Monday, May 9, 2011

Precious Review

The Lucky Birth Club
A while back, I bought the movie Precious and left it at my daughter's house. Soon I forgot that I had even bought it, until last Sunday, when I saw it on top her television. I made some popcorn, fixed a drink and sat down to watch it. That's about the last I remember... suddenly, the movie was over and all I could say was wow!

Thank God for my lucky circumstance of birth, I was born into a life where my parents loved and supported me. I grew up knowing that I was smart and capable, that I was here on this good earth to make it a better place for my family, friends and community. My lucky circumstance at birth allowed a modicum of control over my life and what happened to me. I am truly blessed!

As a society, we tend to blame the less fortunate for being lazy, stupid, or just plain no good. Yet, their only crime is the situation into which they were born, into which they had no control. It's not pretty, it's not nice, but these people deserve our love and compassion. They desperately need education and the support services that will help break the cycle of tragedy. We need to fight fewer wars, quit giving corporate welfare and we'll have plenty of money to provide the social services that so many Americans desperately need.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Wild Women of Tulip Festival

One fine spring day, I noticed Kevin Paul was working in his shed, so I stopped by to visit.  It was Tulip Festival and there were a lot of tourists in town.  In fact, there were two of them that had stopped by Kevin’s place.  I stepped into his shed and my eyes popped out of my head.  Now my momma taught me not to stare, but I couldn’t help myself, I stared and then I stared some more!
The two ladies who had stopped by Kevin’s had their heads shaved with blue and white swirls tattooed on their naked scalps.  They were wearing bibbed farmer overalls, on their arms were barbwire and naked lady tattoos, and they were sitting there carving.  Seeing them with razor sharp carving knives had me a little alarmed and I whispered in Kevin’s ear, “You gave them knives?”
Kevin, got a great big smile and whispered, “They wanted my chainsaw.”  After I realized it wasn’t going to be a chainsaw massacre, I settled down and realized that these two ladies weren’t so bad, and all they really wanted to do was buy a couple of carving knives from Kevin.  

Monday, April 25, 2011

Will The Real Welfare Queen Please Stand Up!

The whole reason we do this thing called government is to provide for the "commons." Alone, we can't provide our own personal defense, police, schools, hospitals, roads, parks and many other necessary services without forming a government and paying taxes. Many Americans are blaming these social services for our current economic crisis, yet we have been providing them since the birth of our nation without incurring excessive debt. So what happened? Corporate welfare is busting the bank and the cost of all our social services combined represent chump change when compared to corporate giveaways!

In the bad old days, corporations paid very high taxes, and frankly, they were paying their own way. Now, with lowered tax rates, loopholes and off shoring, they have become America's new welfare queens and are sucking us dry. There are literally thousands, maybe millions of ways they dupe tax payers. First, they own the media and politicians who constantly search for issues that will distract and divide Americans. Remember Terry Schiavo unplugged, the mosque at ground zero, the Acorn pimp film, and President Obama's birth certificate.  These are certainly things to think about, but they are used to distract and divide while digging deep in the taxpayers' pocket.

Did you ever wonder why we spend so much money on foreign aid while our nation is in crisis?  Foreign aid is never just handed out, there are many stipulations regarding how and where the money is spent. Politicians designate which companies will provide the services and products in the foreign aid packages and there goes our money, right into the pockets of corporations. It used to be, corporations provided jobs and paid taxes in America thus stimulating our economy. Corporations are getting trillions of dollars while providing fewer jobs and fewer tax dollars. While we are distracted and divided, all you can hear is a great big sucking sound.

What about the military industrial complex, with the cost of a cruise missile delivered to target at well over a million dollars a shot.  During the first days of the Libya crisis, 110 cruise missiles were fired.  Did you ever consider the cost of protecting corporate shipping, or the cost of building and maintaining ports for the corporations who use them?  How about tax payers building super domes for billionaire team owners and millionaire players.  Taxpayers building hospitals for corporations who make trillions of dollars off them.  Nuclear energy is the most expensive way of producing electricity known to man, so why the big push for nuclear?  They would like the taxpayer to build, maintain and cleanup while the corporations laugh all the way to the bank.  One could write for weeks, or even years, regarding the ways that corporations take our tax dollars without providing meaningful return on taxpayer investment, but I think you get the point.

The real welfare queens are not single moms living in the projects.  They are giant international corporations lined up at the public trough stealing our tax dollars.  Prior to 1980, America prospered because most corporations provided quality American jobs while paying significant taxes on their profits.  There are some corporations who still provide quality American jobs and pay a lot of taxes.  These companies should be getting our tax dollars not the international corporations who have abandoned our nation.  America's taxpayers deserve a fair return on their tax dollar investments that make corporate profits possible.  The people need to rise up and demand that they be fairly represented by their politicians.  Campaign, lobby and labor law reform are key issues needed to make the changes needed, so get out there and carry a sign, get out there and walk, let's change things. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Journey Back In Time

I recently visited my great grandfather's homestead on the Nooksack river with my cousin Ron.  Standing in the woods, where the old Rothenbuhler family cabin once stood, was like going back in time.  I could almost hear their voices, it lent strength to my connections with both the land and my Swiss ancestors who traveled so far to build a new home in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest.

                                           Cousin Ron zip lining the river.

                                                           Ron's Cabin
Rothenbuhler Rain Forest
Jacob Rothenbuhler Family Cabin, 1901

Jacob's Cabin Site Today

Fred Rothenbuhler's Cabin, 1918

Fred's Cabin Site Today

Saxon School, 1900-1901

Saxon School Site Today

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tai Chi of The Forest

Morel Mushrooms

Picking morels is a slow motion dance, best described as Tai Chi of the forest.  Heel to toe, shifting the weight, balancing and stepping.  Dancing gracefully under, over and around logs and brush, stooping to pick those delicious mushrooms.  Head down, circling round and round the giant cottonwoods, one must know how to navigate the forest, or suffer the embarrassment of being lost.  

Lucky for me, Daddy taught me how to find my way in the woods a long, long time ago.  If you're new to the forest, I'll share a few tips on finding your way:  
  • Know the area, have a look at a map knowing what direction the roads, trails and creeks are running.  
  • Have a compass in your pocket and use it, know that if you're hunting east of a road or trail that you need to go west on your return.  Once in the woods, take a reading, turn the compass until the needle is pointed north and read the direction back.  I like a compass with an outer ring that spins so you can mark that direction.  

  • Lacking a compass, you can still navigate quite effectively.  On clear days, you can use the sun, remembering that it rises in the east traveling an arc that sets in the west.  Wherever the sun is when you start, put it on your opposite side to return (remember to allow for its east-west journey).  
  • On a cloudy day, one can even use a watch, just make a big right hand or left hand rectangle.  For a 2hr.  journey, you could walk straight for 30 min. turn right, walk 30 min. turn right, walk 30 min. turn right, walk 30 min. and you are back at your starting point.  This is very effective, especially if you take care to walk straight, allow for slower, rougher terrain and differently shaped rectangles.  
  • Finally there's looking for landmarks that can be used just like the sun to find your way - valleys, mountains, rivers, giant rocks or trees etc.  It's also a good idea to look behind and pick landmarks that identify your return journey.
Get yourself a mushroom field guide with color plates, identification is easy and safe once learned, best to go with a friend the first time.   Morels in the Pacific Northwest are associated with cottonwoods.  The only similar mushroom that's poisonous is the false morel.  It's generally larger, darker and more like a brain on a stem, see your field guide.

For us older folk, a good walking stick is a must and handy for turning over the occasional clump of leaves.  Some people rake to find the mushrooms, please don't do this.  It's equivalent to cutting down  your apple tree to pick the apples. Most of the plant is growing under the leaves and the mushrooms that poke up through the leaves are the equivalent of fruit.  When you rake, it destroys the plant and mushrooms will not grow well for years.  If possible, try breaking the stem off without disturbing the roots and further disrupting the plant's growth.

There are many good recipes for mushrooms, I like them scrambled with eggs for breakfast or floured and fried with a little salt and pepper.  Just the other day, I sauteed some mushrooms in a sauce of whipping cream, blue cheese and wine, pouring this over a prime rib steak - yum!

Friday, February 25, 2011

I Told Ya...


I set our big red coffee can of boot grease and my hunting boots behind the wood stove to warm up.  It wasn’t long, and the smell of old leather boots and boot grease filled the air.  Most of you know what an old boot smells like, but homemade boot grease brings it to a whole new level.  It’s a combination of deer fat, bear fat and neatsfoot oil with a rather special aroma.

It was spring time and that meant high lake fishing.  Uncle Bill, Daddy and I were hiking into Blue Lake early in the morning.  I was greasing my boots with an old rag and using a matchstick to work the grease into the creases like my daddy showed me.  Hiking in the snow is no fun if your boots leak.

Momma, she fixed us a nice breakfast of pancakes, bacon and eggs.  Daddy noticed I was still wearing my sneakers and told me to get my boots on.  I figured I’d get them on after I loaded my old Army surplus haversack.  Then we were driving up Hwy. 20 towards the Baker Lake turnoff.

When I stepped out at the trail head, I realized that I’d forgot to get my boots on.  All I got from Daddy was, “I told ya to put them boots on.”  All the way into that lake... ankle deep snow, I told ya to put them boots on... knee deep snow, I told ya to put them boots on... thigh deep snow, I told ya to putt them boots on...

By the time we reached the lake, my feet were freezing.  Uncle Bill and Daddy found open water around the edges of the lake to fish.  Me, I was thinking fire and trying to find tinder.  Building a fire when you really need it is something you can’t hurry.  You have to get all your tinder and wood ready and find a good spot.  At last, I had a curl of smoke, a flicker of flame and pretty soon a lively little fire.  I kicked off my shoes and socks hanging them on sticks over the fire to dry.  As my toes warmed up, I got me a great big smile, ahhh... life is good. 

I grabbed up my fishing pole and stood on a big rock, figured I’d catch me a fish to roast on the fire.  Looking over my shoulder, I screamed, “Nooooo!”  Running barefoot, I knocked my flaming socks and sneakers into the snow.  All Daddy could say was, “I told ya to put them boots on.”  All the way down the mountain, I told ya to put them boots on... all the way home, I told ya to put them boots on.  For years and years, all I heard was, "Ya got your boots on?"  

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


You plant, dig posts, run wires, cultivate and pull weeds.  Why all the bother?  You can drive to the store, and buy raspberries anytime you want.

Then they bloom and bees descend by the thousands singing psalms of joy and praise to all who grow raspberries, and I feel like a god!

I like picking raspberries in the morning.  The leaves give wet kisses and whisper sweet nothings in my ear. The tires of trucks and cars on the highway sing traveling songs going places I only dream of.

My grand children eat berries ‘till they look like chipmunks with red lips. They fill little baggies to take home, and my oldest tells me, “I like the sour ones Grandpa.”

Then it’s winter, the garden is silent, and it’s time for holidays.  There’s raspberry Jello salad, raspberry blackberry pie, and raspberry rhubarb crisp.  When I eat these comfort foods, I hear bees singing psalms of joy and praise, I feel wet kisses and the whispering of sweet nothings in my ear.  I see my grandchildren looking like chipmunks with red lips.

And this is why I’m out there every spring - weeding, cultivating, thinning and tieing off those wonderful raspberries.