Friday, August 29, 2008

Dear Sen. Obama,

[please note - this post is in no way a representation of for whom I will vote. I still haven't decided; how could I, since the republican ticket wasn't established until today?! It is merely my expression of frustration over what I see as inaccurate statistics]

Dear Senator Obama,

You seem like a nice man. I like to listen to you talk. You are very charismatic and a wonderful orator. You seem genuinely interested in what happens to the people of America. I do have one concern though. I wonder how you really think you'll be providing a tax cut for 95% of people.

It's not that I don't think it's possible. It's that your plan doesn't make it possible. According to what I've read, you've proposed to give a $500/worker or $1000/family credit to those who earn less than $150k and who don't itemize. At the same time, you say you're providing a tax cut to 95% of the people of America.

You're wrong. According to that statistic, no more than 5% of the American people could make less than $150k and itemize. I highly doubt that, with our 5 figure combined income and itemized taxes, we are accompanied by only %5 of our fellow Americans.

Not to mention, you repeatedly say you're giving a tax break to those who make less than $150k, with no mention of the qualifier. In a recent interview you told Bill Hemmers, ""...I’ve structured a change in the tax code where if you are making $150,000 a year or less, you’re getting a tax cut, 95 percent of the American families will get a tax cut" and "...and you will get tax cuts and more money in your pocket if you make less $150,000"

But, Senator, that's just not true! According to your plan, I will not see a tax cut because I have the gall to itemize. And I would be willing to bet that at least 25% of the American people make less than $150,000 and itemize. So 95% of the people will not see a tax cut, now, will they?

Please don't misrepresent your plan. Please use accurate statistics. I would love a tax cut, but if it's not going to happen, that's fine. Just don't get my hopes up by saying one thing when you mean something else.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A picture's worth a thousand words...

She Sells Sea Shells by the Sea Shore

Yesterday was a long, eventful, entertaining, and tiring day. And I mean all of that in a very, very good way.

First, Ricky and I headed out to Seaside, Oregon with the pup. Knowing that I'd be returning to work on Monday, we decided to make the most of the couple of days we've got left, so we packed up a cooler, the kite and the dog and "eased on down the road" (what show is that from? Anyone?).

Once at Seaside, the three of us went on down to the beach for lunch. Unfortunately, pup was a little sick, and while he was being good he just wasn't having a lot of fun. We let him play on the beach for a while (he loves to dig in the sand) and then we took him back to the truck to kennel him up. We're thinking he was dehydrated, because he went through an entire 32oz bottle of water in about an hour!

While Jacko was resting, Ricky and I relaxed on the beach...and got some sunburn to show for it. Oops. But it was enjoyable, and we had a nice time sitting on the beach, watching the ocean, and talking.

On the way home we called friends who live somewhat on the way home from the beach and decided to hang out with them for the evening. We were anxious to see their "mini-farm," with the two goats, 12 chickens and multiple foods growing in the yard. We had a chance to meet Sassy, the milk goat, and Buddy, the fiber goat (who is a teeny tiny little baby and oh-so-cute!). Jacko had a chance to meet Maggie and Charlie, our friends' dogs. They all seemed to get along ok so I think next time we might try a real play date, letting J off his leash to run around the yard with the other two.

By the time we got done visiting, it was about 10 oclock and Ricky and I were zonked. Of course, we made one wrong turn on the way home (luckily we realized it very quickly) and then Ricky decided to take the scenic route down Farmington Rd, through Beaverton and Multnomah Village, down to Macadam, over the Sellwood Bridge and through Sellwood to get home. It probably added another 20-30 minutes to our trip, but we finally got home around 11:30 and headed to bed.

All in all, a fantastic day, and a great way to end our summer!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Relearning German

Once upon a time, I spoke German. Oh, I wasn't fluent, but I could speak well enough to make myself understood, and to follow along in a conversation. Truth be told, my listening and reading skills were much better than my speaking skills. When I visited with our German exchange student, Lena, and her family at their home in Freising, I could follow the conversation without anyone having to translate for me. I even had to do some translation of my own. When my the tour bus company accidentally sent us a non-English speaking tour guide, I had the joy of translating his commentary about the sights we were seeing. Let me tell you - I learned both Hochdeutsch (High German, the equivalent to the Queen's English) and a Bavarian dialect. This man was a good 40 years my senior and from Austria. It was like being a non native English speaker who suddenly has to converse with someone who only speaks in Ebonics. Both the age difference and the difference in region made it to difficult for me to understand him, but somehow we managed.

Anyway, that was 6 years ago and since then I have not used my German at all...until this week.

I happened upon the website It is a cooperative language learning website, where members help members. There are courses one can take in various languages to learn the vocabulary and basic grammatical rules, but in addition to that members can grade and correct each other's assignments, as well as converse directly with one another through an instant messaging feature. It's even possible to speak to the other members, so I've been able to have both written and spoken conversations in German!

So far it's been a great asset. My German is coming back faster than I imagined; while the courses are helpful, I find that simply speaking with a native speaker is what is helping the language to come back. I made a friend, Steffi, who lives in Germany. We IM each other, me speaking in German and she in English. We are helping each other, and since we both speak some of the other's language, we're able to help with words that aren't easily translated.

Ricky is thinking of using the site to begin to learn Mandarin. While I'm not quite that adventurous, I think I will use it at some point to learn some Spanish, which will be quite helpful at school. In the meantime, though, I am enjoying speaking German with various people from around the world.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I have a new boyfriend

Ok, not really a new boyfriend, per se. Just a renewed crush on this man.

Be still my heart. Not only is the man incredibly good looking, but he's wicked talented to boot. If Captain Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Carribean), Mort Rainey (Secret Window), or Benjamin Barker, aka Sweeney Todd (Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street) showed up on my doorstop...well, "So long, Charlie!" (10 points if you can name that movie).

Anyway, we watched Sweeney Todd tonight. First of all, yum. I love me some Johnny Depp (duh). Secondly, I love this show. It's horrible and violent and disgusting and disturbing - and I love it. The new version got a little slow in places, but overall I liked it. It's very dark, though somewhat humorous, and, well, I got to stare at Johnny Depp for 2 hours! The other actors weren't bad either ;-)

Anyway, it was good, and I definitely recommend it - if you have a strong stomach. There is definitely a lot of blood and guts, merciless killing, and some cannibalism. But it's a strong film, made from a strong Broadway show. And hey, did I mention it stars Johnny Depp?!

New Hair!

I had a hair appt today to get all cute before school starts. I report back on Monday and the kids come back on the 2nd. Thanks to the incredibly talented team at Capello Salon (including my sister in law, Janelle), I have a cute new 'do.


Augtober. That's August, feeling like October. And why does it feel like October? Because for the past 3 days it's been gray skies and rain.

I'm not really complaining, though. We had 43 days of no rain, so we really needed it. The 3 days preceding the rain, we reached triple digit temps, so we really, really needed the cool down that came with the rain. I'm happy that things have cooled off outside (and in our house; we're no longer melting!) and I'm happy to not have to handwater the plants for a few days. No sprinkler system (one of the few things I miss about the old house) means lots of time with the hose, watering in the heat and watching the water evaporate as soon as it hits the dirt.

But with this weather, it definitely feels more like October 20th than August 20th. Last night, Puppy decided he wanted to go for a bike ride around 9pm. He hates going in the rain, so I hesitated to take him, but he needed to burn off some energy so away we went. With it being wet, semi-cold, and dark (don't worry, I have a headlight and taillight, and I wore Ricky's bright yellow safety gear), it really felt like fall. We didn't see another walker or rider out until we were almost home, and the couple of cars that passed us made splashing sounds as they went by. I have to say, as much as I love the sunshine, I am looking forward to the cooler temps the fall brings, and being able to wear the cute fall and winter clothes I haven't been able to wear since March.

PS - I'm not the only Portlander happy about the rain - Zoo agrees with me.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

I love to make these "from-scratch" cakey brownies. They are rich in chocolatey goodness, but have a very unique flavor that everyone loves but no one can seem to pinpoint. I'll tell you - it's buttermilk. No matter where I'm going or who is in attendance, these brownies disappear very quickly. Enjoy!

Cake Ingredients
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
4 tbs cocoa
1c water
2c flour
2c sugar
1tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1/2c buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla

Frosting Ingredients
4 tbs cocoa
6 tbs buttermilk
1/2c (1 stick) butter
1 box (3 3/4 c) powdered sugar
1c chopped pecans

To make the cake
Bring the butter, cocoa and water to a boil. Remove from heat. Add the flour, sugar and soda; mix well. Add the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. Mix well; spread onto greased sheet pan and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

To make the frosting
While the cake is baking, bring hte cocoa, buttermilk and butter to a boil. Remove from heat and add the powdered sugar and nuts.

Spread the frosting on the hot cake.

NOTES: I've found that I need to start the frosting about 5 minutes before the cake comes out of the oven. If your house is too hot to cool the cake/frosting sufficiently, put it in the fridge for 30-45 minutes - works like a charm!

Friday, August 15, 2008

In honor of the heat, a joke

It's crazy hot here. Our house hasn't cooled off at all since last night. Horrible.

Since it's hot, I stole a joke from Erica, as my brain is melted and I cannot think of anything original to post. Enjoy!

A man who just died is delivered to a local mortuary wearing an expensive, expertly tailored black suit.The female blonde mortician asks the deceased's wife how she would like the body dressed. She points out that the man does look good in the black suit he is already wearing.The widow, however, says that she always thought her husband looked his best in blue, and that she wants him in a blue suit. She gives the Blonde mortician a blank check and she says, 'I don't care what it costs, but please have my husband in a blue suit for the viewing.'

The woman returns the next day for the wake. To her delight, she finds her husband dressed in a gorgeous blue suit with a subtle chalk stripe; the suit fits him perfectly.She says to the mortician, 'Whatever this cost, I'm very satisfied. You did an excellent job and I' m very grateful. How much did you spend?' To her astonishment, the blonde mortician presents her with the blank check.'There's no charge,' she says.'No, really, I must compensate you for the cost of that exquisite blue suit!' she says.'Honestly, ma'am,' the blonde says, 'it cost nothing. You see, a deceased gentleman of about your husband's size was brought in shortly after you left yesterday, and he was wearing an attractive blue suit. I asked his wife if she minded him going to his grave wearing a black suit instead, and she said it made no difference as long as he looked nice.''

'So I just switched the heads.'


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ode to China

Oh China! Please, why?
That poor little girl is cute.
She can't help her teeth!

Monday, August 11, 2008

MILK: It does a body good.

Anyone who's known me for any length of time knows that I abhor milk. The taste, the texture...all of it is terrible. Leave it up to my husband to say "you realize it's pretty much just cow mucus, right?!" and that just sealed the deal. I don't drink milk. I prefer my cereal dry just so I don't even chance a meeting with the nasty stuff. Blech.

While I'm so busy avoiding milk, though, I am also inadvertantly avoiding things that my body needs - namely, calcium and folate.

Enter Torani Sugar Free syrups. A shot or so of a sugar free syrup makes a glass of milk tolerable. One shot per 2 cups of ice cold milk, and I can down it with no problem. So far I've only tried chocolate and carmel, but when I finally find sugar free syrups in other flavors, I'll give them a shot as well. Unlike Hershey's syrup, the sugar free syrups add no calories, which makes this girl very happy.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Today I did a lot of things.

~I dust mopped my house, and collected enough hair to make a second, albeit small, dog.
~I loaded, ran, and unloaded the dishwasher.
~I went on a walk through West Moreland with my mom.
~I went to the farmer's market in downtown Milwaukie and bought green beans, corn and lettuce.

~I went to the mall to look for the book Pat the Bunny and discovered that Pat the Puppy and Pat the Cat also exist - who knew?!
~I tried on a pair of shoes that didn't come in half sizes. The 9s were too big and the 10s too small.
~I met a cast member's daughter to hand off the cast member's script.
~I started dinner - the corn is currently steaming, the pasta salad is made, and the chicken is cooking on the BBQ.

Later tonight, I will watch the part of the Olympic opening ceremonies that we missed. I will also load the dishwasher again and do a couple of loads of laundry.

I enjoy these lazy days of summer. Sadly, there are only 14 of them left, and then I report back to work.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Things to do while in Oregon

My cousin, Patrick, is visiting us for a week from Indiana. This is Patrick's first trip to Oregon, so we've been doing all the obligatory touristy things.

Wednesday we had lunch at the Old Spaghetti Factory on the waterfront. Mizithra cheese, yum!! Patrick and I caught up on the happenings of our lives while we ate, and generally just enjoyed each other's company. Afterward, we rode the tram up to OHSU to get an aerial view of the city, which is pretty amazing. You can see as far south as the Sellwood bridge, and the most recognizable thing to me in the north was the Kaiser Permanente building, or the Rose Garden Arena, though I think they're equal in their northness. Finally, we took a walk down to Tom McCall Waterfront Park and the Salmon Street Springs, then rode the streetcar back.

Thursday, Mom, Patrick and I headed out to Gresham to see where my mom and Patrick's dad lived, along with their 3 other siblings and our grandparents. Afterward, we headed to Lloyd Center and then took MAX across the river. We walked around downtown a bit, took some pictures in Pioneer Square, and then took the streetcar up to NW 23rd. We had sushi for lunch (Patrick's first time - and he liked it!), a Moonstruck Chocolate to cleanse the palate, and a small gelato each from Alotto Gelato. Mmmm!

Friday Ricky, Patrick, Jacko and I headed to the beach. We made a short stop at the Tillamook Cheese Factory for cheese tasting and ice cream, and then continued on to Seaside. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't all that great, so we walked the boardwalk, buying a few souvenirs and a stunt kite, and then headed to the Del Rey beach access. We were able to drive down onto the beach, where we had some lunch, attempted to fly the kite (Dear God, if you aren't going to make it sunny at the beach, could you at least make it windy enough to fly a kite?!), and played in the ocean. Then we drove north on the beach - yes, literally on the sand - to Fort Stevens and the wreckage of the Peter Iredale* for some exploring and more pictures. And finally, we ended our beach adventure with a trip to Cannon Beach for some Moe's clam chowder. Yum!

We still have lots more planned for Patrick's trip. I'm afraid his vacation isn't very relaxing, but at least he's getting a good taste of what Portland is all about.

*The Peter Iredale was a four-masted steel sailing vessel that ran ashore October 25, 1906, on the Oregon coast en route to the Columbia River. It was abandoned on Clatsop Spit near Fort Stevens in Warrenton about four miles (6 km) south of the Columbia River channel. Wreckage is still visible, making it a popular tourist attraction as one of the most accessible shipwrecks of the Graveyard of the Pacific.