A Date with the Rayman

Hello from the Pacific Northwest, and specifically Portland, OR.  We arrived here on a beautiful May Day and are now starting to get our bearings.  

Dicey is the word that you might find in Wordle and definitely the word you would use for the weather here.  The old adage, don’t like the weather, wait 15 minutes is totally apropos for this city.  And that iw the type of day it is today.  Winter and spring alternating about every 15 minutes.

We had a date today.  Freda and Diego were featured in a wonderful exhibition at the Portland (PDX) Art Museum.  They did not disappoint.  A very colorful show that rings true today as they were very much political animals and supported laborers, craftspersons, and the dispossessed. 




Here are a few original paintings of the two.  And lots of people in attendance so that we remained masked.  It was about a 60-40 split, mask v bare-faced.


Freda with monkeys.

Diego’s cacti

A few notes.  Loved the monkey picture.  They had monkeys in their home in Mexico City.  That home is now a Museum.  I want to go there.  Secondly, the anti is so interesting.  Male and female?  inquiring minds want to know.  Her self portrait with a picture of Diego between her eyes is weird but beautifully painted.  She shunned the idea that she was a surrealist.


But on to the rest of the story.

After the exhibit, we looked for a place to eat and decided on a food truck restaurant that Kirsten, Sue’s youngest, recommended.  As we were leaving the city proper, we espied Powells Books and Rayman wanted to stop in for a new book.  Parking was a mess, it was cold and sprinkling off and on.  So, in all my brilliance, I pulled over by the front door, suggested he get out and look for a book while I looked for a parking place.  As I pulled away, the car started beeping.  Why?, I wondered.  Then the phone rang.  Rayman had the key.  So, I circled round and he gave me the key.  They I was off again in search of a parking spot.  

PDX is a city under construction.  Collapsing lanes, no left turn signs, one way streets, streetcars to dodge.  All this added up to me getting lost.  This then afforded me to experiment with the voice button that I pressed, spitted “Powell”s Books into the microphone, wherever it was, and waited for directions.  While it is not hard, it isn’t easy and add that to the fact that I am completely unfamiliar with downtown, I was a sight to behold.  The phone rang.  It was Rayman wondering where I was.  He had purchased a book on Greek Mythology and was standing out where I left him.

Okay, but I was still lost, explained myself and told him I’d be right there reasoning that PDX is a small city.  Then I resumed practicing talking to the GPS which got me to the opposite side of Powell’s which was the wrong corner.  The bookstore is a city block, I think.  I called Rayman.  By this time, the sun had gone behind the looming, dark clouds, and it was starting to hail.  He was dressed for light rain, not hail and he told me that he was freezing and would I please come.  I may have turned left and then left again and there he was, my drowned rat.  No parking so I drove up the street as he broke into full run, for an old guy, quite surprising really.  He jumped in the car, flipped on the heated seat and I asked him what book he bought.  “OMG, I don’t have it.” 

Literally that was true.  It was not on his person as he had tossed it on the dash directly in front of himself.  With that then discovered, we caught the freeway and proceeded to lunch.  

PDX restaurants are open but most do take-out only.  So, I remembered that Kristen told me about a food court, PDX style…by which I mean food trucks in a courtyard configuration.  And that is where we headed.  Seating was in the middle.  The hail and the rain had stopped, Rayman’s derrière was mostly warm, the tables were covered by a roof, and there were heating devices hanging from the roof.  And that is where we had a wonderful lunch at a place called, oh, I don’t remember.  I took a picture though.  It was a fancy egg sandwich, perfectly perfect.

Rayman at the food court.

My sandwich half eaten. Yes, I finished it and washed it down with apple juice.


So, that was our date.  Now we’re are back home in our sweats, watching the weather from inside.  It is still changing every 15 minutes.  And Beau is thrilled we returned.

Table Number One

The only other time I remember being invited to sit at the Captain’s Table was on a cruise down the Soane when my Uncle was traveling with us.  He refused to accept the invite because, well, he could.  He may have said he wasn’t feeling well, because he wasn’t feeling well.  So, out of family support that evening, we declined the invitation.

Last night we were assigned to table one at a winery dinner.  And at that table were the owners of Dresser Winery which is located up the road, aptly named Dresser Ranch Place.  At the turn off at Dresser Ranch Place sits a just painted old house that my Grandparents, Birdie and Rollo Dresser, lived in for a bit of time.  It was “the ranch house.”  It is a house with a rich local history and it appears the new owners as of the beginning of this month, are sprucing the place up which is a huge relief to all that might strive to preserve history.  


The ranch house

But I digress.

Bottomline, the owners of the winery are entranced with the history of the Dresser Ranch for which I am personally thrilled and very much a Dresser descendant.  Because I am writing a book about the history of the place and my family, our stars collided when my friend, Tim Bryan, surprised me with a bottle of Dresser wine to introduce me to the new label.  

Life takes twists and turns like a mountain road, often when you least expect it  And in this case, my reaction to the turn of events replete with twists, was nothing short of swift.  Immediately, I joined the Dresser Winery wine club and as luck would have it, a party was planned for March 17.  So, along with buying a case of wine, I bought two tickets to the party.  And it was at that party, that we were assigned to table one.   

When we arrived, we were pointed to the pool area…a huge affair that called my name.  And this is where we met some ladies from Washington, D.C.  They had flown in for the event.  The smallest woman of the three was a retired Air Force officer, and she was a base commander in Ohio.  OMG.  Now, she works as a civilian at the Pentagon.  Oh, so many questions we had.  These three flew in for the weekend and ended up at the party that was limited to 40 diners.  It blows the mind.  We met a couple from San Diego.  They were bicyclists so we had much to discuss since we are bicycle groupies….we know and love dozens of bicyclists.  They are, after all, very brave.  

The kicker was the  husband and wife owners of the winery were like ying and yang as she was eleqant and he was a hoot, donned in a pair of green pants with an interesting print.  You know, you never want to look too long at prints on a pair of pants for fear of being considered too brazen, too improper.  But the pants were a scream.  Loved them.

Finally, the wine was delicious.  A different varietal was paired with the courses of the food and the entire affair struck the right note on the full mooned night.  That came as an instant relief to me because up until that moment, I had never had a glass of Dresser Wine.  A fine introduction all around.  A neophyte struck gold, is my description of the experience.  

A shout out to the others at the table.  A couple from Los Gatos, a couple from Atascadero.  The Atascadero folks were quite fabulous.  And as luck would have it, they are leaving for France at the end of this month…he is a winemaker at another winery, and she is a retired nurse who is too young to retire and so has developed another opportunity for herself which includes travel..  With youth on their side, the world is their oyster.  Of course, I had to refer them to my  blog and she impressively looked it up right there.  He was so moderate and kind.  Special people to our right.  

The other couple were from the Bay Area and he may have missed his calling.  He would give Larry King a run for his money.  Their story of how they met and married certainly caught our imagination.  They have been doing it right now for 45 years!  Because they were further away from me, it was very difficult for me to hear them.  Admittedly, I am deaf as a doornail, so missed out on most of the conversation, so I spent my time looking at them and I am here to report, their outfits were perfect.  Very well dressed and coifed.  

The wait staff was generous, efficient, and quite fun by the time I had gulped down about 3 bottles of wine.  Just sayin.  

They billed the party as dinner from 7 to 9.  We didn’t get home until 11:45.  So jazzed were we, that we talked all the way home, excited to be alive, to be healthy, to be wine menbers of the Dresser Winery.  

As a completely unexpected gesture, I invited the owners to dinner at our house for a TBD date.  .  The invitation included my offer to share many pictures with them.  They loved a few of the pictures I emailed them so, who knows?  He is a self described history buff and they are brilliant to have snapped up the Dresser name for their label.  So, one never knows.  

What I do know, without a doubt, is that you all need to go to the Dresser Winery east of Paso Robles.  It will definitely worth your time if you love red wine.  It’s so fine.

And I need to finish my book.

Serendipity Strikes

Yesterday a.m. I pulled myself out of bed, grabbed some coffee, and decided to work on my book.  It was just this last Thursday that my writing class critiqued my first 20 pages, double spaced of my budding masterpiece of a book about my family history.  This gave me a push to work on the book as many of the people thought kindly of my efforts.

When I finally took a break it was 1:20 and we decided that was enough writing for the day.  We needed to take a ride.  And  because I had my mind on history, I suggested we blaze over to Paso Robles so that I could take a few pictures of the house my Grandparents lived in at one time. 

The house itself, was built in 1914 out at our family ranch.  It had no foundation, no insulation, no sewer then.  But I had a few pictures of my Grandparents there, so I wanted an up to date photo to verify that it was the house I was mentioning in my book.


This is the house today.


This is the house in 1914, I think.

Anyway, we drove out so I could snap my photos and as I was walking on the main road in front of the house, I espied a man on a tractor coming down the hill toward the house.  In my befriending him (as I was trespassing), I was delighted to meet Mr. Bernie Tyner.  His wife, Joan, lived in that house from 1958 until she left for college.  Many years.  

In visiting, to my dismay, he told me that they had just sold their house which sits above this house.  It is all one parcel.  Our family essentially gave the property to Mr. and Mrs. Thimm, his wife’s parents, as a retirement gift for all the years the Thimms lived there and for his service as foreman.   Several of Joan’s stories will be in my book.  

I could not have arranged a better meeting if I tried.  We had a great visit and spent some time reminiscing as Rayman and Beau waited in the car.  He also confirmed to me that the barn is the original as is the bunk house.  

The property was just sold and will close escrow shortly.  Oh, this is sad news for history.  Because of the history, I contacted the Pioneer Museum and the Paso Robles Area Historical Society to alert them in case there was any interest in preserving anything.  Because Bernie took me inside for a look around, I saw some fun wallpaper, a sink or two, a toilet, a bathtub, and other small things.  Perhaps something can be saved.  The bunk house which sits to



the right of the house  had many uses over the years including holding tools, saddles, and seasonal workers that my Grandmother cooked for during the 30s.


The old barn with new roof. The old tin roof blew off in a wind storm and Mr. Tyner observed sheets of tin whirling up in the air as it was happening.

At any rate, serendipity is alive and well and helped me immensely in my quest for family history.


An Abundance of Turkeys


Good day, dear reader.  

On the mend from the booster and raring to go.  So, instead of waiting for the big Bird Day, I thought I’d spill the beans on my plans because when I googled Thanksgiving parties no much appeared.  I may have a corner on the market with this blog


Parties are more fun than being alone, at least for extroverts,  and with that idea in mind, let me share my Bird Day Party plans.

Eight fun people are coming over for the party.  They include bicyclists, painters, writers, adventurers, former executives and us.  We are bring up the rear!!

It’s starts with the invitations.  Emails are sent in lieu of mailed invitations.  This is largely because I am lazy and partly because Louis DeJoy is still at the helm at the U.S. Postal Service and, as a result, I’m not in the mood to trust the mail.



People respond and I come up with the menu.  This year the menu hails from The Splendid Table website.  For of those hiding in a cave and don’t know about the Splendid Table, it is an NPR program on cooking.  They feature some of their favorite bird day recipes this time of the year. 

Turkey and gravy (is always a must).   This year the bird is Glazed with cranberries and molasses glaze

Classic sage dressing

Cranberry sauce/relish

Grandma’s Hill’s Yams

Brussel sprouts with apple and bacon

Pecan and pumpkin tartlets (so you can hold it to eat it)

But that is just the end of the day.  The beginning of our party will launch about 9:30 a.m. for some and later for others.  A wide berth is given to those kind enough to accept the invitation.  Just because.  Aren’t we all thankful when we don’t have to show up at a given time?  It is pure joy to know you can’t really be late.  Slippers are encouraged.  Causal is in.


Fresh-squeezed orange juice will be poured and topped off with champagne.  Yum.  This sets the tone, lubricates the senses, don’t you think?  And then someone invariably brings munchies so that at the time of the dinner sit-down we will all be able to lift a fork, cut a pice of turkey.  

Then the chopping begins.  And the sautéing, the rinsing, the drying, the mincing, perhaps the can opening, the cork popping, the drinking of water, the relaying of funny stories, the telling of jokes, the boiling, the simmering, alas, the barbecuing.  

Barbecuing is our favorite way to cook the bird.  It will be brined, somehow, wet or dry, I don’t know yet.  The turkey could be splayed, cut up into pieces, placed upside down on the grill, skewered with a rod, then twirled over the coals.  Some people deep fry it.  Some cook it in a bag.  The methods are aplenty.  The results are varied.  Who cares?  It is just fun to have a big turkey to play with.

The stuffing with be baked after we have all done our part to throw it together.  Or not.  The dressing assignment this year is Colette’s.  She may bring it ready for the oven.  Or she may elect to have us help her assemble it.  Up to her.  Because this year, I announced that I will buy the groceries…or not.  If they buy the groceries, I have asked for receipts because, after all, it is my party!  So, as you can see, all is loosey goosey.  As planned.  


Organized chaos would drive some to drink.  My cousin, Sue, comes to mind.  This would be the party from hell for her.  And perhaps you as well.  I sure hope it won’t be that way for our guests.  Many are returning again from years past as I’ve been doing a Happy Bird Day party for years.  They know the drill.  And they return!

This year there are ten of us.  Only one leaf in the table.  Perhaps the good wine glasses.  Perhaps not for the sake of the Rayman, dishwasher and wine opener, supreme.  

Whatever you have planned for Bird Day, have a great time, take time to share what you are thankful for, and be careful on the drive home!!






Back in Morro Bay With Incidences

My blogging has come to a complete stop until now.  That’s because I’ve been working on my book and so it goes.  However, I must blog today because I have stories to make you laugh.

Yesterday we arrived back in Morro Bay from Portland (PDX).  A fun trip in many ways.  However, it seemed longer and a more tiring this year.  We are considering leaving a car in PDX and flying.  Just sayin.

The trouble follows us around like quills on a porcupine.  Did you know that porcupine quills grow back?  That they are actually hair?  With barbs?   That they have 30,000 of them?  You do not want to have an encounter with a porcupine.  

But I digress.

We had a lovely time visiting our friends, the Zells in Ashland, OR.  It was an arduous day on the a rainy road from PDX to Ashland.  Every truck on the earth was in our lane.  Spray from the trucks made it a miserable drive.  We limped in about 5 p.m. and enjoyed a great visit and great food.  

The next day we traveled to Williams to visit with brother John.  His older house looks new again with new paint, new varnish, new counters, new, new, new.  Wonderful job and I was able to see why my wild rug we sent him found it’s way back to Rugs.com.  Everything was white, gray, black.  

Then we completed the days journey to El Dorado Hills for a two day stay with George and Vicky.  It is no exaggeration when I tell you that their home should be featured in Sunset Magazine.  It was beautiful.  While there I got my eyes “refreshed” with permanent eye liner.  And we sipped on wine in Amador county.  And we played Mexican train.  And we caught up with them and their lives while keeping ours a complete secret!!  Just kidding.


The next day we took time to go to Roseville to visit our friends, Donna and Wally.  Donna took a tumble about a month or so ago and broke her right shoulder and left knee.  At the same time, on the same fall.  We wanted to visit and cheer her up.  It was a great visit that long overdue.  

Then it was on to San Francisco for a wonderful night, cioppino, and almost no tourists at Fisherman’s Wharf.  Then we drove around on our way home and took pictures of old hotels that my great, great uncle may have stayed in while he was studying medicine in San Francisco in 1900.  How do I know that?  Guess you’ll have to buy my book to find out.  Here is a tease.  As Rayman sort of double parked, I jumped out and took the picture.  Then a car emerged from the alley he was blocking, so he backed up and almost killed me.  I hit the car and said, “What the hell are you doing?”  He yelled, “I’m getting out of the way.”  In the meantime, a man walking down the sidewalk started laughing at us and said, “Can I bring my wife back there?”  I told him he was bad.  


Leaving the City we were astounded at the lack of traffic on a Friday.  Zoom, zoom.  We made it to San Jose Art Museum and treated ourselves to the Van Gogh exhibit.  But before we got in to see it, we had to extricate ourselves from the parking garage next door.  Could not find a way out so we walked up the ramp to the street.  Did the same in reverse when leaving.  Weird set up they have there.  Or, was it us?  I ask this because we had quite a time getting the car out of the garage.  

At this point of the story, let me reference you to one of our other times in France when we had a similar experience.

Here it is:  us in France, July 2012:

Well, we arrived. Late. But, nevertheless, an arrival. It is 2:50 a.m. and we’re enjoying a glass of wine and some chocolate before retiring. It was, after all, a fabulous trip here aside from the time that Mr. J snarled at me in a rottweiller-kind of snarl. And aside from the time that I screamed, “just pull over and look at the map” as we got more lost by the second in gay Paris!! And then there was the episode of trying to pay the machine for the use of the toll road. Imagine, if you can, Ray driving and pulling up to the the machine automatique to pay the toll for the short trip we took south of Paris to Orleans. It was like 11 euros. So, Ray put the ticket into the machine and the credit card into the slot marked carte or card…and the darn thing spit them both out when an impressive amount of velocity. So much force that they hit the ground. Well, Ray was parked too close to the machine and he couldn’t open the door. Temper started rising in the direct relationship to the frustration level. So, I hopped out of the Citron and ran around the front of the car. He was so close, I couldn’t retrieve the items. Of course there was a car behind us…waiting in the darkness of their car, no beeping, being mysteriously silent. So, I ran around the back on the car and crawled down the pick up the ticket and the credit card and then reinserted them. I can tell you that it was great relief on Ray’s part that my attempt was not more successful than his. So. desperate to free ourselves of more embarrassment, he fed a 50 euro into the machine. Well, you would have thought that you were at Las Vegas and had won the big grand slam. Euros just kept gushing and gushing. By this time, Ray was screaming something about, “these god damn euros just keep coming” as he heaved them by the handfuls into the car. Then he put the car into reserve, “god damn this car”, righted himself by putting it into forward and we pulled over to re-group.

Okay, so fast forward to yesterday.  With a bit of trouble we found the car exit.  We pulled up.  Rayman was driving.  To exit the parking, a ticket was needed.  Said ticket had to be inserted.  Rayman inserted it and then lost control of where it was or where it went.  He couldn’t find the ticket.  Then someone pulled up behind us.  We searched the front seat area.  No ticket.  Finally, I exited the car and hand signalled  the people behind us to go around.  They couldn’t because someone had pulled up behind them.  So, I went around the back of the car and found the ticket on the ground.  Okay.  Then I inserted it.  Then a cryptic messaged appeared on the screen of the ticket machine which essentially said, “we’re not done with you yet”.  So, I jammed the credit card in.  Another cryptic message…something about an error.  By this time, there was a line of traffic and people were honking at us.  OMG.  Flipping the card over, putting in the “other” way, something went right and the gate opened so I walked pass it while trying to look invisible.  Rayman yelled to get back in the car…I had left my door open.  At this point in time, people were shouting some vile…I may have heard, “old fool”.  Just sayin.

We made our escape intermittently mumbling and shouting at each other.  

With my ego in my shoes, we breezed down the freeway to King City where we stopped for coffee.  I used the facilities.  This store had a new fangled thing for wetting your hands with water, emitting soap, and drying your hands…all out of one piece of stainless steel…a bar about a 12-inches long.  There were two of them over a trough sink.  The guy, who was in his 40s, couldn’t figure it out.  I did figure it out.  He asked me if I had ever seen anything like it before.  “No”, I replied.  Left the area feeling better about myself.  

So, that was that.  Got home.  Ordered in pizza.  Died in bed.  In that order.  

A Dish to Die For

Perhaps it is time for me to wax poetic.  No funny stuff…just heartfelt feeling expressed in dramatic and artistic form for my dear readers.

As the Rayman is engaged (actively) with the dishes, I find my hands free so I’m attempting to ward off death by staying busy, busy, busy.  

One of the grand pleasures in life in knowing how to plate a great meal in minutes.  All muss and fuss set aside.  A meal that can be orchestrated with minimum ingredients and, yet, sublime.  So, let me introduce do you to…Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band…no, no, no.  That isn’t right.  But it might have been the genesis of dinner tonight when pepper took the bold stand of being a major ingredient.


So, at this point, are you with me?

Pepper aka pepe is part of the dinner.  It usually is but plays a secondary role, supporting actress if you will.  Not so with tonight’s dinner.  No siree.  

Let’s first explore how it came to be that I decided on this particular dish.  I was lazy.  Walking 18 holes yesterday took its toll and so did the fact that I was stuck on said computer trying to correct a previous mistake I had made when I fell for a scam, gave out my credit card (luckily with the Portland address which is not my billing address) and had to call the Chase to ask for a new card.  Of course, this was the card that all our bills are paid by and with.  We leave this card at home so we don’t have to replace because we lose it.  No.  I managed, still, with all that care, to screw up anyway.  

Oops.  I forgot.  I’m am to wax poetic.

Dearest reader, the printing on the card was exquisite.  The colors sublime.  The shape suggested a city block with wonderful 90 degree angles laid out with loving precision.


I digress.

Back to my dinner which we all know can either be fabulous or, what’s the opposite of fabulous?  A debacle?  Unforced error?  

Drum roll please.  Cacio and Pepe.  OMG…the king of the pasta world in simplicity and calories perhaps, though I doubt it.  Alfredo is bound to have more calories.  Essentially, you lovingly draw the water which in my case took about 3 minutes because we have a faulty thingie on our long necked goose, I mean long necked kitchen faucet that has hardly been used and the water is somehow constricted.  But time is a beautiful thing and this allowed me to saunter around the kitchen with gin and tonic in hard and grind the pepper…the fresh ground scent perfuming the air with every twist.  (As a practical matter, this also allowed me to exercise my right hand wrist.) as I waited for the pot to fill.

Then the water was salted with a flourish I first observed at an Italian opera and the lid placed on the pot to hasten the boiling of the water.  

Another pan was enlisted in the effort and into it I gently but lovingly placed two tablespoons of butter which melted so slowly, you could visually imagine the molecules dancing in the pan.  The pepper was placed with great care into the warm butter and the two did a waltz of such beauty that it brought tears to my eyes.  That resulted in a luxurious butter/pepper sauce.  

At last the bubbles did their dance and the pot was filled with dancing bubbles…a miracle never once mentioned in the Bible. But the writers of the Bible did elude to the Red Sea parting.  Not mentioning the bubbles, I’m sure a slight oversight.


Digress occurs again.

Once the pasta was tingling with excitement, I timed it for seven minutes and when the melodic tune of the timer went off, it was time to drain the sphagetti leaving in reserve 1/2 c of pasta water to gently place into the butter/pepper pan.  In this, I accidentally spilled some water but this we will not dwell upon.  

Another bit of beautiful butter was added to the glistening pan, then the cheeses.  Both Reggiano and Romano were slowly added to the pasta and the pasta was tossed with tongs in such a way so that the cheese didn’t, well, glob up (not a poetic word).   

OMG.  With a robust glass of red, dinner was  plated and presented.  


Here is the link to the recipe.