smoke and pies

Today is Peach Pie Day.  I am going to make and freeze pies until I run out of peaches.

Because I bought a case last week, that could take a while.



View from my office window this morning.

As you can see, there will be no outdoor activities today.  The air quality is pretty bad and it smells as if we are in the middle of a campfire.  There are so many fires in Washington, Oregon and Montana.  Nothing too close, but the smoke is everywhere.

Yesterday DMP, Mandolin Ann and I had a music lesson with Doug, followed by lunch at the Pie Hut.  Yes, we all had pie for dessert.  We’re in a pie mood these days.  Comfort food is what happens when you don’t want to go outside and you can’t see anything but smoke out of your windows.

There are rumors of a cold front coming.  Somehow that translates into less smoke, so I hope it is true.  There is no rain in the forecast (unless you count a “20% chance of rain” on Friday as a done deal) and no reduction in the fire danger.

But we are not dealing with flood-creating hurricanes or winds blowing our roof off, so we count ourselves lucky.

I have pies to bake, recipes to find for the upcoming baby shower and guitar chords to practice.  So I’d better get started.

Stay safe wherever you are.

More Pie




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coffee 3000 miles away

I received a text message this morning from Harley Chick.  We met the Wednesday after Labor Day thirty years ago!

Over the years we’ve managed to celebrate–or commiserate over–the first day of school many, many times.

She sent me a picture of her sweet granddaughter getting on the bus to head off to school.

Oh, how times flies…but we still love our morning coffee.

Enjoy the day, all of you young mothers out there.  Make a new friend and go out for coffee.  You might just be celebrating together for many years to come!




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my banjo man is back at the lake

I am so happy.  I can’t stop hugging him.

But he doesn’t seem to mind.

His plane was landing at 9:30 Monday night, so my first plan was to drive in to Spokane at 7 PM and pick him up, then head home.  But the more I thought about it the more I realized how damn tired I was.

It had been a stressful week and I needed a Plan B.

So I reserved a room at the Ramada, directly across from the airport, and left the house at noon.  There would be a stop at Kohl’s (for baby gifts!), among other stores.  I have a baby shower to organize, too.  Lots to think about while listening to bluegrass cd’s and driving to the Big City!



I couldn’t resist.


I arrived at 4 PM and planned on using the Ramada’s pool and hot tub, indulging in a drink in the lounge, enjoying dinner in their restaurant and watching the train wreck that is always “Bachelor in Paradise” on live television (vs. the constantly buffering Hulu).

But of course things don’t always go according to plan.  I fell asleep and missed the pool.  I talked to my son and grandson (first day of school report!) on the phone for quite a while, which spilled over into “drink at the bar” time.  Since I’ve rarely ever had a drink in a motel bar, this was not exactly a disappointment.  I was so hungry by then that I was out of the mood to change from baggy shorts and wrinkled t-shirt into an acceptable sundress, so I drove to Pizza Hut for a small pepperoni to go.  I would eat in my room, in front of tv.  It would be wonderful.

By the time I returned with my little pizza (first carbs in 3 weeks), there were 15 minutes left before Bachelor in Paradise started.  Perfect timing.  My joy knew no bounds.

Until… I discovered that ABC was not working on the television.  The nice woman at the front desk informed me that the problem was with Directv and only ABC was affected.

Are you kidding me?

It would have to be “House Hunters” and pizza, then.

Banjo Man knocked on the door at 10 and staggered inside with three suitcases.  He’d brought his collection of old farm tools in one of the massive suitcases.

The next morning we did something we’d always wanted to do but had never done:  eat at a “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” restaurant.  Harley Chick had told me about Frank’s Diner, in Spokane.  So we packed up the car and by 7:00 AM we were at Frank’s.

It was like a mini road trip.



Isn’t this gorgeous?  It’s a 1906 railroad car.




He looks happy about his breakfast, doesn’t he?



My pumpkin waffle.  So pretty.

So my Plan B worked out well.  We were back home at the lake around 10 AM.  No driving at night while exhausted was a good decision.

As was breakfast at Frank’s.  Check it out:






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corn pig

My good friend Bass Man (aka Boom Boom) Neil of band fame bought me these.  They are the cutest things I’ve seen all summer and they work!



Check it out:


My dinner one night last week. Go ahead, be as jealous as you want.

I ate sweet corn for dinner three nights in a row.  Yep, only sweet corn.  Nothing else, because why bother?  This is the best and it only comes around once a year.  Make hay while the corn’s ripe (or something like that).

Where did I get such beautiful corn,  you ask?

Take a wild guess.



Dancing Mandolin Player is always happy when she is in her garden.

And who else is in there?



Bob, is that you?  Are you avoiding me or only trying to find perfect ears of ripe corn?

Corn and peaches make an excellent diet.  Trust me, I know.






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eclipse on the lake


Taken with cell phone filtered through eclipse glasses.

Everyone will have their own eclipse story, I’m sure.  Where were you?  How much did you see?

The lake house faces north and the morning sun shines over its right shoulder, blocked for the most part by the tall trees that the eagles and ospreys call home.  Son #2 asked where I was going to watch the eclipse and I didn’t have an answer.  Maybe…on the dock?  Or should I drive to the other side of the bay and sit in a parking lot?

Yesterday Dancing Mandolin Player had asked if I wanted to go up to Schweitzer with them this morning.  It’s a huge ski area and the resort was holding a big party.  The plan would be to take the ski lift to the top of the mountain and party with hundreds of local folks.

I’ve never been on a ski lift.  I’m happy to go through life never having done it.

I politely declined.  Then last night DMP told me she and Bob had changed their minds, deciding there would be too much traffic on the mountain road leading to the resort.

So this morning I called them, planning to ask if I could come over to their house and watch the eclipse with an unrestricted view of the sun.  Not that I was going to look directly at it, but it would be interesting to see if the sky darkened dramatically.

Turns out they were going out on the boat to watch it.  Did I want to join them?

Hell, yes!


We parked out here.  You can see that it was a beautiful morning.



Bob couldn’t resist putting a line in the water.

We shared the eclipse glasses, which worked beautifully.



Your turn!



A very relaxing Eclipse of the Century.

We noticed a bit of darkening around us, but nothing dramatic.  But through the glasses we were able to watch the whole thing.  Such a beautiful morning!





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blue gold



It’s huckleberry-picking season here in the mountains.  If you want to pick huckleberries you’d better be prepared for long mountain rides, hikes through the woods and the possibility of encountering a bear or, even worse, other berry pickers.

I think a gallon of these is going for $40.  But I wouldn’t be surprised if it was more than that.

I found this link:

Pretty amazing.

Dancing Mandolin Player’s Boyfriend Bob has spent many, many hours picking huckleberries.  The guy knows what he’s doing!   I asked him for a cup of berries that I could freeze for next summer’s visit by the Funny Grandson.  We will make huckleberry ice cream in the Cuisinart.

The ice cream-making this summer was so much fun.  Remember I borrowed DMP’s Cuisinart?  The grandson and I made ice cream every other night.  Our success inspired My French Friend Janou to dig out a similar appliance she’d bought at a thrift shop and never used.  The result?  Ice cream!  DMP’s future daughter-in-law triumphed with sorbet recipes.  Mandolin Ann liked my homemade vanilla ice cream so much that she successfully created peach buttermilk sorbet.


Yes, my ice cream maker is pink.

The pink ones were $4.00 cheaper on Amazon.  I am not a huge fan of pink, but I am frugal.

Unless I am buying fabric.  Then I don’t know what “frugal” means.


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Last week Mandolin Ann and Bass Man Neil invited me “up the hill” for a yummy eggplant dinner, with special drinks served on the deck before our meal.  And Ann gifted me with three beautiful eggplants.

I love eggplant.

The next day I peeled and sliced all three in long horizontal strips, sweated them with salt, wiped them dry and dipped them in an egg wash.   Then I coated them with Italian bread crumbs and baked them in the oven.  Almost all of them went into the freezer, but I held back enough for a little “eggplant parm” (as they say in Rhode Island).  I used fresh mozzarella and my own cherry tomatoes, sliced.  With fresh basil from the garden and a drizzle of olive oil, it was baked in a small casserole dish until the mozzarella melted.

I may never make eggplant parmigiana the traditional way again.

Check out Thursday’s crop of tomatoes:


My “tomato jungle” is producing these little gems and I am loving it.  Three tomato plants in pots are about as much of a garden as I can handle or am interested in dealing with.  My many gardening friends absolutely amaze me with their joyful dedication to growing food and flowers.  Ladies, you’re incredible!

Friday Dancing Mandolin Player shared her sweet corn with me.  I ate three ears.  It was absolutely the best sweet corn I’ve ever had in my life.

The free stone peaches are in town, thanks to the Peach Man.  My favorites, the Elbertas, are due next Thursday.  It will be time to make pies again.  Until then I am merely slicing peaches into bowls (and wolfing them down several times a day).

Summer’s bounty has arrived!





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leaving spokane

It’s a long drive from Spokane to the lake, but on Tuesday I was armed with music and water, along with looking forward to a stop at the Bear Paw Quilt Shop in Coeur d’Alene.  They opened at 9:30, which meant I could get a good start out of the hotel.

But there was this along Interstate 90, near Post Falls.


Yep, that’s smoke.

I’d guess that some idiot threw a lit cigarette out of his car and onto the strip of brushy land between the eastbound and westbound lanes.   Four fire trucks were on the scene.

These are scary times here in the Northwest.

On to Coeur d’Alene for a little R&R in the fabric displays.


My favorite quilt and fabric designer, Kaffe Fassett, is going to be in town in September teaching an all day workshop on design and also giving an evening lecture.  Both events are sold out, unfortunately.  I have all of his books and have made at least 20 of his quilts.  To meet him in person and learn how he goes about designing his quilts would have been a life highlight.


Here are some of his fabrics.  Yes, they’re bright!  And I love them.

Then it was time to make the 90 minute drive back to the lake.  The smoke from the fires in British Columbia grows thicker every day.  There is no end in sight.  Our Canadian neighbors need rain and lots of it.  We’d greatly appreciate a nice rainy day, too.

Dancing Mandolin Player and I are ready for our gig tomorrow.  We’ve been practicing and trying not to laugh when we forget the lyrics.  There is one song, “Blues Stay  Away From Me”,  that has too many words!  I’m afraid we’re going to mess it up and then get the giggles.

Oh, dear.

If you want to hear us, come to the City Beach tomorrow at 11.  And then you can shop at the Arts & Crafts Festival, an annual event with booth after booth of gorgeous handmade items.  You’ll find me gawking at earrings and sniffing goat milk soap.



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banjo man’s return


Somehow every airport trip’s midpoint (maybe 1/3 point?) ends up at Jimmy John’s.  Banjo Man loves the tuna and I like the turkey with avocado.  We debate trying other places, sit down restaurants, etc. but the ease and speed of Jimmy John’s wins every time.

Banjo Man returned with a new smart phone (his first!) and a tablet.  He is quite thrilled and quite intimidated, so this is definitely a work in progress.  This morning we spent a couple of hours with them and then I had to take a break or start drinking tequila at 10 AM–not a good idea–and retreated downstairs to the exercise bike.

I am still hiding here on the lower level.  With iced tea.  I have songs to practice for next weekend and my guitar is friendlier than a Samsung Galaxy.

Check out the fabric for an Idaho baby’s quilt!


I couldn’t resist.

Yesterday’s stop at the quilt store was so much fun.  They had a good selection of fabric and a huge selection of sewing machines.  The salesman made me a vanilla latte and then we discussed the pros and cons of the Janome 6600 and the 9400.  The 9400 is much more expensive, but has the larger harp size and the fancy, invaluable lighting.

The 6600 looks almost exactly like the machine I have now, except for a brilliant feed dog system.  It made me happy just to look at it and its reputation is stellar.

So…is the extra quilting room and the fantastic lighting worth the extra $$$$??  Do I go for the fancy top-of-the-line machine with all the bells and whistles or stay in my comfort zone?

Fortunately I don’t have to decide for a few more months.

We are waiting for the breeze to die down so we can do a little kayaking.  The skies are not as hazy with smoke today, so we hope that means the Washington and Canadian fires are under control.

Fire danger is extremely high.  I’m glad we had our beachfront campfires in July, because we certainly won’t be enjoying any in the near future.

Happy Sunday, everyone.




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smoke and jam

Can you tell it’s fire season?  The fires are far away, I hear.  In Canada.  But the wind blows the smoke here, as you can see.


This was taken around 4:00 Friday afternoon.  It looks strange, doesn’t it?

Yesterday I made 4 batches (23 jars!) of blueberry jam.


There are still plenty of berries leftover for cakes, but if I make blueberry cakes I will only eat them.  And I don’t need to eat cake.

A dilemma.

Perhaps I will be freezing several blueberry cakes to foist on my friends.  I like to eat blueberries like M&M’s, too, while I’m reading.   Those little suckers are addicting.

Enough blueberry chat.  I’m off to Spokane to pick up Banjo Man (he’s flying in from Portland) and need to get on the road early enough to have an hour in a quilt store that is having a 20% off sale on fabric.

Could there be anything more enticing?

I have it all planned.  Leave by 8 AM, get to the store when it opens at 10, shop for an hour and then hop back in the car and drive 30 minutes to the airport.

This is going to be a great morning.




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