Monday, March 29, 2010


Okay, so the actual Skagit Tulip Festival begins next week, but most reports indicate the fields are filled with color now, so rather than fight the mass of people making their annual pilgrimage to the fields next week, we went early, and were rewarded with an awesome day, with less people. Instead of a few tulips gracing a flowerbed, there are miles--well, actually acres--of rectangular blocks of color, reds, pinks, stripped, and blues dazzling the eyes. The sun cooperated by lighting up the sky to impress the blooms to show off all their glory. Even though we were a week early tour buses and groups of people strolled through the rows of plants. One little girl was having a difficult time not to pick the bright red flower in front of her while her daddy was attempting to get the right image for a family memory of the outing.
One farm had a large garden of tulips with gravel paths winding among the flowerbeds. For those uninformed persons--like myself--the tulip is a member of the lily family, and has a stem about foot long with a juice glass shaped bulb on top. Only one flower sits on top of the stem, but the richness of color is worth all the effort.
The Skagit valley is north of the Seattle area and is a rich farming area. For those interested, a number of cheese producers are located in the valley and worth a visit to their farms.
If you get a chance sometime head out to the tulip festival and explore Skagit valley.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Passion about books

In an off handed manner I frequently refer to myself as a book addick. I just love books, and will buy them even when I do not have the time to read them--buy them on speculation, as I say--since I am reading three or more books all the time, and someday I'll get around to reading it. I feel the urge to buy and possess books just because the title sounds interesting or the subject is interesting. Of course I frequently go back to read books already read--if they are good once, then they are good again and again. Used books, new books, it doesn't matter, I want to hold it, to possess it.

I am attracted to book stores, as my daughter can testify. She was in Germany when I visited once, and we went to little city near that she shopped in. As we drove down a street, I pointed to a store and asked, "Is that a bookstore?" She replied, "I don't think so." As we walked around we passed the store again and discovered it was indeed a bookstore. She asked, "How did you know it was a bookstore?" "I can smell them," I snapped. Lovers of books can find bookstores where no one else can.

I know many people love reading, but they are not always passionate about books. If I walk into an establishment, like a furniture store and they have books on a bookshelf serving as a display, I will walk over to read the titles, and sometimes wonder if I can by the book from them. A bookstore can keep me interested for hours just exploring the wide range of subjects. I am not stuck on one subject and field, find an interest in the wide range of human study, history, religion, art, cooking, self-help, crafts, fiction, science, and on and on. If someone has written on it I am interested.

I'll give you a rest for now, because a couple of books on my desk are calling to me.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Gouda Cheese

This winter I have run into more Gouda cheese than ever before in my life. Now keep in mind I was raised before the little cheese producers began popping up all over the place. In the old days, all you could find in the stores were cheddar, Swiss, and few other cheeses. In south Texas, forget the imported cheeses--after all Swiss was imported, even if it did come from Wisconsin--and no goat cheeses; only cheddar, Longhorn, Colby, and the Swiss were available.
Now in the supermarkets feta, blue cheeses, provolone, along with a whole bunch of others, from all over the world are stocked (even in the small towns). Small cheese producers live within easy driving distance and frequently their cheeses are sold in the supermarket you shop in.
Now the problem is we have too many choices. As I discovered in the last few months, a wide variety of cheeses are being made, and much of it from goat and sheep milk instead of cows. Also the types of cheeses can overwhelm the novice--like me.
Enter my encounter with Gouda cheeses. It has been a delightful experience and one I intend to pursue further, because the Gouda is a delightful mild, creamy taste experience. Instead of the slightly tart taste of cheddar, Gouda leaves a little buttery, and milky taste. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not about to give up cheddar for Gouda, but I have found a new best friend. With all the other cheeses around I will probably have to add many new friends in the months ahead, as I discover more about cheeses.

Have you any favorite cheeses we need to know about?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Arrogance undid climate talks, declared the headline for a new article. I was struck by the thought how arrogance really limits communication between people in almost all situations. The arrogant person is certain no one has the answer except for himself. Most of us put up with the uppity attitude simply because we are stuck in a position requiring our forced smile and nodded aggrement.
The unfortunate thing is most arrogant people have no clue that no one really cares about their opinion. In a sense all of us are arrogant, because we know best. The only difference between the truly arrogant and the rest of society is we know more than one answer exists.

How about you, know any arrogant people you want to talk about?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Another birthday, happy 71

Who would've thought I'd still be hanging around this long. That is the great thing about life; it never does what you really expect. Let me qualify that because I am a strong believer that you control the direction of your life through the plans you make and the thoughts you think--Proverbs says,"As a man thinks, so is he." You only get stuck in a dead end life when you fail to take control of its direction. Now having said all that, sometimes God takes you in directions you do not intend to go. Joseph, in the Old Testament, is a good example. He was sold into slavery by his brothers. Later they were worried he was going to get revenge on them, but he told them what they had intended for evil, was a part of God's plan.
I never expected to live this long, but I am very glad I have. Every day is a great day--just some days are better than others. My desire is to experience many more, and to enjoy each day to the fullest. Life is truly great, and we need to celebrate each and every day.
I have been blessed far beyond my expectations, and constantly thank God for his great mercy toward me; he has treated me better than I deserve, and based on his great love for me I remain his faithful servant for all of my life.

How about you? Let me know how your life is going.

Friday, March 5, 2010


I'm still working on a direction, or purpose for this blog. At first it is easy just to say I'll write about anything that comes to mind, but what do people want to read; the ramblings of an old man on the way things have changed are not very intersting after a while, because it soon slips into a dull tale of an old man, just wanting to sound off. People keep saying talk about things you are passonate about, but my interest is broad and really very shallow; I know a little bit about a whole lot of things, things I once was intersted in, but never studied in depth enough to become an authority on.
Before this degenerates into a dreary tale, I have decided to spend time writng briefy about places I have seen and things I have done. This is not going to be just a travellog, but also some things I have discovered about a wide range of subjects, such as; cooking (the fool is in the kitchen again), places to see if you are in an area I have been, some brewing methods for beer and ale, some good wines to try and why there are so many different wines, historical events and people you should be aware of, and of course, spirituality (not just religion, or Christianity, but the spiritual quest for greater meaning. Some of this will make sense but some of it will simply be what I am thinking about at the time I sit down to write.
Now that I got that off my chest, we can begin a journey of discovery.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Seattle Fun Weekends

One advantage of a big city is the recreational opportunities available. When Lois moved to Seattle last year, she decided to do as many different thing as she could. In my few months we have had some very interesting weekends, and seen a lot of the country around the Pacific Northwest. This last weekend we took a ferry to Whidby Island to the little town of Langely collecting clues for a murder. They have been doing for about 25 years, and most of the town gets involved. Some of the suspects are wandering the streets and willing to tell their story--which may or may not be true--to anyone willing to listen. They were also getting ready to elect a mayor, and the campaigning was quite lively. The candiates very openly said "Vote Early and Vote Often". If you did not have a ballot they gladly gave you one with the name of a registered voter--who was not going to vote.
The weekend before we attended the Octopus Release held each year at the Seattle Acquarum. They release a female octopus who has been fertelized into Elliot Bay. A live video feed allows the public see the female make her way back into the wild.
One weekend we did a wine and chocolate tasting tour. A group of wineries had tastings of their wine that was paired well with chocolate.
And the list could go on. I'll keep you posted on what we are doing. This is making me wonder about returning to Petrified Forest for the summer, but of course, there will be next year.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New Food

Last Friday, Lois burst in carrying bags of food--shrimp, clams, veggies, and an enormous amount of spirits--and announced we were having a feast. No special reason, just it was the weekend, ergo time for a party. She exploded into activity preparing a shrimp cocktail, cooking pasta, and steaming clams in wine, and mixing several different drinks while we waited for the food to cook. Of course, the wait was worth the time.
The shrimp was tasty, with delightful flavors playing around on my tongue. The clams on pasta was okay; I found the wine sauce too tart for my taste, but the clams were excellent. This was the first time either of us had cooked fresh clams; it turned out easier than it looks; and they were excellent.
I had no problem with any of the food, but by Monday Lois was experiencing stomach cramps, which she thought came from having too much seafood at one time. She took a couple days getting over the Friday night party. Next time maybe we should have only one new dish, and several new drinks for a party.
Still I think it was great time. We need to look for more reasons to celebrate and find the joy in life.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Most trips we undertake are planned, at least to some degree, but ocassionally we are taken by someone on an excursion without knowing what to expect. On a recent trip to Germany Dawn, my daughter, and her husband Pat took me and a few of their friends to a Christmas market at a castle near Regensberg. I expected to just see the traditional tables laden with merchandise, food, and drinks. She did not tell me much more than it was really nice, so I was not expecting a great deal, other than a different setting for the Christmas market. By time we arrived late in the afternoon, and we walked about a quarter mile to the castle, which stood on top of a sheer faced hill about five hundred feet above the valley. Night was settling on the land.
By time we arrived at the top of the hill string lights strung in the trees and along the little shacks for merchants provided a dreamy and festive atmosphere. Crowds of visitors strolled along cheerfully talking, sipping mulled wine, snacking on pastries, and exmaining the displayed wares. Slowly I was caught up by the sense of wonder settling over the little village on top of the hill.
Later I learned the castle's history dated back to the Medival Days, when Christianity and paganism struggled against each other. When myth and magic still gripped the minds of the people. Slowly I felt as if I were walking in a magical world. Two knights in chain-link armor, wearing dark blue woolen cloaks, were strolling among the crowds of modern visitors. Then under a tree four people raised the long Swiss Alp horns to their lips and began playing beautful mealodies; a little further and a man was instructing youngsters in archery, as if preparing them to defend the castle against attack; a blacksmith was instructing a youngster to shape orange glowing metal on an anvil. Then a traditional German Santa Claus, dressed in a red robe with white trimming, moved among the crowds giving candy to the children.
As we strolled along with milling mass of people, we came to a group of people being handed torches, and suddenly Dawn and I were each given one. We became part of a torchlight parade wandering through the castle courtyard, our torches casting dancing light as we snaked through the night. Eventually the parade formed a large oblong circle outlined with little containers of flame on the ground. We laid our torches on the ground at out feet, and on the far end of the circle were a couple with the appearance of a pagan priest and priestess. Shortly the priest strutted aroud the circle with a little stick of flame and began blowing fire into the night air. Then the priestess stepped forward and began dancing around with circles of flames spinning around her body and over her head. Music blared through the night air as the two danced and lit the dark with the fire they controlled. The mass of people surrounding the two fire dancers soon were captivated by the dancing couple, and then suddenly the music and fire died out; leaving the watching crowd to slowly return to the reality of the night, and the present.
As we left the castle I began wondering if we had really been captured by a magic moment, or was it just an appearance of magic. Was the fire priest and priestess real or just some performers putting on a show; does magic still appear, and take us captive for a while? I wonder.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

wine and chocolate

Yesterday Lois and I drove over to Port Townsend, WA just to get out to enjoy the sunshine, and stumbled onto the Wine and Chocolate tasting event. A group of six wineries joined together to feature their wine and pair it with chocolate. At the first winery you can buy a card listing all six wineries and get a free wine glass. The glass and ticket are good at each site, which allows you to taste their wines, one of which is especially featured to go with chocolate. We found two of the wineries. One winery had good wine, but none of the wines had any real character. It was smooth tasting, and would be good with a meal, but none of their wines were outstanding. The second had plenty of character--in their wine, and in the people working there. The wine was flavorful and caught your attention with each sip, either tickling your tongue with tartness, or subtly playing with your taste buds. Lois and I both enjoyed their Meade. The honey brew was every mellow and enticing--have to be careful not to too much, too fast; it was that good.
We plan to head back that way next week to discover the other four.
In our travels we stumbled on to a cheese store. I can not resist a good cheese shop, and this was a little hole in the wall, with some exciting cheeses. I'll get more into cheeses in the coming weeks. Also we got to explore an underwater war museum operated by the Navy. There were submarines, divers, and some interesting technical stuff, but more about this later this week.
The fun thing about making little pilgrimages is the unusual things and people you get to see, and you don't have to go that far. Well have a good day

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A new adventure

So a new journey begins, new experiences lie ahead, and the excitement of a new pilgrimage with all of its fears, excitement, and wonder lie before me. Yes, this blog is just another journey I am undertaking, and it is just as much a journey of discovery as if I were boarding an airplane for a foreign destination. It will be a fun time--rather I should say an interesting time.
Like many of my journeys I have begun this on with uncertainity and a degree of dread, wondering what will happen ahead. My uncertainity lies in whether people will be interested in the things I will be telling about, but then I realized it is not about what people think, instead about what I have seen and experienced that I want to describe. So like it or not I invite you to join me on this little excursion.