a walk after lunch today. This time, because more clouds were edging in from the southwest, I opted for a shorter route along the ponds on the opposite side of the road.

There's a cool viewing platform that I discovered last week, almost right across the street. No wildlife close enough to photography today, but this was the view as I walked back towards the road. I like that it feels like nature back in there, even though it's surrounded by civilization.

From the road, looking back. Not spectacular by any means, but nice to have in the neighborhood. If nothing else, it means fewer big, ugly apartment buildings can go up around here, and that's a very good thing.

From the new bike bridge that crosses the ponds heading east. A good encapsulation of the weather today. Blue skies above, various clouds all around, including those nasty dark ones. More of those were heading up from behind.

The new table in my house. I could lower both sides and make it even more narrow, but there is plenty of room for this and it looks so much nicer. Nice little bargain, this.

It needs some kind of fun and whimsical shawl or other fabric to drape over it, but in the meantime this napkin will do. At least it has colors that I like.

Can't tell from the photo that it needs a little help in the paint department, but it does. If not all over, then at least here and there.

Finally have a place to put this peacock, too. Back in May, when my roommate and I were both moving out of the place in the south hills, I gleaned this from her 'donate' pile of stuff. I don't know its origin, but I love its colorful, whimsical character. I like having it where I can see it.

So that's about it for my day. The clouds have gotten closer as I've been writing this and I wouldn't be surprised to hear thunder in a bit.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The winds of winter

This almost looks like a painting. In reality, it's a photo taken yesterday by Brian Davies, our local newspaper photog whose work I idolize. He called it 'before a parade of storms blows all the autumn out of town'. And the winds definitely came in late yesterday afternoon and overnight. Nice that he preserved this so we can remember what it was starting to look like. I guess I especially like this because when I lived in Eugene last time, I lived on the top floor of that building on the left, with the blue-green roofs. I lived on the backside, facing east, which gave me wonderful sunrises and moonrises. I probably loved that place as much as -- maybe more than -- anyplace I ever lived and if I could afford it, would be back there in a heartbeat.

Another photo from Davies from yesterday. Both of these were sent out via twitter, which is how I managed to steal them. I just love the guy's work, what can I say.

Not a lot going on in my world, I guess. Rain -- for days now, and for days to come -- but that's life in Oregon and it beats hell out of drought. I still get out and walk in it, as most of the time it's just gentle rain or drizzle, rarely heavy and rarely wind-driven.

Yesterday I walked around and ended up with about 20 new earthworms for my garden. That's always a bonus. I should have plenty of them come spring, assuming they stick around all winter.

And, yesterday I finally found a small dropleaf table so I can actually have a place to sit and eat when I have someone over for dinner. It's a very old, but very sturdy, gate-leg style that's painted white over a lot of rough paint underneath. But it works. Takes up very little space but opens up easily when needed. I'm thinking I'd like to do some serious sanding all over during the winter, then repaint so it looks a bit better. I like painted and old, but this is not charming 'painted and old', it's rather sloppy 'painted and old'. What the heck -- it'll give me something to do. Just need to hit up Home Depot for some heavy-duty sandpaper and a drop-cloth to make clean up easier. Soon.

Still working on my sourdough focaccia recipe, learning the foibles of my particular sourdough starter (it is a very active starter!) and how to get it to come out right. I've made three now, and am making good progress. Will try again next week and see if what I learned this week helps. Friends enjoy these experiments, as I pass the focaccia around to welcoming hands.

So I guess that's it for now. Happy autumn, everybody.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Waldo Lake

Once again, my old friend showed me yet another spectacular spot in the Oregon Cascades. There seems to be an endless number of them.

This is Waldo Lake, Oregon's second largest, very deep, and so pure and clean that you can see the bottom 100' away in its deeper parts. And you have to get out there using paddles, wind power or an electric motor, so it's not defiled. No fossil-fuel powered boats allowed.

What I find interesting is that this same friend took me on a hike to the top of that mountain to the left many years ago and we looked down upon this lake. It was pretty spectacular from there, too.

This first cove we visited was so spectacular that I took a lot of photos. You can see how clear the water is, with the different colors and the lake bottom. Aside from a yappy dog and some noisy kids, it was a pretty serene spot. We sat here for quite awhile. Surprisingly warm, quite sunny, but winter will reach this altitude (5000') before you know it.

At another part of the lake, lots of folks getting ready to head off with their kayaks. How we wanted to go with them! Notice the snow-capped peak in the distance, which I believe is Diamond Peak. You can see the air flow of wind on the main lake in the distance, but this cove continued off to the right and it was calm and perfect for kayaking.

The same view, but I couldn't resist because I love the deep blues in this shot.

A shadowed information sign, should anyone be interested. Note all the hiking trails around this lake -- about 25 miles around, plus there's a spot off a trail somewhere that's considered the source of the Willamette River, although that flow comes from this lake so it seems to me that the lake is the source.

This last place we stopped was pretty much more of the same -- beautiful blue water, lots of big fir trees -- other than this colorful spot at the tip of a little peninsula.

On the road driving from the lake back to main highway. A much better view of Diamond Peak.

I've been griping about not having a photo editor for this computer yet, but today I'm much more relaxed about that. Lacking that ability to crop photos has simply taken me back to the many years I used a film camera loaded with color slide film. In slides, cropping isn't possible unless you make a print, so you have to learn to frame the photos the way you want them. I kind of like going back to that as it's a place I'm really comfortable, even though it takes a few more moments to get it right. And of course, I've never manipulated my photos other than cropping, straightening if necessary. I like real photos better than manipulated photos, any day of the week. I know that goes against the current trends -- and I don't care.

Friday, October 7, 2016

This love/hate relationship with computers

Love 'em when they're working right, hate'em when I have to deal with issues (particularly if those issues involve contacting/talking to/chatting with anybody from a software or hardware manufacturer). Sigh.

The new computer arrived yesterday and I got it set up and the Carbonite restore download started. That took until sometime during the night last night. Then, issues around two of the more important files: Firefox bookmarks and Quicken data. Had to go back onto the Carbonite server to download the right Quicken data (an old file opened initially, and it was really, really wrong). Then had to deal with Carbonite to have them help locate the Firefox file. Somebody had helped me with this yesterday but had apparently led me to the wrong file, because the place where today's tech found them is not where I was taken to yesterday.  Now all seems to be here and be right. And if it's not, I'll live without it.

Had issues activating the new MS Office that was pre-installed. Couldn't read the product key because there was a little silver MS sticker over part of it. Got on chat with MS, dude was useless. Tried Dell, and that guy was helpful. Asked if I'd scratched the sticker off -- well, duh! Nothing was said in instructions about a scratch-off sticker, and it looked like a regular sticker to me. Anyway -- with the right info that worked, too. As far as I know, that's all that's left to do. I hope.

I do need a cheap photo editor, because the old one I have would not open on this computer, even though it worked on the last one with the same OS. Windows tells me this time that it is 'incompatible', and it's pointless to argue with Windows. In the meantime, I won't be able to edit any new photos I might take. Alas.

So aside from all that, I rather like the computer. It's small -- quite compact. Fast (much faster than any I've ever owned) and is easy to use.  I think I'm going to try to re-install the software on the computer that died -- just for the hell of it. Can't lose anything. That will tell me if there was indeed a software issue, and from there I can figure out the rest of it (such as a new video card?). It may be worth saving -- we'll see.

Rain/sunshine continues here. I get a good walk in most days, rain or shine. Helps work off some of the frustration that comes from dealing with computers!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Worms in the rain

Rains, it seems, bring out the worms. Not a newsflash -- have seen worms crawling the sidewalks after rains many times over the years. But, turns out that they're pretty easy to catch and relocate to my garden while they are crossing the pavement.

Came home from a walk on Sunday and noticed a bunch of them on one particular part of a river-access path nearby. Without a container, I kept them in one hand and picked others up with the other hand. Put them in the garden. Then, after being home awhile, I kept thinking about all those worms and went back armed with a small yogurt cup and some garden soil. Made a big score, that time! I'm guessing I had in total 3-4 dozen worms of all sizes after that.

Lots of good rain overnight again, so I went back this morning. Not as big a haul, but still over a dozen, I'd say. Since it was time to add more kitchen scraps to the garden, I dug down below the soil surface in the one square I've been using for such things, and it was filled with worms. Happy-looking worms. I'd intentionally put them on top of that square knowing they'd have easy access to all the food beneath them. So they were carefully moved aside with the soil and then gently moved back over the new scraps and soil, along with all the new worms. Then, since I'd filled that square, I topped it off with some cardboard and put the heavy planter on top. I have one more empty square but this time I'll dig the hole deeper and wider to start with, so I can hopefully add more scraps than the first one held. I'll keep looking for worms after rain, too. Might as well add to the stash!

The garden 'babies' are growing like gangbusters in this weather. I may need to harvest some of the lettuce leaves soon.

Computer due tomorrow, and none too soon. This one works just fine, but is nothing like a newer one plus this browser isn't great for XP. I think that' where some of the delays come from. But since there's really nothing I can do with it other than online, that's where I need it to work.

Not much to write about, though I do get excited about worms, of all things.