Archive | October 2013

A Ghost Named Arthur

I purchased my first home at age 27 when I was still single.  I purchased it in the spring of 2003 from a sweet, elderly widow named Doris, who didn’t have the time or ability to maintain a home and yard anymore.  Her husband Arthur had passed away the previous autumn, and she was moving into an assisted living facility.

I moved in with my sweet, elderly kitty Zorro, and set about decorating the home to my liking.  It was a peaceful, charming little rambler on a small lot in the middle of town, three rooms deep on each side.  The right side, front to back, was living room, dining room, kitchen, while the left side was bedroom, bedroom, bathroom, bedroom (yes I know, that is technically four, but you get what I mean).  Running down the bedroom side was a hallway that connected all the bedrooms, with a entry between the living room and dining room.

Like this:




One morning a few months after I moved in, I was eating breakfast at the dining room table, and Zorro was sitting beside me.  I had just gotten up to take my bowl to the kitchen sink, when I saw a shadow about eye level move across my line of vision, from the living room towards the bathroom.  I was so startled that I dropped my cereal bowl on the floor, and all the milk made a huge mess.  When I got up the nerve to check out the bathroom a few minutes later, there was nothing there.

The Dining Room - I was sitting in the first chair on the left, facing the living room

The Dining Room – I was sitting in the first chair on the left, facing the living room

That was my first experience with the ghost I called Arthur.

I never “saw” Arthur again.  But at some point he discovered my electronics.  He liked to occasionally turn on the television.  But his real joy was the stereo.  If it wasn’t on, he would turn it on.  And whether or not it was on, he would turn up the volume.  WAY UP!  (In case you were wondering, the stereo and the TV were both plugged into surge protectors.)  After the first couple of severe startles, I got used to it.

Eventually I met Jon, and he moved into my cute, little rambler.  When I told him about Arthur, he didn’t believe me.  I don’t think he believed in ghosts at all…  Jon also thought his stereo was nicer than mine, so he hooked his up.  Arthur loved the new stereo!  I believe the first time Arthur tried it out was about 12:30 in the morning, and we were both fast asleep!  Arthur cranked that sucker up and scared the bejesus out of us!  I wonder if he was just trying to let Jon know that he really should believe.  But Arthur usually just played around during the day, every couple of months and fortunately never when we had guests over.

And I must say, even with Arthur’s love of music, I never felt uncomfortable in the house.  After initially being startled by the loud noise, I didn’t remain scared.  I just chalked it up to the goings on of an elderly man who was just waiting for Doris to join him.

Coincidentally, Doris passed away a few weeks before we decided to put the house on the market.  I hope Arthur found peace after his beloved came home.  After she passed away, the stereo was quiet – unless we turned it on.  And the volume stayed where we set it…

Ghost or no?  What do you believe?

King Estate: Pinot Gris

Even as the weather is turning cold and stormy, I was craving a white wine.  Luckily I had a few on hand, so I uncorked a bottle of King Estate 2011 Pinot Gris.

King Estate is one of the larger Oregon wine producers, located in Eugene Oregon.  They have four lines of wines; King Estate Signature, King Estate Domaine, Acrobat and NxNW (North by Northwest).  Their winery and tasting room also contains a fine dining restaurant, and they offer tours of the wine facility.  I haven’t been there, because we generally try to visit the smaller producers, but it looks to have a lovely patio with a pretty view of the vineyards.

King Estate Signature 2011 Pinot Gris

King Estate Signature 2011 Pinot Gris

The 2011 King Estate Signature Pinot Gris is a nice Oregon style Gris, aged for 5 months in stainless steel.  It has a crisp, bright acidity and a peach and pineapple nose.  The flavor is tart balanced with sweet, with flavors of crisp green apple, and a touch of lime.

The perfect kind of wine for a hot day on the patio.  The kind of day I wish weren’t nine months away…  Cheers!

Leaf Raking 2013: An Exercise in Futility

I live in the woods.  Despite living only a mile from the downtown core, our yard is very wooded and we are right near one of our city’s largest parks, a natural arboretum.  So Sunday, I decided that rather than taking a walk, I would get my daily exercise in the yard.  Raking up the gazillions of leaves that have fallen in the last week.

I started with the deck.  I swept all of the leaves into a pile, and then pitched the pile over the railing down to the yard below.  That was the easy part.

First I swept all the leaves to the edge of the deck

First I swept all the leaves to the edge of the deck

Once I had the deck cleaned off, I went down into the yard to continue.  When I began there was barely any green grass (or more accurately, green moss) peeking through.

The yard - before I started

The yard – before I started

I started raking the leaves downhill toward the corner of the yard.  It didn’t take too long before I was hot.  So I took off my fleece.  That helped for a little while, but then I needed some iced tea.

It took awhile before I felt like I was making progress, but eventually I could see some bare grass (or moss).  By this time my arms were on fire!

Making Some Progress

Making Some Progress

Soon the pile of leaves was so big that I was up to my knees in leaves, and sometimes higher!  In fact, I discovered that it was often easier to just wade through the leaves and kick them towards their destination.  If not for the leaves, I might have been mistaken for one of Hitler’s high stepping soldiers.  OK, maybe not…

Almost Done!  My arms are on fire!

Getting Close! My arms are on fire!

Finally, exhausted, I finished my work.  What a feeling of success!



I went inside to get cleaned up and start dinner.  The wind was picking up while I was cooking, so I took a peek outside after dinner.  The deck was covered in leaves!  I didn’t have the heart to look into the yard…  SIGH…

The Deck - 2 Hours Later...

The Deck – 2 Hours Later…

Leavenworth Weekend

After spending a July day in Seattle hanging out with friends and family, Jon, Pablo and I headed out for Leavenworth.  Jon’s sister and brother in law would be joining us later that day, as well as Jon’s parents and brother.  We headed over the pass on Highway 2 – enjoying the scenery along the way, and stopping along the river to take some photos and enjoy the view.  If you haven’t been over WA Highway 2, it is a beautiful scenic drive – more like a country road in most parts – two lanes that wind along next to the river.

Jon and I pose for a scenic moment by the Wenatchee River along Highway 2.  (Ignore Jon's cockeyed hat please!)

Jon and I pose for a scenic moment by the Wenatchee River along Highway 2. (Ignore Jon’s cockeyed hat please!)

Pablo enjoys the view of the Wenatchee River

Pablo enjoys the view of the Wenatchee River

Once we got to Leavenworth, our first stop was at Smallwood’s Harvest, a local farm stand and retail store featuring many local products and produce.  Jon, Pablo and I got some salad dressing, some peach cider, fresh peaches, and some jalapeño stuffed green olives.  Jon really liked the green olives – I accidentally ate one and my tongue and lips were on fire for the next several hours!  Also at Smallwood’s is a kitchen shop, with all sorts of neat kitchen gadgets.  If we lived in the area, I think this would be someplace to check out regularly – just to see what kinds of local items they had!

By this time we were hungry, so we decided to stop by Milepost 111 Brewery in Cashmere, WA (just one town over from Leavenworth on Highway 2).  It was a hot day, but we sat outside in the shade on their patio, and were comfortable.  They do brew small quantities of their own beer, but they happened to be sold out the day that we were there.  They have a large selection of Northwest microbrews, including several from around the Leavenworth area.

I ordered the Bacon Bleu Cheese Burger – with gorgonzola cheese and sauteed mushrooms – YUM!  It was served with Truffle Fries, and I loved the meal!  I paired it with a Dirty Face Amber Lager by Icicle Brewery in Leavenworth, which was a nice malty amber lager that was very smooth and approachable.   Jon had the Salmon Fish and Chips and Pablo had the Pineapple Express Burger, they were both really pleased with their meals as well.

My Bacon Bleu Burger with Gorgonzola Cheese and Sauteed Mushroooms - Scrumptious!

My Bacon Bleu Burger with Gorgonzola Cheese and Sauteed Mushroooms – Scrumptious!

Jon's Salmon Fish and Chips at the Milepost 111 Brewery - YUM!

Jon’s Salmon Fish and Chips at the Milepost 111 Brewery – YUM!

After we had been there for awhile, Jon’s parents showed up, so we sat with them while they had lunch too.  Jon’s mom had the Watermelon Jicama salad.  I was a bit unsure about it at first, but this salad was awesome!  It had watermelon cut into big chunks and jicama, flavored with honey, orange, lime juice and mint.  The flavors just exploded in your mouth, with the mint providing the perfect accompaniment with the watermelon!  Sorry, I didn’t get a picture though…

After hanging out on the patio for a couple of hours, it was time to check out our cabin.  Jon’s sister had rented a cabin for the weekend that was right on the Wenatchee River, overlooking a section of rapids.  We checked into the cabin, dropped our stuff in our rooms, and went down to the river!  By that time of the afternoon, it was really hot – close to 100 degrees, so dipping our toes into the frigid water felt really good.  Dipping the whole body was quite a different matter.  That water was cold!  REALLY COLD!

I don’t think I had ever been swimming in water so cold – it is mountain melt, and is pretty close to the source in Leavenworth.  It took a few minutes to get acclimated, but once you were in, the crisp cold water felt really good.  Of course, it isn’t water you can lounge around in for the whole afternoon… but for later in the evening there was a hot tub.

Our Section of the Wenatchee River - Super Cold Water!

Our Section of the Wenatchee River – Super Cold Water!

Jon’s sister and her husband treated us to dinner that evening – homemade seafood paella.  Paella is complicated to make, requiring many steps to turn out a finished product, so I was excited to have some outside of a restaurant.  It is one of my favorite dishes, and we all really enjoyed it.

It was a great day to relax and enjoy ourselves!

Old Horses Get Gas…

Yesterday, Biz had some new X-rays on his teeth to determine whether there has been more progression in the deterioration of his teeth.  If you have followed this blog, you know that Biz has EOTRH, which causes the roots of the teeth to break down and become spongy, eventually undermining the stability of the tooth.  Biz had a second tooth pulled back in May, and since then we have been watching a third.  With the fall change in weather, he started dropping a bit of weight, something he has been known to do even before his teeth went bad, but lately he has also been showing more signs of pain in his gums.

So the X-rays went well, and I’m waiting for final word, but the preliminary assessment was to continue watching and waiting, as it didn’t appear there has been a lot of further deterioration in this tooth.  A couple of others we were watching actually seem a bit more stable, as they are forming more cementum.  Basically those tooth are building up extra calcium around the tooth to shore it up – it shows up as a ball type formation around the root of the tooth.  My vet is going to compare his current X-rays with his May X-rays on a high resolution monitor to make sure he wants to stick with the watch and wait theory, but for now…

So today I got a call at work from the friend who owns the stable where Biz lives.  He’s not eating much, pooping even less, and although he doesn’t seem acutely distressed, he just looks “off.”  Those of you who have animals understand what I mean by off.  There’s nothing specific, but you know something isn’t right.  And when your baby is 26 years old, you can’t ignore “off.”  Biz had laid down a couple of times, and gotten back up, and overnight had been down and up several times.  He still had enough pep to run away when I went to catch him (some things will never change), and while a small apple was enough to lure him in, he didn’t want to eat it.  Biz loves apples, so him turning his nose up at one is big news…

The vet arrived, and after the exam, diagnosed a case of gas colic.  A horse’s digestive system is very sensitive, and since they are designed to graze all day, the stomach isn’t intended to hold much food.  It is supposed to move into the small intestine (over 75 feet long in a horse!) relatively quickly to begin digestion.  If the food doesn’t move quickly enough into the intestines, it will start to ferment in the stomach, causing gas.  Almost all horses can’t burp or vomit (although I did have a mare who could burp the most fouling smelling burps, always in your face, but that’s a story for another time), so gas causes extreme discomfort.

Fortunately, we caught his colic early, because it can be fatal for horses if left untreated.  Eventually the discomfort will cause the horse to want to get down on the ground and roll to relieve the pain, but doing that can cause the intestine to twist and cut off the blood supply.  The only treatment at that point is surgical intervention, which is complicated and dangerous.  Biz’s colic was likely caused by the fact that he was sedated yesterday for the X-rays, slowing down the body’s processes, including digestion.  That slow down was enough to cause the colic.

The treatment was a painkiller and a large volume of electrolytes and mineral oil via a nasogastric tube.  That’s right, the vet had to get a tube up his nose and down into his stomach.  Preferably this would be done without sedation, because further sedation could just compound the problem, so we tried it that way.  Biz showed me that he would be perfectly at home among the Lipizzaner Stallions at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.  Each time we tried to get the tube in, he would rear and jump forward, trying to leave us both in the dust.  My somewhere more than 100 pound body was no match for his 980 pounds of muscle, even if he wasn’t feeling well…

REAR!  LEAP FORWARD!  Drag Camille and the vet along with him!  That was the routine.  Quite impressive really, considering he hasn’t been trained in these maneuvers – if you want to check out his airs above the ground, they looked something like these.  After about a dozen attempts to intubate him, a minor rope burn on my finger, and coming close to a shoulder dislocation (my shoulder, not his), I could barely conceal my relief when the vet concluded that we needed to try Plan B.

Plan B was a mild, short-acting sedative for Biz – sadly I wasn’t offered any – by that time I needed some!  It worked like a charm, the tube went in, followed by about a gallon of electrolyte solution and a Costco size bottle of mineral oil.  Apparently mineral oil prevents gas from forming – I never knew this, but it is certainly information that could come in handy!

Biz got some immediate relief, and I spent the next couple of hours watching him walk around, first in the arena, and then later, in his small outdoor field.  He was interested in nibbling a little grass, and was clearly more comfortable.  Crisis averted.

Sadly, with an old horse, you never know when the next call will come…

Biz and Me, Back in May

Biz and Me, Back in May

Leavenworth – by Way of Seattle

Back in July (really, was it that long ago?) Jon and I took a long weekend to go visit Leavenworth.  That’s the Leavenworth in Washington, not the Leavenworth in Kansas, even though you may be surprised by that, given my fascination with prisons!  Jon’s family had rented a cabin on the river to have a little family getaway, and Jon’s friend Pablo was coming to visit from California, so we took an extra day off on Friday to do a bit of touristing in Seattle.

We had lunch at Coastal Kitchen, which is a restaurant about a mile away from Jon’s sister’s house, so we walked up there on a beautiful sunny day for a relaxing lunch.  Coastal Kitchen specializes in seafood and oysters, featuring an oyster bar and a rotating featured region.  The menu contains items from the featured region, often changed-up with some foodie flair – when we were there it was Veracruz, Mexico.

Coastal Kitchen - Capital Hill, Seattle

Coastal Kitchen – Capital Hill, Seattle

I pondered the menu and was intrigued by the Garnachas de Masa, described on the menu as “a Veracruz street-food classic gone Coastal.  Crispy sweet potato and masa shells on a bed of bandito black beans sporting a booty of chorizo and chopped oysters. With sidekicks queso fresco and lime crema.”  I ordered it, even though I had no idea what it would be like.

Coastal Kitchen's Garnachas de Masa - Delicious!

Coastal Kitchen’s Garnachas de Masa – Delicious!

I was so pleasantly surprised!  This meal was awesome!  It burst with flavor with every bite – and each bite was different with the crunchy sweet potato masa and the toppings of chorizo and small bits of oysters.  The lime crema was fantastic!

Jon played it safe with a Cobb salad – he said it was very good, but it couldn’t have been anywhere near as good as mine!

Coastal Kitchen's Cobb Salad

Coastal Kitchen’s Cobb Salad

I will certainly check out Coastal Kitchen again – and if you want to check it out, they are still currently featuring Veracruz.

Help Save the Cooper-Molera Adobe

This spring I posted about my California Road Trip and our visit to the Cooper-Molera Adobe in Monterey, California.  You can read about it here.  This adobe home was built in 1823, and has stood the test of time for almost 200 years.  It is currently owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, who leases it to the California Park System to operate.  It is a beautiful structure that is part of the Monterey State Historic Park, which consists of 55 buildings all over town.

Well at the Cooper-Molera Adobe

Well at the Cooper-Molera Adobe

The California Park System has been plagued by financial difficulties over the last several years and is now telling the National Trust that it cannot continue to upkeep or operate a site that they do not own.  As a result, the National Trust for Historic Preservation is considering a proposal by a developer to turn the site into shops and restaurants.  The developer says they intend to maintain the historic integrity of the structures, but as I’m sure you know, it wouldn’t be possible to add commercial kitchens and office spaces without fundamentally changing the structure and damaging the historic integrity of the building.  And once a site is gone, we can never get it back…

Historic Barn at the Cooper-Molera Adobe

Historic Barn at the Cooper-Molera Adobe

If this tugs at your heartstrings the way that it does mine, here’s a website with more information.  Send a letter, get involved, do what you can to help ensure future generations are able to visit historic sites.

Mouvance Winery – Pinot in Idaho?

The second winery that we visited in Boise was such a surprise!  Who knew that we would find Oregon Pinot in Idaho?  Turns out the owners, who live in Boise, purchased a 50 acre vineyard site near Salem, Oregon.  They worked to build the vineyard and opened the winery in Carlton, Oregon, but moved the winery in 2012 to Boise.  They opened their downtown Boise tasting room in March 2013.  The grapes will continue to come from their vineyard site in Oregon.

We started our tasting with the 2009 Pinot Gris.  It is 98% Pinot Gris and 2% Riesling, and is full of aromas and flavors of honey and pear.  It is a more creamy Pinot Gris, rather than being crisp and acidic.  I tend more towards the crisp, citrus Pinot Gris, but if you like a creamier Pinot Gris, you will love this one.  We had the 2011 Rose next, a light Pinot Noir Rose with strawberry and light cream flavors and vanilla on the finish.  It had far less citrus flavor than is typical in a Rose, but the heavier mouth feel and creamy flavor will appeal to many.

The 2010 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir had strong flavors of black cherry and spice – without overpowering tannins.  I really enjoyed this wine, and it is very reasonably priced at $25 dollars a bottle.

The last two wines we tasted were two different expressions of the Pinot grapes in their vineyard, the 2009 Judith Marie Pinot Noir and the 2009 Donna Jean Pinot Noir.  The Judith Marie has flavors of fig, date and mocha, and a smoky toast flavor on the finish.  Jon preferred this one.  My favorite was the Donna Jean, with stronger blackberry and plum flavors mised with smoke and wood aromas.  Both were excellent, both were young and I’m sure both will be even better after a bit more time in the bottle.  Of course, they are both sold out now, so you’ll have to get the 2010, which I have no doubt are just as good.

The owners, Lonnie and Judy, came out and chatted with us for a bit, taking a break from their barrel cleaning chores.  They were very friendly folks, and we chatted about marathons and the upcoming wine country half marathon.  Sorry there are no pictures, but I was just enjoying the wine so much!  It is certainly a place we will visit again!

A Cop Makes Wine: 2007 Guardian Cellars Syrah

After a long day at work (lately they have all been long days), I came home and put together a dinner of baked Bratwurst and veggies.  Jon told me I could open whatever wine I wanted, so I went exploring in the wine fridge and came out with a 2007 Syrah by Guardian Cellars.

Guardian is a relative newcomer to the Woodinville, WA wine scene, opening the doors to its tasting room in 2007 with the 2003 and 2004 vintages.  They sold out on opening day.  They have increased production over the years, from 300 cases to 5,000 cases in 2012, but it continues to be a labor of love for Jerry, a local police officer who makes all of the wine himself.  His wife manages the tasting room, which closes down for periods of time when they sell out of the current releases.

Guardian wines consistently get high scores, which is no surprise considering I haven’t tried a Guardian wine that I didn’t love.  Jerry makes several big, bold reds, with complex flavors that are nicely balanced and tannins that aren’t overwhelming.  Each of the wines, while robust, is also smooth and approachable.

Although they have found success in their second careers, they are still as friendly as ever, giving each customer special attention in the tasting room and making you feel like a friend.  They have decorated the space with concert posters, detailing musical tastes that are in line with Jon’s, and the modern style is trendy and minimalist without feeling cold.  It is a great place to hang out over a glass of wine.  And if it isn’t super-busy, Jerry will happily show you around the production area, where all the wine-making action takes place.


The 2007 Syrah comes from Stillwater Creek Vineyard grapes, and was aged in 75% new French oak for 18 months.  It has blackberries and smoke on the nose, and follows with flavors of berry, wood and spice on the palate, with just a hint of that same smoke.  If you can find a bottle, you won’t be disappointed.  Wow.