Cooking with Bill and Terri

In an earlier post, I talked about how I first learned to like new foods, and to cook. I also developed a new interest in having a healthier diet; I found the magazine Cooking Light, and found tons of inspiration in every issue. I tried dozens, no, hundreds of new recipes – some were good, some great, and some … well, no need to go back there.

The provisional cover for our cookbook

Fast forward to about 15 years ago when Terri and I traded two kitchens for one, and we started cooking up a storm together. One day we had the inspiration to start saving the recipes we enjoyed in our own notebook. Generally we would make a note of the day we cooked it, along with our rating: “Good!” Or “Great!!” Or “Company worthy!!!” We organized them by some basic categories, such as Chicken, Fish, Breakfast, Soups and Stews, etc. 

Well, after 15 years, it kinda got out of hand. We had recipes stuffed here and there, some filed in the wrong places, some we tried, some were waiting for the right moment, some with no ratings. One of my retirement projects was to go through that overflowing 3” notebook and bring a bit more order to the chaos … but Terri beat me to it. It took awhile, but now its organized much better, marginal recipes discarded (too much sodium, too much work for not enough flavor, not rated highly enough). This thing, if not a work of art, is a thing of beauty!

Here is your Menu Planner! Hope you can print it off…

Back before COVID-19, we used to enjoy hosting people for dinner at our home. Terri and I both love to cook, and by some miracle, we work together very well in the kitchen, and get a ton of enjoyment cooking for our friends and family.  Now, perhaps our guests were just being polite, but we were often told that our meals were good. We hope so, and hope that everyone felt the love we poured into them.

A few weeks ago when we were enjoying a social-distance moment with Terri’s sister Lauren, and BIL John, he commented on how much he enjoyed our meals, and wondered if we could help them with meal-planning ideas and strategies. Terri and I kicked the idea around, and it kept growing and expanding beyond all reasonable expectations until we were internet superstars. The cold light of dawn put a sharp pin in that fantasy balloon, but the original idea never went away. So John, this is for you!

First thing we do is to pull out our Menu Planner (I may have mentioned I am a chronic list-maker). We pull out our calendar to see if we will be home, traveling, or otherwise eating out – a very quick task these days, as we continue to maintain a very high level of isolation.

Here is our grocery list we used pre-covid

Then we pull out our Cooking with Bill and Terri Cookbook, plus any recipes that may have caught our eye as we checked our inbox. Our healthy-eating goal is to have two fish meals a week. I also am a huge believer in “planned-overs” – we love being able to go to the fridge or freezer and pull out a great meal that just needs a salad, so quick and easy!

Once I plan out the meals, I pull out our grocery list (yep, another list) that is arranged by the layout of the store. These day things are a bit more challenging, as we don’t feel safe or comfortable going into stores, so  I open the Fred Meyer app, and place my order there for pickup the next day. 

We LOVE this recipe!

That’s all there is to it! I’ve included a copy of my Menu Planner, along with this week’s meals, and the matching recipes. What do you think? Helpful? Too much work? Hope it inspires you to get Cooking with Bill and Terri!

Recipe Notes:

The Roasted Chile Verde Chicken Enchiladas is very time consuming – maybe two hours total. BUT it makes eight servings, so that’s four meals at one whack for us! I always add a bit of granulated onion, powdered garlic, and some medium chili powder to kick it up a notch.

The recipe may not look pretty, but it tastes fantastic!

For the Chicken Cutlets with Sun-dried Tomatoes my only modification was to use chicken breasts and cut them in half lengthwise. We served over a whole grain, but it would also be breat over a pasta that would catch the great sauce.

Seared Tuna with Avacado Salsa

Obviously a well-loved recipe

We were at the ocean recently, and saw a shop that does both fishing charters and fish processing … AND they sell frozen Tuna loins there, maybe a couple of pounds to a package, so we got three. We got four medium steaks plus smaller ends from that, so it made a great meal, plus leftovers. You should be able to find tuna steaks at your grocery store.

Ready? Set? GO!!!

A Magnitude 9 earthquake has been predicted up here in the Pacific Northwest for some time. When it hits, it’s going to be crippling – we have no place to run to the west (salt water), to the east (the treacherous road over the pass is closed six months of the year). To the north and south, vulnerable bridges cross rivers just a few miles away. 

Then we are at risk of pyroclastic flows screaming down an erupting Mount Baker, following the nearby Skagit River, or lowland flooding from increasingly extreme weather. Until this week, I’ve felt pretty secure from forest/wildfires in our small town of 15,000 souls. Watching the devastation of complete towns in Washington recently ramped up my awareness; we are two blocks away from a small swath of farmland that butts up against miles of heavily forested mountains, and two homes away from a 5-10 acre undeveloped parcel with tinder-ready grasses and weeds. 

My Go Box Pack List

Our risk just became very real. It’s been my intention to prepare a “Go Bag” with some essentials for years, but I never got around to it. Now, with one of my Oregon brothers close to Mount Hood evacuating, a sister on the coast under evacuation alert, level 3 evacuations in populated areas near family in Portland, and a near-miss from cousins in Idaho, and our being stuck inside due to heavy smoke in this area, it seemed like an opportune time to finally prepare my Go Bag.

All packed and ready to GO!

Except that my idea of pre-packing two backpacks just seemed to present too many limitations. Then I had my aha moment … I needed to think inside the box! As part of my retirement projects to organize the garage, I bought some plastic storage bins, and I had one large one left over that we’ve been using to pick up our grocery order at the store. It turned out contain a bit less than I hoped, but for now, it holds most of what I deemed essential if we need to bug out in a hurry with no clear destination. I still need to get a couple of things – another sleeping pad, a portable solar charger, 50’ of nylon rope and more dehydrated meals, but my Go Box seems pretty ready. 

Blurry alternate list – try to copy and enlarge

There are a number of other items that would be extremely helpful, but that don’t make sense to pre-pack, so that list is taped to the outside of the Go Box. My sister Jae sent a copy of a list she had, which made me think of even more things to pack … if I have time, so that is listed separately. 

We are certainly living in unprecedented times, and it’s becoming evident we really need to be able to take care of ourselves for a time in the face of disaster, whatever that may look like where you live. My heart goes out to those who are right now losing homes and businesses, and even loved ones to the super-charged natural disasters we are experiencing this year. Stay safe, and lend a hand however you are able. 

Just a Moment…

The calendar says summer ends on Tuesday, September 22. Up here in the great Pacific Northwest, for me at least, it has always ended on the Tuesday after Labor Day. That being said, yesterday, August 29th, 2020, was the first day of fall. The leaves on maple trees in the development where we walk were nearly 50% gone to red, and when we retreated to our gazebo for our Happy Hour at about 6:00, the sun was but a memory in our backyard. This morning I turned on the fireplace to take the chill out of the living room. Oh, we will have some fine, sunny and warm – even hot – days in the next couple of weeks, but fall has definitely arrived for us.

What happened to summer? A flash and a blur, a scorch and a sear, then, disappear. The lyrics to Time by Pink Floyd echo in my mind: 

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day. Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town, Waiting for someone or something to show you the way. Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain. You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today. And then one day you find ten years have got behind you. No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun. So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking, Racing around to come up behind you again. The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older, Shorter of breath and one day closer to death. Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time. Plans that either come to naught or half a page…

Living in the time of Coronavirus has been such an oddity. There is “nothing to do,” but the days slip by like breath from a balloon released before being captured by a quick knot. Sure, there are some projects checked off the to-do list, other never contemplated projects completed, and the yard looking better than ever before, but there is an ephemerality about the season that leaves it without a defining moment. The unreality of a universal pandemic mutated time and space to a foggy Twilight Zone experience. 

Social-distance Wine tasting at Silvara Cellars

I guess I wasn’t fully aware of this phenomena until earlier in August, when we had slipped away for a few socially-distant days at our time-share in Leavenworth. Against all odds, we found ourselves at a winery  perched on a hill overlooking brown hills with an orchard-filled valley before us, and a table and chairs far away from other vinophiles taking advantage of an outdoor tasting opportunity. As we sat there, drinking in the view, it struck me – this moment almost felt like normal! It was then I realized that the concept of summer had been replaced by a few cherished moments of near normality. 

Al fresco dining with Eric, Julie, Dexter and Ariel at Bay View State Park

Special indeed were the two times we got to meet up with our friends Don and Trish at the picnic shelter at Bay View State Park for a social-distance (henceforth known as SD) picnic. The time just flew as we caught up with each other’s lives since they moved to California last year.  Then at the same place we got to meet up with Terri’s nephew Eric, his wife Julie, and Dexter and Ariel, who came miles out of their way just to spend time with us. 

View of the Cascade foothills in Leavenworth

Having daughter Jenn over for a SD dinner in our gazebo was a cherished moment. Sitting on the patio of the condo in Leavenworth in the cool of the morning, having a cup of coffee and looking out to distant mountain tops of the Cascades. The stunning surprise of seeing DIL Jess and three grandkids walking along the road at Lake Wenatchee State Park, where we were just sightseeing. Oh, how we’ve missed seeing our grandkids!!

Super-fun visit with John and Lauren at Fidalgo Bay RV Resort and Cabins

Okay, our visit with John and Lauren came nowhere near to approaching normality, except for how much fun we had. Terri and I had shared with them our idea of renting an RV to get out and be able to enjoy places other than where our condos are. They took the idea and ran with it, and BOUGHT a used Class A 34’ motorhome, then found a great RV park near us so that we could  do a SD visit! It was an absolute blast; now they are on their way to visit family in Utah. Road trip? Just color me jealous.

Wildflowers at Excelsior Ridge

Making it to the top of Excelsior Ridge near Mount Baker, and being enraptured by the sight and scent of high mountain meadows overflowing with wildflowers. Getting to spend a few days at the beach, and walking hand-in-hand on the dark sand where the ocean had recently retreated, but would soon return. Finding a tiny cemetery in Ocean Park; so many died so young! So many served our country in WWII, Korea, and even one from the Civil War. So many Williams there! And then there was the tombstone for an Elizabeth Taylor, born 1819, the earliest date of birth we found there.

Walking the beach near Ocean Park

Virtually nothing has been normal this summer, but every day has been filled with love and blessings galore, and I am so grateful for each and every one of them. We have lacked for nothing except normalcy while so many in our community, our state, our nation, this one and only world, have lost so much – jobs, bootstrapped businesses, and close family members to Covid-19. Our hearts break for every Black life lost to needless violence at the hands of those who are charged with protecting all; for those who have lost homes and lives to the ravages of firestorms, tornados and hurricanes super-charged by climate change. We mourn with those who mourn. In the midst of “Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day” we give thanks for the Special Moments splashed in our lives like a soft summer rain on a dry lawn. We cultivate Hope that this season of testing and trials will bring forth a new season of healing, of reconciliation, of the recognition of a shared brotherhood, sisterhood, personhood. A new season of Compassion and of Consideration for all of God’s creation, so that we might live in a season of community, instead of special moments in isolation.

If you like this post, I’d really appreciate it if you’d copy the link and pass it on, along with encouragement to find my “Follow” button waaaay down on the blog. Thanks so much!

O Love Olive Oil

And now, here is the rest of the story.

Our EEVO and Balsalmic Vinegar Picnic

I used to be the world’s pickiest eater. Then one year I made a New Years resolution to learn to like one new food per year. And then, when my ex-wife returned to college, I took on the task of cooking for the family, and started looking for healthy recipes instead of just making the four things I knew how to cook. Somewhere in that timeline, I discovered olive oil. I think it was watching Rachel Ray when I got intrigued by EVOO as she called it – Extra Virgin Olive Oil and started looking for better quality olive oils. Apparently others were doing the same thing, because specialty stores started popping up selling oils from around the world, and offering free tastes before purchase. Drizzle in Bellingham, Washington became my favorite local source; weekend trips found my new wife and I tasting in Port Townsend, Leavenworth, Coquitlam, B.C., and at Pike Place market in Seattle. Longer trips found us slurping exotic oils in Santa Fe and Sonoma. And then came Italy in 2016.

This ancient guy is 200+ years old!

I have always been enamoured of Italy, always wanted to travel there, but had never been abroad before, so it seemed a little daunting. One day we were wine tasting at Hellams Vineyard in La Conner, and saw lots of photos of people wine tasting in Italy on a large TV they had. It turns out they conducted guided trips there, and had one coming up to Puglia, ‘way down in the heel of Italy’s boot. Seven days, less than 20 people, staying at an Agriturismo with daily excursions to wineries, fabulous restaurants, historical sites … and an olive oil producer. We signed up.

Historic underground olive oil press

Every day, after breakfast in the huge family manor dining area, we would walk about a third of a mile down the narrow roadway to the equivalent of a small county road to wait for our bus to take us on another adventure. One day we headed out, and were taken to a small town where we got to go underground and see the remains of an old olive oil mill. It was recently discovered when someone went to construct a new building, and broke through the “roof”. The workers had apparently just walked off the job one day, and left it intact. Back in the day, olive oil was used primarily for lighting, as well as cooking. Once electricity came, the demand for olive oil plummeted. 

A small portion of the small plates we tasted

From this ancient mill, now a museum, we went to an olive grove, owned and operated by two brothers, one who spoke excellent english, and gave us great insights to growing olives. Besides some older trees (which can live to be hundreds of years old, and are protected by law), they are planting ancient varieties that used to be grown and harvested there. We then went to his home, where a treat awaited us – a small simple repast, complete with a lesson on how to taste olive oil. We were instructed to fill a very small cup with the oil, then taste and swallow. 

Maybe even more so than wine, every olive growing region has a distinct flavor profile. Once swallowed, great oil should leave a bit of a burn in the throat. Apparently, most olive oils consumed in the USA are actually a mix of olive oil and other vegetable oils. Also, they have a shelf life; the best oils will have a harvest date on the label, and should be consumed within 12 – 18 months of harvest. The “tapas” they served paired perfectly with the olive oil; we were not only able to take the small, unfinished bottles with us (which we used in cooking our own meals in Italy after we left the tour), but we were also able to order 3 liter tins of the oil from the orchards we had visited for pick up once we got home. You can check them out here.

Our latest EEVO purchase

Since then, we became even more picky about our olive oil purchases. We typically have two olive oils on our counter at all times; one high quality bottle for cooking and everyday use, and one very high quality one for special uses. Pouring some in a small bowl with an exceptional balsamic vinegar, and using it as a dip for artisan rosemary bread (from Avenue Bread in Bellingham) is simply wonderful. So, besides visiting every olive oil purveyor we can, we found that Costco often has pretty decent oils from Puglia and other southern Italy or Greecian locations. Now COVID has put the kibosh on both olive oil tasting rooms, but also in-store Costco shopping for us. In desperation, I went online to Costco, and low and behold, they have some really good olive oils in 3 liter tins that they ship directly to our home! We’ve nearly finished off two tins, and just got in two more. These are from southern Italy, and sound like they should taste great.

So, this is a journey that never ends, as long as there is a new pressing of oil from a far-flung location for us to try. Years ago, I’m sure I would have politely declined the invitation to go to an olive oil tasting. Now, I’m so glad I’m out of that box, and ready to explore all the flavors of the world. Join me?
P.S. Our friends Gary and Linda turned us on to what is now our absolute favorite balsamic vinegar. Napa Valley Naturals Balsamic Vinegar is available from almost every food co-op, or online. You may want to check it out!

Breaking Up with Facebook

Burned out or burned up, or just burned?

At this point in life, I would venture to guess that many of you have awoken in the middle of the night, and struggled to get back to sleep. It doesn’t often happen to me, but it did about a week ago. My mind started working and churning, and my thoughts twisted and turned in myriad ways.

I found myself struggling mightily with the present circumstances of isolating against coronavirus, of worrying about the future of our great land as we find ourselves sharply divided on a host of issues that seem perilous. I questioned why it feels like so many others whom I know don’t see the dark clouds rushing towards us carrying a mighty storm. I turned my thoughts to Facebook, and how junked up it had become, with so few posts from friends and relatives, and so many advertisements and miscellaneous junk.

Then posts I had recently made came to my remembrance, and I was upset at both what I had posted, and also the apparent indifference with which they were received. I perceived that I had slowly formed a bond with feedback or lack of it on Facebook and my own self-worth. I’ve mentioned before that my wife, correctly, has called me a “boy scout” due to my proclivity to try and fix every problem I see, and I saw where that’s precisely the task I had set for myself on this social media platform. I could clearly apprehend how this had slowly malformed me, and at 4:00 in the morning, in the pitch-black, I could also clearly see what I needed to do … I needed to put some real distance between me and Facebook.

I’ve always been an early-adapter to new technology and techniques, and so got on FB and other social media sites soon after they were introduced. I loved being visually connected with my friends and family, and I also realized its potential for businesses and groups. The hooks were set early and deep, and I embraced them willingly. But in the dawn of the new day, my resolve was clear, and I started my “trial separation.” I wondered how my … addiction? … obsession? … dependence? … on FB would impact me when I pulled the plug. 

Now, several days out, I am quietly pleased at the change. Yes, I miss the engagement I would occasionally get during this season of social deprivation. And it feels like I am going to have to reinvent myself, or rather reconstruct myself, as I go forward on this path. But there is also a new sense of peace that I didn’t expect. 
So, what does the future hold? For now, you can find me on Instagram at adventuresingraying and billscamera, or feel free to connect with me using FaceTime, Messenger, Zoom or even email me at Thanks for taking the time to read this; I always appreciate comments and shares with your friends.

The Other Cabin Fever

I’m not sure when I first really desired to own a cabin, but guessing it was nearly 50 years ago when I first got the itch. Remember when we were all going to move back to the land, grow our own food, and save the world? Yep, I was going to have 20 acres, with a cabin right smack dab in the middle, off the grid and self-sufficient. Gosh, that may sound even better today than it did back then! 

Bath Time 1950

My first exposure to cabin life was when I was maybe eight months old. Our church had property between Battle Ground and Yacolt, Washington, across the road from the Lewis River called “Lewis River Campground”. Back then week-long family gatherings would be held, called “Reunion.” Many families built, owned and maintained their own basic cabins where they would stay, attending classes, services, playing softball or volleyball, and singing songs at campfire.

Typical cabin scene

My mom’s mom owned a cabin there. I wish I had more historical data about it, but I’m assuming my grandfather Ross built it before he passed away when my mom was 16 years old. We “inherited” it, and used it faithfully. I’m guessing each cabin was about 20’x20’, and were similarly appointed inside.

I remember when my dad’s dad came down from Canada to “remodel” the cabin. They took about 8’ of the cabin length, and lowered the floor about 18” which allowed them to build two 10’ long bedrooms, each with a bunk bed. They then built a loft above the bedrooms, which became my parents bedroom (and sleeping place for Jae, the youngest of us five kids).

Our cabin, best as I remember

As I recall, the walls inside were not finished, so we could see the studs. We had a small cook stove that also served as heat on chilly nights, a real-live ice box (it was my job to get the blocks of ice when they were delivered to the camp, and to empty the drip pan), an old medicine cabinet with (maybe?) a small chest of drawers under it with a washbasin on top. Memory fades, but pretty sure there was a countertop near the stove with a linoleum top, and fabric “doors” below. A tall fir tree grew near the cabin, giving us great shade in the afternoon.

Creek or Crick, fun to play in!

There was a crick nearby (cricks have crawdads, creeks don’t) where kids spent hours making dams out of rocks, splashing and being splashed. Across the county road was a rough dirt track down to the Lewis River, which served as both a swimming hole and baptismal fount. When I was quite young, no older than two years old, I ventured out on a large stone outcropping to get a better view of a baptism, and slipped into the river, and started being carried downstream. My dad had to shuck his suit coat, and dive in after me. I have no memory of the event, but I’ve always been leery about putting my head under water, and didn’t learn how to swim until college.

Swimming hole/Basptismal Fount. Rock in background is where I fell in the river.

Long ago, I found and bought an old book from the 40’s about designing and building our own cabin. I treasured that book for years, and wish I had it yet. It was chock-full of wisdom and common-sense insights on site selection, various types of construction, and how-to building tips.

Still perfect for family camping experiences.

I would still love to own a little cabin, alongside a crick or small river, fir trees nearby, and just simple furnishings inside. A serene place to go and just relax without distractions of town and traffic, memes and emails. An escape from the cabin-fever of our self-imposed confinement to escape the pervasive pandemic. I’m thinking a cabin would be a good cure for my cabin-fever; hope springs eternal.

P.S. Thanks to Adrienne Chilberg (the first girl I held hands with, at a camp at Lewis river) for the photos of the Lewis River Campground cabins, and Susan Gregory for the photos of the creek, river, and me in the basin.

Seniors Stuck Inside Escape!

Seniors Stuck Inside Escape!

Today, July 14th, marks four months of our determination to practice extreme social isolation to avoid Coronavirus. I am high risk due to my age, and my lungs have never been as robust as I would have liked. Terri is at extremely high risk due to a compromised immune system. So for four months we have either 1) stayed at home; 2) driven to Fred Meyer to have them load our groceries into the back of our vehicle; 3) walked a neighborhood in Anacortes where the sidewalks are deserted or 4) hiked the least-travelled trail in Little Mountain Park in Mt. Vernon. For four months.

The rain had settled in for days (weeks?), and our four walls really started to close in, so we began thinking about how we could safely escape for a bit. Renting a mid-sized motor home seemed like a possibility, until we figured out that it would be about a thousand bucks for three actual nights of camping. Looking more closely, all the nice spots in the state and National Forest campgrounds we wanted to go to were already booked – and in private campgrounds, we would be camped cheek and jowl next to dozens of other campers. Scratch that off the list.

View from our deck

Then WorldMark opened our condos in Leavenworth for July! We quickly booked three nights, then started analyzing the situation. Pros: every unit has an outside door, so no elevators or corridors to share with anyone else. It has a great kitchen, so we can take all the food we need, no need to go to a restaurant or even a grocery store. The units have nice views overlooking a golf course and out to the mountains. Multiple calls revealed they have a much more stringent cleaning procedure; 100% of the bedding is changed, they are disinfecting everything, and then they use a disinfecting mist for the furniture and flooring. They even offer curbside check-ins!

Icicle River with Cascades in the background

Cons: Is it as safe as they say? Will we be safe on the trails we’d like to hike? Is it wise to travel? How long is the room vacant before we check in? We examined all these concerns and more in the days before our scheduled departure, then settled on a course of action. WM agreed to open all the windows once they were done cleaning. Once there, we masked up and put our box fan in the door while also opening the deck slider to really air the place out as we moved our gear in. Terri brought additional cleaning supplies, and re-cleaned every high-touch surface in the condo. 

Whew! Once all that was done, we celebrated with a glass of wine on the deck, with a fabulous view of the surrounding mountains, and the sun shining all around us, the air like a warm blanket. Sooo relaxing! So nice to have a view! So nice to have a change of scenery from our backyard! The next day we just took it easy, and went for a drive up the Icicle Canyon, just to explore a bit, and check out the campgrounds for future reference. 

Lots of powerful rapids along this river!

The following day, we awoke filled with energy and determination to get out and hike the Icicle Gorge Loop Trail, a beautiful 5 mile loop that circles around both sides of this wild river. We weren’t alone. There were literally dozens and dozens of families out doing the same thing, which presented a challenge to our desire to be as safe as possible. As often as we could,  we got at least 6’ off the trail to let others pass. When we couldn’t get off the trail, we masked up as we passed the oncoming hikers. Maybe 20% of the other hikers were masked. We just kept telling each other that every article we read said that there was almost zero risk of infection when walking outdoors, and not sharing the same outdoor space with others for more than 10 minutes. The hike was absolutely beautiful, and nourishing to the soul.

Narrow channel through a rocky gorge

Our three nights and two full days slipped past like the fleeting memory of a dream upon awakening. It was hard to leave. And coming home, we had to keep reminding ourselves that the steps we had taken to stay safe and healthy were effective. Now I’m checking the website every day, hoping that someone will cancel there soon so we can return. In the meantime, we’ve rejoined the ranks of Seniors Stuck Inside.

My Historic Find

Somehow, by the grace of God, I graduated from high school in 1967. I started at what was then Portland State College that September at age 17 with my best friend, Jimmy D. One day as we were in the campus neighborhood, we chanced upon a turn-of-the-century home that was being torn down to make room for more modern buildings, probably for the college. We looked at each other, and knew we had to check it out.

Very little remains of that memory, just being awed by its age and history and faded splendor. Exploring around, I ended up collecting a few treasures that otherwise would have been bulldozed into oblivion. Someplace I may still have an old patent medicine bottle that once contained laudumnun, and a very small pill vial. I also found books of sheet music, printed in the late 1800’s. I also collected an old cast-iron gilded and painted small chandelier. Alas and alack, lost in the fog of history.

Two things remain; a Sunset Magazine from 1907 extolling the virtues of the Pacific Northwest and a newspaper dated March 24, 1918 reporting significant setbacks for the allies against the “Huns” as they are labeled in several front page stories.

Sunset Magazine spine showing date
Move west, young men!

The Sunset Magazine is a real treasure of history. Articles on the limitless amount of trees to be harvested in Oregon, with “trees as big as houses” and showing the skid roads where the fallen giants were hauled on the way to the mills. An article extolling young, vigorous and ambitious men to move to Oregon where they would quickly make their fortune. Photo heavy spreads showing construction of lots of new high-rise buildings in Portland, along with pictures of Craftsman style mansions labeled as “typical homes in Portland.” And so much more: photographs from Vancouver, B.C. to Seattle’s downtown to Tacoma waterfront shipping terminals to the Columbia River Gorge – and Multnomah Falls before the iconic bridge to Crater Lake.

Old Tacoma Shipping
Multnomah Falls before the iconic bridge

Downtown Seattle

I’ve held onto these micro-treasures for 53 years. They take up almost no space, but I am loosening my hold on the past. I wish I could professionally digitally copy the Sunset Magazine and let everyone in Oregon and Washington read it from cover to cover and reflect, but that’s not a reality. What would YOU do if they were yours?

Believe It or Not! Half-Bike, Half-Boy in Portland!

Bike-o-taur noun (def): A supposedly mythical half child, half bicycle creature. Known to spend all waking hours wheeling around their local habitat. Fearless and adventurous.

It turns out that for people who gain inspiration to write blogs from their daily lives, and people who are also still in a state of extreme isolation (due to high risk factors), there is not a whole lot to write about now that the novelty of doing nothing for months on end has worn off. In my case, that means it is devolving into personal history. 

Growing up “mid-century” (as it is now called in architecture) in Portland seemed to be story-book stuff. Ramona Quimby and Henry and Beezus, written by Beverly Cleary, were set just blocks away from where I grew up, and in almost the exact time period. Like Henry, I was obsessed with getting a bicycle, but it just wasn’t in the budget for the family.

I first learned how to ride a bike when I was visiting my Grandpa Wehlitz in San Diego. He was living in something similar to a  U-shaped motor court; a cute little girl lived in another unit and had a bike, and I somehow persuaded her to let me use her new bike to learn on. She may have been a bit upset about a few minor scratches that appeared once I mastered staying upright, but learning how to ride just increased my desire to own my own bike.

Sometime later, a family friend presented me with a bike … of sorts. It was a Frankenbike, put together out of several very mis-matched parts, and it weighed more than I did. I managed to navigate it around the block a few times before I gave up. And then, my grandpa got me a bike! I don’t remember if it was for a birthday, Christmas, or just because, but it was a shiny red Schwinn with a headlight and a … luggage rack? … over the back tire. It looked exactly like this:  

I had forgotten about the horn button on the side, and it’s not a luggage rack, it’s a carrier – which it did; passengers, newspaper bags, and anything that could be tied or bungee-corded to it. Soon my friends Jim and John got bikes, as did the rest of the guys my age in the neighborhood. We rode, and rode and rode and rode all around Portland, starting when we were maybe 10 years old. No helmets, no parental supervision, on four-lane main arterials that criss-crossed the city.

One memorable event Portland used to host during the Rose Festival was the “Kiddie Parade”. Sure, there were grade school bands, local business floats, and I guess even more, but the best part was the decorated wagons and bicycles. Streamers were woven in through the spokes, taped onto the fenders, hung off the handlebars, with playing cards held by clothespins on the fender supports, creating a racket as they hit the spokes when riding. Here is a photo of my sister Susan with her decorated bike: 

If you look at a map of Portland, we grew up in what I think is the exact geographic center, halfway between the Hollywood and Parkrose districts. Besides often riding our bikes to school, we rode all the way north out to the airport, just because. We rode all the way east to the Rose Gardens, across the Burnside Bridge. We rode to Laurelhurst Park, miles away to the south. And of course, we rode to Mt. Tabor. But our favorite was riding east to Rocky Butte.

Rocky Butte is an ancient cinder cone that, back then, had two roads up to a viewpoint on the top, presumably built by the CCC. Before they built tons of trophy homes on it, we thought it was a park. The only dwelling was the city jail, on the opposite side of the mountain we would ride up. The road we used almost exclusively had the added distinction of having a tunnel! 

We would ride the couple of miles there, then labor up to the top on our single-speed bikes. We would always challenge ourselves to see how far up we could get before we had to dismount and walk. We finally made it one day without having to walk the bikes! Once at the top, we would gaze at the 360 degree view for a few minutes, and then race down. When I say race, I mean we would have a contest to see how far down we could make it without using our brakes.

One time, John was in front of me on his 24” bike (mine was 26”), and we were screaming down the hill when we entered the tunnel. Now, this tunnel was curved, besides being steep, and had a rounded concrete “curb” as a divider between uphill and downhill travel. It had never been an issue before, but we had never gone as fast before. I’ve never been any good at physics, but as John entered the tunnel, my young brain computed his speed, the degrees of tilt as he took the corner, and the comparison of the arc of his curve vs. the arc of the tunnel, and I foresaw either him tilting all the way over to street level, or intersecting with the concrete curb … which happened as if it was in slow motion. The bike was launched into the air, did a complete roll, then bike and rider reconnected with the pavement.

The other kids took off, but I walked with him allll the way home, the bike battered and unrideable, and the rider bruised and bleeding from pavement rash. Unfortunately, many events like this resulted in a condition known as “grounding.” I’m told that the idea was to restrict the movement of an individual to their yard as a punishment for disappearing for hours on end without proper notification or approval from the governing authorities. So, I’d be sitting on the little hill on our yard, bike motionless beside me, when Jim and John would ride up and say “Hey! Wanna go for a ride?” I’d look around, and unable to locate any permission-giving authority, I’d say “Yes!”, and off we’d go. We won’t speak of the difference in punishment between then and now.

A few years later, and with a job washing dishes at Woolworth’s, I bought a Three-Speed English Racer! Hills were like level ground, and I could go faster than any of my peers. One thing we used to do was ride a few blocks away, up two pretty steep hills, then scream back down, up an embankment in a friends yard, and catch some air. I rode up the hills, then came down … first gear, then second gear, and finally third gear! So fast, I hit the embankment, flew in the air … and hit the side of his house. No broken bones, somehow, but the bike was mangled. 

I got it repaired, but was somewhat chastened. For a few days. Then we all rode up to the top or Rocky Butte again, and decided to come down the back way. Once again, how far down can we go without hitting the brakes? I now had a speedometer on my bike – 20 -25 -30 mph! I came around a curve, and there was a car doing maybe 20 mph in front of me. My brakes were not adequate for the task, but a rocky, unpaved, extra-wide shoulder was there, so I took the escape route. The skinny tires on my “racing bike” threatened to take me down every foot of the way, then I was back on the road again, still just behind the car, but able to slow enough without hitting it.

Then one day, I graduated from high school; my graduation present was 50% of the price of a 1955 Ford, 6 cylinder, three-on-the-tree, four door sedan. It didn’t last long, but that’s another story.

Flipping the switch to Manana

Still waiting for assembly

My little electric pressure washer died. It wasn’t unexpected; late last fall, I noticed it was leaking oil. Never a good sign. This spring I tried to see if I could take it apart and remedy the situation, but it took tools I didn’t have, so I shrugged my shoulders, and pressure washed the patio pavers, the gutters on the north side of the house, AND the whole north side of the house, which (as is common in the great PNW) was starting to grow a soft, green covering. Much to my surprise, it just kept on working … until I moved to the east side of the house, when it immediately died.

So, like any good American, I went on Amazon, found a new one that fit my needs, and ordered it. It came in a few days later in a nice box, which I moved to my workbench for assembly. Which is where it still sits. As I was in the shower the other day contemplating putting it together, I thought, nah, I can always do that tomorrow. And that’s when I realized covid isolation time had flipped my switch to manana time.

Another project in the wings…

I admit I have a propensity to over-plan. I make spreadsheets about every detail of our vacations; mileage, gas cost, meal cost, sites to visit, etc. Each year I pull up a list of 12 categories where I set at least three goals or projects. Almost every day I make a list of things I want to accomplish that day. It makes some of my friends shake their heads when they find out I actually have a list of my lists, but I just smile – that’s who I am. So my realization that I had slipped into manana time made me stop and puzzle things out a bit.

A formula popped into my head – “If I xxx now, then I can yyy later.” If I work now, I can vacation later. If I paint the house now, I can enjoy summer later. If I plan now, I can make my plans real at a later specified date. Make the list, complete the tasks, check it off the list, and move on to something better. 

It turns out that La Manana means tomorrow morning; but manana means maybe tomorrow, but probably some unspecified date in the future. Which is most likely when my new pressure washer will be assembled. The sun will come out, the day will warm up, and I’ll want to finish my pressure-washing job NOW, and I’ll be upset at how long it will take me to put the thing together and get to work. Oh well. 

In manana time, it’s easy to lay in bed a few extra minutes in the morning. It’s easy to play a few more games of Words with Friends before getting on with the day. It’s easy to put off unpleasant tasks until they become urgent. A shrug of the shoulders, a quick sideways tip of the head, and hey presto, manana! Unbidden, the image of an older person in a rocking chair on the porch pops into my head. Didn’t someone once say that sitting in a rocking chair was the fastest way to get nowhere? End-stage manana.

Well, I haven’t put buying a rocking chair on my to-do list yet. Maybe I will manana …  and now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to make my To-Do List for tomorrow.