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The View Finder: Taking pictures with your new Christmas camera by Gary Randall on 01/02/2018

Well, it’s a new year and Christmas has come and gone. With the popularity of photography lately I’m sure that there will be some readers who have received the gift that they wanted: a new digital camera. Because of this I have decided to brush up on how to use it to more of its potential. So let’s talk about manual camera operation.

You have a new camera that, unlike your phone’s camera, was designed exclusively for making photos. I am going to assume that the reason that you wanted your new camera was to make photos that are even better than you could with your cell phone. To do this you will need to move away from the point and shoot mindset and decide to be the computer that controls the camera instead. Switch to Manual Mode.

Let’s start with the “Big 3”. Exposure time - Aperture Setting - ISO/Film Speed. When you’re taking a photo you will want to understand what all three are, how to control them and how they affect each other.

Shutter Speed – Your shutter is a gate that opens and closes to allow light from the outside to come inside of the camera and fall on the film/image sensor. The longer your shutter speed is the more light that’s allowed in and, conversely, how much can be stopped or blocked from coming inside. Consequences of both being a twofold. The first is the exposure of the image, or how bright or dark that it is. The second being the allowance or elimination of movement in your photo. The primary concern typically is to get a photo that’s bright enough without movement being blurred, but there are times when you will want to show movement or blur in your photo such as a waterfall. A fast shutter speed freezes movement while a slower one will blur movement.

Aperture setting – The aperture is a mechanism in the lens that you can adjust to vary the size of the hole that the light goes through as it passes through the lens and into the camera. The larger the hole the more light that can come through in a set amount of time (shutter speed). You can have the same shutter speed but control the amount of light with the aperture.

The second consideration when adjusting your aperture is how it affects the depth of field, or how deep the focus is in the photo. When you choose a larger hole, which is represented by a smaller f/stop number, it will give you a smaller or shallow depth of focus, whereas a smaller hole with a larger f/stop number, will give you a larger or deeper depth of focus. One will realize that with a smaller hole for the light to come through a longer shutter speed will be needed to get the same light inside. With a longer shutter speed you will have a chance to blur, as mentioned previously, which will require you to use the third setting in our big three adjustments to further affect the exposure.

The third and last adjustment that we will add to the formula is what was once called “film speed” in film photography, which is indicated by the ASA rating of the film, whereas in digital photography, where there is no film, we adjust the ISO. The film speed indicated how sensitive to light the film is. A lower rating such as 400 ASA will be less sensitive to light than a film rated at 1000 ASA. When the film is more sensitive to light it takes less light to expose the film so you can use the film in darker light or it will allow you to use a faster shutter speed or a smaller aperture opening.

With this understanding we can translate the application of this information to digital cameras easily. In digital cameras the film is the image sensor and the film speed is translated to the ISO setting of the camera. The ISO setting varies the sensitivity to light of the image sensor.

The beauty of shooting with a digital single lens reflex camera is that you can vary the light sensitivity of the camera using a dial, whereas in film you had to change the whole roll of film. The one consideration when setting the ISO is that the higher the ISO the more grain/noise that you will have in your image.

Let’s summarize what has been covered. You have three settings: shutter speed, aperture opening and ISO or light sensitivity. All three will affect the each other so you will usually need to adjust another, or both, when one is changed. We can now use this knowledge to set our exposure considering movement, depth of focus and acceptable image noise.

Next, your digital SLR camera comes with a built in light meter to show how close your exposure is to being proper. As you set your camera, you can keep an eye on the light meter and balance it in the center. Once you have your shutter speed, aperture and your ISO set according to your light meter take your shot.

Once you take your photo you will have a display on the back that will show you a preview of the image. You can check your focus and your composition with this preview of the photo, but you can’t get a real indication of the exposure therefore, the next and last step is to check the exposure with the histogram. The histogram is a graphical representation of the range of light that was captured in your photo. If the histogram doesn’t show automatically with the preview, you can find a setting that will allow it.

The histogram will look like a rectangular box with a bar chart inside. The left side will be the dark part of your photo such as shadows while the right side will represent the highlights. What you will want to attempt is to balance the highlights and the darks with your “Big 3” adjustments using your histogram as your way of verifying your success.  If the settings were a little off, make an adjustment and take another photo. Film is cheap when you’re shooting digital.

All of this may sound a bit confusing at first but the confusion leaves with practice. Like I mentioned previously film is cheap when you’re shooting with a digital camera so go out and take a lot of photos. Therein lies the secret to improving your photography. Practice and experimentation.

It’s my hope for you that your new camera, or your old one for that matter, will provide you with as much fun and life enriching experiences that mine has for me.

Happy New Year. 

12 months in a year means 12 chances to make some changes by Victoria Larson on 01/02/2018

A new day, a new week, a new year! Though many start a new year with resolutions, I’ve always found them either too stringent, too vague or just too overwhelming. So this year, let’s try something different. Since it takes 28-30 days to make or change a habit, we actually have twelve chances to improve our lives!

In order to not be too stringent, we can pick only the ones that apply to our individual lives. But we won’t be so vague as to let the new knowledge or habit fade out of consciousness. And by choosing only the ones that apply to each individual, it will not be so overwhelming.

Twelve months to make changes, somewhere:

1. Let’s start with forgiveness. Forgiveness comes from within the forgiver and benefits that person just as much as the person being forgiven. And remember, the forgiven person is you, the one who ultimately needs it.

2. On a more practical side, avoid trans fats and vegetable oils as much as possible. Trans fats and vegetable oils are in all fast foods and virtually all packaged foods, including cakes, chips, crackers, cookies, breads, etc. Unless you are gluten sensitive, concern yourself more with trans fats and vegetable oils than gluten content. Oils such as coconut oil, fish oils, flax oil, nut oils and olive oil are all better for you than canola, corn and soy oils.

3. Fish – now there are new worries about plastics in seafood. A very valid concern. Ultimately, it’s our fault. Many plastics are not recyclable so we need to stop using them so much lest they end up in the ocean. Think plastic grocery bags, straws and cups, take-home containers from restaurants.

4. Turmeric needs to be warmed in order to be of benefit (anti-oxidant, arthritis). Warm your spices in a pan before using to make meals or tea. Pills taken cold just won’t do the trick.

5. If you prefer coffee to tea, drink no more than two to three cups per day. At that amount coffee appears to be protective against diabetes. Take your coffee with a smidgen of butter and some coconut oil, but no sugar. It’s called “bullet coffee” and helps your brain to function because of the good fats in it.

6. Try to avoid sugar as much as possible. Sugar is the preferred fuel for cancer cells to grow. This also means only one or two servings of fruit per day. You may have more in the summer as it will keep you cooler.

7. Back to the good fats. Don’t bother with low-fat anything. It’s a longtime experiment that didn’t work and many people bought into it. So many Americans bought into it that it undoubtedly contributes to the near epidemic of Alzheimer’s that we now have in our nation. Though lowering fat intake is not the only cause, it’s looking like a definite poor choice. Be like the French--enjoy anniversaries, birthdays, feast days and holidays. Then go back to avoiding sugar. Knowing that you can have some sugar in small amounts on special occasions will make avoidance more tolerable.

8. Detox. Your skin is the largest organ of your body. It takes 15-30 days for skin cells to reach the epidermis layer to be sloughed off. Try skin brushing, using perhaps a baby hair brush or a soft clothes brush, to help remove those top layers of already deceased skin cells. You don’t need them and this will help you to detoxify through your largest organ.

9. Then get into a detoxifying, relaxing bath of Epsom salts to which you may gently add a few drops of a favorite essential oil. Depending on the oil, start with four to five drops and don’t go over 12 drops as it may burn, sending you running down the hall in your altogether!

10. If you are a smoker, STOP. It is the single worst thing you can do for your health, guaranteed to shorten your life. Any smoking. Period.

11. The second worst thing you can do for your health is sitting, just sitting. Couch potatoes, get up. If you’re already up, do something. Every hour. If you are in a wheelchair, wave your arms, lift weights, wiggle your feet every hour. Get rid of your “clickers” except the dog training one. That will get you off the couch as it is. In fact, get a dog. Also guaranteed to make you move.

12. Get more rest. Lack of sleep raises the possibility of illnesses, reduces efficiency, and is estimated to cost our economy $280 billion per year. Employers, get tough. Employees, listen to your body. Quit the frazzle-dazzle which often leads to late nights and increased alcohol consumption. Before electricity people slept ten to twelve hours a night. They had less cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

I’ve left out the really obvious changes we all know about like eat more vegetable (6-10 servings per day), drink more water (to reduce risk of headaches and stroke), exercise more (or at least move more). But those ones you already know. Just pick one of the above to work on each month, adding a new challenge the next month. In a year you will be healthier. Just remember #1 and forgive yourself if you fall back. You’ve got a whole year to make changes!

Episode XVII: Gloria, Gloria - But no hallelujah by Max Malone, Private Eye on 01/02/2018

While Max relaxed – knowing it might be his last chance in the near future – taking in the dulcet tones of Ella Fitzgerald scatting through “Mack the Knife” from the needle nestled in the tracks of the vinyl, the mysterious Gloria Lovejoy was simultaneously exiting the rutty parking area of the Easy-Inn, the lonesome motel in Wildewood, guiding her red Jeep Renegade, that was only made more noticeable by its New Jersey license plates, for his cabin. It’s safe to say, however, that she would quite likely be an improvement over the day before visit from FBI agent Mike D’Antonio.

Ella was interrupted by a phone call from the newsie Nigel Best.

“I have some news,” Nigel said, not surprisingly for a newspaper guy. “My U.S attorney connection has traced Beau Kimatian to a hotel in the Cayman Islands. That’s gettin’ around pretty well for a corpse.”

Max was close to forgiving the Ella interruption. Who was it who was consumed by the explosion in the Stardust Lodge? Was Anna Belle’s husband ever actually Beau Kimatian? And how could what was obviously a complicated and sinister plot have found its way to Wildewood?

Max had some mulling to do, which included getting Valerie Suppine, the meanest little woman in thirteen states, out of his way, all the while Gloria Lovejoy chugged closer to his already overcrowded cabin.

Val complied, and pointed her pink Cadillac back to Reno where she belonged like a koala rolling in a pile of eucalyptus leaves.

Mere moments after the pink Cadillac departure – and only a single mere moment after Max had issued his sigh of relief – up pulled the red Renegade. Max had a weak moment where he stole a glance to heaven, but shrugged it away knowing he had nothing on the ethereal books. His disappointment was momentary as Gloria Lovejoy unfolded from the Renegade and approached Max’s cabin door with one arched eyebrow and a tangle of dark brown hair that was caught by a zephyr of mountain air and frolicked in the wind like the mane of a fine filly.

This is going to be interesting, Max thought, and he wasn’t far off the mark. Max pulled open the door with Gloria’s arm raised in an almost knock.

“You’re Max Malone,” Gloria rasped, and there was no hint that it was a question.

“And you’re Gloria Lovejoy,” Max countered in a tone that matched hers like a tuning fork. “Enter at your own risk.” This line delivered with Max’s well-practiced private eye smirk dissolving into an irresistible smile.

Max quickly noticed that Gloria had some rough edges – the type that had to carry enough stories to fill a medium sized town library – but the edges were burnished by a slight cock of the head that would have made even the most jaded cocker spaniel wag his tail like a snare drum riff from Gene Krupa.

“Have a seat,” Max offered, pouring himself a man-sized Jameson’s.

“Gin,” Gloria said, not waiting for another offer.

“What’ya want in it?”


So, the happy moment was easily solved. Max delivered the drinks and sat opposite Gloria.

“You worked for Beau Kimatian, right?” Gloria explored.

“Not so anyone would notice,” Max came back over a sip of the Irish.

“Do you know who died at the Stardust?” she asked.

“According to the FBI, Beau, his bodyguard and a cook.”

“Do you believe that?”

Max shrugged.

“I know Beau,” Gloria said, keeping it curiously in the present tense. “There’s no one here in Mayberry that could have taken down Beau.”

“And you know this how?” Max kept the conversation rolling.

Gloria slowly crossed her legs and laughed. “You’re a private eye. Figure it out.”

So, if Gloria is saying that wasn’t Beau in the lodge, Max mused to himself, and if she is connected to Beau and there’s no reason to doubt that, then what is she doing in Wildewood, when Nigel Best’s U.S attorney says Beau has been spotted in the Cayman Islands.

As Max was running this through his mind, Gloria flashed a jagged smile that looked like an aerial photo of the Snake River.

Max vaulted over the smile, and refilled Gloria’s drink. And, of course, his own. He was certain Gloria wasn’t hanging out in Wildewood to hook up with a private eye.

Still, after all, he was Max Malone, private eye.

The Mt. Hood Green Scene: smelling science and your health by Mary Soots on 01/02/2018

When you enter the house to be met with the fragrance of your favorite cookies baking or smell the cedar or fir from the Christmas tree, it triggers what is known as “olfactory memory.”

Smells can create emotions, bring back memories and affect our mood. Our sense of smell is so much a part of humans and other animals that even a fetus begins to recognize the smell of amniotic fluid while in the womb, and a baby recognizes its maternal milk as part of the bonding process with its mother.

At the same time, our puritanical culture’s obsession with equating cleanliness with the smell of “freshness” was well illustrated in some commercials a while back, where people were blindfolded and placed in a very unclean room. Because the heavy fragrances masked the bad odors, they proclaimed that the room was “fresh and clean.”

Did you know that more than 3,100 fragrance chemicals are used to make consumer products smell “fresh” or to mask unpleasant odors? Things such as shampoo and dryer sheets could also be polluting your indoor air. As a result, each day we inhale, ingest and absorb through our skin a variety of toxic chemicals, putting a massive burden on our bodies.

Especially at this time of year when our windows are closed against the cold and rain, we hope to keep the air from getting musty, so we look to household cleaning items, candles and room deodorizers. We often turn to artificial fragrances. Artificial fragrances may smell nice, but they can also cause damage. According to the National Institutes of Health, a “survey of selected scented consumer goods showed the products emitted more than 100 volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including some that are classified as toxic or hazardous by federal laws. Even products advertised as ‘green,’ ‘natural,’ or ‘organic’ emitted as many hazardous chemicals as standard ones.”

Trying to artificially recreate those moods or memories through artificial fragrances can cause serious health risks, especially to children. The National Resource Defense Council tested fourteen air fresheners and found that most contained chemicals known to cause hormone imbalance, birth defects or harm reproductive development.

Chemical fragrances are found not only in air fresheners, but in soaps, our laundry and in our personal care products. The Environmental Working Group found that one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients used in personal care products are industrial chemicals, including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins and hormone disruptors. Further, many cleaners contain harmful chemicals that have specifically been linked to cancer, reproductive disorders, asthma and severe allergies.

In one research project, nearly half of the fragranced products emitted one or more carcinogenic ‘hazardous air pollutants,’ including 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde, neither of which has a safe exposure level, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Research by Environmental Defense and the Environmental Working Group also found an average of 10 sensitizing chemicals in perfumes, colognes and body sprays that can trigger allergies and asthma, and cause headaches, wheezing, and a rash.”

There are natural alternatives to keeping your home air purified. A spider plant or peace lily, among many fresh plants will naturally clean the air. Dried plants such as eucalyptus, incense cedar, juniper have been used since early 17th century France. Baking soda is not just for your refrigerator.

You can also create safe smells in your home. Try decorating some oranges with clove spikes and ribbons as part of a festive décor piece. Use cinnamon sticks as decorative pieces. You can make sachets of lavender and other fragrant flowers when they’re in season, or combine them in a potpourri. Boil lemon slices and rosemary in a simmer pot on top of the wood-burning stove.

Use essential oils alone or in combination to create your own signature fragrances or to give as gifts. Look online for recipes to create a misting spray with water and alcohol. Essential oils may be sprayed on rock or allowed to wick through diffusing sticks that will slowly release the scents. There are electric diffusers too, of course.

And of course, you can always bake cookies.

Swearing off coffee can only lead to one thing – more swearing by Ned Hickson on 01/02/2018

Today, like every day since the start of the New Year, I’ve abstained from my morning cups of coffee—a decision I reached during a moment of weakness sometime around midnight on New Year’s Eve.

I know this because I was told so by my wife, who swears that, along with taking the trash out without being asked, I vowed (after several glasses of champagne) to take better care of myself. While this decision has certainly made me a healthier person, it has also made me a crankier one.

This is due, in part, to the decaffeination process itself, which can cause headaches, drowsiness, constipation, Tourette’s syndrome, and, in the case of Lizzy Borden, involuntary manslaughter.

After doing some research, I realized that there was more to beating this thing than just dealing with the physical craving, which, for someone who drinks coffee all day, is similar to the craving one might have for, say...

Breathable air.

I also had to take into account the mental aspect of my addiction—which is really about me having an excuse to leave my desk. On a good day, between coffee refills and trips to the bathroom, I can spend as little as eight minutes actually working at my desk. Because of this, it was clear that conquering my physical addiction wouldn’t be enough—I’d need a replacement beverage.

While I briefly entertained the idea of decaffeinated tea, I decided against it, mostly because I can never figure out what to do with the tea bag once it’s done steeping.

Do I throw it out? Save it? Put one over each eye and take a nap?

The truth of the matter is, men are not “steepers.” A man wants to wake up, fill his mug with something close to 8,000 degrees Fahrenheit and immediately drink it. A man doesn’t have time for steeping. In fact, he hardly has time to get to the hospital after drinking his 8,000-degree beverage.

This left me with three viable alternatives: 1) Hot chocolate; 2) Some kind of soy drink that, according to the label, can be consumed either hot, cold or as a grilled patty; or 3) “Postum.”

After reading the label on the hot chocolate canister, I realized that, based on my average daily hot-beverage consumption, replacing coffee with hot chocolate would result in an estimated weight gain of just under 600 pounds in five weeks. This, of course, would defeat having an excuse to leave my desk since I would no longer be able to leave my house.

I considered the soy-drink-patty-thing, but couldn’t get past the idea of consuming something that can be referred to as the soy-drink-patty-thing.

This left me with “Postum” as my morning beverage of choice. For those who are unfamiliar with this product, it is a coffee alternative that is completely caffeine free because it is made from “all natural” ingredients like wheat, corn, sea weed, yarn, tree bark, bone meal and simulated wood paneling, all of which is then ground up and allowed to “steep” before it is eventually freeze-dried to resemble Taster’s Choice.

I’ve been drinking it for a little over a week now, and it’s not all that bad. Still, I’m not convinced that Postum’s claim to be “The Truly Soothing Hot Beverage” is true.

To be honest, I’d kill for a coffee-drink-patty-thing right about now.

(You can write to Ned Hickson at nedhickson@icloud.com, or c/o the Siuslaw News, 148 Maple St., Florence, Ore. 97439)

Cooking for a week at a time by Taeler Butel on 01/02/2018

It’s a new year and a new chance to get it together in the kitchen!

These recipes will warm you up while you mix and match simple ingredients (some even pre- made). Cook it all at once or over a couple of days, store in the fridge and enjoy the feeling of having it all together.

The full menu: chicken and dumplings, stroganoff, hamburger soup with biscuits and chicken corn chowder.

The grocery list

2 lbs. ground beef or turkey

Roast chicken

1 lb. bags frozen mixed veggies (carrots, corn, peas, green beans mix)

Beef and chicken bouillon cubes

Couple sticks of butter

1 medium container of half-and-half

1 medium container sour cream


Baking powder

Baking soda

Dried Italian seasoning

1 can tomato sauce

1 lb. egg noodles

1 bag frozen corn

1 lb. sliced mushrooms

1 bag Yukon gold potatoes

Salt and pepper

One onion

4 celery stalks

The plan

In a large pot brown all the meat with salt and pepper to season. Boil all of the chicken using broth and shred the meat, save the broth.

Chop all of the onion, celery and potatoes, set aside.

Boil the noodles.

Make double batch of biscuit dough: in a large bowl whisk together 4 cups flour, 2 t salt, 2 t baking soda, 2 T baking powder and 1 t Italian seasoning. Mix in 1/2 cup melted butter, 1 cup sour cream and 1/4 cup half-and-half. Scoop out onto cookie sheet with ice cream scoop and freeze.

The meals

Hamburger soup: in a large pot add 1/4 of the onions and celery with 1 T butter and 2 cups of the diced potatoes. Cook until onions are wilted and then, while stirring occasionally, add in 1 lb. of the cooked meat and canned tomato sauce. Season with 1 t each salt and pepper and 1 T Italian seasoning. Cover with broth, bring to boil and reduce to simmer, adding in 2 cups of the frozen veggies. Simmer about 20 minutes.

Heat oven to 365, place half the biscuits in the oven and bake about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Chicken n dumplings: in a large pot add in 1/4 of the onions and celery and 1 T butter, cook 5 minutes. Add in 1 T flour, 1 t each salt and pepper, and 1 T Italian seasoning, then stir cooking about 2 minutes more. Add in 1/2 the shredded chicken and 2 cups frozen vegetables, then cover with broth and bring to boil.

Reduce slightly and add biscuit dough. Cover pot leaving room to vent. Simmer until dumplings are cooked thoroughly, around 15 minutes

Chicken corn chowder: follow the chicken and dumplings instructions only instead of frozen veggies, add diced potatoes and corn. Boil, then simmer about 15 minutes until potatoes are tender. Mix 1 T flour into 1/2 cup of half-and-half, then stir in and let simmer until thickened slightly.

Stroganoff: Add the remaining celery and onion to a large skillet along with 1 T butter and mushrooms, then cook until browned. Add salt, pepper and 1 T each Italian seasoning and flour, cook one minute more. Add in 1 cup broth, 1 cup sour cream, 1 lb. cooked ground meat and cooked egg noodles, then heat to simmer, about 10 minutes.

(Taeler Butel writes exclusively for The Mountain Times.)

La Nina pattern to dominate the weather during January by Herb Miller on 01/02/2018

According to the calendar, winter starts Dec. 21, but Government Camp couldn’t wait and got a 10-inch snowfall the day before. Brightwood got its first snowfall of the season with a 2.5-inch measurement on Dec. 23.

Below average temperatures prevailed from Dec. 20 through Christmas before moderating to seasonal norms the rest of the month. In fact, both Brightwood and Government Camp recorded average temperatures nearly identical with long-term averages for the month. But both locations fell well below the average precipitation levels for December. As of Dec. 19, Government Camp had received only 19 inches of snow, compared to an average for the month of 50.9 inches.

The National Weather Service expects the La Nina pattern to dominate our weather in January but has its eye on the trending pattern which is at odds with the Madden Julian Oscillations activity.

In any event, our area is expected to have above average precipitation with temperatures about average for January.

During January, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 43, an average low of 33 and a precipitation average of 10.63 inches, including 8.7 inches of snow.

During the past 10 years, high temperatures have reached the 50s eight times, and into the 40s twice. Low temperatures dropped into the 30s once, into the 20s seven times and into the teens twice.

On average, January has 14 days that record freezing temperatures. The record January snowfall was set in 1968 with a total of 47 inches. The record 24-hour snowfall during January of 29 inches was set on Jan. 9, 1980.

During January, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 36 degrees, an average low of 24 degrees and a precipitation average of 13.30 inches, including 57.8 inches of snow.

During the past 10 years, high temperatures reached 70 degrees once, into the 60s twice, into the 50s three times and into the 40s four times.

Low temperatures fell into the 20s during three years, into the teens during three years and into the single digits four years. The record snowfall in January of 155 inches occurred in 1964. The record 24-hour snowfall of 35 inches was set on Jan. 9, 1980.

Derek Trucks.
The View Finder: Rocking great hand held/low light photos by Gary Randall on 12/01/2017

Low light, no flash, hand held photography is something that needs to be understood by any photographer of any genre or style. There are many times where one will need to get a shot but a flash or a tripod are not an option. A great way to practice this method is to take photos at a concert. If you can master photographing a concert, with bright lights and deep shadows, and quick movements you can skillfully photograph a wedding, for instance. The primary challenge is to get photos with a fast enough shutter speed to prevent blurring the subject.

The Grammy award winning Tedeschi Trucks Band came to Portland on Nov. 3 to play to a sold-out show at the Keller Auditorium. I was able to secure photo passes to the show which allowed me to move to the front to take photos of the band during their first three songs and to bring my pro level camera inside. Many concerts will not allow pro style cameras inside without a pass, but many others will, so call ahead of time and ask what their policy for photos are. I’ve been able to bring my camera into smaller venues and clubs in the past. I’ve even used these techniques at informal live shows at backyard parties.

Before the Tedeschi Trucks Band took the stage the crowd was fully warmed up by the Hard Working Americans (in photo above), an American rock “super group.” The Hard Working Americans consist of lead singer Todd Snider and bassist Dave Schools from the group Widespread Panic, Neal Casal of Chris Robinson Brotherhood on guitar and vocals, Chad Staehly of Great American Taxi on keyboards and Duane Trucks, who was also a member of widespread Panic and brother of Derrick Trucks, on drums. The Hard Working Americans put on a powerful show with songs that were a mix of classic hard rock, blues and traditional roots Americana. While the Hard Working Americans were on stage I took that time to make sure that my camera settings were correct before the Tedeschi Trucks Band hit the stage. I used my Nikon D810 and my 70-200mm zoom lens for most of the photos.

I set the camera on Aperture Priority with the aperture set to f/2.8 and Auto ISO with the max ISO set to 6400 and turned my Vibration Reduction on the lens to ON. Aperture Priority means that I set the camera’s aperture manually and then the camera sets the shutter speed for me. It’s semi-automatic. Next my decision to set the camera to Auto ISO was to allow the camera to lower the ISO if possible and to not move past a set maximum ISO, 6400 in this case. I set my aperture to f/2.8 to allow the most light into the camera, which allows a faster shutter speed. The one drawback to a wider aperture is a shallow depth of field but this can be used to a certain effect by isolating the subject from others in the background.

Although I used a single lens reflex camera, many consumer level cameras (and even some mobile phones today) will allow one to make adjustments to the aperture and ISO settings for better low-light photos.

I shot the first three songs and then went to my seat, sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the show.

Once the Tedeschi Trucks band hit the stage, led by guitar prodigy Derek Trucks and his extremely talented singer and guitarist wife, Susan Tedeschi, it was obvious of their following and fans in the Pacific Northwest. The crowd was enthusiastic as the band played through a dozen songs, a mix of original tunes as well as classic covers from “Sailing On” by Toot’s and the Maytals and the country classic by George Jones, “Color of The Blues,” to “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free” by Jazz pianist Billy Taylor and “How Blue Can You Get?” by the popular 1940s and 1950’ African-American vocal group Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers.

A diverse array of music brought together and played in the iconic style that the power couple, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, has developed with their extremely talented lineup of musical masters backing them up. They finished the show with a three-song encore that included the classic Leon Russell song, “Song for You,” the traditional classic “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” and the original song “Bound For Glory.”

Being able to be successful at taking concert photos, for me, enhances my concert experience, especially when my shooting time is relegated to the first three songs. The limit allows me to let the photos go and enjoy the rest of the show knowing that I have great souvenirs from the evening.

Wet winter, with average temps, on tap through February by Herb Miller on 12/01/2017

November got off to a cool start with snowfall accumulating on the mountain and leading to high hopes for a great Thanksgiving weekend for skiers and boarders. Unfortunately, Pineapple Express weather patterns melted a good portion of the snowpack, along with hopes for an early ski season. By the end of the third week, Brightwood had already recorded precipitation exceeding its average amount for the entire month, and Government Camp had received 25 inches of snow in addition to the rain. Temperatures averaged near normal at both Government Camp and Brightwood. Weather for the last few days of the month turned a bit brighter.

The National Weather Service reports the expected development of a La Nina pattern and the Madden Julian Oscillation activity has weakened, but the Weather Service is keeping its eye on it. A new addition to their concerns is the Arctic Oscillation but it is not expected to affect our area during the coming month.

Their best guess for our area expects temperatures to be near average, and precipitation a bit higher than average during December. Their outlook during the December to February period for our area continues to expect lower than average temperatures and above average precipitation.

During December, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 42, an average low of 33, and a precipitation average of 11.52 inches, including 5.9 inches of snow. During the past 10 years, high temperatures have reached the 50s nine times, and into the 40s once. Low temperatures dropped into the 20s five times, into the teens three times and into the single digits twice. On average, December has 12 days that record freezing temperatures. The record precipitation amount for December was set in 1964 with 28.09 inches. The record December snowfall was set in 1968 with a total of 48.8 inches. The record 24-hour snowfall during December of 12.5 inches was set on Dec. 8, 1968.

During December, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 36 degrees, an average low of 25 degrees and a precipitation average of 13.80 inches, including 50.9 inches of snow. During the past 10 years, high temperatures reached the 50s during four years and into the 40s the remaining six years. Low temperatures fell into the teens during four years, into the single digits during four years, one year recorded zero and the other year minus one. The record snowfall in December of 122 inches occurred in 1971. The record 24-hour snowfall of 26 inches was set on Dec. 18, 2008. The total yearly snowfall average is 271 inches.

MHGS: what food means to us and the environment by Mary Soots on 12/01/2017

Several years ago, we had a series of snow and ice storms at Christmas that kept many on the mountain unable to move about. A friend had come to visit and with the help of our neighbors, we made our way into Sandy between storms to restock our supplies and settled in to spend a quiet Christmas on the mountain. On Christmas Eve, there was a knock on the door. Neighborhood kids had brought us some homemade fudge. Their gesture was so kind and meaningful.

The holiday season is the time of year when we focus much of our attention on food. Food can represent so many aspects of our culture. How food is produced, distributed, prepared and consumed are all aspects of our relationships with the earth, between countries and between individuals. Food can conjure up memories and recreate emotions, such as “comfort food” that reminds us of home or of loved ones. These can be very simple meals such as macaroni and cheese. And then there are foods associated with specific holidays such as the traditional Thanksgiving Day meal of turkey and all the side dishes.

Generally speaking, when we provide food to others, it is not because they can’t get sufficient sustenance on their own. Rather, it is meant to express solidarity, to assess the other’s social status through their manners, etc., and provides a means of interaction while focusing on food.

Like the gift of fudge brought by my neighbors, a welcome basket or a holiday gift of food can express friendship between people. When a neighbor held a baby shower, the invitation asked guests to bring a frozen meal in lieu of a baby gift in order to feed the family while the mother was recovering from labor. We often share food also at times of hardships as well. Recently, I delivered a meal to the family of a friend who is away caring for her dying mother. Similarly, when someone passes away, food is delivered to the family. This is a way of reinforcing relationships between people.

When we entertain, food speaks volumes about us. In a bygone era when women primarily were homemakers, entertaining meant making everything from scratch, usually starting days prior to prepare a heavy meal that everyone sat at a dining table to enjoy. The lavish production was meant to impress the invitees. The message to guests was that “You are important guests and we have taken care and trouble on your behalf.” If a guest does not consume the meal, it is considered offensive to the hosts.

Modern entertaining has changed as working couples have less time to prepare lavish meals. The multiple course dinner has been replaced with a potluck where everyone is invited to bring a dish. The premium is on being innovative with new combinations of simple foods over time-consuming meals. The meal is consumed casually standing, sitting in the living room or as guests mill about.

One common theme around entertaining is the demonstration of excess food. Like 21-course meals for dignitaries, lavish presentations are meant to impress guests with conspicuous consumption. The excess food is a way of demonstrating social status. A shortage of food would be seen as an embarrassment, and it is preferable to throw out the excess than to run short.

There are environmental costs to food waste. Decomposing food creates methane gas. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more than twenty times the global warming impact of carbon dioxide. Wasted food also consumes limited landfill space and leads to water pollution through run-off.

Wasted food involves the waste of all of the resources that went into producing it in the first place – water, fertilizers and pesticides, fuel and all of the associated human capital and labor. Together, the environmental harm and the wasted resource inputs associated with food waste carry great financial cost. Further, some reports note that the U.S. spends another $1 billion annually just to haul excess food away.

Episode XVI: A Private Eye And The FBI by Max Malone, Private Eye on 12/01/2017

It was difficult for Max Malone, private eye, to completely ignore the digging of the Wildewood World’s editor Nigel Best – despite the fact that Max often referred to him as Nigel Pest.

The possibility that it was not Beau Kimatian who died in the explosion of the Stardust Lodge would be an absurdity along the lines of political decency. Best may have been many things – the first strike being a journalist – yet there was no denying that his connection to a U.S. Attorney who had plenty of dirt on Kimatian was as undeniable as believing that the Stardust Lodge’s proprietor, and husband of Anna Belle Wilde, was dirt-free.

But before Max could spend too much time on Best’s theory, he was forced into a tete-a-tete with FBI Agent Mike D’Antonio who arrived – unannounced, what other way? – at Max’s cabin before breakfast but not before Valerie Suppine, the meanest little woman in thirteen western states, had emerged from the shower, barefoot, bathrobed, with her hair tumbling down in rollicking ringlets.

“Miss Suppine,” Mike said, acknowledging Val with a drop of his eyelids as only a man of Italian persuasion or ancestry can muster.

“Hi, Mike,” Val shot back with a shake of her hair and a smile that could drop any man of Italian persuasion or ancestry.

Meanwhile, Max just peered over the top of his coffee cup, marveling at a scene that could only be replicated by the last spring hookup of a pair of twitterpating house wrens.

Shaking off Val’s spell, Mike emerged shaken, but surprisingly serious under the circumstances.

“I need to go over a few things with you,” Mike said, only turning toward Max halfway through the sentence.

“Sure thing,” Val responded like the house wren of spring.

“Uh, Val, I think the agent was referring to me,” Max offered, not entirely certain he was right.

After Mike stole one more glance at Val, as if staring across their newly fashioned nest, he ripped himself away, tail feathers and all.

“Have a seat,” Max offered with no trace of sincerity.

Mike sat down on the front edge of an easy chair, while Max flopped on the sofa, and Val leaned across the back of the sofa, dispelling the unseemly squalor of Max’s dystopian digs.

“Max. What do you know about this Gloria Lovejoy woman?” Mike said, apparently recovered.

“Never heard of her,” Max said flatly, giving no hint of truth or otherwise.

“Me neither,” Val said, but she could have been speaking to the wall. The two men were now locked into investigative combat.

“Well, she was seen near the scene of the lodge in the early morning of the explosion,” Mike said. “And I have it on good authority you knew her.”

Max, his eyes fixed on the FBI agent, said nothing.

“You need to understand, Mr. Malone, that we’ll figure this thing out,” Mike said, keeping to his script.

“Yeah?” Max said, issuing an unsuppressed chortle. “Kinda like Ruby Ridge and Waco?”

Mike stood up, but Max continued to stare him down.

“You need to understand something as well, pal,” Max continued. No sign of a chortle. “I don’t have any use for your agency, or your kind. As for your ability to figure this thing out, I’m pretty sure there are already two or three people who have lapped you.”

“And you’re still sticking to your alibi of Mr. Malone for that night?” Mike said, eagerly turning to Val after he arrived at the door.

“Yeah,” Val said, leaning one-handed on the sofa back. “I’m pretty sure of things like that.”

It was uncertain if Valerie Suppine was talking about an alibi any more.

Mike exited without a glance in Max’s direction. Had he done so, he would have been highly disappointed. Max was grinning ear-to-ear in Val’s direction over the top of his coffee mug.

“Whew,” Val exhaled. “What do you suppose that was all about?”

Max knew the FBI game. It was all about intimidation and misdirection. But he said nothing, not wanting to disturb Val’s nest.

*   *   *

Chance Wilde and Anna Belle (now Wilde again) sat on Randy Wilde’s front porch, gazing out on the Wildewood forest of firs and cedars, each deep in their private thoughts.

Chance was wrestling with the need to hang around to protect his granddaughter, or return to the gentle notion of a Colorado winter, while Anna Belle was wondering how long it was going to take before the Stardust Lodge insurance settlement arrived.

Chance’s thoughts were of the spirit. Anna Belle’s were of revenge. Meanwhile, Max was itching to get after someone who had upset his chosen town of Wildewood – no matter how sinister a place it could be.

After all, it was his town. And he was still Max Malone, private eye.

Gifts from the kitchen! by Taeler Butel on 12/01/2017

Inexpensive and fun to make, a gift of your time and thoughtfulness will be felt with these gifts from the kitchen.

Homemade chocolate bars

You’ll need parchment paper to wrap, twine and pretty tape to wrap these up.

2 cups each several types of chocolate: white chocolate, semi sweet (dark) and milk melted separately in a double broiler.

Accouterments, such as dried cherries, pistachios, crushed sandwich cookies, caramel chips, sea salt, roasted almonds, toffee bits or crushed espresso beans.

Coat the bottom of small loaf pans with oil and place a strip of parchment down the middle.

Pour in about 1/4 cup of the chocolate, then (accouterments about 2 T each) then top with another 1/4 cup of melted chocolate.

Smooth over and refrigerate until solid, wrap and place in cool dry area until ready to give.

For the milk chocolate I’ll do the almonds and toffee bits, for the dark I like to chop the cherries and pistachios and for the white, crushed cookies and crushed espresso beans.

Olive oil bread dip and pomegranate balsamic vinegar

You can find pretty corked bottles and a nice table cloth to wrap these in. Throw in a basket with crusty bread and cured meats such as salami and cheese, and maybe a jar of olives or pickles.

For the oil:

2 cups best quality virgin olive oil

1 T each dried oregano, parsley, rosemary, dehydrated garlic

1 t red pepper flakes, black pepper, sea salt.

Mix together the spices and divide into small jars (about 2 t each) or bottles.Top with olive oil about 1/4 cup and seal with lid or topper.

For the pomegranate balsamic syrup:

4 cups pomegranate juice

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar

Bring to a boil all ingredients in a medium sauce pan, stirring until honey dissolves, and reduce to simmer. Let reduce by ½, then cool and jar or bottle.

(Taeler Butel writes exclusively for The Mountain Times.)

Influenza – the virus that is nothing for us to sneeze at! by Victoria Larson on 12/01/2017

Antibiotics first came into being in the 1930-40s and really blossomed after WW II. Now we have resistance to antibiotics creating an even bigger problem. But the flu is different, as the flu is caused by viruses and therefore will not respond well to antibiotics. If you demand antibiotics for colds or the flu you may be creating your own personal antibiotic resistance. For the record, most of us have antibiotics in our systems even if we’ve never been prescribed them. 80 percent of antibiotics are in our industrial food system, especially meat. An argument for a more plant-based diet then.

The most lethal influenza (flu) in history occurred in 1918, which was the worst, coldest winter the US Midwest had ever experienced. This strain of flu killed more people in one year than all of the Bubonic Plague! We were headed into WWI and both politics and money reared their dubious heads.

Medical schools in the late 1800s didn’t require any science courses! There were no labs for testing anything. Hardly any students ever even saw a patient. All that medical schools offered was a series of lectures. Except for the homeopathic schools this was all there was. An epidemic is local or national. A pandemic is world-wide. In 1918 some of the elderly had been alive in the great flu of 1889-90. They had either been exposed enough to fend off this epidemic or perhaps they were the ones who used homeopathics and survived. Other major rounds of flu have occurred in 1957 and 2003.

Influenza (flu) is still classified by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) as one disease with pneumonia. Pneumonia was classified as the leading cause of death in the US until 1936. Even today with antibiotics, antivirals, oxygen therapies, etc. influenza/flu is still the fifth or sixth cause of death. This is nothing to sneeze at!

Sneezing and coughing are not the only method of spreading influenza/pneumonia. Close proximity/crowding, hand-to-nose contact, even common surfaces may spread the disease. But carrying around antibiotic wipes is not the solution (see last month’s column). Not only would that be unwieldy and costly, but it would not counteract viruses. It’s why the fist pump is now as popular, or more so, than a handshake.

The incubation period is 24 to 72 hours. Hence, early on the influenza outbreak was called “the 3-day fever.” The influenza virus attacks the immune system, both directly and indirectly. During the flu epidemic of 1918 it was not just the young and the elderly who succumbed, but people in the middle stages of life. It was noted, however, that those with already lowered immune systems, for instance soldiers living in crowded and intimate contact, were likely to succumb.

It appears that the fear of the disease caused as many deaths as the disease itself! Even in 1918 it was noted that the first to succumb were the weak and fearful. Also those who were malnourished. Even today we have malnourished people such as the homeless, school children, the elderly and those who make poor dietary choices.

It is important to remember that despite the horror stories of that time, most people with influenza/pneumonia survived! Perhaps they were the ones who had the milder cases that accorded some immunity, they had stronger immune systems or they simply recovered. My primary bouts with flu were in 1957 and 2003. Whether or not you get a flu shot is your choice (so far) but even today the scramble to get the right flu strain is, well, a scramble.

During the influenza/flu epidemic of 1918 the US Surgeon General suggested what we all know to be true: to avoid disease cover your sneezes and coughs, breathe through your nose (to warm your breath), wash your hands before eating, avoid constipation, avoid other persons who are sick, get bed rest and keep reasonably clean and well-nourished. Some things haven’t changed!

There is no cure for influenza. Vaccines and antivirals may protect but they really just reduce symptoms. Perhaps leaving you feeling healthy enough to go to work, much to your co-workers angst. But antiviral foods (herbs, garlic, ginger) also do so. Decreased use of antibiotics in livestock, packaging and disinfectants would be good too. Good old soap and water and a little friction will go a long way in keeping you healthy. Eat the best food you can afford and avoid sugar (it is food for viruses to grow). Eat truly fermented foods to feed the good microbes in your gut (like sauerkraut and yogurts with live bacteria). Do these things so you can avoid illness and have a healthy holiday.

Photo by Gary Randall.
The View Finder: choosing a wedding photographer by Gary Randall on 11/01/2017

With the spring and summer months behind us and the fall and winter months ahead, many people start planning ahead for the next season’s warm weather activities. Many of these plans will revolve around weddings and wedding engagements. Because of that, I’ve decided to try to provide some information that will help in deciding what photographer would be best for you from a photographer’s point of view.

First and foremost is the misconception that all that a photographer does is show up, take pictures, go home and send them in an email. That’s no different than thinking that all that the caterer does is show up and put some food on a table, serve it up and throw away the paper plates. That food needs to be carefully prepared, delivered carefully and served in a beautiful way and then the dishes need to be done. It’s a process as photography is a process. It’s certainly true that you can hire someone to come and take pictures inexpensively; you can also hire a caterer that will serve TV dinners.

When you hire a professional photographer you will expect more than snapshots of the wedding. A photographer can take hundreds or sometimes a thousand or more photos at a single event. Once back at the studio they will need to sort out all of the stinkers before starting the processing phase of the project. Out of focus, closed eyes, redundancy, etc. are all considered in this phase. This all takes time. After the initial sorting of the photos there are still many more left to consider whether they’re worthy of being a final photo.

If the photographer is using film, which some still do, they will have shooting time plus processing and developing time. If they shoot digital they will also have processing time. Modern professional photographers photograph their images in what’s called a RAW file, which is considered a digital negative as it will need to be converted into a usable image format for printing or digital display. This RAW format gives the photographer the same form of adjustment ability that the film photographer does in a darkroom; primarily brightness, contrast and color adjustments, such as white balance and saturation, plus a lot more. Because each photo is unique each will typically require separate attention from the rest. In other words, each photo is typically processed in its own unique way.

In many cases a professional photographer will have a second or third photographer at the event. The second, or assistant photographer, is helpful in capturing fleeting moments that come and are gone in a flash. This assistant is also helpful in setting up any equipment such as lighting and backdrops as well as posing people, seeing overlooked details, as well as sorting the photos after the event. Once sorted, the primary photographer will process the final photos. A second shooter will also help with any video captures of the event. Today most professional wedding photographers provide video service as well.

A professional will also have a backup photographer who will cover for him if he becomes ill or is unable to photograph the wedding for unforeseen reasons. The last thing that you want is a sick photographer at the event or one that’s too ill to attend.

What do you get for your money?

All of this can add up when considering cost. Generally speaking one can expect to pay from $2,500 – $10,000 for a true professional wedding photographer. Most photographers will have packages at different levels of pricing. The packages will typically provide a specified amount of final photos provided as well as other products, such as specialty printing like canvas or acrylic prints, a hard bound portfolio album or a video of the event.

I know what you’re thinking. Holy macaroni, right? I know because I’m asked a lot about photographing weddings and have seen the look in a few faces when they start to think about their budget. First consider this. Will you remember or enjoy the catered food in twenty years? Will you remember the DJ or the wedding planner or the venue manager? In my mind photography is the most important part of the wedding besides the vows. The photos will be with you for the rest of your lives and will help you to remember the details like the fabulous food and great music. Why compromise on what will truly be heirlooms for you and your family?

I also understand that a professional, in many cases, is impractical. In those cases my advice is to look for a photographer who is trying to make a mark or one who is trying to gain experience and a professional portfolio. Most aspiring photographers are not only willing to work for less they’re also usually enthusiastic. In this day and age, in many cases, one will know someone that’s either a friend or a family member that has a nice camera that would be willing to do this, sometimes for free. Ask to see their photos. You may be surprised.

And a final word concerning attendees with their own cameras or cell phone cameras who are tempted to snap photos during the ceremony or during the professional photographers time.

Please consider that if there’s a hired photographer working please allow them the freedom to work. There have been many times where I’m unable to get the photo through or between guests trying to get the same photo. It also makes it difficult when eyes are straying while a group of people are all looking at different cameras all at once. Many weddings ask attendees to not take photos during the ceremony and to relax and enjoy the event. If the bride and groom ask or if there’s not a professional working photographer there some brides and grooms want their attendees to snap photos. They figure that 25 photographers working for free are better than one or two pros working for a wage. That’s a valid approach which I give as an option when I discuss a job with a potential client.

I hope that this helps those who are considering hiring a photographer for their wedding. And may I be the first to congratulate you.

Contradictions on November forecast, hot next summer by Herb Miller on 11/01/2017

The first 18 days of October were typical early fall weather, with periods of sunny days followed by cloudy, showery days and temperatures near their seasonal averages. During the next four days, Brightwood was soaked with 7.97 inches of rain, while Government Camp received 7.28 inches of rain, melting the remains of snowfall that added up to nine inches. We were rewarded the rest of the month with sunny, mild weather. As the rain year ended Sept. 30, Brightwood recorded 107.12 inches of precipitation, which is 137 percent of the long term average of 81.70 inches.

The National Weather Service is frustrated with different indicators giving contradictory signals, in addition to keeping a wary eye on expected development of a La Nina pattern and continued Madden Julian Oscillation activity. Their best guess for our area expects average temperature and precipitation levels during November. Their confidence is much higher in forecasting a La Nina pattern to develop during the winter months, and somewhat colder than average temperatures for our area during December through March, with precipitation about average. Further beyond, our area is expected to have above average temperatures during next summer.

During November, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 48, an average low of 38, and a precipitation average of 11.78 inches, including 2.5 inches of snow. During the past 10 years, high temperatures have reached the 60s seven times, and into the 50s three times. Low temperatures dropped into the 30s five times, into the 20s four times, and into the teens once. On average November has six days that record freezing temperatures. The record precipitation amount for November was set in 2006 with 24.44 inches.

The record November snowfall was set in 1973 with a total of 27.7 inches. The record 24-hour snowfall during November of 8.8 inches was set on Nov. 5, 1973.

During November, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 41 degrees, an average low of 29 degrees and a precipitation average of 12.15 inches, including 33.5 inches of snow. During the past 10 years, high temperatures reached the 60s five years, into the 50s four years and one year ended in the 40s.

Low temperatures fell into the 20s during six years and into the teens the remaining four. The record snowfall in November of 125 inches occurred in 1973. The record 24-hour snowfall of 20 inches was set on Nov. 18, 2010, followed five days later with another 19 inches on Nov. 23.

Stardust Melody: Chapter 9 by Larry Berteau on 11/01/2017

FBI Agent Mike D’Antonio was back in the Portland bureau, down in the trenches with Bureau Chief Ted Grayson.

Although having come up empty after interviewing all possible suspects, with the exception of the mysterious Georgia Lovejoy who was now in custody as a material witness, D’Antonio was being told to hand over the case to local authorities. According to Grayson, who was more and more protective of his time on the job due to the recent addition of his much younger fourth wife, the bureau simply didn’t have the resources to continue.

After all, there were terrorists in the world.

But unlike Grayson, D’Antonio had a control-freak wife, Sophia, and seven kids, and he wasn’t ready to give up on an out-of-town assignment, even if he had to work weekends – which he was actually looking forward to doing.

Besides, ATF and Homeland Security had determined the explosion at the Stardust Lodge had nothing to do with them, and the thought of turning the investigation over to Wildewood’s Police Chief Gandy was, in D’Antonio’s mind, tantamount to turning loose the Deputy Dogs of Hooterville.

*   *   *

Max Malone pulled off the road twenty yards before the wooden bridge that yawned across Ruby River, fifty yards upstream from the picayune remains of the Stardust Lodge.

Nigel Best, editor and owner of The Wildewood World newspaper, was waiting, leaning against the back of his Prius, with one foot planted on the insubstantial back bumper, yet posing no threat due to the equally insubstantial weight he was applying.

Downriver, insurance investigators were walking through the wreckage of the lodge, faces covered with masks against the foul odor of Tannerite, stepping carefully along with inadequate footwear.

Max approached. Nigel pushed his wire-rimmed glasses higher on his nose in what was more reflexive than required.

“Haven’t seen you in a while,” Max offered.

“Right, Mr. Malone,” Nigel managed with only a slight hesitation. “I believe we were both back in the woods where Maggie McGee’s body had turned up.”

“Right. What do you want?” Max said, somehow not making it sound like a question. “And it’s Max, not Mister Anything.”

“Sure, uh, Max,” Nigel said, pulling a reporter’s notebook out of the belt behind his back, thumbing through a few pages, presumably finding his place. “The FBI agent, D’Antonio, asked me if I knew if you were working for Beau Kimatian. I said no.”

“No, I wasn’t working for him, or no, you didn’t know?”

“That last one,” Nigel said, turning another page in the notebook. “Were you?”

“Are you interviewing me? Cuz if you are, I don’t do interviews. Not for the Wildewood World, or any actual reporter in the real world.”

“I probably should explain,” Nigel backtracked.

“That’s a start,” Max snorted.

“Uh, I’ve been digging into Beau Kimatian ever since he acquired the Ruby River property. At first, I just didn’t think it was right that the Wilde family, Anna Belle in particular, should lose the property, then I got more concerned when I saw the Stardust Lodge get built, and, of all things, Anna Belle and Beau got married, followed by a confederacy of politicians and polecats coming in and out of the place, and I had a hard time believing that you were working for someone like him, even though your reputation was, um, not exactly whistle clean, but at least you’d never done anyone wrong here in Wildewood. Best I knew. I don’t know about France.”

All this without coming up for air.

“You’re about as long-winded when you talk as when you write,” Max said, pushing the fedora back on his forehead and almost smiling.

Nigel reset his glasses.

“He’s dead, so it doesn’t really matter,” Max went on. “Yeah, I unshackled Beau from some of his sheckles, pretending to follow Anna Belle for him. But I wasn’t. For such a supposed high roller, he was pretty easy to deceive.”

“Maybe he had another motive,” Nigel jumped in. “There’s this other woman, a Georgia-something, I’m still checking on that. Anyway, I’ve traced Beau quite a ways back. He’s connected to – and protected from as well – a lot of, uh, businesses in the South. Riverboat casinos, strip clubs, shopping malls, bars, restaurants, overseas accounts. I’ve pulled this off through a college friend of mine who’s now a U.S. Attorney in Florida, and …”

“You’re not old enough to have gone to school with a U.S. Attorney,” Max interrupted.

“I’m forty-three,” Nigel snapped. “And this old friend of mine is pretty sure Beau Kimatian is no more an Armenian than the Pope of Greenwich Village. She’s come up with another name from his past. Makes you kind of wonder if that was him in the lodge? Interested yet?”

He was.

After all, he is Max Malone, private eye.

MHGS: not so fantastic – China looks to cut plastic imports by Mary Soots on 11/01/2017

There is a crisis unfolding in the global recycling scene that will have profound effects on all of us down to the household level. In the world of trade, ‘Scrap and Waste’ is the sixth largest U.S. export to China. Now China says it doesn’t want our garbage any more.

The following is an article reprinted from The Conversation, a British site which explains our situation:


“The dominant position that China holds in global manufacturing means that for many years China has also been the largest global importer of many types of recyclable materials. Last year, Chinese manufacturers imported 7.3m metric tonnes of waste plastics from developed countries including the UK, the EU, the US and Japan. However, in July 2017, China announced big changes in the quality control placed on imported materials, notifying the World Trade Organisation that it will ban imports of 24 categories of recyclables and solid waste by the end of the year. This campaign against yang laji or “foreign garbage” applies to plastic, textiles and mixed paper and will result in China taking a lot less material as it replaces imported materials with recycled material collected in its own domestic market, from its growing middle-class and Western-influenced consumers.

The impact of this will be far-reaching. China is the dominant market for recycled plastic. There are concerns that much of the waste that China currently imports, especially the lower grade materials, will have nowhere else to go. This applies equally to other countries including the EU27, where 87% of the recycled plastic collected was exported directly, or indirectly (via Hong Kong), to China. Japan and the US also rely on China to buy their recycled plastic. Last year, the US exported 1.42m tons of scrap plastics, worth an estimated US$495m to China.

Plastic problems

So what will happen to the plastic these countries collect through household recycling systems once the Chinese refuse to accept it? What are the alternatives? Plastics collected for recycling could go to energy recovery (incineration). They are, after all, a fossil-fuel based material and burn extremely well – so on a positive note, they could generate electricity and improve energy self-sufficiency. They could also go to landfill (not ideal) – imagine the press headlines. Alternatively, materials could be stored until new markets are found. This also brings problems, however – there have been hundreds of fires at sites where recyclable materials are stored.

Time to change our relationship with plastic?

While it is a reliable material, taking many forms from cling film (surround wrap) to flexible packaging to rigid materials used in electronic items, the problems caused by plastic, most notably litter and ocean plastics, are receiving increasing attention. One way forward might be to limit its functions. Many disposable items are made from plastic. Some of them are disposable by necessity for hygiene purposes – for instance, blood bags and other medical items – but many others are disposable for convenience.

Looking at the consumer side of things, there are ways of cutting back on plastic. Limiting the use of plastic bags through financial disincentives is one initiative that has shown results and brought about changes in consumer behaviour. In France, some disposable plastic items are banned and in Britain, leading pub chain Wetherspoons has banned disposable, one-use plastic drinking straws. Deposit and return schemes for plastic bottles (and drink cans) could also incentivise behavior. Micro-beads, widely used in cosmetics as exfoliants, are now a target as the damage they do becomes increasingly apparent and the UK government has announced plans to ban their use in some products. This follows similar actions announced by the US and Canada, with several EU nations, South Korea and New Zealand also planning to implement bans.

Many local authorities collect recycling that is jumbled together. But a major side effect of this type of collection is that while it is convenient for the householder, there are high contamination levels which leads to reduced material quality. This will mean it is either sold for lower prices into a limited market, will need to be reprocessed through sorting plants, or will be incinerated or put in landfill. But changes to recycling collections and reprocessing to improve the quality of materials could be expensive. Alternatively, recycled plastic could be used to provide chemicals to the petrochemical sector, fuels to the transport and aviation sectors, food packaging and many other applications.

The problems we are now facing are caused by China’s global dominance in manufacturing and the way many countries have relied on one market to solve their waste and recycling problems. The current situation offers us an opportunity to find new solutions to our waste problem, increase the proportion of recycled plastic in our own manufactured products, improve the quality of recovered materials and to use recycled material in new ways.”



In Oregon, the Department of Environmental Quality states that it “is following the proposed China ban of post-consumer plastics and unsorted paper closely and is engaged in ongoing conversations with local governments, collectors, processors and industry representatives. Given the major market disruption this is causing, DEQ and its partners are preparing for different possibilities and developing strategies to maintain recycling collection and processing where possible as we update those systems to recycle more effectively in the future.

These challenges also present an opportunity to develop long-term plans to strengthen local processing capacity, identify and grow new markets, reduce contamination and deepen partnerships.

The DEQ is encouraging residents to continue recycling as much as possible, but to stop “wishful recycling,” which is putting an item into a recycling container that doesn’t belong, wishing it will be recycled.

On a more local level, our mountain community has had challenges with recycling since its inception. The Mt. Hood Green Scene has been working with Clackamas County’s Resource Conservation & Solid Waste management to address the current issue and will continue to work with our community to find solutions to our local challenges.

Teaching children to bowl is leading cause of sterility in men by Ned Hickson on 11/01/2017

Teaching a child to bowl is truly a bonding experience — meaning that you should really consider taking out a bond before entering the bowling alley.

As someone who escaped the experience with only a minor skull fracture and minimal orthodontic surgery, I feel I’ve acquired a level of expertise that could be helpful. First of all, don’t change into your bowling shoes while in the carpeted area. It will give you a false sense of security — and make you less prepared for the realization that walking in tractionless shoes on a highly-waxed surface is a lot like strapping soap bars to your feet and trying to cross a wet mirror.

Ironically, your children will have a natural ability to perform double axels over the same surface. That isn’t to say that you won’t, it’s just that theirs will be on purpose.

When it comes to selecting a bowling ball, remember: At some point it will be hurled backwards and into your stomach, chin, and/or groin. So go light, and make sure your child’s fingers fit the holes snuggly. A ball that’s moving out of control but still attached to a small child can provide you with an extra two seconds of reaction time.

As most bowlers know, delivery style is a crucial element to success. A curve or spin placed at just the right arc can mean the difference between a strike or split. Fortunately, you won’t have to worry about either since your child’s delivery will be closer to something like this:

Walk up to line.

Lift ball over head.

Throw ball straight down.

Get soda while ball is moved by earth’s gravity toward pins.

It’s at this point that the manager will offer your child free, personal instruction that begins immediately.

Next, don’t forget to ask for bumpers, which are metal gates about six inches high that extend to block the gutters and keep the ball in play. In addition to that, consider bringing along some extra fencing [chain-link is best] that can be attached to the bumpers. Though the metal gates keep the ball in play, the fencing will ensure that play remains in your lane.

Finally, it’s inevitable that your child will become infatuated with the ball-return mechanism, which is sort of like a giant throat that hacks up bowling balls from somewhere beneath the lanes. At some point, your child will begin hovering around it in spite of your warnings that ball-return machines have been known to suddenly switch into reverse and suck small children into them, where they are forced to live as pin-setters until released by an 800-series bowler.

This makes no difference to a 5-or 6-year-old drawn to the mystery of the ball-return machine — which brings me to my final suggestion:

If you have a child who bowls, always keep a spare.

(You can write to Ned Hickson at nedhickson@icloud.com, or c/o the Siuslaw News, 148 Maple St., Florence, Ore. 97439)

A farewell: thank you for the opportunity to serve HD 52 by State Rep. Mark Johnson on 11/01/2017

When I first ran to be your State Representative seven years ago, I did so because I was concerned about the future of our state. I felt that I could make a positive impact for all Oregonians. Since being first elected back in 2010, I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish and contribute to the legislative process, and for the service I’ve been able to provide to my constituents.

Recently, another service opportunity has come my way as I applied and was hired to be the first President and CEO of Oregon Business and Industry. OBI is the largest business association in Oregon and represents more than 1,600 businesses, from major international corporations to small businesses throughout our state. I chose to take this position because of many of the same reasons that I originally ran for the Oregon House: my concern for our state and the need for Oregon’s businesses to have a stronger voice. I believe my time in the legislature has prepared me to provide the leadership that OBI needs at this time and I’m looking forward to this new challenge.

Because of this new opportunity, I will be resigning my seat in the legislature in early November. After the resignation, an appointment process outlined in state law will begin to choose my replacement. I plan to be actively involved in that process to ensure that the appointed Representative is prepared to serve our district and to help him or her become familiar with all of you. The communities on the Mountain need a representative who understands your local needs and someone who will work with local and state partners to find solutions on your behalf.

It has been an honor to advocate for the Mountain communities, and all of House District 52, in the state legislature. As I move on, I will miss the wonderful people and the relationships I’ve made with many of you. From the Ant Farm in Sandy to the Mt. Hood Lions Club in Welches, this area is home to service organizations that help make the Mountain a truly special place. I want to personally thank the Mountain Times for allowing me to use this forum to communicate directly with residents of the area about issues of importance to them and to the state of Oregon. It has been a rewarding experience and I thank you for all of your support these past years. I’ll still be a resident of HD 52, so I might see you in the coffee shops, hiking trails or on the slopes! Thank you for allowing me to serve you as your State Representative.


Mark Johnson

(Mark Johnson is the State Representative for HD 52.)

Sides, Glorious Sides! by Taeler Butel on 11/01/2017

My favorite thing to make for Thanksgiving is an invite to someone else’s home. There are a couple rules to this game – you must bring something amazing that adds to the menu and a hostess gift of sparkling cider or wine is a nice way to get invited back.

Here are a couple of scrumptious sides anyone will appreciate:

Roasted Maple Butternut Squash Dressing

2 lbs butternut squash peeled and chopped to 1/2” dice

1 T kosher salt 1/2 t cracked black pepper

1 t chopped fresh Rosemary

1 t fresh chopped sage

1/8 cup olive oil

1/2 cup fresh pomegranate kernels

1/4 cup real maple syrup

1 cup cooked wild rice

2 stalks green onions sliced on the bias

Heat oven to 400 degrees

In a small bowl, whisk syrup with herbs and pomegranate kernels and set aside.

Toss remaining ingredients together on a sheet pan. Roast for 20 minutes stirring at least once. Coat with the maple mixture, place in oven another five minutes and toss in wild rice.

Root Vegetable Gratin

1/2 lb Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced thin

1 bulb fennel sliced thin

1/2 lb sweet potatoes sliced thin

1 T crushed garlic

2 leeks sliced thin

1 t salt and pepper

1/2 cup gruyere cheese

1 stick butter softened

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1 cup half and half

1/4 cup fresh Parmesan cheese

Toss together vegetables, Gruyere, cream, garlic, salt and pepper in a gratin dish, and bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.

Mix together Parmesan, butter and panko. Place crumb mixture on top and bake another five to ten minutes, until golden brown.

(Taeler Butel writes exclusively for The Mountain Times.)

The gut punch: antibiotics and the role of good microbes by Victoria Larson on 11/01/2017

The word microbiotic means “tiny living thing.” It used to be blanketed with the moniker “germs.” The germ theory claimed that all disease was caused by germs, so we grew to believe that all germs are bad. But germs, or the more currently politically correct terminology, microbiota, can be good or bad depending on the amount, the location and who or what they land on!

The germ theory convinced us that we needed to fight the “battle of germs.” A battle we will never, ever win. There are more microbes in each and every human gut than there are stars in the Universe! About nine or ten microbes per human cell, and we have trillions of cells in each of us. But we’ve been manipulated into spending huge sums of money on anti-bacterial soaps, hand sanitizers and anti-microbial packaging on just about everything we touch or ingest. Despite the fact that we’ve lived on this earth without these “germ fighters” for thousands of years.

Now don’t get me wrong, anti-biotics have saved many a life and we’re grateful to have them when we really need them. But no anti-biotic kills all the bacteria that cause an infection. The surviving microbes that weren’t killed by the anti-biotic go on to confer their genes to other microbes, telling them to avoid that particular antibiotic in the future. Thus we have antibiotic resistance. That’s a very real danger. For the record, 90 percent of antibiotics are given to animals (whether they need them or not) to increase their weight or cause them to give more eggs or milk. A case for more vegetables and less meat!

In the early 1940s penicillin became the antibiotic of choice. Resistance to penicillin began showing up by 1965. Tetracycline came to the fore in 1950 but lost its oomph by 1960. Erythromycin was the answer in the mid-1950s, but became resistant by 1960. New antibiotics since after 1970 are already showing resistance, some being beneficial for only a brief period of time. This is a big problem now especially in hospitals. In New York City hospitals the antibiotics have to be changed about every four months in order to avoid resistance.

Researchers at Oregon State University previously discovered that not only do antibiotics kill the microbes (bacteria), but they are also capable of destroying some of the cells lining the colon. While antibiotics do reduce infections, both chronic and autoimmune diseases have rapidly increased in the last fifty years. Any kind of doctor in practice for twenty years or more can attest to this. We are now treating different problems. In 1900 infection represented 53 percent of disease, chronic disease was only 36 percent and the rest of disease was attributed to other causes. By 2011 infection represents only three percent of disease but now chronic disease has risen to a whopping 88 percent. And doctors now see 40 percent more gut dysfunction than we did just 20 years ago.

This is not to say you should extend the “five -second rule” to five minutes or stop washing your hands. But maybe just rinsing your root vegetables rather than peeling them, or washing your clothes with water and soap that isn’t necessarily antibacterial is the way to go.

We can see the problem but how do we fix it? Everything you touch has microbes on it. Every doorknob, person, pet or other object. Microbes are inescapable. Even the much-advertised sprays which do indeed kill 99 percent of “germs,” do so for approximately sixty seconds. So that’s clearly not the answer.

Now let’s go back to those trillions of microbes that exist in everyone’s body. Our gut (mouth to ... the other end) does a great job of destroying most of the bad microbes unless there are just too many of the wrong kind in the wrong place or unless the interior of the gut has had all the normal flora (microbes) destroyed. So how do you protect yourself?

We’ve been trained to take an antibiotic for what ails you even if it’s a virus (most colds and flu) or other cause that antibiotics won’t even address. What if, instead, you ingested pre-biotics to feed the good microbes in your gut. Increasing the good microbes automatically confers resistance to the wrong ones. Pre-biotics contain inulin from onions and garlic. Their polysaccharides provide food for your good gut microbes. Also potatoes, carrots, the skins of apples and pears. Your internal flora ferment these foods for good gut health.

Pro-biotics benefit particular parts of the gut system. These include strains such as Bifidus, Bulgaris and Lactobacillus, found in foods like aged cheeses, kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, sourdough bread and yogurt. And some of these foods should be eaten on a daily basis in order to confer healthy immunity to your gut system.

We have a very wide variety of healthy foods in America. We have an even wider variety of unhealthy foods available that we should try to avoid as much as possible. All we have to do is eat the proper foods, opt for free range and grass fed animal products, increase vegetables for their complex carbohydrate content which is good food for your interior gut microbes. Avoid water during meals as this dilutes enzymes necessary for proper digestion and assimilation. Eat for health but don’t destroy your microbes. And replenish those good microbes if you do have to have antibiotics.

Photo by Charlie Riter, Big Tree Images
The View Finder: Lessons on Responsible Recreation by Gary Randall on 10/02/2017

Here on Mount Hood we are literally surrounded by forestlands. Our homes touch the edge of the Mount Hood National Forest and with increased recreational usage and in light of the recent Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge, concerns about wildfires and overuse are increasing. Many people aren’t aware that our local village is less than 20 miles from the Columbia River Gorge and the Eagle Creek Fire boundaries. A wind in a different direction was the only thing that prevented that fire from becoming a direct concern to our community.

In this day and age recreation is increasingly becoming the purpose and primary use of the forest. The amount of people using trails and camping areas has increased dramatically on public lands, especially in areas such as the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area and the Mount Hood National Forest. Local and federal governments are trying their best to develop and to promote these areas to increase the usage, and with this increased usage comes an increase in the impact on these areas. This makes our personal responsibility to, and the assumption of stewardship of, these lands important. We can’t have the attitude that it’s just the outdoors and that it will grow back or that the government will just repair or rebuild it. We must take care of it or lose it.

Most all of those who are coming out to use the forests are prepared, capable and aware of the responsibility involved in the use of these public lands, but there’s also an increased chance of having someone that’s not aware making mistakes or bad decisions that could prove costly or dangerous. There are many people who haven’t had the opportunity to live or to be taught the outdoor experience during their childhood. We can’t assume that everyone that is visiting the forest is aware of responsible forest use.

There are some basics that anyone that’s going to spend time in the forest should be aware of and they should be understood by anyone that goes out into the forest to recreate. The US Forest Service website has a wealth of information such as this that can be used to raise your awareness or of that of your friends and family before they go to play. They call it Responsible Recreation:


  • Camp responsibly – use existing campsites or use an area without vegetation if possible. Keep the site small to minimize your impact. Don’t chop down or into trees. Camp at least 200 feet away from lakes, streams or wetlands. Use biodegradable soap or just plain water to wash.
  • Answering nature’s call – human waste can cause all kinds of problems if it’s introduced into the water. When you must go find a place that’s at least 200 feet from any water source. Dig a hole at least 6-8 inches deep to bury human waste. Pack out your toilet paper etc. Carry zip lock backs for this purpose. It’s kinda icky, but you’ll get used to it.
  • Be fire safe – first and foremost check with the ranger station in the area that you will be about any fire restrictions. Have a shovel, axe and a bucket of water available before starting the fire. Use existing fire rings. Remove flammable material from a ten foot diameter area around the fire. Keep fires inside of the fire ring. Don’t feed large logs into the fire. Never leave a fire unattended. Keep fires small and bring your own firewood. If you must collect wood from around your camp collect downed and dry wood only. Extinguish your fire properly. Pour water slowly into the coals while stirring with your shovel until the area is cool to the touch. Do not bury the fire as it can smolder for days. Never bring fireworks into the forest no matter the conditions.
  • Keep the forest creatures wild – don’t approach wildlife. Don’t feed wildlife. Keep your dog completely under your control or on a leash to keep wildlife safe.
  • Don’t erase the traces of America’s past – archaeological and culturally significant sites are protected and must be preserved for future generations. Anyone disturbing such areas can be dealt a substantial penalty if caught.
  • Be considerate of others – this should be a given in this society but unfortunately some folks don’t consider how their action affect others. Be courteous on trails and in the backcountry. Yield to others on trails. Take breaks and make camps away from trails and others who may want to experience the solitude of the area. Keep noises down and let nature’s sounds and noises dominate.


And last but not least, don’t forget to take your camera.

It seems like a lot of ‘do not do’s’ but trust that the do’s far outweigh the do not’s, so go out and enjoy the outdoors.

Trick, or treat? October expected to be warm and wet by Herb Miller on 10/02/2017

Similar to the previous month, September got off to a hot start with four of the first five days reaching the 90 degree mark in Brightwood. Temperatures slowly cooled, reaching seasonal levels by the start of the third week and falling below average a few days later. Temperatures rebounded during the final week, ending the month reaching above average levels again. Heavy rain fell during a four-day stormy period from Sept. 18-21 resulting with totals far in excess for the month’s total average. As many of you may have suspected, this summer set a record with an unbelievable total of 25 days reaching 90 degrees or higher, compared to an average of ten in Brightwood.

The National Weather Service is keeping an eye on indications that an El Nino pattern may return and is again facing uncertainties caused by an active Madden Julian Oscillation observation. Their forecast for our area during October calls for above average temperatures and above average precipitation also.

During October, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 59, an average low of 43 and a precipitation average of 6.82 inches. During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached the 70s seven times and into the 60s three times. Low temperatures dropped into the 40s once, into the 30s eight years and into the 20s once. Chances for a freezing temperature in October are favorable two times out of three.

The only recent record of snowfall in Brightwood during October was a remarkable seven inches measured on Oct. 31, 1994. Of interest, last October, Brightwood recorded 17.86 inches of precipitation, although not a record.

During October, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 53 degrees, an average low of 36 degrees and a precipitation average of 7.03 inches, including 5.5 inches of snow. During the past ten years, high temperatures reached the 70s five years and an equal number of times into the 60s. Low temperatures fell into the 30s during four years and into the 20s the remaining six. The latest date to reach a freezing temperature was Oct. 22, 1975, but the mean date is Sept. 23. The record snowfall in October of 34 inches occurred in 1984. The record 24-hour snowfall of 15 inches was set on Oct. 21, 1961, compared to a more recent total of 12 inches measured on Oct. 27, 2009.

Stardust Melody: Chapter 8 by Larry Berteau on 10/02/2017

Max Malone chugged his old Suburban past the police station and slowed just long enough to gather in a scene the likes that the mountain community of Wildewood had never seen:

Every conceivable type of law enforcement officer had arrived in town, with the mass of humanity overflowing from the police station into the street, coupled with a morning crowd of local onlookers huddled together on the opposite side of the street, some with cups of coffee, others puffing through their second morning cigarette, chatting among themselves about absolutely nothing, but nevertheless dressed similarly in various versions of Levis and Wranglers as if they all played for the same denim bowling team.

In other words, it resembled a presidential nominating convention that somehow got mistakenly booked in Boise.

For those important, and possibly unlucky, enough to be inside the one-horse town of a police station, FBI agent Mike D’Antonio was droning on about what he knew so far, by way of catching up the really important agents from Homeland Security and Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Homeland Security personnel – there were four of them, three men who blended into the knotty pine paneling and a woman so stern looking her first name had to be Sam, and as it turned out, it was – plus the ATF boys, hopelessly outnumbered as there were only three and their demeanor reflected this fact as they shuffled their feet like penguins rolling an egg.

*   *   * 

Max Malone pulled up at the former residence of Randy Wilde, who at the moment was languishing in what might have actually been better digs, that being county jail, where he was a government guest awaiting trial for robbing a gas station.

Randy’s daughter, Anna Belle Wilde, was rocking gently on a porch swing that complained like a hog trapped in a bog, while her grandfather, Chance Wilde, leaned in the doorway, one boot holding open the screen door. As Max swung open the gate that seemed to harmonize with the hog, Anna smiled broadly and Chance almost nodded.

Max barely settled into a wicker chair on the porch, keeping his weight forward to avoid the broken slat at the back of the seat. He looked at Anna, who was still grinning like a Cheshire cat, then Chance, who might have been the Mad Hatter if he’d ever been to Danville, Connecticut.

(Over the years there had been women who knew if Chance ever took off that Stetson, but none of them were talking.)

“That FBI agent talked to you yet?” Max asked, shattering the looking glass.

“Yep,” Chance responded with his usual eloquence.

“Oh yes he did,” Anna answered breathlessly.

“Well, you were both here when the Stardust Lodge went up, right?” Max again.

“Of course,” Anna again.

“Where were you Max?” Chance said through a smile so narrow you couldn’t slide a credit card without it getting refused.


“Good,” Chance expounded. “Anyone see ya there?”

Max stood up, but before he could reply Anna broke in.

“C’mon Gramps. You know he was with that uptown Reno gal.”

“That’s good,” Max said, ignoring Anna. “So, the authorities have nothing to go on. Locally anyway.”

Max shrugged, thinking how Valerie Suppine actually had not arrived in Wildewood until the morning after the explosion.

Max, to Anna: “The FBI agent said there were three bodies in the lodge. But Beau only had one bodyguard.”

Anna called Max’s shrug with one of her own, and raised him the other shoulder.

Max drifted away with a one-finger private eye salute from his fedora, a familiar bounce returning to his step.

*   *   *

D’Antonio’s briefing of Homeland Security and ATF can be summed up by: There was no one in town sophisticated enough to successfully blow up that lodge, not to mention all the players connected to the lodge had alibis – including the owner’s wife who was staying at her dad’s house with gramps in the other room, and a mystery woman named Georgia Lovejoy who was convincingly shook up that her paramour, the lodge’s owner, was dead, and the two-bit private eye who had been working for the lodge’s owner, but really wasn’t.

At this point, the FBI agent didn’t have a good fix on the price of Max Malone, private eye.

MHGS: fall is the time to get your yard and garden in order by Mary Soots on 10/02/2017

The nights are beginning to cool, which is wonderful for a good night’s rest. The mornings are chilly, but the days are still warm. Fall is in the air, the leaves are changing colors and the deciduous trees are beginning their decline. We mountain denizens know it’s time to get ready for whatever comes our way during the coming winter.

But before we start moving into winter, fall is also the best time of year to think about our yards and gardens. A little work this time of year can make for a healthier yard in the spring and summer. Here are some sustainable yard tips:


  • Leaves – If you want to get rid of your leaves and feed your lawn at the same time, run the lawnmower a few times. The leaves will decompose faster and provide nutrition for the soil. Alternately, you can rake the leaves and compost them so that you’ll have rich nutrient-filled soil in the spring.
  • Plant trees – Fall is the best time to plant new trees. The hot summer is behind us, the rainfall will help establish new trees, bushes and flowers, so they have a better chance of survival than if they were planted when it was hot. Make sure to select those trees that are native to this area so that they can support native habitats and watersheds. Native trees are best adapted to our soil type and more resistant to drought and pests. Keep in mind the amount of sunlight you have available on your property.
  • Plant perennials – Don’t spend extra money buying new plants year after year. Choose perennials that will continue to get larger each year until you can divide them and have even more beautiful plants. Planting them in the fall is the ideal time, after the heat and while they still have plenty of time to get established before the cold of winter. In the spring, your plants will thrive. As our summers are getting warmer, select drought-resistant native plants that will thrive without having to be watered.
  • Fertilize your lawn – If you have a lawn, that is. Many of us prefer to have a more natural, low-maintenance yard. But if you are going to fertilize your lawn, fall is the best time of the year to do it. In fact, you can fertilize now and you fertilize again in the late fall for best results. And of course, use an organic fertilizer.
  • Remove weeds – You know those pesky weeds like dandelions, thistles, and ivy? Fall is the best time to attack. You can pull them by hand, pour boiling water on them, or even use an organic broadleaf herbicide to prevent their return in the spring.
  • Remove the lawn – More and more, landscapers and homeowners are moving away from the idea of lawns. They are high-maintenance, and the cost to maintain can be astronomical, especially with the rising costs of water. Lawns that are not maintained through organic fertilizers can be detrimental to our water systems, creating algae blooms and raising toxicity levels for fish. Replacing the lawn with native vegetation such as bushes, flowers, and trees can enhance the beauty of your yard.
  • Fertilize organically – When preparing your soil for next year, add organic, slow-release fertilizers that will help enhance your soil over time. These fertilizers are made of natural materials, contain vital nutrients to help your plants grow, and prevent plants from getting nitrogen. Most garden stores today carry a wide variety of organic fertilizers; many catalog companies also sell organic products, or you can use the compost you processed yourself.


With a little planning now, we can start enjoying our yard with less work once the winter has come and gone. Happy gardening!

First step to good golfing: Get a grip by Ned Hickson on 10/02/2017

 When our publisher began looking for someone to captain our golf team for a recent fundraiser, it only made sense that she came to me first. That’s because, being that I was once a sports writer, I’m naturally a great golfer. Just like I’m a great shot-put thrower, quarterback, point guard, stock-car racer, Extreme skateboarder, free-style swimmer and calf roper. In fact, I sometimes wonder where I might be today had my sports career not been tragically cut short by my complete lack of athletic talent. This discovery was made as early as first grade when, during a dodgeball game, I was knocked unconscious and rushed to the nurse’s office after being hit by the ball.

Forty-seven times.

(And I should mention that recess only lasted 10 minutes in those days.)

After agreeing to captain our golf team, I gave myself a crash course on golfing — beginning with golf terminology. I immediately went online for help and, thanks to the power of the Internet, found myself on an inappropriate website after typing in the first term on my list: Mixed Foursome.

For anyone else who might be looking to the Internet for golf-term clarifications, I’d also suggest avoiding Scotch Foursome, Shag Bag and Loose Impediments. While these are all legitimate golfing terms, try explaining that to your wife when she finds you doing an Internet search for the term Double-D.

(Which, by the way, means when a driver is used on the fairway after it has also been used to tee off — so THERE, Mrs. Smarty Pants.)

After getting a handle on the game’s terminology, the next thing on my list was golf etiquette. I know for a lot of people, one of the things that keeps them from actually trying golf is the fear of unintentionally doing something that, as a result of not knowing the proper etiquette, gets them clubbed to death by someone with a 9-iron. That’s because, to the outside observer, things that seem to warrant a good clubbing are actually no big deal. You want to swing your club and take a six-inch gouge out of an otherwise perfect lawn?


Want to drink a beer AND drive an electric go-cart through the woods?

Perfectly acceptable.

However, walk between someone’s ball and a small hole in the ground, and there’s a good chance you’ll be found floating in a water hazard.

The thing to remember is that you will undoubtedly make some mistakes your first time on the course, and that’s to be expected. What won’t be expected is a hollowed-out golf club that can be loaded with tees and used as a blowgun should you need to defend yourself.

But you didn’t hear that from me.

This brings us to the actual fundamentals of playing golf — which begins with finding your “natural swing.” Ask any golfer the secret to doing this, and they’ll tell you it’s all about having the proper grip. To achieve this, simply make sure the back of your left hand as well as the palm of your right hand are both facing your target. Then, using the thumb of your right hand as a guide, wrap your fingers around one side, then do the same with your left while, very slowly, bringing them both back into a perfect arch so that your beer doesn’t spill on the way to your mouth.

After a couple of practice swigs, place your beer back in the cooler and you’re ready to tee-off.

This may not improve your swing much, but it will provide you with a legitimate excuse as to why you shot a 167 on a par-72 course.

And if that isn’t enough, you can always claim that playing in a mixed foursome was just too darned distracting.

(Write to Ned Hickson at nedhickson@icloud.com or c/o Siuslaw News, 148 Maple Street, Florence, Ore 97439)

Eagle Creek Fire highlights need for better land management by State Rep. Mark Johnson on 10/02/2017

We’ve had quite an exciting fall season already. For the other side of the Mountain and the Columbia River Gorge region, the Eagle Creek fire dominated most of my September. As citizens evacuated their homes and I-84 remained closed for an unprecedented amount of time, local businesses suffered from loss of sales. I’m proud of the coordinated effort between the Oregon Department of Transportation, Forestry, State Fire Marshal as well as the first responders that aided from across the state to protect what they could of our Nation Scenic Area and its residents. This fire, and the many others that have swept across Oregon this past summer, continue to point out the need for better management of our state and federal forestlands. I’m hopeful the legislature will convene hearings on this topic soon that will lead to much needed action.

In other September news, I attended part two of an Energy Conference (part one was in July). During this conference, I developed an even deeper understanding of how our state can maximize its current investment in renewable energy and return that benefit back to you as a consumer. As a member of the House Energy and Environment committee, I’m focused on ensuring that we get the most out of our current policies in place before considering any further costly legislation.

I had a great time celebrating the rebuilding of the iconic “Swinging Bridge” in Rhododendron last month. Thank you to the Rhododendron CPO for the invitation. It is important to make sure that our Mountain communities are part of the planning process of the Hwy 26 corridor. I know that the CPO used this celebration to encourage community engagement in the future growth and development of Rhododendron. I plan to continue to remain engaged as well and am open to assisting in any way I can.

In addition, I’m researching whether there may be a need to address the safety corridor issue with legislation. With so much additional traffic now on Hwy 26 the corridor is an important component of public safety on the Mountain. I want to make sure that local communities have a say in the creation and preservation of the corridors and not a state agency.

Lastly, on Sept. 23 I was honored to once again serve as judge for the Mt Hood Lions Club 3rd annual Chili Cook Off. I’ve got to admit this is one of my favorite in-district activities to be a part of! I’m sure it’s no secret to residents of the area, but there are some talented chefs from local restaurants! They really came up with some tasty chili for the event. Hats off to the Lions for their great work on this event and to the entire community that came out to support a great cause.

The time between legislative sessions is important for me to have discussions with my constituents, attend local events, and take ideas back to Salem. Please feel free to contact me with any ideas or issues you may have: 503-986-1452 or rep.markjohnson@oregonlegislature.gov.

(Mark Johnson is the State Representative for HD 52.)

Is it fall yet? by Taeler Butel on 10/02/2017

Welcome back chilly nights with these simple scrumptious meals:

Fall fondue

1 cup Swiss cheese cubed

3 oz cream cheese

Salt & pepper 1/2 t each

1 crushed clove garlic

1 cup milk or 1/2 & 1/2

Pinch nutmeg

1/2 cup dry white wine

Pinch of nutmeg

1 T each butter and flour

Start by heating a heavy bottomed pot over med heat, then add butter, flour and salt and pepper and whisk for about a minute.

Add in garlic and wine, then stir until thickened. Add milk or cream to mixture as well as cream cheese and Swiss cheese. Stir and add to fondue pot, then sprinkle nutmeg on top.

Serve with roasted butternut squash, toasted cubed bread, cauliflower, sliced sausage, pickles, fingerling potatoes and roasted peppers, and a salad.


Rueben casserole

1/2 lb pastrami chopped

1 package cooked ziti pasta

1 jar Alfredo sauce

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

2 slices rye bread crumbs

1 cup sauerkraut

3 T Thousand Island dressing

1 T butter

Salt & pepper

1 T melted butter

Heat oven to 350

In a large bowl toss cooked pasta, pastrami, Alfredo sauce, 1/2 cup cheese, 1/2 t salt and pepper.

Pour mixture into casserole dish, then sprinkle on sauerkraut and drizzle dressing over the casserole.

In a small bowl mix bread crumbs, butter and 1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese, then sprinkle on top of casserole. Bake 25 minutes.

(Taeler Butel writes exclusively for The Mountain Times.)

The Milky Way – how milk has changed and changed us by Victoria Larson on 10/02/2017

Milk, it does a body good, doesn’t it. Well, unless you are lactose intolerant or vegan or hate milk. But that’s not the issue here. As far back as 1929 John Crewe, MD of the Mayo Clinic, wrote an article entitled “Raw Milk Cures Many Diseases.” In those days most doctors approached disease by providing advice for diet alteration, homeopathics, hydrotherapy or prayer. This was way before the Big Pharmaceutical companies persuaded many doctors to use drug therapies instead. After all, there’s money in drugs.

From the 1800s until the 1950s most families consumed fresh raw milk, not pasteurized or homogenized. In fact, most households still had a cow, even in the cities, or got milk from a neighbor who had a cow or a goat. In the 1940s raw milk was a staple in the American diet. The operative word here is “raw” milk. By the 1950s most milk in America was pasteurized. So what’s the story here?

Pasteurization came about in the early 1900s but people still had a choice – store bought pasteurized milk or neighbor’s raw milk. The operative word here being “choice.” In a nation where choices dwindle every day let’s take a further look at some history.

When the Pilgrims landed in 1620 there were no livestock on board the ships, leaving them woefully unprepared for survival, until later landings brought butter, cheese and milk. At that time most dairy products arriving were from the Dutch. Jan Kaas, or John Cheese, became the word “Yankee!” Churches in early settlements were located within areas where the farmer could walk home to milk his cows twice a day!

The famous Boston Common began as a cow pasture, and continued pasturing cows until 1850. Cows were kept on common ground even (or especially) in the cities. But here’s where a change comes to animal husbandry.

When distillation and fermentation of grains into alcohol (whiskey) became popular, it was discovered that feeding the slop, or swill, to cows greatly increased milk production. Somehow the image of tipsy cows doesn’t thrill me. But the bottom line was that someone made more money.

But swill milk, as it became known, lacked the healing properties of fresh raw milk. It could not even be used for making butter or cheese. The slop, or swill, milk industry led to a rapid rise in infant mortality. Half of the infant deaths in cities were caused by diarrhea, caused by the vastly inferior product produced from these “industrial” cows. Thus, pasteurization of city milk made sense.

Let’s face it, just as with humans, the cow’s diet largely determines its health. But slop milk was thin and somewhat bluish so it was “pumped up” with substances to give it the right consistency and color. Substances like chalk, flour, sugar, starch, and even plaster of Paris. Not so “yum,” huh? Laws to end these practices did not come about until the 1850s.

But now we have confinement cows in our industrial food system and they are not so healthy either. Instead of a natural diet of fresh pasture grasses, cows are now fed grains, bread, cakes, pastries, soybeans, etc. – leftovers from our industrial bread supply. Most cows will only live an estimated quarter of their natural lives as this is not a healthy diet. Not for the cows and not for humans.

Louis Pasteur’s germ theory became an accepted idea and made sense given the conditions of the cows and the increase in infant mortality. However, the mechanistic view of disease took away an individual’s choice to prevent their own afflictions, as touted by Dr. Crewe (mentioned in the first paragraph). Interestingly, on his deathbed, Pasteur acknowledges that the condition of the body determines disease, not the germs of his own “germ theory.”

The bottom line is, whether you prefer raw milk, pasteurized milk, soy milk, almond milk or no milk you should make your own decision regarding your own health. Just keeping yourself healthy will go a long way towards avoiding disease.

It may make more sense to keep healthy than to rely on pharmaceuticals, prescribed or over-the-counter, unless in extreme, life-threatening situations.

The Great American Eclipse.
The Great American Eclipse: Life comes into focus by Gary Randall on 09/07/2017

Motivation, purpose and reason. Why do we do what we do, especially when it’s doing something that we love? To me, photography is more than taking photos.

It took me a while to understand this as it applies to my own work and how it affects my life, but the realization was life changing.

I just returned from an event in Eastern Oregon where 25 photographers gathered at a ranch just east of Baker City in Eastern Oregon to photograph the total solar eclipse. I organized and conducted a solar eclipse workshop and campout. During the organization phase of the event I had no idea how it would all turn out. There’s always so much to worry about it seems. Will the clouds show up and blot out the eclipse? Will there be enough water? Will there be enough porta-potties? Will there be something that I’ve forgotten? Will everyone be happy?

When it comes to worry, I seem to be a pro.

The day of the event comes and the photographers start arriving. There were young, old, men, women, children, varied races, nationalities and ethnicities. People who, if they were in their own element, may not even meet, let alone sit and share a campfire, food, drink, dance and conversation. Our lives were diverse. Our common catalyst is photography. Our reason for gathering is the eclipse. A perfect formula.

The event could have formed into smaller social groups defined by our differences but instead everyone came together into a hive of gracious sharing.

We created our own village there of people who concentrated on their one common goal, in this case something as simple and as innocuous as getting a photograph, albeit a very special photograph. Everyone helped those who were less skilled or prepared. We all shared our experience, expertise, equipment, food and drink, anything freely and selflessly.

Even the children ran and played completely disconnected from their electronic devices as if it was 1965. I saw no conflict that the children weren’t able to resolve themselves.

It was an amazing convergence of love, happiness and cooperation.

I describe this event only to make a simple point that has taken me some time to realize. The secret to happiness and mutual cooperation, I think, is not finding our differences but, rather, to find our common interests. It doesn’t have to be photography.

It can be a myriad of other things but if we stop for a moment and realize how much we help ourselves when we help others the world would be a better place.

I don’t mean to preach, nor do I mean to act as if I’ve discovered the secret to world peace, but I would like to express how much I have realized that photography for me is the tool that opens doors to the things that make me happy.

It’s the tool that allows me to affect others in a positive way, and the more that I receive the recognition and gratitude of others, the more that I realize it’s more than the photography or vanity that could come with notoriety. It’s about affecting people's lives in a positive way with what I love to do.

I have a lot of people ask me what is the most important element or method of my photography that allows it to stand out so that they too can learn how to do it themselves.

I’m convinced that what will make anyone’s photography stand out can’t be taught but must be discovered through a journey of practice, mistakes, realization and discovery.

It’s a process that allows you to be able to see the world through your heart and soul and not your eyes and practical mind.

A realization that will bring a feeling of relief and relaxation that will allow you to do what you do in a much more creative way.

My personal realization of these principles has completely changed everything that I do that involves how I approach my work.

It has brought me happiness where there once was frustration.

It has brought a new inner peace that translates through my photos.

It has even brought a certain amount of success that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I feel that it all comes from sharing what I love.

I may not have discovered the secret to world peace, but what I’ve discovered is helping me with my own.

Energy and education both a focus as the summer turns to fall by State Rep. Mark Johnson on 09/07/2017

Summer in House District 52 is a beautiful thing. Whether you’re picking fruit, enjoying a hike or riding your bike, there’s no end to the activities. As a legislator, I do like to take advantage of the summer, especially after the long session and having a break from the commute to Salem. But that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped working!

In addition to being a legislator, I continue to run my own construction business in Hood River. Being able to work on the home front also keeps me grounded because I can talk with residents and business owners around town about day-to-day issues.

There is no better way to understand the needs that people have and their feelings about state government than sitting down with them for a cup of coffee. Sometimes these conversations lead to the introduction of a bill, and fairly often I can assist a constituent through my office contacting the appropriate government office. I also use this time between sessions to learn and develop a deeper understanding of the issues facing House District 52 and Oregon.

Last month, I attended a legislative conference in Breckenridge, Colo. called “Creating a Clean Energy Economy.” For three days I joined with legislators from 20 other states and learned about new trends in energy policy from various experts in the field. I really enjoyed this conference because it was non-partisan and the purpose was to be presented information that could be helpful to us in our roles as legislators.

As Vice-Chair of the House Energy Committee, it’s important that I stay aware of new developments in the energy sector so that I can not only be informed when discussing issues at the committee level, but also bring new ideas to the conversation. I will use this information to create good energy policy that protects consumers in Oregon and maintains our history of having access to abundant and affordable energy for our homes and businesses.

As we look ahead to the fall, I’m excited to see what the new school year will bring. This year, we will see the implementation of Measure 98 supporting dropout prevention strategies and investments in career and technical education. During the legislative session, I participate in a workgroup to outline the rules for applying and using the funds allocated. We secured $170 million for the next two years to be distributed to school districts apply and submit plans and are approved by the Department of Education. This investment will benefit all students by increasing graduation rates and allowing for greater participation in career and technical education.

I hope that you are all enjoying your summer (and were able to witness the eclipse!). Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments you may have: rep.markjohnson@state.or.us

Thank you for the honor of serving House District 52.

(Mark Johnson is the State Representative for HD 52.)

Stardust Melody: Chapter 7 by Larry Berteau on 09/07/2017

Lead FBI investigator Mike D’Antonio swung out of his ordinary Buick, patted his hand on the top of the door, tucked his jaw onto the half-Windsor knot of his blue necktie, flipped the door closed with authority, and proceeded resolutely toward the scene that had gathered inside the crime scene tape that surrounded what remained of the Stardust Lodge – which wasn’t much.

D’Antonio assessed the players as he approached.

CSI members were rummaging through charcoal chunks of timbers, grey ash that fluttered in the air under their footfall, creating the lasting impression that the charred remains of the Stardust Lodge were going to surrender clues of the explosion with a genuine degree of reluctance;

The Wildewood police chief, Barney Gandy, held a non-filter Camel in one hand, while the other hand held desperately to his pants belt less it abandoned completely the substantial obstacle that intruded upon it from above. Gandy rocked dangerously on his heels while enveloping a deputy and what must have been a reporter with enough cigarette smoke to set off an alarm from the Lodge, if only there was one;

And there was a woman standing off by herself who was able to maintain a certain appeal despite her reddened eyes, rumpled hair, and snagged left leg of her pantyhose.

With one hundred eighty pounds of reluctance, D’Antonio ducked under the yellow tape and headed toward Gandy.

“And you must be the FBI. Do I have that right?” Gandy wheezed, calling down echoes of Andy Devine.

D’Antonio stared at Gandy’s extended hand until the police chief finally picked up on the insult and planted his thumb back in his pants belt.

“Who are you?” D’Antonio said, turning to the bespectacled lightweight with a reporter’s notepad and poised pen.

“I’m Nigel Best. Editor of the Wildewood World,” Best said in a surprisingly unflinching manner.

D’Antonio looked around at the tops of Douglas firs and cedar trees, scanned the October sky with puffs of fair-weather cumulus clouds dancing in the brilliant blue ballroom of clean mountain air, chuckled so quickly you had to wonder if you’d actually heard it, then said: “Wildewood World? Whose idea was that, to call it the World?”

“My father,” Best said, almost answering the challenge.

“I see.”

“And what’s your name?” Best kept pace.

“Mike D’Antonio,” he shot back. “Would you like me to spell it?”

“That’s OK. I’ll assume it’s classic Italian.”

D’Antonio was not accustomed to being stood up to, especially from one hundred forty pounds of pasty white skin and thick eyeglasses. He turned away and honed in on Chief Gandy, shooting a look at the woman of ruined hose, knowing this was to be his easiest day as the invasion of ATF and Homeland Security loomed on tomorrow’s horizon.

*   *   *

Valerie Suppine peered over her pillow and watched suspiciously as Max Malone whistled through an expertly crafted breakfast of French toast with bacon sizzling in an adjoining fry pan.

“Must you whistle?” Val intoned through a healthy helping of morning voice.

“I must,” Max responded sharply. “Must you wake up? The house was so enjoyable.”

“You call this a house? Where are the rest of the Clampetts?”

“You’re about as funny as a pay toilet in a diarrhea ward.”

“That might be funny if you had indoor plumbing.”

And so it went between the meanest little woman in thirteen western states and Max Malone, a suddenly unemployed private eye due to the untimely and fiery departure of Beau Kimatian from his mortal coil.

*   *   *

Chance Wilde scuffed along a dirt road, his well-worn Tony Lama cowboy boots raising puffs of clouds in his wake. Anna Belle Wilde, Chance’s granddaughter, kept pace but avoided the rutty road, choosing instead to glide with her bare feet through the grassy verge.

“You don’t seem too upset,” Chance said, peering under suspicious lids.

“Oh, but I am,” Anna said breezily.

“Your husband, err, late husband?”

“Heavens no,” Anna responded vigorously. “I despised him.”

“Yet you’re upset?”

“Yes,” she said, resorting to her previously airy manner. “That was a wonderful piano. I’ll miss it.”

Chance stopped, planted his fists into his hip, and dared Anna to stop and turn around to face him.

Of course, she did exactly that. She, too, was a Wilde.

*   *   *

“Better get after that bacon before it gets cold,” Max slung the words over his shoulder as he clomped out of the cabin.

Val peeked around the door as Max got into his Suburban.

“Dammit. Where are you going?”

“None of your business.”

“I hate French toast,” Val bellowed at the indifferent rear end of the SUV.

If a man is attacked by his tent, should he make a sound? by Ned Hickson on 09/07/2017

Our family loves to go camping. In fact, we make sure to get out and pitch our tent — without fail — once a year. Traditionally, this takes place during the busy Labor Day Weekend so that as many people as possible can witness a 51-year-old man being attacked by his own tent.

In my defense, I have to say our tent is very large; especially when it is laying flat on the ground.

If I hadn’t lost the step-by-step instructions that came with it, I’m sure the assembly process would be a lot easier because, as a man, I could use them to, step-by-step, blame everything on having lousy instructions. What this means is that over the Labor Day Weekend my handiwork will again be mistaken for a hot air balloon that has crash-landed into our family’s campsite.

I bought our tent many years ago while living in Texas. As you know, everything is bigger there — including tents — which is why we tried to find the smallest model available. This turned out to be a tent called Quick Camp, which was a handy, two-compartment structure roughly the size of a jet hanger. Despite its size, the salesman assured us that the assembly process was very simple. He said that the entire thing could be erected in less than 20 minutes with a little planning.

And he was right.

As long as our plan included staying out of the tent.

For some reason, it collapsed on us every time we got inside. I’m not talking about an inconvenient buckling of the walls; this was more like an instantaneous implosion of water-resistant nylon that required the assistance of a search and rescue team.

In spite of this, we still feel it’s important for our family to go camping together. That’s because, as parents, we know our kids really hate it. I mean, sure — it’s pretty exciting while Dad is flopping around under 200 yards of nylon. But once that’s over, and I’ve decided that we’re all going to sleep out under the stars LIKE REAL PIONEERS! they begin to realize that everything they know about civilization has been left behind.

And by “everything,” I mean the television and devices.

In the primitive world of camping there is no Bachelor in Paradise or Netflix.

There is only dirt.

And time.

And if they’re lucky, enough fire to cook a marshmallow.

Eventually, as the shock of not having their devices wears off, teenagers enter what I feel is the most important phase of their camping experience: Realizing that we, the parents, are the key to their survival.

This epiphany starts the moment I pull out the old camp stove, give it a few pumps, then light the picnic table on fire. In that instant, the only thing that matters is reaching out together as a family and finding the nearest fire extinguisher.

So, during the Labor Day Weekend, our family will once again be camping out. If you happen to be in the neighborhood, feel free to stop by.

The rescue team could probably use your help.

(Write to Ned Hickson at nedhickson@icloud.com or c/o Siuslaw News, 148 Maple Street, Florence, Ore 97439)

MHGS: preserving food allows us to enjoy fruits of our labor by Mary Soots on 09/07/2017

This might be one of my favorite times of the year in the great Pacific Northwest – harvest season.

Even as I write, the sweet smell of figs wafts through my home as they are drying out. Figs are one of my favorite fruits; the dried ones are delicious with yogurt and granola for breakfast. Years ago, a friend delighted me on my birthday with the gift of a fig sapling that he had grafted from his own tree. Truly a gift that kept on giving. Alas, I later moved away and now have to depend on the kindness of those who will allow me to pick some of their excess fruit.

Our region of the world is one where so many things grow abundantly.

When I lived in southeast Portland, there were fruit trees overhanging into public areas from which you could pick the fruit. There were Asian pears, apples, cherries, figs and more. My dog loved plums, and learned to eat the fallen ones on the ground and spit out the pit.

Once I met a woman who grew a quince tree and invited neighbors to pick the fruit. Another woman with hazelnut trees invited me to take a bag of hazelnuts. In the coming weeks, I look forward to dehydrating apples and pears for snacks.

I’ll make my annual expedition to the Hood River valley to pick from the vast selection.

Also, the freezer has been stocked with frozen peaches and strawberries that I will use in the coming months for smoothies. There is nothing sweeter than Oregon strawberries, and if you can catch the Hood berries during their three week growing season, all the better. They will join an assortment of fruits and vegetables that I will freeze for the winter.

Food preservation is something of an art that has been fading over time. It’s so much more convenient to run to the grocery store to pick up packaged foods in the frozen section than to freeze our own. But I find so much enjoyment recalling that the fresh basil that I preserved in a frozen cube of chicken broth came from my own garden. In the winter, I just drop that little cube in the stir-fry I’m making to give it life again. I love freezing the heirloom tomatoes that will give sauces so much more flavor than the hothouse tomatoes we can get once summer is gone.

There was a time that I enjoyed making jellies, and I would spend the harvest season making exotic jellies like cantaloupe, quince, jalapeño or combinations such as peach-strawberry, etc. It was a great way to spend a day preserving summer in a jar.

There are so many different ways to preserve summer harvests. One year, I made flavored vinegars with nasturtium flowers. I placed the vinegar in pretty bottles and dropped flowers from my flower bed to add a peppery flavor to the vinegar. They made beautiful and inexpensive gifts.

Another fun gift I’ve made in the past was cherries preserved in brandy. The cherries were fabulous served over ice cream or cake, and the cherry flavored brandy was exquisite.

Whether you prefer to freeze, dry out, can, make vinegars, jams and jellies, or other ways of preserving summer’s bounty, we should take advantage of our wonderful farmer’s market to obtain locally grown produce that has not been harvested long before it is ripe in order to make it to the market before it spoils. Find the local organic producers so that your off-season food is the healthiest for you and the earth.

This is the time to take advantage of the bounty of our natural environment. By doing so, we will enjoy the best of our local food during the long days of winter. It’s so much less expensive than paying for imported fruits and vegetables later.

However you preserve your food, make sure to do it with a friend or a group of friends. The work is enjoyable by itself, but is so much more fun when the work — and the fruits of its labor — are shared.

And you’ll have good memories to accompany the food.

Going back to school and keeping up with kids’ health by Victoria Larson on 09/07/2017

No more hot dogs,

No more s’mores,

No more extra summer chores!

If there’s an end-of-school chant, shouldn’t there be one for back-to-school too? Not just for kids but also for the many adults headed back to school as well. As we move gently to cooler weather, which sends us to sleep sooner and less time outdoors and also less exercise, we need to think of boosting our immunity.

Less time outdoors and more time indoors increases the chances of “coming down with something.” This does not always have to be the case though. Naturopaths, and many others, believe that it’s rarely “the germs” that cause the disease. After all, germs are everywhere all the time. It’s the “field” that the germs land on that causes the diseased state. Germs enter your nasal passages, ears, eyes, but mostly through your gut, that term referring to the long tube that goes from mouth to ... the other end.

If your child, or you for that matter, is the one who “always gets sick” or “brings every illness home,” it’s time to consider “the field” that those germs land on. While in the United States we use more vaccines than any other country in the world, we still have some of the highest rates of chronic disease. Without getting into a further discussion of vaccines, let’s consider immune support for all of our children, all of our citizens for that matter. While the medical community and pharmaceutical companies continue to increase their profit margin, those of any income level can do their part to combat illness.

In the US we’ve come to accept disease states as “the norm.” Allergies, Autism, ADHD, the list goes on. It always amazes me that there are people who shrug off type 2 diabetes when there is so much evidence showing that diet and exercise are as effective in the treatment of diabetes as drugs like Metformin.

Yet there are people who complain more about the cost of their food than the cost of pharmaceuticals.

The appropriate expression here might be, “pick your battles.”

The complaint of food costing so much in a nation where only 10 percent of income is spent on food (less than most other countries) and throws away nearly 40 percent of the food they buy is sort of backwards.

In many countries food is purchased daily or nearly so, and locally, not trucked in from thousands of miles away. The markets are not “super” markets or big box stores with entire aisles devoted to boxes of cold cereal or plastic bottles of salad dressing.

So where does good nutrition start? At home, fixing breakfast for your kids and foregoing the office goodies. Or worse yet, that candy bar and energy drink that many teens think constitutes a breakfast. Try to wean children off cold cereals (any brand) perhaps by letting them sprinkle some on their oatmeal (which does have nutritional value) or yogurt. Add fresh fruit (endless choices these days) and nuts and proper protein of cow’s or goat’s milk. Almond, rice and soy milk may be appropriate for some instances but make sure other nutrients are still being supplied. Perhaps some wheat germ (readily available in the cereal aisle) or nutritional yeast (not baker’s yeast) which is a little harder to find but often in bulk food sections of the store.

Children need plenty of carbs because they are still growing and building their bodies, and these needn’t be the empty carbs of cookies, crackers or hydrogenated peanut butter or chocolate on white bread! Better sources for growth and health would be nut proteins, fruits and veggies.

Healthy fats include avocado oil, butter, certain cheeses, eggs, flax seeds, olive oil and animal fats from pastured-raised animals. Expensive? Yes, but so is medical healthcare and those pharmaceuticals. Since most pharmaceuticals have side effects leading you to need more drugs, you should know that by the time you are taking a third drug it’s to take care of the side effects of the first two!

Whereas the side effect of good nutrition and a healthy immune system is ... good health!

Cook for an hour – eat for a week by Taeler Butel on 09/07/2017

Lemme tell u somthin bout my best friend ... it’s a freezer.

Lemon chicken tenders for the freezer

1 lb chicken tenders, thawed

2 t lemon zest

1 t lemon pepper

1 t kosher salt

2 eggs

1 cup flour

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1 T olive oil

Place flour with salt & pepper in a gallon-sized plastic bag, crack the eggs in another bag and whisk with a fork. In another bag place the panko bread crumbs and lemon zest.

Shake the chicken tenders in the flour mixture, then shake one chicken tender at a time in the bag with whisked eggs, and then one at a time again into the lemon panko mix.

Lay out the chicken tenders on a baking sheet and freeze. When you’re ready to cook them sprinkle with olive oil and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

When they are golden brown sprinkle with lemon juice.

Freezable roasted veggies

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled & diced

1 red pepper, diced

1 zucchini, diced

1 t each salt & pepper

2 T olive oil

1 sweet onion or red onion, diced

Toss all ingredients together on a pan and bake at 375 for 30 minutes turning the veggies every 10 minutes. Freeze.

Hamburger meal starter

Cook 1 lb ground meat of your choice with 1/2 t each of salt and pepper. Add in 1 small diced onion, 1 celery stalk and cook for 5 minutes. Next add in 1 T minced garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add in 2 T tomato paste, and cook for a minute more. Remove from the heat, and stir in 1 can of diced tomatoes. Scoop into freezer bags. Lay them flat pushing out all the air and allow to cool completely. Freeze.

Put it together - Harvest Chili

Add the veggies and hamburger meal starter in a pot with 2 cans of beans. Add 1 t chili powder, 3 cups of chicken broth and 1/2 cup quinoa and bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer for 20 minutes. Enjoy!!

(Taeler Butel writes exclusively for The Mountain Times.)

Warmer weather pattern continues on into September by Herb Miller on 09/07/2017

August got off to a very hot start with the high temperature average in Brightwood during the first ten days recording 93 degrees and hitting a high of 103 degrees on Wednesday, Aug. 2, followed by 102 degrees the next day.

Government Camp peaked with 91 degrees on Friday, Aug. 4. Temperatures returned to seasonal averages during the following ten days, but a return of hot weather followed for the last weekend of the month. Precipitation remained much below average, and fire danger continues to be critical.

Following a familiar forecast, The National Weather Service expects our area to have above average temperatures with precipitation near average during September. The overall weather pattern is expected to continue much as it has during the past month.

During September, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 70, an average low of 48, and a precipitation average of 3.45 inches. During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached into the 90s three times, and into the 80s seven times.

On average, September has one chance in two of reaching a high of 90 or more. Low temperatures dropped evenly into the 40s and 30s with five years each. Chances for a freezing temperature in September are one in 20. When 0.02 inches of precipitation was measured Friday, Aug. 11, it ended a record-breaking stretch of 51 days without measureable rain.

During the year 2013, July was also completely dry, preceded only by four dry days at the end of June.

During September, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 63 degrees, an average low of 43 degrees and a precipitation average of 3.49 inches, including 0.2 inches of snow. During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached the 80s during eight years and into the 70s twice. Low temperatures fell into the 30s during nine years and one year ended in the 40s. The record snowfall in September of three inches was measured on Sept. 23, 1984. More recently, during 2013, trace amounts of snow were recorded on each of the last five days of September.

From top down: 20, 50 and 85 mm.
The View Finder: Making sense of your camera’s lens by Gary Randall on 07/31/2017

The most asked question of me is typically advice in what camera that one should get. I have addressed this in a previous version of The Viewfinder. (March 2016) The second most asked question may be what lens to choose.

In SLR photography there are two types of lenses that one can choose. Fixed focal length and zoom lenses. It was common back in the old days when I first started for photographers to have a whole set of fixed focal length lenses. A full set typically consisted is a 20mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm. Beyond those focal lengths one bought large telephoto lenses such as a 200mm or a 300mm. We had zooms back then but they were of poor quality. After the 1970s zoom lenses became much better and soon became the choice of most photographers, especially hobbyists. Today the quality of a zoom lens is fantastic.

A zoom lens allows you to magnify the scene that you’re photographing, enlarging an area to give a closer view. It will also help in aiding your composition. You can start wide and zoom in until you have removed all that you don’t want in the shot creating a much more solid and stronger composition. A zoom lens is very handy as it allows you to have one lens instead of a set. Zooms are available that will allow a range from 28mm-300mm in one lens.

The most valuable tool in my bag is the right lens for the right scene. In landscape photography the most common lens used is a wide angle lens. A focal length range from 24-70mm on a 35mm camera or a full frame digital camera, or 18-55mm on a cropped sensor camera, is the most effective and most used range for landscape work. Although it’s the most commonly used range it’s certainly not the only one that a landscape photographer can use. I love to use my 70-200mm zoom to get some details of the scene of more abstract interpretations of the scene.

The next consideration in choosing a lens is how fast the lens is. Fast meaning how wide that you’re able to open your aperture. The most common maximum aperture setting is f/3.5, but better lenses typically will allow f/2.8 to f/1.8. This means that you can use a faster shutter with more light coming through the lens at the maximum aperture setting. The wider the opening the more light that’s able to make inside the camera. Another consequence of the wider maximum aperture opening is a narrowing or decrease in the depth of field which will allow one to separate the subject from the background by keeping the subject sharp while blurring the background. The better lenses will usually have a wider maximum aperture but with the quality and extra feature comes an increase in cost and quality.

I have been talking a lot about landscape photography but the same principles apply in all forms including portraiture, for instance. A typical prime focal length for portraiture is 85-105mm. When you own a zoom lens, you have that range. A note concerning portraiture use a wider aperture to narrow the DOF to separate your subject from the background by blurring the background as described above.

For those who don’t own a camera with removable lenses, all of this applies to your camera as well. A typical prosumer camera will have a built in zoom as well as the ability to switch to manual and set your aperture. Learn to manually adjust your camera and use the aperture to control the DOF to allow you to enhance the look and quality of your photos.

It’s easy to complicate photography in one’s mind with the perception of mathematical complication. I leave the math to the engineers and learn simple practical application. Experiment, practice, make mistakes, experiment more and in time it will all come together into an instinctual understanding. In this day and age of digital photography film is cheap.

Pack your bags, it’s time to get the dog neutered by Ned Hickson on 07/31/2017

It was a foregone conclusion that we would have our dog, Stanley, neutered once he was old enough. Just like it was a foregone conclusion that, when it came time to deliver him into the hands of the vet, I would be playing the role of “Judas.” I thought about disguising myself and borrowing someone else’s car so that Stanley would not associate me with his loss of malehood.

My wife told me I was being silly. He’s a dog, she reminded me, and capable of recognizing my scent no matter how I was dressed.

It didn’t help the situation that my then four-year-old son, after overhearing our conversation, had reached the conclusion that something serious was happening, and that it involved — but wasn’t limited to — Stanley turning into a girl and biting daddy.

Naturally, as responsible parents, we then sat down with our son and, together, convinced him that he had a hearing problem. We informed him the problem could be solved by allowing his ears to “rest,” which he should do by covering them as much as possible.

However, we’re rational adults. We realized our son would, from time to time, need to use his hands for something other than covering his ears. So, as rational adults, we also developed a secret code language in order to safely continue our discussion about Stanley. Using our new code, I explained that I was concerned how Stanley would react once he got home and discovered his luggage had been lost, and how he might hold me personally responsible since I was there when his bags were checked in.

My wife argued that dogs lose their luggage every day, and none of them go after the pilots.

I admitted she was right, but that most pilots aren’t standing next to a passenger when they’ve just realized there’s nothing waiting for them at the baggage claim.

That’s when my wife took me by the hand and gently told me that if Stanley missed his flight today, my luggage would be waiting for me on the front porch when I got home.

As I sat in the vet’s office that afternoon, I avoided all eye contact with Stanley, who, at 10 months old, still hadn’t learned to fear people wearing latex gloves.

When it came time, the vet explained that it was a simple procedure. That Stanley wouldn’t be conscious during the operation and that, as a male veterinarian, neither would he. But his assistants were perfectly capable of doing whatever is supposed to be done “down there.”

When they took Stanley away, he was happy.

When I picked him up a few hours later, he was still happy. Even though, with the cone over his head to keep him from licking his stitches, he looked like a dumb cousin to the RCA dog who had gotten a running start and gone headfirst through the small end of a Victrola speaker.

My wife called a short time later, and it was obvious that my son was with her because she asked how Stanley’s flight went.

I told her the plane landed safely, and that we would be home just as soon as I determine the physics necessary to fit a three-foot diameter cone through a two-foot-square car door opening.

Ironically, we’d probably still be there if Stanley hadn’t fit in the luggage compartment.

(Ned is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. Write to him at nedhickson@icloud.com)

MHGS: organic produce making its mark in the marketplace by Mary Soots on 07/31/2017

Our state — and more specifically, our area — had the opportunity to shine recently. I had the privilege of being a fly on the wall during a conference in July hosted in Portland by the Oregon Trade Association. Members of the Commission of Inter-American Organic Agriculture (C.I.A.O.) attended the conference, including representatives from the respective Ministries of Agriculture from 13 different countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay and Spain, along with several staff members from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. and Oregon.

At the annual meeting of the Commission, member countries shared information about the advances and the challenges that have been made in the areas of organic farming and ranching in their respective countries. Sharing information and resources is key to the promotion of sustainable agriculture as most countries receive little support in this area. Faced with the task of fighting against mega-corporations that through the use of mass media promote the use of non-sustainable farming practices, these producers are changing the way that we produce our food. The group was hosted for breakfast at New Seasons where they were able to see how consumers have access to natural products and healthy alternatives. Across the world, people are beginning to choose organic options, and Oregon is one of the highest in consumption.

Organic producers argue that the Green Revolution, which began in the mid-20th century as a way of increasing agricultural production, has failed. The use of agrochemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides to intensify production has seen negative consequences to both the earth and its inhabitants. In the case of farming, the soil’s nutrients are depleted and must be replaced with more inputs.

The use of toxic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides leave residuals that kill off species such as bees and pollinators. In humans, they have proven to cause many illnesses such as diabetes and cancer, not just in the consumers, but in the producers as well. By contrast, producers of organic agriculture that do not depend on the use of toxic chemicals have seen that after they have transitioned to organics, the soil has become healthier, and therefore more productive. The visitors were given a tour of Siri and Sons, an organic farm that operates out of Damascus. The family has been in business for generations and has four farms around the region.

The same practices that apply to plant production also apply in the area of animal and dairy production. Chemicals such as antibiotics and hormones are used in conventional ranching, and as a result, the food that is produced contains fewer nutrients and more calories, contributing to our obesity epidemic.

The group was also taken on a tour of the four-generation Cloud Cap Dairy in Boring, a member of the Organic Valley cooperative. Ranchers such as these have seen that their herds are healthier and are also producing at higher yields by being fed an organic diet and given fewer chemicals. As we were told, happy cows are productive cows.

None of this is news, of course. Many research studies have revealed to us that we are slowly killing off our planet and ourselves through input intensive practices. The public is becoming aware that we need to make a change to healthier practices. More and more households are consuming organically produced goods. Oregonians are consuming organics at higher levels than other states. In an emotional meeting of minds and spirits, our visitors had the opportunity to have lunch and tour Bob’s Red Mill in Milwaukie. For nearly 40 years, Bob has promoted organic and whole grains and his business is now a global producer.

The word is getting out about the benefits of organic consumption. The economic benefits of organic production are being seen. There is pressure to drive prices downward. However, areas with organic production have lower poverty rates and higher incomes.

The challenge is that with an increased demand comes a demand for increased production. We can’t supply the demand within our own countries, and therefore must promote organic exchange between countries. This is especially challenging in the current strong anti-regulation mood and anti-trade environment. Marketing and investment is important when it’s difficult to fight against the Monsanto’s of the world. In spite of that, there is a growing force around the world and it is very empowering to see that we are showing others the way that this can be accomplished. We as Oregonians have much to be proud of.

Take a hike! Get out and enjoy some plants and animals by Victoria Larson on 07/31/2017

We’re finally past “Junuary” in Oregon and the vagaries of July, so we can actually find outdoor weather a little more reliable. Residents of Oregon and visitors as well, it’s time to take a hike in our beautiful countryside. Always with a cell phone, water, food and a jacket in order to be prepared “just in case.” A good motto no matter what you are planning.

 A trail map and a plant and/or animal guide is always a good idea too. While I’ve made it a point to know my animals, it’s the plants (especially herbs and weeds) that I’ve been trained in. The natural world appeals to me way more than Big Pharma, though there is a place for both in our modern society.

 Rather than buying over-processed herbal preparations in plastic bottles from a large profit-oriented outlet, I prefer to be closer to the source and know what I’m using. Sort of like going to the farmers’ market or food co-op rather than buying processed, over-packaged foods from faraway lands in a big-box store.

But if you are buying your herbs this way, what do you really know about them? United Plant Savers is a non-profit organization (802-476-6474-PO Box 400, East Barre, VT 05649) dedicated to preserving native medicinal plants. Does your herb bottle label tell you where or how or when the herb was collected? With herbs, everything can make a difference in efficacy, including location, weather, the age of plant, ceremony and even the mood of those collecting.

 Common herbs you may be buying like Blue or Black Cohosh, Echinacea, Goldenseal, Wild Yan and others, are all on the “At Risk” list for survival in the wild. Echinacea and Goldenseal from your own garden or nearby forest is fine IF you continually replant, care for the species, and perhaps even do some ceremony or make an offering of thanks when harvesting.

 Rather than over-harvesting Goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis) we could substitute Oregon Grape for the same medicinal purposes. While it may seem strange, Oregon Grape is on the “To Watch” list from United Plant Savers. It is abundant in Oregon in yards, schools, and places no one cultivates, but overharvesting and habitat loss make it a plant to be aware of diminishing in other states and areas. You are not likely to find any of that out from any label, leaving you more removed from the source.

 As with mushrooms, or any wild plant, you must use visual guides. Taking a class that includes hiking in the wild is even better. There are excellent guides, from the late Euell Gibbons and Nelson Coon to more modern guides with color photographs. I like to use both the old line drawing guides as well as the newer color photos when hiking to collect plants. Remember to collect only in areas where it is allowed and be sure no sprays have been used.

 Many of the more useful plants are subjected to the carcinogenic assault of herbicides like Round-Up and worse. You’ve probably heard of the usefulness of plants like Dandelions (salads and coffee substitute in Europe) but there are other wild edibles you may wish to learn more about. Barks, berries, ferns, flowers, leaves, and roots are all useful for making medicines, teas, soups, stews and even candy.

 The battle to destroy so-called harmful wild plants and weeds will continue. Certainly the over-growth of non-indigenous blackberries in Oregon is an example of a species out of control!

 Another interesting example in our society is the much maligned Kudzu. Yet it is grown extensively in other areas of the world for food, fodder for animals, erosion control and as a cover crop. Previously it was a staple food crop for centuries in Asia until crops like sweet potatoes were introduced. Interestingly, Kudzu has a lower glycemic index than sweet potatoes. The plant is a ‘cousin’, and even a look-alike to jicama, the root is still used to make nutritious broth for healing digestion, inflammation and tonifying deficiencies. In other words, a wild food that “cures what ails you.”

 With a reminder to never taste, touch or eat anything from the wild that you are not 100 percent sure you know. Enjoy your hike into beautiful Oregon.

After dry July, above average temps await in August by Herb Miller on 07/31/2017

This July has been exceptionally sunny and dry. In fact, the rainless period started the second half of June and we can all be grateful the wildfire damage in the Pacific Northwest has been minimal, at least up until now.

Despite the abundance of sunny days, there has been an absence of extreme heat and the average high temperature for the month is only about five degrees above average in Brightwood, and three degrees above average in Government Camp. Precipitation is just a memory at this time.

The National Weather Service reports our area can expect above average temperatures with precipitation near average during August. Looking ahead, they see no reason to change this outlook for the rest of the year and into next spring.

During August, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 76, an average low of 51, and a precipitation average of 1.44 inches. During the past 10 years, high temperatures have reached into the 90s nine times and into the 80s once. On average, August has two days with a high of 90 or more. Low temperatures dropped into the 40s without exception. Except for a trace of rain in 2012, this the only year in the past 10 years that had no precipitation. The record high temperature in Brightwood, dating back 40 years, was 106 degrees set on Aug. 8, 1981.

During August, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 68 degrees, an average low of 46 degrees and a precipitation average of 1.58 inches. During the past 10 years, high temperatures have reached the 90s three years, into the 80s during 6 years, and once in the 70s. Low temperatures were evenly divided with five years in the 30s and five years in the 40s.

Food for the frugal chef by Taeler Butel on 07/31/2017

Life isn’t always perfect, but you can make a perfectly yummy meal whether you are short on cash, time or ingredients.

When you have pennies ...

Potato soup

2 T butter

1 large sweet onion diced fine

1 lb Yukon potatoes

1 t each salt & pepper

6 cups chicken broth

1 cup 1/2 & 1/2

1 T Italian seasoning

1 T flour

In a large pot sweat the onions with the butter until translucent. Add 1 T flour and the seasonings. Cook stirring for about 2 minutes, add in potatoes and broth, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer soup for 30 minutes until potatoes are tender. Add the cream and mash lightly with a potato masher.

Things to add: Cheese, crumbled cooked bacon, sour cream, green onions, corn, pulled pork, sausage.

When you have just a few ingredients ...


6 Eggs

1 cup sugar

3 cups cream

1T vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a small pot heat 1/4 cup of sugar stirring constantly with a wooden spoon over med/high heat until it melts and turns amber. Immediately pour into a 9” glass pie plate. Whisk the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl until well combined, then pour into the glass dish over the sugar. Place in oven 35-45 minutes until it just jiggles in the center. Chill completely in fridge.

When you have company ... just a few ingredients ... and pennies

Chicken Legs 3 ways

Sure, the breasts get all the attention but these are inexpensive and chicken legs are the dinner version of wings.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

3 lbs chicken legs skin on

Spread chicken legs on a large sheet, pan drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper, bake at 400 degrees for 45 mins.

Prepare three bowls:

In the first bowl

1 cup Teriyaki sauce

In the second bowl

1 cup BBQ sauce

In the third bowl combine

1 T lemon pepper

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup melted butter

1 T garlic salt

Toss 1/3 of the legs in each of the sauces. Place separately on a cookie sheet and bake for additional 5 minutes.

Bonus – when you have only minutes ...

While on my way to a birthday party I re-read the invite and only then did I see the words “please bring a dish to share.” Challenge accepted.

Last minute cheese plate

Burata cheese (mozzarella with cream inside)


Chevre cheese


Fruit (I chose yellow cherries)


Crackers (I chose olive & fig)

Sliced baguette


Cranberry jalapeño spread

A bunch of herbs

(Taeler Butel writes exclusively for The Mountain Times.)

The Underground Railroad
Novel offers more than expected on the Underground Railroad by Sandra Palmer on 07/31/2017

Colin Whitehead’s best-selling novel “The Underground Railroad” uses a unique, free-spirited format to offer more than a historical novel about the subject. Whitehead offers an insightful look at the actual historical “railroad” from the cruel slavery in the South toward the hope of freedom and opportunity in the north. Southern slaves traveled at great risk from their bondage toward even a vague hope to a better circumstance in the Northern states – at times assisted by sympathetic citizens, horrified at the institution of slavery. At the same time he offers a creative way to view the black slave experience in America, using a number of unique literary vehicles.

Cora, a young female slave running from a Georgia cotton plantation, is Whitehead’s main character. After a difficult life in servitude and hard labor, a brutal rape and humiliation finally pushes her to run. To add to her risk, she is forced to kill a white man to ensure her escape. Each of the novel’s installments about Cora’s trials shows yet another ugly aspect of slavery and the evils it brings out in those touched by it.

This unique, inventive novel will open your mind to our country’s experience with slavery in unexpected ways with creative literary devices that keep you thinking.

Highly recommended.

Colson Whitehead is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Underground Railroad, winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, the 2016 National Book Award, and named one of the Ten Best Books of the Year by the New York Times Book Review, as well as The Noble Hustle, Zone One, Sag Harbor, The Intuitionist, John Henry Days, Apex Hides the Hurt, and The Colossus of New York. He is also a Pulitzer Prize finalist and a recipient of the MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships. He lives in New York City.

Inside Salem - 2017 recap by State Rep. Mark Johnson on 07/31/2017
The legislative session officially ended on Friday, July 7. After meeting for just over five months in Salem, I feel we had clear victories, but also left some opportunities on the table. 
HB 3350 was a victory for House District 52. This bill creates an Office of Outdoor Recreation at the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD). They will be responsible for coordinating all things recreation in Oregon with a specific focus on new economic development opportunities. Tourism related activities only scratch the surface of what the recreation industry contributes; the gear that people buy to the jobs created, new business expanding available activities are just some of areas we can continue to develop. Even new higher education programs are being created to train students for manufacturing and recreation based jobs, helping us keep and attract talent to Oregon. 
I’m extremely proud to have introduced this legislation on behalf of the recreation community in House District 52 and to have seen it through to passage. OPRD is excited to have this new, designated office. They have committed to shifting some of their current resources to support the goals meaning only one new position will be created. This position will be funded with money outside of the general fund. I think this bill will be especially important to the Mountain community because giving Outdoor Recreation a voice in policy making will help ensure that our recreation based businesses will continue to grow, provide benefits to our communities, and be supported into the future.
The long awaited transportation package passed in the final days of session. This package is a result of years of negotiations and hard work. Local investments will be made in public transportation as well as in infrastructure and maintenance projects. Bicycle and pedestrian projects will also receive some investment across the state. Funding for this package will come from a modest increase to gas tax, vehicle registration and titling fees, and user fees in some metro areas targeted directly to helping reduce the congestion there. Half of the new revenues raised will be returned to cities and counties to help pay for local road maintenance and improvements. All across Oregon we have roads and bridges in need of repair. This package will help Oregon reinvest in needed elements of our transportation infrastructure and build a transportation system that can meet our future needs.
Now for what was left on the table. Going into the legislative session, we knew about the large hole in the state’s budget. The state’s revenues cannot keep up with its costs. Our state economy is now performing better than ever, meaning the state has more money available in the general fund than ever before. But our current budget situation did not reflect that.
Our economy is strong, but it won’t always be this way and I’m concerned about the long-term impact of not addressing clear cost-drivers to our system. Increasing PERS, healthcare costs and other out of balanced spending has lead us to a point where we have had to reduce services and cut back on important investments in education. Since the beginning of session, I advocated for a comprehensive set revenue reforms and structural cost containment. I worked to build bipartisan support for a package that could have balanced our budget this year and for years to come. We had many opportunities to tackle this problem but instead, in the end, Democratic leadership only chose to pass minimal cost containment measures. This means that we have to wait two more years to make structural budget changes when the situation to be even more dire than it is now. I’m worried about what this will mean for Oregon and I’m sure most of you are as well. In the interim, I will continue to work for a sustainable budget solution on behalf of all Oregonians.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve House District 52. It’s an honor to represent you in Salem.

(Mark Johnson is the State Representative for HD 52.)
Inside Salem - 2017 reflections by State Sen. Chuck Thomsen on 07/31/2017

With the 79th Oregon Legislative Assembly behind us, we can now look back and reflect. All things considered, I want to say that I left this session with an overall decent feeling. Coming out of the sessions of 2013 and 2015, the mood of my colleagues and myself was not as positive, and it is a credit to our current legislature that this time we maintained a proactive tone for six months. For a bipartisan guy like me, that’s the climate I prefer.

As I’ve mentioned before, we passed General Fund and Lottery Fund budgets to a total of nearly $21 billion, marking a 10 percent increase from our current biennium. K-12 received $8.2B, which wasn’t as much as many of us wanted but is still respectable. I am on the Ways and Means Education Subcommittee and was proud of my colleagues for holding strong – getting to $8.2B was not a simple task and I especially want to thank my friend, Sen. Rod Monroe (D-Portland) who chairs the subcommittee, for helping keep us unified.

The big item of the session was the Transportation Package, HB 2017. It has been critical for years that we improve our road infrastructure, and for the past few sessions the legislature had punted on doing so. This time, $5.3B will be raised over ten years to do just that. Rather than just one massive gas tax hike, the cost will be more spread out between bicycle and vehicle sales. There are also provisions in the bill to help streamline ODOT expenditures.

I Chief-Sponsored 16 bills that either directly passed or were amended into other legislation, and was a Sponsor of 25 successful bills. Out of the “realistic” bills I was part of, all but one proved successful. Sen. Peter Courtney and I still have SB 1 left to work on, which will improve labor camp conditions for agricultural workers – and in turn help a little to ease the housing market. We felt it was best to wait a session to really push for that one.

Over the next year I would like your help if you have any new ideas for legislation or would just like to offer your feedback. You can contact me at any time at 503-986-1726 or sen.chuckthomsen@oregonlegislature.gov.

(Charles Thomsen is the State Senator for District 26.)

Stardust Melody: Chapter 6 by Larry Berteau on 07/31/2017

Mike D’Antonio is the lead investigator for the Portland office of the FBI. He likes his lofty position because it gets him out of the house. A lot. He also likes it because it gets him out of Portland. Not nearly enough. And the pay’s not bad.

D’Antonio is married to Sophia – a controlling woman who can’t control him, according to her – but is highly successful at it, according to him. They have seven kids.

Mike hates the city. Any city. Well, except for Palermo, perhaps, though he’s never been there.

He has a chip on his shoulder that is more like a wood pile. His nose has been broken more times than a bus load of campaign promises. He sports a scar under his right eye that’s obvious enough to look like, once upon a time, he dropped a twelve-round split decision to Sugar Ray Leonard. But that’s not true. What happened is his father dropped a brick as he was perched on the top rung of a ladder trying to build his own fireplace chimney while Mike held the bottom of the ladder, gazing up admiringly at the masonry skills of his pop – which was nothing more than childhood devotion to a father who never particularly cared about Mike, or either of his four sisters for that matter. Spellbound, little Mike took the brick in the face.

He goes by the book, unless the plot gets too murky. He subscribes to the Captain Jack Sparrow book of rules: “They’re more like guidelines.” He’s wary, and tough to pin down.

He was called into the office Sunday afternoon – it would have been better if it had been Sunday morning, before mass – but it was better than spending the afternoon with his knucklehead neighbors, flipping burgers for a city block of kids, which was Sophia’s idea of a perfect Sunday afternoon.

The bureau chief, Tad Grayson, filled him in as quickly as possible. Tad was actually looking forward to flipping burgers at home with his new wife, his fourth, who was twenty years his junior.

*   *   *

Mike meandered along the Columbia River on this lazy Sunday afternoon in his bland Buick sedan, settling in to the slow lane of the Interstate, with Puccini blasting through the stereo speakers.

Mike rocked back and forth to the heartbreaking and rare Toscanini conducted version of La Boheme.

Was that a tear in the corner of Mike’s eye?

*   *   *

Anna Belle stood underneath the footbridge, just beyond the debris scattered by the explosion that removed the Stardust Lodge from the face of the earth, and the crime tape that had been tacked up by crime scene investigators, dragging her bare foot along a shallow pool of Ruby River, curling her nose against the acrid odor of the conflagration.

*   *   *

Chance Wilde tackled the Monster Burger at Lola’s like Ronnie Lott chasing down a skinny quarterback. His baleful stare kept the bartender at bay. He washed the burger down with a bottle of Bud. Kris Kristofferson would have called it “Sunday comin’ down.”

*   *   *

Max Malone stared in disbelief at the pink Cadillac with fins borrowed from a Peter Benchley novel. Valerie Perrine, the meanest little woman in thirteen western states, and the woman who had somehow sneaked two-hundred-fifty large from underneath Max’s normally well-trained nose during the Reno caper, slid out from behind the wheel, knocked the door closed with her heel, and marched straight up to Max, stepped around him into his cabin, peered for a second or two with utter disdain at the décor, and leaned away from the stereo bouncing through a Frank Sinatra tune.

“I hope you don’t expect me to stay in this dump,” Valerie offered without it being an actual question. “And what’s with the music?”

Valerie Perrine left popular music when Bob Dylan went electric.

*   *   *

In other words, everyone in Wildewood seemed to be about their own business, despite the eruption that sent the Stardust Lodge sky high early that morning, as Mike D’Antonio brought his Buick to a halt beyond what had once been the lodge’s parking lot.

For the crack FBI investigator, it was time to go to work.

Lost Lake.
The View Finder: Getting the light right – nighttime photography by Gary Randall on 06/30/2017

When I was a boy living in southern Oregon my friends and I would take our blankets and sleeping bags out into a huge field near our homes and sleep under the stars. Where I lived, the sky had no effect from cities or other light sources that would dilute the brightness of the stars. We would watch for satellites and falling stars against a backdrop of a band of a dense cloud of stars stretching across the sky and the Milky Way.

The Milky Way is the galaxy that contains our solar system. It's our home in the universe. We're looking at it from the inside out, so to speak. Its shape is like a disc with a bulge in the center which is the core of the galaxy. As we are observing it from our point of view here on Earth we can see the core on the horizon and the diminishing density of the disc as it stretches out from the core above our heads. As the night progresses it sweeps across the sky as the Earth rotates.

The best time of the year to observe the Milky Way from the northern hemisphere is in the summer. Its place in the sky is most dramatic and bright toward the southern horizon where the core is positioned. I love to photograph the Milky Way in July. The nights are usually warm and the Milky Way is bright.

Other considerations include the moon phase as well as the moon rise and set times. The moon will illuminate the sky and fade out the stars and the Milky Way when it's illuminated, even a crescent moon will provide sky-brightening light.

Now get away from a city or a town that will brighten the sky on a dark sky night. The darkest skies are found during the beginning of the moon's first phase called the New Moon. The New Moon happens when the sun, earth and the moon's alignment puts the dark side of the moon toward Earth during the daytime. There are times when one can observe the rise and fall times of the moon and plan a night when the moon will set early enough in the evening to have less effect on the night sky, but planning a photograph of the night sky during a new moon is the easiest way to insure a nice dark sky with nice bright stars.

To understand the mechanics involved in getting a photograph of the Milky Way or any night sky photograph, one must consider that the sky is dark and you will need to do all that you can to get as much light into the camera as possible within a 20-30 seconds exposure time. This will require you to set your camera up on a tripod first and, ideally, the use of a remote shutter release to reduce camera movement.

The next consideration is the lens. The best lens for night photography will be a "fast" lens, one that you can open the aperture up to f/2.8 or more. This will allow more light to come into the camera through the lens, but an f/3.5 lens will work with a higher ISO setting and so the next setting to understand is the ISO, or ASA if shooting with film. ISO/ASA is the film or the image sensor's sensitivity to light. I will assume that we're discussing digital photography for this exercise but the principle is essentially the same with film photography.

The higher the number of the ISO the more sensitive to light your camera will be, therefore you will want to shoot at elevated ISO settings. The quality of the image will depend on the quality of the sensor in your camera. Some more modern sensors will produce a much cleaner image with less noise, a result of an elevated ISO. This is the same as with film. The higher the ASA the more grain that the image will have.

With all of this said, and to sum it up, you will shoot the night sky on a tripod with a wide open aperture, high ISO and an extended exposure time, usually 20-30 seconds. A shutter speed that's longer will start to show streaked stars as the Earth rotates. Because the amount of light in a sky will vary from location to location, city light pollution, etc., and each camera is different in how well it performs in the dark, you may need to take a test shot or two before you get your settings right for the exposure that you're looking for. Your goal is to get a bright enough exposure with the lowest ISO that you can use. This is to insure a cleaner image with less noise as discussed previously.

The last thing that you will want to consider is focusing in the dark. You will not be able to use your Auto Focus feature and setting your zoom lens to infinity will provide a soft focus. You will need to manually focus your camera. A good way if one has a preview screen is to point the camera at the brightest star in the sky, center it in your preview screen and increase the magnification of the preview screen while keeping the star visible. Once it's magnified you can manually focus until the star becomes clear. Turn off your Live View and take your photo. There may be times where you may see a light off in the distance that you can focus on too, perhaps a far distant house for instance. I have seen folks focus their camera during the day and mark the spot with a marker such as a piece of tape or a marker.

It may sound a little complicated but it's actually very simple once you give it a try. It's all about gathering light on a dark night – a wide open lens aperture, a high ISO setting and an extended shutter/exposure time. Go outside on the next dark night, point your camera toward the southern horizon and give it a try.

I'm sure that you'll be excited with what you will see on your preview screen.

How to impress people by freaking out on a carnival ride by Ned Hickson on 06/30/2017

I have a basic rule of thumb when it comes to carnival rides: If the person running a ride, such as the Squirrel Cages, keeps a garden hose available for spraying out the seats, I stay away. That’s because this person’s sole ambition is to make me — and others like me — vomit.

I realize this person may be a trained professional who, on a daily basis, makes countless split-second decisions on whether to push the red or green button to stop the ride. And, yes, I realize this individual has nothing but the safety of his passengers in mind when he secures a safety latch by removing his boot and whacking it until his arm gets tired, at which point, being a trained professional, he bolsters the confidence of his nervous riders by hacking up a cheekful of phlegm and shrugging his shoulders before walking off.

Yet somehow, in spite of these assurances, I’m still terrified of carnival rides. I think it’s because, when I was 10, my “friends” talked me into riding The Drop Out, which wasn’t actually a ride as much as it was a barf-a-torium with an observation deck.

Basically, 30 people entered a circular room and found a spot along the wall. Gradually, the walls would begin to rotate faster and faster, creating enough centrifugal force to suck the cotton candy from the mouth of anyone standing within 100 feet.

Once the ride reached optimum centrifuge, occupants would be stuck to the wall as the floor dropped out, leaving them suspended 20 feet above a pit of (presumably fake) spikes.

All of this was visible through a series of windows surrounding the ride so that, while waiting in line, people such as myself could prepare for the experience by, very slowly, having a bowel movement. I still don’t know how I got talked into this ride. All I know is I ended up next to someone whose stomach contents went on display the instant the floor dropped out.

Due to the force of gravity, I couldn’t move my head without blacking out, which meant watching the sum total of this person’s food consumption — which was considerable — reconfigure itself on the wall next to me.

This was, without question, the longest ride of my life. To this day, I can still see the apologetic look on that person’s face as the ride came to an end and the three of us — him, his vomit and I — gradually slid down the wall together.

Since that fateful encounter I’ve had no interest in being strapped down, cinched up or buckled into something specifically designed to do things I wouldn’t normally do without a flight suit and full medical coverage.

My daughter gets frustrated by this because she’s one of those people who is exhilarated by having her stomach in her mouth. The one time she talked me into riding with her was the Squirrel Cages. Everything was fine until that part in the ride where — and you know the part I mean — it starts to actually move.

Granted, I’m not a professional carnival ride operator, but I think I could recognize some of the subtle signs exhibited by a rider who is in distress. For example: Someone who is pressed so hard against the cage that his lips are actually outside the door while screaming “LET-ME-OFF-LET-ME-OFF-LET-ME-OFF!” would be a red flag to me.

Particularly if the rider in question began doing this after traveling less than two feet. In my case, these signs were somehow missed by our ride operator. I’m not saying it was all his fault.

Who knows, he might’ve been busy looking for a garden hose?

(Ned is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. Write to him at nedhickson@icloud.com)

MHGS: the connection between happiness and our environment by Mary Soots on 06/30/2017

It’s summertime! Everyone who lives in our community understands that summer is an opportunity to hear the birds sing, spend time outdoors next to a river or stream, find a waterfall, barbecue outdoors and revel in the beauty of The Mountain.

Not everyone has the opportunity to bask in the glory of paradise. It made me curious about the relationship between happiness and the environment. We often study humans’ effect on the environment, but what is the effect of the environment on humans? Are people who live in a beautiful environment such as ours more likely to be happy than someone who lives in a decaying urban environment?

A case study that was done by the Happiness Initiative measured Seattle’s environmental happiness, and it focused on citizens’ perceptions about the quality of their water, air, soil, forest cover, biodiversity, etc. This included access to green areas and the system of waste management and transportation. Unfortunately, Seattle scored low in spite of their overall appreciation for access to nature. They expressed pessimism about conservation efforts and the future state of the environment.

To see how the U.S. as a whole compared with other countries, I referred the Happy Planet Index that measures sustainable wellbeing, how well nations are at achieving long, happy, sustainable lives.

The Happy Planet Index measures a quality of life by examining three major factors: median Life Expectancy, experienced Wellbeing and Ecological Footprint, taking into consideration resource consumption as a factor in one’s wellbeing.

While it may be difficult to measure feelings, the information is derived from surveys and from statistical data. Also, when discussing environment, the research looks at such things as social support, available resources and even weather. Its purpose is to help us understand that it is possible to live good lives while living sustainably.

Are we a happy nation? In spite of the fact that we have so much wealth, I was surprised to learn that the U.S. did not score in the highest 10. Not even in the highest 100! In fact we came in as 108th nation of the 140 that were studied in 2016. It seems that our increasingly unstable global economy, rising inequalities and the threat of climate change have both Americans and Europeans no longer thinking that life is getting better. One reason people are unhappy is that governments place more importance on economic growth over social and environmental wellbeing. GDP growth does not value the things that are really important to people such as social relations, health or how they spend their free time. Most importantly, economic growth is incompatible with the planetary limits.

The Happy Planet Index for the U.S. was 20.7, while many Latin American and African nations rated much higher. The country that rated highest was Costa Rica, with 44.7, followed by Mexico at 40.7. In terms of Life Expectancy, Hong Kong residents can expect to live an average of 83.6 years, while the average American lives 78.8 years. In measuring Wellbeing on a scale of 1-10, Iceland and Sweden scored highest at 7.6, while the U.S. scored 124th lowest at 7.0.

When it came to Inequality of Outcomes, European nations rated the lowest inequality (as low as 7.5 percent) while the Sub Saharan nations rated highest (up to 51 percent).

The U.S. rated among post-communist European nations at 13 percent.

Not surprisingly, when we look at Ecological footprint, wealthier countries such as the U.S. had the most environmental impact per capita while the poorest had the lowest impact.

So the answer to my question was that people who live in beautiful areas are not necessarily happier than those who don’t.

The Happiness Initiative study showed that “our mindset about the environment may be just as powerful as the actual state of it.”

They suggest that we can take steps toward improving our environment and to boosting optimism about the Earth’s future by taking the following steps:


  • Eat local and organic
  • Work with neighbors to turn an ugly communal place into a beautiful area
  • Avoid pesticides, herbicides and fungicides in your home garden


Stardust Melody: Chapter 5 by Larry Berteau on 06/30/2017

The saga unfolding in Wildewood was getting edgy – like a butcher knife coming to an end of its encounter with the grindstone.

Chance Wilde was ignoring his son’s struggle with the law.

Anna Belle Wilde was as fed up with her husband, Beau, as a Roman in a vomitorium.

Beau Kimatian was knee deep in notoriety over his sumptuous Stardust Lodge, but also up to his neck in suspicions about his wife’s fidelity, or lack of it.

Johnny Templeton, the bespectacled high school English teacher couldn’t see past his next tryst with Anna, while each moment brought him closer to a Beau bombing run.

And of course, there was Max Malone, private eye, parading around with a pocket full of Beau bucks, supposedly spying on Anna – which was the last thing on his mind – while he tried to put his personal life back together after Natasha, Dolly Teagarden, a house full of terrorists, an unyielding radiator, and France, none of which were in any particular order other than the shared necessity of being compartmentalized so Max could get back to being Max, even though, all the while, there was a pink Cadillac with a Nevada license plate sliding across the border bearing down on his location like a heat seeking missile from a bad Tom Cruise movie, there being no other kind.

* * *

It was Sunday, 3 a.m., the lights dimmed at the Stardust Lodge, with Beau Kimatian basking in his narcissistic aura, fondling a warm snifter of cognac, which was his ritual after another successful Saturday night full of wealthy trout fishermen – where do wealthy trout fishermen come from? – politicians, retired ball players, sloe-eyed body guards, and Anna’s flawless music renderings.

He had asked Anna to join him after hours but she refused, shaking her head, causing several strands of black hair to invade her ivory forehead before she flicked it back with a dismissive, and practiced, flip of her wrist.

Beau watched Anna sway away with the same interest as a drunk in a Leonard Cohen song lyric.

He had no reason to worry, after all. He had Max Malone on the case.

Beau activated the juke box eliciting into the still of the night a piece of disco fluff from the 70s that belonged in this moment like a truck load of yellow cake in an Iraqi arsenal.

A lot of things about Beau Kimatian didn’t fit.

It had rained that night, but had now subsided, leaving the haunting drip-drip of drops from the laden conifers. A mountain lion crept from the shadows and crossed the road leading to the footbridge of Ruby River – clearing the distance in an easy, menacing, single bound – seen only by a barn owl that unblinkingly gazed at the lithe cat with yellow-eyed approval.

With the exception of Beau, Wildewood was done for the night. Supposedly.

First came the rumble of earth, seemingly moving, rocking, quaking, followed immediately by the sound: an explosion that was both serious enough to wake the town, and dangerous enough due to its proximity.

Some Wildewood residents held on to the headboards. Some ran toward their children’s bedrooms to reassure them despite their own lack of the same. Some scrambled to their vehicles and headed like the sturdy volunteers that they were, to the fire station for directions to the disaster. Some stared at the bedroom ceiling, intent on not getting involved. Some wondered what had just go into their partner.

After the attack on his eardrums and the burst of flame from the kitchen, Beau’s wonderings were over.

The Stardust flames leaped into the sky. The fire engines made it as far as the footbridge, but firemen ventured no closer, turning their attention to working a perimeter to prevent a forest fire.

The wet forest was their best ally.

The mountain lion had crouched, then ran deep into the woods. The owl was shaken out of its reverie and noiselessly skimmed over the branches casting a knowing glance back as it flew into the night that it had owned up until the disturbance from what had been the Stardust Lodge.

And it’s quite possible there was someone in Wildewood making certain of an alibi.

Schools and transportation on legislative docket by State Rep. Mark Johnson on 06/30/2017

Here we are in the full swing of summer. This time of year, so many are celebrating graduation and the achievements of students across Oregon. As the Hood River County School District board chair, I recently had the honor of handing out 300 diplomas to Hood River High graduates at their commencement. This is one of my favorite experiences as a board member, because their success is the reason why I continue to serve on my local school board and as a State Representative advocating for a strong public education system. This graduation was extra special for me as the class of 2017 was in first grade when I first joined the school board in Hood River. It was fascinating to think of all of the board decisions and policies that I had been a part of that were intended to help each of them to be successful students. Watching them receive their diplomas that evening was especially gratifying for me.

As I write this, the Oregon Legislature is still meeting, but has yet to complete the budget balancing process or been able to vote on a transportation package. The state school fund, that funds our K-12 schools, is currently set at a minimum of $8.2 billion and has passed out of the Senate. The bill will come to the House floor by the end of June. It’s important to note that, this biennium’s budget for schools is 11 percent more than the previous biennium. But the Oregon School Board Association calculates that Oregon schools need $8.4 billion to reach a ‘no cuts’ budget. The reason for this is the impact that increased costs (PERS rate increases and health insurance premiums) are putting severe pressure on local school district budgets. So even an additional 11 percent increase in state funding is not enough to keep up with costs. This is why I’ve been working hard throughout this legislative session to find a bipartisan budget solution that can address the structural budget problems that we have and make strategic investments in education that will produce better outcomes for students. I hope we can be successful, not just for this budget year but for the years to come.

Whether the transportation package will come to the floor for a vote remains unknown at this time. The entire Clackamas County region could benefit from infrastructure updates, especially throughout the I-205 corridor, and maintenance and safety improvements on Hwy. 26. Overall, highway maintenance and preservation, especially seismic upgrades, are a key component of the package, funded through increased registration and titling fees. Traffic congestion relief is a second component, with a focus on the areas experiencing high congestion on a daily basis, and improvements to public transit are a third component to the package, with a specific focus in rural areas. An increase to the gas tax is what would help fund the package, which is something I have to balance carefully with other increases to everyday items that my constituents may be experiencing. One of the new ideas in this transportation plan is to utilize tolling in high density areas to fund traffic congestion relief projects in the metro area. It is based on the thought that it is more equitable to require the metro area residents to contribute more to the projects that will benefit their areas. While these conversations continue, I’d like to ask for your feedback ASAP on what you’d be willing to support and what you’d to see in a transportation package. Please email me at rep.markjohnson@oregonlegislature.gov. For information about the specific components that are being considered.

One legislative highlight I want to make is on HB 2998. This legislation addresses the complex problem of credit transfer for community college students who want to achieve a four-year degree.

Too often, credits that students take at a community college aren’t accepted at credit towards a degree at an Oregon university. HB 2998 will establish a foundational curriculum outlining the first year of coursework for any degree that community college students can take and guarantee that all the credits will transfer. HB 2998 will also create unified transfer agreements for individual majors. Using the foundational curriculum for the first year, these agreements will outline the credits needed for the remaining three years to provide a path for students to achieve their degree in a timely fashion. This legislation will make a big difference for students, because they won’t be taking excess credits that don’t count towards a degree. Combined with the affordable Oregon Promise grant, students can realize their success without the threat of crushing student debt. In my four terms as a state legislator, this one of the most significant pieces of legislation I’ve been a part of and I’m thrilled to have been a part of the process.

There is still quite a bit unknown about how this legislative session will end. A final wrap-up will be provided in my July content. If you’d like more regular updates, please sign up for my newsletter at http://www.repmarkjohnson.com/newsletter-signup/. You can always call or email my legislative office at 503-986-1452 or rep.markjohnson@oregonlegislature.gov.

Thank you for the honor to serve House District 52.

(Mark Johnson is the State Representative for HD 52.)

Camino Island
Grisham’s latest a break from the courtroom, and worth it by Sandra Palmer on 06/30/2017

Occasionally, over the course of his writing career, author John Grisham has ventured away from his well-known legal thrillers into new territory.

Why? Because he is the John Grisham and he can!

In this volume, Grisham spins a tale involving a struggling novelist, missing (and extremely valuable) F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts and a setting in a quiet resort town on an island off the Florida coast that happens to have an independent bookstore.

Mercer Mann is a local novelist wrestling with possible inspirations for her next book when she is approached about the missing F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts stolen from a library in Princeton.

As the recovery would potentially pay off her student loans, she agrees to take on the challenge.

One possible lead involves the local independent book store which specializes in valuable rare editions as well as the normal retail sales, book signings and meet-the-author events.

The bookseller is a colorful character with a deep passion for rare volumes. But has he also given in to a nefarious financial motive?

Grisham has a lot of fun here. Publisher marketing indicates that he and his wife came up with the idea for this novel while traveling down the east coast to Florida.

This is a great read for lovers of physical books and bookish things – and fans of John Grisham.

John Ray Grisham Jr. is an American bestselling writer, attorney, politician and activist best known for his popular legal thrillers. His books have been translated into 42 languages and published worldwide.

Hot end of June relents as average temperatures arrive in July by Herb Miller on 06/30/2017

Temperatures during the first week of June were moderate with mostly sunny days and precipitation limited to June 1. Showers fell during all but one of the next 10 days in Brightwood, accompanied by cool and cloudy weather. Then summer got off to an impressive start during the last two weeks with rainfall just a memory and a heat wave ending the last weekend of the month, with record-threatening temperatures.

The National Weather Service reports that all their indicators are in agreement that our area can expect near average temperatures and precipitation during July.

During July, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 75, an average low of 51 and a precipitation average of 1.29 inches. During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached the 100s twice, into the 90s four times and into the 80s four times. Low temperatures dropped into the 40s without exception.

During July, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 68 degrees, an average low of 46 degrees and a precipitation average of 1.04 inches. During the past 10 years, high temperatures have reached the 90s twice, and into the 80s the other eight years. Lows had six years in the 30s, and four years in the 40s.

Fireworks in the kitchen by Taeler Butel on 06/30/2017

Recently I made the best strawberry cake with fresh strawberries and cream cheese icing. I ate it hot out of the oven which is highly recommended. For this one, let’s add blueberries and make it festive for the fourth!

Red, white and blue cake

Preheat the oven to 365 degrees. Butter and flour three 8” round cake pans.

In a large bowl mix together:

1 1/2 T baking powder

3 cups flour

1 t salt (kosher)

2 cups sugar

In a measuring cup stir:

3/4 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

1 t vanilla

Add the wet to the dry and stir until moistened.

Add in:

3/4 cup sliced strawberries

3/4 cup whole blueberries

Add mixed up contents to the three prepared cake pans and bake for 25 minutes.

Cream cheese frosting:

With a mixer whip together:

1 stick room temp butter

8 oz cream cheese

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 t lemon juice

1 t vanilla

Frost each layer.

Kentucky Hot Browns

Butter a 9x13” baking dish. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Slice the Hawaii sweet rolls in half and place the bottom halves in the dish.

Make a white sauce by adding 1T each of flour and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk, cooking for 2-3 minutes then add in 1 cup of milk slowly while stirring.

Add in 1/2 t salt & pepper and cook until it is thickened. Set aside.

2 pkgs Hawaii Sweet rolls

10 slices cooked bacon

10 slices sliced turkey

10 slices ham

1 cup Swiss cheese

1 tomato sliced

For the topping

Melt 3T butter and mix in 1T each of onion powder, poppy seeds and garlic salt.

Assemble the sandwiches. Spread sauce over bottoms of the rolls, then place the bacon, turkey, ham, tomato slices and cheese on top, place the tops on and brush with the seasoned butter.

Place in the oven for 15 mins until cheese is melted. Serve warm.

(Taeler Butel writes exclusively for The Mountain Times.)

Legislature's tone improving by State Sen. Chuck Thomsen on 06/30/2017

As legislative session is on the brink of wrapping up, I believe we look okay. Not great, but not bad.

Much of what I write can change by the time you read this – the K-12 budget, SB 5517A, hasn’t passed the House yet. Like I wrote about last month, I voted for it in the Senate and in subcommittee. As a state senator, it has been my first yes vote for a K-12 budget as introduced because it’s the first decent one yet. I was expecting them to come in at $7.9 billion, so when it arrived at $8.2B I concluded that with extra end-of-session funds, we can hit a relatively impressive number.

Its holdup in the House shouldn’t worry anyone. If they do anything to it, it would be slight increases that we were assuming would happen at the end of session anyway. By the time you read this, I bet it’ll be passed.

The two hot button topics are the Transportation Package and taxes, and on both of those my position has remained firm: it must truly be fair to everyone and there must be actual cost containment. Transportation, or at least a lighter version of it, is the more realistic package to succeed. Higher taxes just aren’t justifiable to most with general fund revenue up as high as it is. Few businesses or households would see 10 percent growth as too slow or worthy of the “crisis” label, nor should we in the legislature. So the big test will be whether or not we can prevent a whopping 14.1 percent spending increase so we don’t become the next Illinois, unable to pay our bills.

What I’m happy to report is that I feel the overall tone and work of the legislature has improved since the last few sessions. There seems to be a higher sense of working together. There are certainly far more obstructionists getting bussed down from Portland who march around chanting in the halls, but it seems to be having the opposite effect they intended. In truth, other than my first term when there was greater parity, this may turn out to be the best session I’ve experienced as a state senator.

(Charles Thomsen is the State Senator for District 26.)


Be careful when photographing lightning.
The View Finder: Catching lightning by Gary Randall on 06/02/2017

With spring and early summer comes transitional weather that will cause some amazing photography opportunities. Everything from blue skies with majestic thunderheads to rainbows and lightning. It is lightning that I’m asked about how to capture the most.

A lightning bolt typically lasts about 10 to 50 microseconds (0.000050 sec). That’s a lot faster than your ability to react to it so we will need to discuss methods and conditions that must be understood prior to going out into the field to get that awesome photo of a bolt of lightning. But I must preface the information with a warning about safety.

Standing in the rain with a lightning rod in your hand

Of course when we’re trying to get our lightning photo we’re venturing out into a storm. Be prepared for the weather. Dress appropriately, of course, but also remember that you are standing out in the storm with a tripod and a camera. One can’t help but be reminded of the fellows who are struck by lightning on the 18th hole as they celebrate a great putt with a golf club in their hand.

When the storm is surrounding you, go inside. Do not stand in the middle of a thundering tempest and think that you’ll come away with something more than a quick trip to the hospital, if you’re lucky, to treat you for the effects of a 100 million-volt electrical shock. Your best photos of lightning will be when the storm is in the distance.


You will want to use a camera that you are able to control manually. Many cameras will allow you to switch to Manual Mode to allow you to control your shutter speed, the duration of the exposure. You will also want to use a tripod to establish a platform for you to put your camera on. It’s easier than trying to hold your camera while you’re working and a necessity for a longer exposure photograph.

Additional gear which will improve your chances of success are a 10 stop Neutral Density Filter (ND filter). And another piece of gear that can be handy is a Lightning Trigger. I will cover the use of both of these pieces in the text of this article.

Daytime or Nighttime

When photographing lightning there are two basic conditions that will require different methods to be successful: daytime with a lot of light and darkness with little or no light.

It’s easier to capture a lightning strike during the night than during the day. At night time it’s easy to set your camera to make a long exposure, sometimes as long as 30 seconds. Because the light is dim or even completely dark your photo won’t be exposed unless there’s a lightning strike during your exposure. I set my camera up on the tripod and point it in the direction of the storm, set my exposure to 30 seconds and click the shutter and wait for a lightning strike while hoping that it will happen in the direction that I have the camera pointed. If, once you’ve captured some lightning, your photo is too bright make your exposure a little shorter or stop down your aperture (smaller hole, bigger number) and try again. The lightning becomes its own flash bulb.

Daytime is a bit more challenging. It’s much more difficult to set your camera up to make a long exposure when there’s so much light that you will need to use a Neutral Density (ND) filter. An ND filter is like sunglasses for your camera. It blocks light allowing you to extend (make longer) your shutter speed which will allow you to photograph the scene using the same method as at night. Make your exposure as long as possible, click the shutter cross your fingers and wait.

High Tech Toys

Of course there’s always the easy way. Technology is your friend when it comes to photographing lightning. Many people are just hobbyists and don’t want to spend a lot of money on a toy that they would rarely use, but there is that option.

A lightning trigger is the solution. A lightning trigger can react to the flash of the lightning and click the shutter in time to capture an image. The mechanism mounts to the hot shoe flash connection on top of your camera.

Although handy a lightning trigger is certainly not required to capture lightning.

Have Fun – Be Safe

The most important part of capturing lightning in a photograph for me is the experience. I love being outside and watching severe weather. To be able to make a beautiful and dramatic photo is a bonus.

I can’t stress enough the safety aspect of doing this. Please be safe and don’t put yourself in any dangerous situation to try to make any kind of photograph. There will always be more opportunities in the future.

Give these methods a try. Good luck and as always, have fun with your photography.

Watching out for the things in life that are killing us softly by Victoria Larson on 06/02/2017

Some of you may remember growing up on Tang, TV dinners and Wonder Bread; that soft, squishy stuff was as appealing to a child as balloons, with those multi-colored polka dots on the plastic wrapper. Tang was sold as orange juice replacement, with as much Vitamin C but without the need for refrigeration. In the early 1940s refrigeration had still not reached all areas of America. So Tang was a boon in the post-war baby boom. Kids could stir the powdered crystals into glasses by themselves and in those days families were likely to include three or four kids. Without refrigeration or the need for busy moms to stop what they were doing it was considered an industrial food of merit.

And then there were TV dinners – my brother and I considered them a “treat” with their aluminum trays compartmentalized to hold every food separately (something we kids preferred) and always with a dessert. My parents only allowed them on Fridays, the only night they went out to eat, and I was often headed to high school game and dance anyway. Since I spent more time on the illusive “getting ready” than eating, the TV dinners were a convenience all around.

Industrial foods came to the fore during World War II with Wonder Bread being one of those foods. Dieticians at that time convinced the government that the only difference between white bread and wheat bread was the B vitamin Thiamin being absent in the white bread. So our government decided to “enrich” bread with B vitamins and one mineral (iron). The vitamins were synthetically produced in the laboratory, from coal tar. Chlorine was used to make the bread white. Chlorine is the same stuff used in many laundry products and pool chemicals. Probably not a good ingredient for the flour you consume. It’s added not just for its whitening power, but also because it reacts with gluten to make the bread ready faster. Which means increased dollars for the industrial food industry.

Hopefully everyone is now headed for better nutrition. More whole grains, pastured eggs, dairy and meat, high quality fats. And, of course, fresh vegetables. All good foods. Yet the CDC reports that between 1995 and 2004 half of all food-borne illness came from eating out! Another 25 percent of food-borne illness is attributed to “eating out” at catered buffets, hospitals, schools and take-out places! Might this be enough to get you to start cooking and eating at home more?

Whether your food is cooked or raw, it’s likely to be less suspect if you put in on your plate at home. Better yet, if you grow it yourself (read next month’s column). Most cases of reported food-borne illness are due to leafy greens, amounting to approximately 14,000 cases per year. Eggs come in at over 11,000 cases per year, usually from mayonnaise-based salads sitting out too long at outdoor venues. An argument for being first in that buffet line maybe?

Oysters causing food-borne illness amount to over 3,500 cases a year but berries come in almost as high. Having worked part-time for local farmers, I can’t tell you how many children, and their parents, handle those jewel-like berries only to buy the untouched box next to the one they just handled! Peaches were even harder to protect from the perfection-seeking public. Everyone knows that a peach is bruised when you touch it. After squeezing the peaches almost to death, invariably the purchaser would pick up a totally different box to buy, little knowing how many people had handled that box of peaches. The way to buy a peach is to smell it, without touching it to your nose, please.

While I’m not a germ-freak there might be good reason to wash and/or peel some of your fruits and vegetables. A vinegar wash is fine and when mixed with water is unlikely to leave any vinegar residue. You don’t need a plastic bottle of “produce wash” especially if you don’t intend to recycle that plastic bottle (don’t even get me started on that soapbox).

Food-borne illness reported from dairy foods has made raw milk virtually “illegal” and hard to find in Oregon. I still remember buying such on the porch of a small farm in Gresham when I first moved to this area almost thirty years ago. Part of the problem with raw milk may come from the biased desire to jump to conclusions on the source of the pathogens. One case of a woman who took her 3-year-old son to the doctor is that it later came to light that the child had gnawed on raw chicken bones he’s pulled out of the garbage (a rather potent source of salmonella). But the ingestion of raw milk was blamed even though the child had never had a problem with raw milk previously.

With proper gut bacteria and lacking a full-blown milk allergy, raw milk is a great source of nutrition (more on this in a future column). I’m not saying it couldn’t happen but out of more than nine million people who drink raw milk in the United States, only 28 people reported getting sick from ingesting it. To be thorough, 2.3 percent of the people who drink pasteurized milk get sick from it, but that’s out of roughly one hundred and fifty million milk drinkers.

To be fair, out of the more than seventy-seven million annual cases of reported food-borne illness, your beloved ice cream accounted for almost 3,000 cases of illness! It’s not what you eat but how it’s handled. Let’s get real here – my grandson is fond of reminding me that “more people die of being hit on the head by coconuts than die of shark attacks.” And in the US and average of only four people a year die of snake bites. Far more people die in car accidents. The things that are killing us softly are far more insidious than we think.

My commencement speech (should I ever give one) by Ned Hickson on 06/02/2017

To the Class of 2017, faculty members, parents, dignitaries, misinformed wedding crashers and Visa or MasterCard representatives who have gathered here today:

I am honored to have the opportunity to address this group of graduating seniors and impart the wisdom I have gained since my own graduation from high school nearly 150 years ago.

Standing before you today, I see the anticipation on your faces as each of you comes to realize what sharing my wisdom with you means: Possibly the shortest commencement speech in school history.

Before long, you will step forward and receive the culmination of 12 — possibly 14 — years of education. You will shake hands with some of those who have helped guide you to this milestone. And unless your last name begins with a “Z,” you will return to your seat as the rest of your classmates step forward to receive their diplomas.

That’s when you will silently think to yourself, “I really shouldn’t have had that second bottle of Mountain Dew.”

But you will sit quietly, probably cross-legged, and deal with it.

You are now officially your own person — making your own decisions, embracing the rewards and accepting the consequences of those decisions — as you embark on a journey of independence in a world of your own making.

At least until laundry day, when you will return home to eat chocolate chip cookies while mom gets the Cheeto and pizza stains out of your favorite underwear.

That’s because having wisdom isn’t about knowing everything. It’s also about recognizing and acknowledging when you don’t.

Just like getting those stains out, it’s OK to admit when you don’t know how to do something or handle a tough situation in life.

A smart person takes ownership of the things they know; a wise person seeks the knowledge of others when they don’t.

When I graduated from high school in 1984, there was no Internet.

No Siri.

No Pinterest.

And thankfully, no Kanye West.

Therefore, the Class of 1984 was expected to know EVERYTHING. The pressure was tremendous! We hugged our parents goodbye and entered a dark, Google-less world. We were young pilots flying blind. Dead stick. Rudderless. Broken-winged.

And lots of other euphemisms I am now able to Google for occasions like this.

We had no choice but to rely on each other.

We pooled our knowledge.

Challenged each other.

Together, we advanced ourselves and society by having the courage to answer fundamental questions like: What would happen if we grew chia seeds on a clay pot shaped like ‘Mr. T?’

Truth be told, it’s human nature to want to know all the answers.

At the same time, culture discourages us from admitting when we don’t have them. You’ve now spent the better part of your first 17 to 20 years of life receiving an education — not so you’ll have all the answers, but have the courage and wisdom to ask the kinds of questions that will improve your life and, hopefully, the lives of others.

This will take more than Googling. More than Wikipedia.

Possibly even more than “how-to” videos on YouTube.

It’s certainly going to take a great data and texting plan.

However, most of all it’s going to take the kind of determination that got you here; sitting in these chairs; moments away from receiving your diploma; and still regretting that second bottle of Mountain Dew.

Yet, I look upon your faces and see my own hope reflected in them.

When you leave here, be courageous and wise. Never be afraid to admit you don’t have all the answers.

Those who do are destined to a life of empty promises — usually somewhere in our nation’s Capitol.

Always remember the feeling you have right now. The anticipation. The hope. The unlimited possibilities.

It’s who you are at this moment. It’s who you will always be.

As long as you allow yourself to be wise...

(Ned is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. Write to him at nedhickson@icloud.com)

Stardust Melody: Chapter 4 by Larry Berteau on 06/02/2017

Some families might have celebrated the gathering as a happy reunion. Not the Wilde family.

Chance Wilde, Anna Belle’s grandfather, moseyed back into town as subtly as a mosey could be made – driving a 25-year-old diesel Mercedes four door sedan belching as much smoke out the rear that would make the first transcontinental railroad engine chug with admiration.

At the same time Randy Wilde, Anna Belle’s estranged father, returned to Wildewood in handcuffs riding in the back seat of a sheriff’s patrol car.

The fact that Max Malone, private eye, had settled back in Wildewood in his rebuilt cabin only added to a barrage of returning locals that rivaled the Earp brothers and the Clanton gang when they hitched up in Tombstone.

Meanwhile, Beau Kimatian continued to own and operate the Stardust Lodge, filling his pockets with cash and political capital like a rising star in the Chicago political constellation.

And there was Anna Belle Wilde, consorting with an unsuspecting, in-over-his-head English teacher, while trickery, deceit and larceny were whirling around in her pretty head like a gathering Kansas storm heading for the nearest trailer park.

What could possibly go wrong?

Max made a regular stop at Tommy’s joint – still his favorite watering hole after all these years, despite the fact the redhead waitress he’d never had the time to introduce himself to was now married with a babe in arms and a husband that looked like the latest crowned champion of the world’s cage fighting tour.

It’s entirely possible Max was losing his sense of timing.

That notion was exposed when Chance Wilde sauntered into Tommy’s and unwound in the barstool next to Max.

“I’m lookin’ for my son, Max,” Chance brayed, ignoring any pleasantry that might have passed between them after a couple decades.

Max turned slowly to the old friend and nemesis, hooded his eyes like an irritated timber rattler, slowly lifted his shot of Jameson’s, then, and only then, responded.

“He’s in jail.”

“What fer?”

“What does it matter?”

“Cuz he’s my kid.”

“Take that up with him.”

Max went back to his Jameson’s, drained the glass, and scooted it expertly forward to attract the attention, but not irritate the feelings, of the bartender – who now happened to be a fulsome brunette that believed she should be getting a speaking part in the next Quentin Tarantino film but would have to settle for a two-buck tip from Max, assuming he was in the mood, which was something that seemed to be going down the drain under the glare of the raw-boned old man who was sitting next to Max with no apparent interest in leaving any time soon.

“What’d he do, Max?”

“Hell Chance. Robbed a bank maybe? I take that back. He’s not that smart. He probably knocked over a lemonade stand.”

“You’ve always had a mouth on ya, ya know?”

“Keeps me in the game.”

Chance motioned to the brunette.

“Get this ornery cuss another whisky, and set me up.”

“You plannin’ on this conversation lasting long?” Max asked, somehow without actually asking.

“There’s still my granddaughter Anna Belle.”

“Heh. Hope you stabled your horse.”

Max labored through the Anna Belle saga, leaning heavily on the whisky anesthetic. Chance took it all in without a twitch. He’d been down too many roads before.

After getting an ear full of Anna Belle and a snoot full of Irish whisky, Chance kicked down the dusty trail that doubled as a Wildewood sidewalk to the sheriff’s office. He plopped an elbow on the counter and ignored the blank stare drifting his way from the duty deputy.

“I’m Chance Wilde and you’ve got my son in here, right?”

“That’s right Mr. Wilde,” the deputy responded, after clearing the intimidation out of his throat.

“What’s he in for?”

“He robbed a gas station.”

Chance turned away, then stopped at the door.

“He didn’t take the sushi, did he?”

That night was Saturday business as usual at the Stardust Lodge, until Chance walked in.

Anna clunked a bad key on the piano when she looked up at her grandad, and all heads turned his way.

Anna tried to recover but her soulful rendition of Mack the Knife couldn’t be rescued.

Mack had already left town.

She got up and ran to her grandad, throwing her arms around him.

“Where’d you come from all of a sudden, gramps?”

“I’ve never liked that gramps thing.”

“That’s too bad, gramps. You’ve always been able to get your way with everyone but me.”

And Anna was right. Maybe a little too right.

# # #

The big picture of the state budget by State Rep. Mark Johnson on 06/02/2017

Last month, we received the May revenue forecast. The revenue forecast is released quarterly by the State Economist and provides a detailed overview of how the state economy is working, the amount of revenue available for the general fund and an analysis on future economic growth. The forecast revealed that our state continues producing record revenues and there is nearly $200 million more available for the general fund than previously estimated, which lowers the current estimated budget gap to around $1.4 billion. Between the March and May forecasts, we’ve seen a $400 million increase in revenues while the legislature has been in session, which leads us to continually ask why we have such a large budget gap to fill.

If the legislature could fill the alleged $1.4 billion budget gap, this only gets us to the current level of spending. This does not include any additional investments or expansions in healthcare, education, public safety or any other policy area. I’m concerned that even if it could come up with $1.4 billion of new revenue, we would be in an even worse position two years from now because current costs would continue to increase. If our costs continue to exceed the growth of our state economy, we will continually find ourselves in a budgetary deficit.

Additional questions were brought to light in May, when the Oregon Health Authority acknowledged that for three years Oregon Health Plan benefits (Oregon’s Medicaid plan) may have been going to ineligible recipients. The Oregon Health Authority stated that the problem stems from the process to transition from the failed Cover Oregon computer system to a new one, which has taken more than three years. When Cover Oregon’s website wasn’t working, members had to sign up with a paper application. A process that starts with inputting all that information into a computer system and ends with a final redetermination of eligibility is not yet complete. This session, the Legislature is being asked to consider a nearly 50 percent increase in the Oregon Health Authority’s budget and expansions to Oregon’ Medicaid system. Before we can have any serious consideration of the OHA budget this session we simply must have a better understanding of the real numbers and only then can we be sure of the budgetary needs. It’s possible that tens of millions of dollars can be saved for the State of Oregon through more accurate accounting by OHA.

This most recent budget component is just one that remains to be answered as we head into the last full month of the legislative session. I’m disappointed that with only a month left, we haven’t had a serious conversation about bringing current spending in line with our available revenues and helping to bend costs so that over time, we can save money to reinvest into needed services for Oregonians. If we can address some of the systemic costs that continue to take away our ability to invest long-term, then we can truly begin to provide stability for our state.

Last week, I filed legislation creating the Age 3 to Grade 3 (3-3) reading initiative. This proposal was something I had worked on prior to the 2015 legislative session with key education leaders. I’ve re-filed this bill as an example of the kinds of programs we could be investing in if we could get costs under control, met current levels of spending and were able to use the record revenue that our economy is producing for targeted investments that truly benefit Oregonians.

I want to prioritize funding for public education. I want to invest in our students and communities to continue some of the progress we’ve made. But we must look at the whole picture – what are we spending now, how do we address out of control costs and finally prioritize policies that make an impact for Oregonians.

As always, please feel free to contact my office at 503-986-1452 or email rep.markjohnson@oregonelegislature.gov with any thoughts or questions you may have. Thank you for the honor of representing House District 52.

(Mark Johnson is the State Representative for HD 52.)

Right attitude needed to tackle budget by State Sen. Chuck Thomsen on 06/02/2017

Hello, I hope everyone on the mountain is having a great year so far. It has been a while since I wrote for The Mountain Times and I felt like now is a good time to give a session update. I also plan to write a session report here when everything wraps up.

The most recent forecast is in, and the combined Lottery Funds and General Fund available resources are set for about $21 billion. This represents a 10 percent increase in revenue from last biennium’s roughly $19 billion approved budget. The kicker will likely be triggered, but we should still be seeing a robust $1.713 billion more for our state budget than ever before.

Now we are coming into the home stretch of session, and it is the responsibility of my colleagues and I to craft a decent budget. It is very easy to get swept out to sea by all the rhetoric flying around – but I will remain even-keeled during this process while I sit on the Full Ways and Means Committee. For me, there are two ultimate goals: come out with a decent education package and improve our roads via better transportation funding.

In all my time serving Senate District 26, this may be the most critical stage I’ve been a part of.

The surging forecast really shows Oregon has minimal revenue concerns. It’s like getting a 10 percent raise, or a business growing 10 percent in a biennium. It is hard to subscribe to the idea that we need to go out there and get more. Allocation is the issue. And as with any budgeting, fixed priorities we consider vital must truly come first. $8.2-8.4 billion is the range K-12 funding should be, and what I’m pushing hard for.

When budgeting, there are ways to get carried away. In our personal lives, we know the things that come first. It’s our home payment, car payment, utilities, necessary foods, etc. Then at the very end come the non-essentials like eating out, vacations or anything we’d like but don’t need. Each session the legislature runs the risk of over-prioritizing those nonessentials at the expense of what we all demand, and that’s why our education package has to be a lock right now – treated as the premium fixed, important budget item that is not to be bargained over.

Attitude is vital. Steady, composed and responsible are all words I hope to be described as when this session is over. I believe right now there’s a deficit of correct attitude in politics. The main thing I keep in mind when I’m making decisions in Salem is that constituents sent me down here to get a job done, and that’s what I intend to do.

As always, you are welcome anytime during session to come down to Salem and spend the day with me. Just call my office at 503-986-1726 and we’ll set it up!

(Charles Thomsen is the State Senator for District 26.)

MHGS: The importance of diversity, biologically speaking by Mary Soots on 06/02/2017

My neighbor cautioned me to be aware, that late one evening this past week his wife informed him that she had heard a cougar in their back yard. I recalled that a colleague reported that earlier this month while laying in the entryway of their cabin, their dog was attacked by a cougar. We sometimes forget that living in the forest comes at some cost.

Yet it is often not the wildlife that have encroached upon our habitat but the contrary: that we have encroached on theirs. The cost to native species by invading humans has been largely documented — the loss of habitat has contributed to species decline, etc. But something we rarely stop to consider are the costs of habitat destruction to humans.

When we cut down large swaths of forest land, it vastly increases an area’s vulnerability to natural disasters like flood and drought, crop failure, spread of disease and water contamination. When we convert forest land to agricultural land, studies have shown that the soil has degraded approximately 40 percent of agricultural land worldwide via erosion, salinization, compaction, nutrient depletion, pollution and urbanization.

Probably the most profound impact that habitat destruction has on people is the loss of many valuable ecosystem services. Habitat destruction has altered nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur and carbon cycles, which has increased the frequency and severity of acid rain, algal blooms and fish kills in rivers and oceans and contributed tremendously to global climate change.

One ecosystem service whose significance is becoming more realized is climate regulation. On a local scale, trees provide windbreaks and shade; on a regional scale, plant transpiration recycles rainwater and maintains constant annual rainfall; on a global scale, plants (especially trees from rainforests) around the world counter the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The loss of trees from the rainforests alone represents a substantial diminishing of the earth’s ability to produce oxygen and use up carbon dioxide. These services are becoming even more important as increasing carbon dioxide levels is one of the main contributors to global climate change.

The loss of biodiversity may not directly affect humans, but the indirect effects of losing many species as well as the diversity of ecosystems in general are enormous. When biodiversity is lost, the environment loses many species that provide valuable and unique roles to the ecosystem. The environment and all its inhabitants rely on biodiversity to recover from extreme environmental conditions. When too much biodiversity is lost, a catastrophic event such as an earthquake, flood, or volcanic eruption could cause an ecosystem to crash, and humans would obviously suffer from that. Loss of biodiversity also means that humans are losing animals that could have served as biological control agents and plants that could potentially provide higher-yielding crop varieties, pharmaceutical drugs to cure existing or future diseases or cancer, and other uses.

The outlook seems bleak. The rapid expansion of the global human population is increasing the world’s food requirement substantially. As the world’s population increases, agricultural output will need to increase by at least 50 percent over the next 30 years. In the past, continually moving to new land and soils provided a boost in food production to appease the global food demand. That easy fix will no longer be available, however, as more than 98 percent of all land suitable for agriculture is already in use or degraded beyond repair.

The impending global food crisis will be a major source of habitat destruction. Commercial farmers are going to become desperate to produce more food from the same amount of land, so they will use more fertilizers and less concern for the environment to meet the market demand. Others will seek out new land or will convert other land-uses to agriculture. Agricultural intensification will become widespread at the cost of the environment and its inhabitants. Species will be pushed out of their habitat either directly by habitat destruction or indirectly by fragmentation, degradation or pollution. Any efforts to protect the world’s remaining natural habitat and biodiversity will compete directly with humans’ growing demand for natural resources, especially new agricultural lands.

Natural forest areas provide aesthetic uses such as bird watching, recreational uses like hiking, fishing and ecotourism usually rely upon virtually undisturbed habitat. What can we do to conserve our natural areas? People and political decision-makers at all levels (local, regional, national, global) must take into consideration the following:


  • Consider the many irreplaceable ecosystem services provided by natural habitats.
  • Protect remaining intact sections of natural habitat.
  • Educate the public about the importance of natural habitat and biodiversity.
  • Develop family planning programs in areas of rapid population growth.
  • Find ecological ways to increase agricultural output without increasing the total land in production.
  • Preserve habitat corridors to minimize prior damage from fragmented habitats.
  • Reduce human population and expansion.


Written with reference from Wikipedia.

'Victoria,' by Daisy Goodwin.
‘Victoria’ is a thorough look at the life and love of a Queen by Sandra Palmer on 06/02/2017

It’s hard to imagine the experience of young Queen Victoria, who unexpectedly becomes Queen of England at eighteen years of age. At that time, she is a sheltered young woman still treasuring her dolls and comforted by the companionship of her beloved lap dog.

Daisy Goodwin does a masterful job of describing Victoria’s life and experiences based upon thorough research and extraordinary insight. This volume has also been translated into a screenplay presented by Public Broadcasting’s Masterpiece Series.

The young Queen pushes back against her mother and instead leans heavily on the Prime Minister Lord Melbourne for advice and support, soon developing a growing affection for him in spite of a huge difference in their years. Goodwin describes Victoria’s increasing affection for “Lord M” which completely blinds her to the possible advantages of the throngs of potential suitors closer to her age.

When two cousins from Germany – Ernst and Albert – arrive as potential suitors for the Queen’s consideration, Victoria initially dismisses both as not worthy of her interest. However, soon Albert overcomes her resistance. Thus begins a great romance and royal partnership that will result in nine children and a devoted marriage that spans 21 years of Victoria’s influential 63 year reign.

Highly recommended.

Daisy Goodwin is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels “The Fortune Hunter” and “The American Heiress.” She is a Harkness scholar who attended Columbia University’s film school after earning a degree in history at Cambridge University and was Chair of the judging panel of the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction. She is the creator and screenwriter of the PBS/Masterpiece drama, “Victoria.” She lives in London.

An official companion book to the PBS Masterpiece Presentation is also available, which includes photographs from the television production.

Above average temps expected to continue into June by Herb Miller on 06/02/2017

The first week of May had two warm days and precipitation nearly every day. The next three days were mild, followed by a week of cool, showery, weather before summerlike weather set in for the remainder of the month. In fact, Brightwood recorded a high of 90 degrees on May 22. That stretch of summer caused the average temperatures for the month to end above average for the first time this year.

The National Weather Service reports the Madden Julian Oscillations are not expected to affect our weather during the coming month of June and expects our area will have above average temperatures with precipitation near average.

During June, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 68, an average low of 48 and a precipitation average of 4.27 inches. During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached 100 once, into the 90s three times and into the 80s six times. Low temperatures dropped into the 30s during four years and into the 40s the remaining six years.

During June, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 59 degrees, an average low of 41 degrees and a precipitation average of 3.91 inches, including 0.6 inches of snow. During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached the 90s once, into the 80s during three years, into the 70s during five years and one year in the 60s. Lows had one year in the 20s, eight years in the 30s and one year in the 40s. The record snowfall for June was 11 inches, set in 1995 when 5 inches fell on June 5, followed by another six inches the next day on June 6.

New School by Taeler Butel on 06/02/2017

Now we all know there is no school like the ol’ school. However, with tastes and times a changin’ we can add a few touches to the classics.

Stuffed meatloaf

Two ways (Turkey Mediterranean and Bacon Cheeseburger)

For the Meatloaf mix

1 cup breadcrumbs

2 eggs

1 cup ketchup

1 T mustard

1/2 cup milk

1 t each salt & pepper

Mix all together, divide in half into 2 bowls and mix into each bowl 1 lb of ground meat (ground turkey for the Turkey Mediterranean Meatloaf, or grass fed beef for the Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf)

For the Turkey Mediterranean Meatloaf:

1 lb ground turkey

1/2 cup onion

1/4 cup chopped black olives

1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach

1/2 cup feta or mozzarella cheese

Sweet chili sauce for a glaze

On a large piece of plastic wrap flatten the ground turkey into a 1/2 inch thick square. Layer all the ingredients down the middle, press both sides up, discard the plastic and place into pan. Pour chili sauce over the top and bake at 375 degrees for about 1/2 hour.

For the Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf:

1 lb lean grass fed beef

8 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup diced onion, sautéed

1/4 cup BBQ sauce for a glaze

Pickle slices for garnish

1/4 cup chopped tomatoes

Flatten the beef mixture on a large sheet of plastic wrap, about 1/2 inch thick square. Add bacon, cheese, onions and tomatoes layering down the middle. Roll the sides up pressing to form a loaf. Discard the plastic and place into the pan. Brush with BBQ sauce and top with pickle slices. Bake at 375 degrees for about 35-45 minutes.


Mashed cauliflower

1 large head cauliflower

1/2 cup milk

Salt & pepper

1/4 cup butter

Cut a whole cauliflower into 1” chunks. In a large pot of boiling salted water boil cauliflower for about 15 minutes until tender, and drain. Mash with a potato masher or in a food processor. Add in milk and butter, salt and pepper and place back in the pot. Heat stirring occasionally until the extra moisture evaporates and the mixture is a mashed potato consistency.


Pineapple mango crisp

Mix these ingredients together to form crumbs:

1/2 cup plus 2 T cold unsalted butter, diced (set aside the 2 T butter)

1/4 cup old fashioned oats

1/4 cup dried coconut

1/4 cup flour

1/2 t salt

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds

1/2 t vanilla extract

In a separate bowl toss 1 small bag of frozen pineapple (about 2 cups, or 2 cups fresh diced), and 1 small bag of frozen mango (or 2 whole mangoes, peeled and chopped)

Juice of 1 lemon

2 T flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

Transfer the fruit to a 9x11” pan, pour the crisp topping over the fruit and dot with butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes and serve warm with coconut gelato.

(Taeler Butel writes exclusively for The Mountain Times.)

Rowena Crest.
The View Finder: A day in the life of a photographer by Gary Randall on 05/02/2017

It’s pushing midnight as I finish processing the last photo for a client photo shoot the previous day. I get up from my desk and walk over to the gear that I have set on my couch. My backpack is full of the required equipment for a day in the field. My camera is charged up with an extra battery. My memory cards are clear and installed into the camera. My clothing is ready to go for the next morning and my alarm is set for 4 a.m. These are the moments when one can easily justify turning the alarm off and just calling the next day off completely. The temptation of sleeping in is almost overwhelming.

The alarm rings and in a daze I hit the snooze alarm. Five minutes later the familiar but unwelcome sound of the alarm sounds off but with an increased intensity. It’s at the moment that I realize why it’s ringing. Spinning around while sitting upright my feet hit the floor. Heck, I need to visit the bathroom anyway. Maybe I’ll just get up, take care of some business and look outside to see how the weather looks.

As I go to the front door and let my dog Betty outside I stand on the porch and watch the drizzle as it saturates everything. A typical Oregon Spring day, I think to myself as Betty and I walk back inside to decide that because I’m up anyway, I’ll just make some coffee and get into my rain resistant clothing and head out to see what the day will hold.

It’s dark and with just enough time to get to the gorge for sunrise I put my gear into the Jeep, load up Betty and head out to drive over Mount Hood and over Highway 35 in the pouring rain. At that time of the day there are very few people on the road. It’s my favorite time to drive. I sip from my travel mug and watch for errant deer crossing the road in front of me.

As I drop down into the Hood River Valley I notice that the rain has stopped and the clouds are thinning. My heart starts to pump with a bit more vigor with the realization that the morning may turn out to provide the conditions for a photograph that I am seeking, and perhaps the effects of the coffee. I turn east and travel down Highway 84 and then take the exit at Mosier before heading up to Rowena Crest. As I drive up the old Columbia River Highway toward my destination there are still a few sprinkles as the twilight starts to illuminate the horizon to the east, but it’s looking very promising.

Driving into the parking area at Rowena I grab my gear and run to the spot that I have in mind for the composition that I seek. I have been here several times in the past and have photographed the area with varied luck, typically with mediocre skies, and am hoping that this will be the best moment yet. Within moments the light from the sun over the horizon starts to shine light under the clouds in the sky. I immediately start photographing the scene while blocking out all other thoughts or worries from my mind. I am in the moment. I’m in the groove.

That morning turned out to be one of my best days of photographing wildflowers in the gorge. I came home with a big bag of great images. This, the morning when I was riding a razor's edge in deciding if I should even go or not, turned out to be amazing. It would have been so easy for me to just turn that alarm off and roll back over and sleep for another few hours. It would have been so easy for me to just come back inside after seeing the rain from my porch and hop back into bed. It would have been so easy to justify missing this amazing experience. I certainly had more reasons to not go than I had to go.

I think about this a lot and have this notion engrained into my thinking now so that I am more apt to think about these experiences when that alarm rings on those early mornings. I don’t know much about gambling but I’m sure that certain principles that apply to it might apply to outdoor photography in Oregon and around Mount Hood. You don’t win the majority of the times that you play, but if you don’t play you will never win. Take that gamble. What do you have to lose but a little sleep?

Stardust Melody: Chapter 3 by Larry Berteau on 05/02/2017

After her midnight set, Anna Belle slipped out of the Stardust Lodge unnoticed by her husband, Beau, who was up to his ample ears in political capital and cigar smoke.

From the edge of Ruby River, the nearly full moon provided a view upriver to the footbridge. The dark figure who had passed on the deck earlier was standing there, and he slightly tipped the brim of his fedora in her direction. Anna rushed along the river bank and mounted the footbridge, as the dark figure took to the opposite bank and settled into the deep shadows of a stand of Douglas firs.

Anna smiled and followed, glancing back toward the lodge to secure the knowledge of her aloneness. She needn’t have worried. Beau was spending political capital like a drunken congressman – of which there were two in his company.

Anna hugged the dark figure, and Max Malone held her as well. They leaned back and admired each other.

“Uncle Max. I heard you were back. Have you finished rebuilding your cabin?”

Max nodded, but a concerned look slowly crept across his face. This was more than a reunion, and Anna picked up on it.

“What is it, Uncle Max?”

“Your husband has hired me to follow you,” Max rasped.

“Whatever for?” Anna answered back, trying to save her innocence with her main weapon, growing a smile from a face that, around Wildewood and the Stardust Lodge, could launch a thousand drift boats.

“Now don’t play the naïve niece with me, young lady,” Max responded. “He’s pretty sure you’re messin’ around on him, he’s just not sure who he is.”

Anna’s eyes dropped. When she raised them again the embarrassment – assuming there had been any – had disappeared and the defiance inbred in the Wilde family glared back at Max.

Max chuckled.

“What’s so funny?” Anna snapped.

“You, for starters.”

Max rescued the moment by explaining that he’d been approached by Beau, and wanted to hire him to track after Anna, not knowing, or perhaps not even caring, that “Uncle” Max knew Anna and her family.

“And you agreed?”

“Easy money, Anna. I follow you, and report back to Beau what you want me to report.”

“Isn’t that unethical?”

Max flashed an Irish smile that stretched from Dublin to Donegal. “Ya know I was gone for a while, and met up with a bunch of lawless characters across two continents that didn’t exactly qualify as eye-openers. But if you’re suggesting that Wildewood grew a crop of ethics while I was gone, well …”

Anna shook her head.

Max explained that they couldn’t be seen together, and how he would arrange their rendezvous at appropriate times.

Anna interrupted. “Maybe you don’t understand … completely that is. I got plans.”

Max smiled again, this time stopping one train station short of Donegal. “I got a hunch what that might be, young lady.”


 *   *   *


Chance Wilde, Anna’s grandfather, was doubtlessly the wildest of the Wilde’s.

He left his family – father Sonny, Indian mother Blue, brothers Victor Blue and Tommy Blue – when he was eighteen after missing more school than he was hitting.

He scrabbled around Wildewood until the town got too close for him, and he landed in Colorado where he had a son – Anna’s father, Randy – and five daughters that were sprinkled judiciously among three wives. Chance worked as a ranch hand, entered any rodeo he could reach, and it seems spent most of his time mounted in one way or another. In typical fashion, he disappeared one day, but echoes of Chance Wilde can still be heard, from Steamboat Springs to Durango.

Randy returned to Wildewood. Ranching was too much like work for him, and besides, he figured he could get by on his good looks. And he did for a while, long enough to rein in the free spirit of Brandy, and bring Anna Belle into the world.

Brandy took to motherhood in a manner that shocked those who knew her, and everyone said she qualified for sainthood for putting up with Randy’s drinking and carousing.

Ultimately, however, she was no match for that mountain lion, as local lore has it, but those who knew her always believed that mountain lion took away a few scars as well.


 *   *   *


“Why ya messin’ around with that English teacher anyway?” Max asked, squinting against a shaft of moonlight that stabbed through the fir branches.

“You know a lot,” Anna shot back.

“I know enough to know that when I get around women they either end up dead or in prison, little lady.”

“You don’t have to worry about me.”

“That’s what they all say, kiddo.”

Oregon's financial woes by State Rep. Mark Johnson on 05/02/2017

May marks the halfway point for the legislative session. This session, Oregon’s financial status is much more serious than in previous sessions. With a $1.6 billion budget hole, we need to be focused on structural reforms to address rising costs and create real stability for Oregonians. These reforms need to happen before any discussions about how to raise new revenue. Built into our current system are runaway costs that need to be contained. By containing these costs, we can re-invest money into programs that we know work and will benefit Oregonians with money already available to the state. By reforming and re-investing, we can help future generations of Oregonians realize even greater success and stability.

Oregon’s economy has been producing record revenues, but we still do not have stability in our budget. In our current budget cycle, the state has collected $1.5 billion more than in the previous cycle. But this increased revenue has already been consumed by the growing costs of existing services. We know that PERS rates for public employers, including school districts, will increase from about 15 percent of payroll in 2015-17 to about 33 percent of payroll in 2023-2025. This means that public employers will be spending 1/3 of their payroll costs just on PERS. I use this as an example, not to be critical of PERS beneficiaries, but to show some of the systemic costs that can’t be avoided.

Rising health insurance costs present a similar situation for public employers. Looking at the cost of health insurance plans available within the public-school system, Oregon’s pays more than $2,000 per employee over the average school district across the rest of the nation. In 2004-2005 school districts paid just over $8,000 for health insurance per employee. This number has grown to almost $12,000 per employee in 2013-14. That’s a 50 percent increase in 10 years and the number has continued to grow into the present day. When you multiply the number of state government employees by the increased relative costs of our health insurance plans, you can begin to understand why our budget is out of balance.

I’m working with other legislators to better understand what systemic costs can be reduced this session in order to get our budget under control. If we can find efficiencies to slow the rate of growth, in comparison to the examples provided above, then we can ensure stability of these services and programs for future Oregonians. Unlike previous budget reductions, what is needed now are systemic changes in order to bend the cost curve so that we do not find ourselves in this situation every two years.

A program that I would like to see fully invested in is third-grade literacy. Third-grade literacy has time and time again been shown to improve graduation rates among students. Students who can read at grade-level are almost certain to graduate on time and will be much less likely to need costly state services. With a well-funded third-grade literacy program, we can support early intervention of students, put them on the right track and save the state money down the road, while producing a better, more educated work force.

Oregon’s public universities can also benefit from structural reforms. In April, the public universities proposed a double-digit tuition increase. This increase presents a huge barrier to students but without some major cost reductions, it will be hard for universities to avoid tuition increases. As someone who has been fighting for increased affordability in higher education, this is unacceptable and is another reason why I will be doing all I can to enact systemic cost reforms during this session.

Reforming and re-investing will prove to be beneficial to our state for the long term. I am open to discussing this and any other topic. Please feel free to contact my office at 503-986-1452 or email rep.markjohnson@oregonelegislature.gov

Thank you for the opportunity to represent you. It’s an honor to serve House District 52.

(Mark Johnson is the State Representative for HD 52.)

The Woman in Cabin 10
Cruise ship the setting of a mysterious missing person case by Sandra Palmer on 05/02/2017

Ruth Ware (author of “In A Dark, Dark Wood,” 2015) offers up a tense mystery with the female character in peril as she attempts to unravel the mystery in the confined environment of a prestigious modern cruise ship.

Just a few days before her cruise departure as a travel reviewer, Lo Blacklock is traumatized by a break-in at her apartment. Although she suffers no physical injuries, Lo is still reeling from the upsetting experience and suffering from extreme sleep deprivation when she boards for luxury Aurora for its maiden voyage. She is determined to handle her professional responsibilities and regain her internal poise, putting thoughts of her disturbing imprisonment aside.

However, during her first night on the Aurora, she meets a woman in the next-door cabin who loans her some make-up and speaks with her briefly. Later, Lo hears a large splash from the next-door balcony and finds what appears to be a smear of blood. Mysteriously, the “woman in cabin 10” is nowhere to be found. Was the woman thrown overboard? And who was she? Lo cannot find any objective evidence that the mysterious woman existed, yet she is unwilling to believe that her senses are deceiving her and starts investigating.

The prestigious but tiny cruise liner is full of specially invited guests as well as the ship’s wealthy owner and wife and their staff. Lo is unsure who she can trust or believe as she begins her search for answers and explores both public and behind-the-scenes areas of the ship. The plot has echoes of classic Agatha Christie formulas as Lo seeks to eliminate suspects one by one, even her friend and fellow journalist, Ben, who seems to believe her and want to help.

In spite of her shaky emotional state, Lo is a strong woman who is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery and soon puts herself in great danger due to her efforts. And the truth behind the mystery is unexpected with action that plays out beyond the Aurora itself.

Despite well-done plotting, this exciting mystery novel is a good read but not a great one. Still, it’s worth your time as is Ware’s previous mystery “In a Dark, Dark Wood.”

Ruth Ware grew up in Sussex, on the south coast of England. After graduating from Manchester University she moved to Paris before returning to the United Kingdom. She has worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language and a press officer.

She now lives in London with her husband and two small children. A movie based on “The Woman in Cabin 10” is planned.

The Woman in Cabin 10
Cruise ship the setting of a mysterious missing person case by Sandra Palmer on 05/02/2017

Ruth Ware (author of “In A Dark, Dark Wood,” 2015) offers up a tense mystery with the female character in peril as she attempts to unravel the mystery in the confined environment of a prestigious modern cruise ship.

Just a few days before her cruise departure as a travel reviewer, Lo Blacklock is traumatized by a break-in at her apartment. Although she suffers no physical injuries, Lo is still reeling from the upsetting experience and suffering from extreme sleep deprivation when she boards for luxury Aurora for its maiden voyage. She is determined to handle her professional responsibilities and regain her internal poise, putting thoughts of her disturbing imprisonment aside.

However, during her first night on the Aurora, she meets a woman in the next-door cabin who loans her some make-up and speaks with her briefly. Later, Lo hears a large splash from the next-door balcony and finds what appears to be a smear of blood. Mysteriously, the “woman in cabin 10” is nowhere to be found. Was the woman thrown overboard? And who was she? Lo cannot find any objective evidence that the mysterious woman existed, yet she is unwilling to believe that her senses are deceiving her and starts investigating.

The prestigious but tiny cruise liner is full of specially invited guests as well as the ship’s wealthy owner and wife and their staff. Lo is unsure who she can trust or believe as she begins her search for answers and explores both public and behind-the-scenes areas of the ship. The plot has echoes of classic Agatha Christie formulas as Lo seeks to eliminate suspects one by one, even her friend and fellow journalist, Ben, who seems to believe her and want to help.

In spite of her shaky emotional state, Lo is a strong woman who is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery and soon puts herself in great danger due to her efforts. And the truth behind the mystery is unexpected with action that plays out beyond the Aurora itself.

Despite well-done plotting, this exciting mystery novel is a good read but not a great one. Still, it’s worth your time as is Ware’s previous mystery “In a Dark, Dark Wood.”

Ruth Ware grew up in Sussex, on the south coast of England. After graduating from Manchester University she moved to Paris before returning to the United Kingdom. She has worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language and a press officer.

She now lives in London with her husband and two small children. A movie based on “The Woman in Cabin 10” is planned.

Winter wetness waned, adjusted to the average in April by Herb Miller on 05/02/2017

Brightwood received 19.50 inches of precipitation last March, setting a new record previously held in 2012 (19.17 inches). Precipitation for the current October – March winter period in Brightwood totaled 78.86 inches, verifying our opinion this has been a very long, wet winter. Only the winter of 1996-97 which was accompanied by disastrous floods exceeded that total with 84.40 inches, from records dating back over 40 years. For perspective, the average for the entire year is 81.70 inches.

April got off to a mild, pleasant start but showers got started on April 5 and kept it up for most of the rest of the month. It’s a distant memory now, but last year Brightwood had a high temperature of 86 on April 18, but this year the high never made it to 70.

Despite the cloudy and showery weather, temperatures and precipitation at both Brightwood and Government Camp averaged out surprisingly close to normal. Snowfall in Government Camp totaled 11.25 inches.

The National Weather Service is facing confused activity with its old bugaboo, the Madden Julian Oscillations and consequently has lowered confidence in its outlook.

Our area is forecast to have close to average temperatures and precipitation for May.

During May, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 63, an average low of 43 and a precipitation average of 5.83 inches. During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached the 90s once, into the 80s during seven years and into the 70s during two years. Low temperatures dropped into the 30s without exception with four years reaching the freezing level. The chances are three out of ten for a high of 90 degrees and four out of five for a low temperature dropping to the freezing level will occur during May.

The only measureable snowfall from records dating back 40 years was a two-inch total that fell May 5, 2010.

During May, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 53 degrees, an average low of 35 degrees and a precipitation average of 5.39 inches, including 6.7 inches of snow. During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached the 80s once, into the 70s during seven years, into the 60s once and into the 50s once. Lows had seven years in the 20s and three years in the 30s, one of which stayed above freezing.

The record May snowfall of 32 inches was set in 1974. The record 24-hour snowfall of 13 inches was set on May 11, 2000.

MHGS: The next steps in the evolution of recycling by Mary Soots on 05/02/2017

This week I found myself at the grocery store where I came upon a very unusual bottle of laundry detergent. It was packaged in a cardboard bottle which contains a thin resin bag inside to hold the detergent. It is made of 100 percent recycled materials and can be either recycled or composted.

As I did a little research on the bottle, I learned that the really remarkable environmental benefits were in the process of recycling. A regular plastic bottle is transported from our curbside recycler to a recycling facility. When it arrives at the recycling facility, it goes through extensive washing, a process that uses 1 gallon of water per 37.2 bottles. This yields plastic pellets that can be used to make new bottles. From there, the pellets are shipped to a blow molding facility to make new bottles.

The cardboard bottle meanwhile does not need washing, thus saving the cost of transportation to a processing facility. Instead, it goes directly to the bottle manufacturer for re-molding into new bottles. During the production process, cardboard bottles use substantially less water than plastic bottles. One gallon of water is used for every 76 bottles made — a 51 percent savings.

New bottles are sent to be filled from each facility. Since the plastic bottles are so bulky, only 25,000 can be transported at a time. In contrast, the cardboard box is halved and stacked so that 161,000 are transported at once. Once the new laundry bottles reach the retailer, the stores can return the shipping boxes for the cardboard bottles to the manufacturer for re-filling, unlike the plastic containers, thus reducing the demand for more single-use cardboard boxes.

At home, people are more likely to recycle the cardboard boxes than the plastic containers. Ultimately, according to the manufacturer, “most plastic goes to the dump, where a cubic meter holds either 520 empty 1-liter plastic jugs or 40,000 pouches. Cardboard fares better: 81 percent is recycled in the U.S.”

I present this as one example of the successes that we have achieved through innovation and thinking outside of the box (or plastic container). Not only does the process of manufacturing, recycling and reusing make much more sense, but it comes at a lower cost to natural resources such as fuel, water and trees. Ultimately, we as consumers will reap the benefit of lower cost production.

I tip my hat to those innovators for sustainable packaging such as an edible six-pack ring for beer and soft drinks so that when it finds its way to the ocean, the fish can feed off it, to the invention of packaging made from mushrooms rather than plastic, and so many more that are working their way into the mainstream.

The demand from our population for more responsible social, environmental and governance in the area of environmental sustainability has led to the creation of such organizations as the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, started by nine companies whose aim is to “Use wisely; Reduce toxicity; Recover more.” The goal is to have sustainability for the resources used in packaging, to optimize packaging design so that it can eliminate the use of excessive boxes, bags and ties while protecting the products inside, and to support recycling efforts.

This demand from consumers has moved the conversation from specialty suppliers to the buy-in from box stores such as Target and Wal-Mart whose goal is to achieve zero landfill packaging waste from 100 percent recyclable packaging by 2025. While “recyclable” doesn’t necessarily translate to sustainable, it is a step in the right direction.

It is an exciting time for our environment, a time when people are bringing new ways of thinking, and the packaging industry has heard the call for more ways of protecting our oceans, our forests and soils. Look for more innovation in this area in the near future.

Maybe some stores will start selling more things (like laundry soap) in bulk so that we can eliminate the need for single-use packaging altogether.

But then, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Getting saucy by Taeler Butel on 05/02/2017

Put down the powder packet, it’s not that hard. Making your own sauce ensures you’ll never go hungry or dry bun again.


This is mayo for grown-ups. Silkier, mild and can be a dressing or sauce for meat and veggies. It’s kinda fancy and fun to say - give it a try!!

Juice & zest from half a lemon

Mashed garlic cloves, 3-4 depending

1 whole egg

1 egg yolk

1 t salt

½t white pepper

½ cup olive oil

In a blender add lemon, egg and yolk, zest, garlic, and the salt and pepper. Blend until incorporated on low speed and stream in olive oil slowly until emulsified. If it’s too thick add lemon juice. You can store in the fridge airtight for about a week.


Hollandaise Sauce

Definitely make eggs Benedict, but don’t stop there. Add herbs, and pour over steak, veggies, chicken, your mother...

4 T Butter (unsalted)

4 egg yolks

2 T lemon juice

1 T heavy cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Start your Hollandaise Sauce by melting the butter in a small sauce pan. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks.

Add the lemon juice, heavy whipping cream, salt and pepper into the egg yolks. Next, add the melted butter into the mixture slowly and whisking vigorously to cream the mixture.

Once the butter has been added, place the mixture back into the pot. Heat the mixture on low heat, constantly stirring with a whisk.

Stir until the mixture starts to thicken (30 seconds to a minute) and remove from heat.


Salsa verde

Add this to tacos, enchiladas, beef, pork or just a chip

1 T olive oil

1½ pounds tomatillos, husks removed

1 jalapeno - sliced - seeds in for spicy, or seeds removed for mild

¼ of a medium onion

2 garlic cloves crushed

½ cup fresh chopped cilantro

Juice of 1 lime

Add olive oil, tomatillos, jalapeno and onion to a large skillet. Sauté on high heat until caramelized on both sides, about three to four minutes.

Transfer to a blender or food processor and add in garlic, cilantro and lime juice.

Blend until combined. (You may have to do this in two batches).

Place in the refrigerator to chill.

(Taeler Butel writes exclusively for The Mountain Times.)

Rowena Crest at sunrise.
The View Finder: Wildflower season by Gary Randall on 04/01/2017

It's April again, and we photographers all know what that means. It’s wildflower season again! Here in the Mount Hood area especially as we have so many options as well as a very long season to photograph them.

Early in the season the flowers such as the purple lupine and bright yellow balsamroot sunflowers start in the lower elevations, especially along the east end of the Columbia River Gorge. Places such as Rowena Crest or Dalles Mountain on the Washington side of the river are both very popular locations for those who seek these wildflowers in the springtime. As the season progresses the flowers work their way up into the foothills of Mount Hood and in time, onto the slopes of the mountain during the summer months. Most of the best wildflowers on Mount Hood are accessible from the many hiking trails available to us, but a drive on some of the forest roads will be lined with everything from lupine and paintbrush to a wide assortment of orchids and lilies.

When photographing the flowers I like to get up before sunrise to be able to be there during the best light available to me, especially for my landscape photos, but a sunset can be just as nice. I typically avoid the light of midday, but a nice blue sky with some fluffy clouds is also striking. As the light changes I like to take more close up photos of the flowers. Macro photography is fun, but bring some knee pads. I spend a lot of time on my knees during wildflower season.

When out in the wild and roaming among the fields of flowers be aware of your surroundings so as not trample or destroy any plants or areas surrounding them. Don't break new trails as there will be many opportunities for photos along the pathways and trails. As outdoor enthusiasts we need to practice and preach proper stewardship of the lands, especially in these days of increased usage.

Some of my favorite secret locations:

Rowena Crest Viewpoint, Mosier – in early season

Rowena Crest Viewpoint is located on and is a part of the old Historic Columbia River Highway. Located between Mosier and The Dalles, it gives you a commanding view of the Columbia River Gorge, especially to the east, which makes it a great place to photograph a sunrise. Lupine and balsamroot sunflowers dominate the scene but it is home to an amazing variety of native wildflowers. There are great trails through the area, including the Tom McCall Preserve.

Columbia Hills State Park – Dalles Mountain, Wash. in early season

Across the Columbia River from The Dalles lies a whole world of exploration. One of my favorite places to photograph is Dalles Mountain Ranch near Dallesport. It once was a ranch and several of the buildings, including barns and the original farm house are still there and a part of the history of the area. With views over fields of wildflowers in the springtime that overlook the southern skyline, including Mount Hood, amazing photos are made here.

Mt Hood National Forest roads – any time that they're clear of snow

I love to just go for drives on many of the roads that are open for travel that are on National Forest land, especially while the rhododendrons and bear grass are blooming. Many of these roads come to views of Mount Hood. As you drive you will also notice a wide variety of wildflowers that grow along the road. Just pack up your camera and go for a drive.

Mount Hood's Wy'east Basin – in late season

For those who enjoy a beautiful hike that will get you onto the upper slopes of Mount Hood I recommend a hike up Vista Ridge to Wy'east Basin. It can be strenuous to some but if you pack a lunch and water, take your time and stop and photograph the flowers along the way a wonderful day can be had. The trail weaves its way through the ghost forest created by the Dollar Lake fire, the floor of which can be covered in flowers including beautiful white fawn lilies. As you break out of the forest, you find views of Barrett Spur and Mount Hood bear grass and rhododendrons line the trail. When you arrive above the timberline and into Wy'east basin you will be greeted with areas covered with beautiful mountain heather.

Mount Hood's Elk Meadows – in late season

For a less strenuous hike go to the east side to Elk Meadows trail. A large variety of flowers can be found in these meadows, from phlox, shooting stars, elephant heads and lilies. This trail makes its way to several trails that network this area that allow loops hikes including a trip to Umbrella Falls which can be surrounded by fireweed.

These are only a small sample of the amazing scenery that can yield amazing wildflowers and, consequently, amazing photographs.

Grab your gear and hit the road.

Stardust Melody: Chapter II by Larry Berteau on 04/01/2017

The land on either side of Ruby River, in the wide stretch where the trophy trout took their ease, was once all owned by the Wilde family – first by Casper Wilde, down through the family tree to Anna Belle’s father, Randy Wilde.

But that’s where the tree uprooted. After the tragic death of Anna’s mother, Brandy (reportedly mauled by a mountain lion), Randy left Wildewood, and his daughter Anna, and the property eventually went up for auction due to non-payment of taxes. All of 18-year-old Anna’s protestations were smothered by the monarchy of big money.

Beauregard Kimatian – known as Beau – was no stranger to opportunity. He got his chops growing up in New Jersey, and made his bones in Las Vegas. He had more business partners that ended up dead or in prison than Jimmy Dean had sausages or embarrassing TV commercials.

He won the auction – although it wound through the tangled court system for four years. The land along the bend of the Ruby River was no longer Wilde.

Beau wasted no time getting down to business. He built the Stardust Lodge which yawned over the river’s edge with four stories of balconies with stunning views, twenty-eight sumptuous hotel rooms, a restaurant of unparalleled quality, and a dining room that could have stolen its damask tablecloths from the Byzantine Empire.

The word spread. Famous people came – the really rich ones – and even a President. Beau knew how to put a joint together.

Beau had kept his eye on young Anna throughout his court battle to land the Wilde property and the building of the lodge. He played Anna, or so he thought. He seemed to win her over when he bought the finest Baldwin grand piano that gangster money could buy, and installed it in the equally grand dining room of the Stardust Lodge.

Anna had learned to play piano, and she had a voice that made nightingales weep. Beau had hooked his prize. They were married. And to his mind, it wasn’t catch and release.

So, while the fine dining purred along, Anna would play softly: Brahms, Grieg, Bach. Once the dishes were cleared and the cigars were lit, she would sing as well: old standards like ‘My Funny Valentine,’ ‘As Time Goes By,’ ‘Over the Rainbow.’ But at midnight, on dinner nights Friday, Saturday and Sunday, she played and sang the lodge’s signature song: ‘Stardust.’

“Sometimes I wonder why I spend the lonely

nights, dreaming of a song …”                       

*   *   *

The last entry in Casper Wilde’s frontier journal was as brief as all the rest:

“Maggie died giving us a son. I’ll call him Sonny.”

Some time went by before a new handwriting appeared in the journal.

“I’m twelve now,” Ruby wrote. “I’ve been schooling with Mrs. Bigham on how to read and write. I don’t understand how Mrs. Bigham can even read with her crossed eyes. But she does. I’m teaching Sonny by reading to him and showing how letters make words. I have three books. Heidi, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and The Scarlet Letter. I like Heidi best. She was quite a girl. I don’t read The Scarlet Letter to Sonny. He’s too little. Tom Sawyer is his favorite, and that’s cause he’s a boy.”

“I sing to the river,” was her last entry, the river that would one day bear her name.

What happened to her is mostly gossip passed down through the family. There’s one story she became a famous writer under another name. Another that she headed off to San Francisco and went on stage in the dance halls. Another that she became a nurse and died on the battlefield in the Great War.

Meanwhile, Sonny married an Indian woman named Blue, and had three sons, Victor Blue Wilde, Tommy Blue Wilde, and Chance Wilde. Chance was Anna Belle’s grandfather.

*   *   *

On this night, Anna was weaving her way through Stardust with a crowd of appreciative, eager, well-heeled fishermen, two Congressmen and their wives, a Senator with someone who wasn’t his wife, and Beau at his table under a sickly halo of cigar smoke.

From the light of a full moon hanging over the deck outside the dining room, Anna noticed a dark figure pass by the full-length window.

He was wearing a black fedora.

Anna covered the lyrics with a mystical, knowing Mona Lisa smile.

Working to fund Measure 98 by State Rep. Mark Johnson on 04/01/2017

We’re now heading into the third month of the legislative session. The legislature is considering several important policies and we will feel the effects of those policies back home in District 52. In particular, I’ve recently been actively involved in implementing Measure 98 and opposing predictive scheduling for employers.

On the November ballot, Oregon voters overwhelmingly supported Measure 98, which would create new career and technical education programs in high schools to help raise our disappointing graduation rates. But here in Salem, there are some who would like to ignore the will of the voters. In her budget proposal, Governor Brown suggested halfway funding the measure, cutting the program by 50 percent. Others would like to distribute the funding throughout the K-12 system, defeating the purpose of making targeted investments to help more high school students graduate on time.

In the last couple weeks, I have been hard at work advocating on behalf of Measure 98. I’ve held meetings, participated in a work group and spoke at a press conference where I urged the legislature to listen to the will of the voters by fully funding this initiative and implementing it as intended. Oregonians recognize the importance of dropout prevention, college readiness and career training. They want strategic investments and programs that will help our kids get through school and achieve success. Fully funding and implementing Measure 98 as the voters of Oregon intended is a big step in the right direction and I will continue to fight for it.

The legislature is also considering predictive scheduling, legislation that would restrict how employers set employee schedules and would penalize employers who may need to change an employee’s schedule on short notice. All employers would be required to pay employees partial compensation for unworked or unfinished hours in the event of last minute scheduling changes. Large employers would be required to provide work schedules two weeks in advance and to compensate employees for any changes.

This legislation disregards the reality that for many, work is simply unpredictable. Weather patterns can affect work hours in almost any industry, as we all learned during our weeks of snow and adverse weather this past winter. Our local businesses had to absorb the costs of those snow-related closures. Requiring them to pay employees extra compensation for snow days would be a hardship that most small businesses on the Mountain could not afford. In some businesses, variable hours are a routine part of the job. Changing seasons, heavy traffic, power outages, and even customers calling to cancel orders last minute can necessitate changes in work schedules. Employers and employees need the freedom to be flexible for the mutual benefit of all.

Predictive scheduling is being strongly opposed by employers across the state, and I’ve reached out to our chambers of commerce in District 52 and to local businesses to ask for their perspectives on this issue. I want to ensure that our community has the opportunity to participate in this discussion and I will make sure that your voices and views are heard here in Salem.

Thank you for the opportunity to represent you.

(Mark Johnson is the State Representative for HD 52.)

‘Bathroom rage’ could soon be clogging court system by Ned Hickson on 04/01/2017

Several years ago I came up with an idea while standing in line for the rest room, which, in this case, was actually a row of six portable toilets set up to meet the needs of approximately 8,000 men, women and children, each of whom had apparently consumed two or more 128-ounce Big Gulps in the previous 20 minutes.

They say necessity is the mother of invention. Which is why, as I stood waiting with my legs crossed, I had a revolutionary idea I call the “Rodeo Commode.” Like other commodes, it provides users with a private and sanitary environment in which to complete their bodily functions. However, unlike ordinary commodes, the “Rodeo Commode” allows a person just eight seconds before the doors fly open and, finished or not, they are bucked out of the stall by a hydraulic system similar to a mechanical bull — including, if necessary, spinning a full 360 degrees in order to dislodge even the most experienced riders in the “Rodeo Commode” circuit.

Unfortunately, just like my idea for an all-commercial cable channel (allowing viewers to tune in and leave the room as often as they like without worrying if they missed anything), the “Rodeo Commode” was met with skepticism by my list of potential investors — i.e., several plumbers I know who have daily contact with pipe dope.

As it turns out, I was simply ahead of my time. I know this because of a new social phenomenon experts are calling “bathroom rage,” wherein, much like “road rage,” a confrontation between two strangers quickly escalates into a potentially dangerous situation.

In the restroom.

The big difference here is that you won’t be traveling in excess of 60 mph while sitting on a commode. And if you are, you have a right to be angry. Especially if someone cuts you off.

According to the New Haven Register in Stratford, Conn., police charged Andres Diaz and Joseph Augusto with breach of peace following a confrontation in a Burger King restroom that started when Diaz apparently “took too long.”

Augusto, who was waiting to use the commode, was enraged when Diaz emerged from the stall with a copy of “War and Peace.”

Okay, I made that last part up. But the two men did get into a fight over how long Diaz was in the bathroom after Augusto confronted him about it. That’s when, according to the police report, “The two men allegedly bumped chests, then chased each other around the restaurant with their weapons — Augusto with a small pocket knife, and Diaz brandishing a Burger King straw dispenser.”

The restaurant chain refused to comment on the incident other than to say it was “unfortunate.”

Following the advice of its lawyers, Burger King has now adopted a strict new policy of making straws “only available on request.”

This, my friends, is “bathroom rage” rearing its ugly head and, in a matter of speaking, slurping out of society’s collective soda cup. What if Diaz had grabbed a toilet paper dispenser instead?

My point is we could end this madness right now, before some unfortunate teenager is hired to hand out allotted squares of bath tissue.

With the help of a small investment in my “Rodeo Commode,” there’s no need for us to take “bathroom rage” sitting down.

(Ned is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. Write to him at nedhickson@icloud.com)

The Lightkeepers.
‘The Lightkeepers’ delivers a suspenseful murder mystery by Sandra Palmer on 04/01/2017

“The Lightkeepers” is an unusual mystery – set in a very unusual place – that will keep you guessing until the final pages. The author takes us to the remote Farallon Islands off the rugged coast of Northern California, a small group of islands so difficult to navigate that visitors have to be lifted onto the island in a metal cage by a crane and where the ferry only calls every month or so, depending upon the seas.

The tale is told through the eyes of a young photographer, Miranda, who begs and pleads for a fellowship to visit the islands for a year, capturing the spectacular, wild scenery and the wildlife – gigantic white sharks, pods of blue whales, sea lions, armies of mice and enormous flocks of nesting birds, particularly gulls.

In spite of the fierce beauty of the scenery, Miranda finds the islands treacherous and frightening at first with the very granite land crumbling under her feet and pitching her toward danger. While the land has many dangers, the other occupants of the island (all of whom share one rickety cabin) seem strange, unwelcoming and secretive. Author Gemi does a great job of building a sense of mystery and menace as Miranda settles into her new, strange surroundings, even introducing a ghost who frequents the cabin.

While it seems that dangers exist everywhere on the island and from the sea’s inhabitants, the biologists and researchers who live there often flaunt the dangers, taking chances with full knowledge of the potential consequences. And after she endures a brutal rape by one of the island’s other inhabitants, Miranda withdraws unto herself even more, losing herself in the joy of photographing the unusual landscape and its wonders.

When two deaths and a life-threatening accident occur, staying out the year’s commitment seems to be more of a question – especially as Miranda realizes that she is pregnant.

Ms. Geni has a gift for descriptions of the ever-changing weather, the unique landscape and the island’s wild inhabitants.

However, the murder mystery will keep you guessing until the last pages.

The Lightkeepers in an unusual book with unusual twists that transports the reader to a world far removed from one that we can experience.

(Abby Geni is a graduate of Oberlin University and the Iowa Writer’s Workshop as well as the recipient of an Iowa Fellowship. Her work won first place in the Glimmer Train Fiction Open and was listed in The Best American Stories 2010. The Lightkeepers has been recognized by the Barnes and Nobel’s Discover New Writers program. She lives in Chicago.)

End of La Nina brings average temps and less precipitation by Herb Miller on 04/01/2017

Needless to say, March has been a cloudy, wet month. Brightwood received precipitation nearly every day and recorded a 5.5-inch snowfall on March 5, which exceeds the average monthly total of 3.15 inches. Government Camp received a 10-inch snowfall on March 1 and another 10-inch snowfall on March 8, combining to reach a total of 35 inches so far compared to an average of 47.7 inches for March. Precipitation totals at both locations were well above average, although temperatures were remarkably steady and close to average.

The National Weather Service reports an end to the La Nina influence and expects our area to have temperatures close to average with lower than average precipitation for the coming month of April. Let’s hope they’re right.

During April, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 55, an average low of 38, and a precipitation average of 7.63 inches, including an average of .83 inches of snow. During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached the 80s during three years, the 70s during six years, and only one year couldn’t make it above the 60s. Low temperatures were evenly divided with five years dropping into the 30s and the other five dropping into the 20s. Only one year failed to drop to the freezing mark. The record precipitation total for April is 16.10 inches, set in 2011. The record snowfall for April is 5.5 inches, set in 2008.

During April, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 45 degrees, an average low of 30 degrees and a precipitation average of 7.43 inches, including 26.1 inches of snow. During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached the 70s twice, into the 60s during seven years and into the 50s once. Lows had two years in the teens, seven years in the 20s, and one year in the 30s. The record April snowfall of 55 inches was set in 1972. The record 24-hour snowfall of 17 inches was set on April 12, 1981, although a 13-inch total was measured recently on April 3, 2011.

MHGS: Earth Day and an anniversary by Mary Soots on 04/01/2017

This month marks the seventh anniversary of the Mt. Hood Green Scene. The goal: to bring sustainability to the mountain. It was an ambitious goal, and at times we were faced with opposition. In spite of that, the Mt. Hood Green Scene persevered and has worked to bring recycling opportunities and environmental awareness to our community. We worked to bring plastic bag recycling to the Hoodland Thriftway, paint recycling to the Welches Mountain Building Supply Company and hold annual events allowing our residents to bring in thousands of pounds of electronics, tires, light bulbs, batteries, Styrofoam, plastic and other materials not recyclable at curbside. We have also conducted work in the community such as Sustainability Fairs, lectures, films and removed fallen trees and debris from the school for their outdoor school.

The birth of the Mt. Hood Green Scene was set for an auspicious date – it was Earth Day 2010. Earth Day itself began in 1970, the brainchild of Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. It was at a time when people were blissfully unaware that we were polluting the earth through our lifestyle and our demand for fossil fuels. After a massive oil spill in California, Nelson decided to bring awareness to the problem. At that time, the Vietnam War raged; it was the height of the counter-culture movement when people were encouraged to “Question Authority.” People were already organized and were ready to take on a new challenge.

Mr. Nelson and others organized a national “teach-in on the environment” on April 20, 1970. On that day, “20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.” (Source: earthday.org). This was an issue that transcended political alliances or social class, and brought together people from all walks of life. It was a very successful movement. By the end of 1970, the first Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts.

Earth Day resonated with people everywhere and inspired the publication of the novel “Ecotopia” by Ernest Callenbach. It also found great success on the international stage. By 1990, 200 million people in 141 countries were involved and lead to the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where it was recognized that pollution is an international problem that all nations must work together to resolve. By 2000, there were 5,000 environmental groups in 184 countries around the world.

But of course, not everyone was happy about the new regulations. And much like in 1970, Earth Day 2017 comes at a time of great challenge for the environmental community. Climate change deniers, well-funded fossil fuel lobbyists and reticent politicians who claim to know more than the scientific community continue to work to turn back the clock to the days when the air and the water was contaminated and the natural world was an inconvenience for those who prefer the smell of money.

This year, Earth Day will be marked by the Mt. Hood Green Scene by a variety of smaller events. Between April 22-29, we will hold collection sites for batteries and other materials. On April 29, we will be conducting an English ivy removal event in the Mountainair community. Please check out our Facebook page for more details. Come out and join the efforts. And feel free to wish us a happy birthmonth!

Scrumptious seafood stew by Taeler Butel on 04/01/2017

Cioppino, the basics for this “company’s coming” seafood stew are any mix of shellfish, aromatics, fish and a light flavorful broth. Serve with crusty bread and a green salad.

1 lb peeled deveined shrimp

1 lb crab legs, cooked

1 lb scallops

1 lb mussels or clams

1 lb white fish fillets

1 yellow onion, diced

1 T dried Italian herbs

1 lb baby Yukon gold potatoes

1 16 oz can quality diced tomatoes and their juice

1 cup white wine

4 cups chicken or fish stock

1 cup sliced leaks (white to light green parts)

4 minced garlic cloves

2 T olive oil

Salt & pepper

1 lemon

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Scrub clams or mussels, place in ice water with 1 T flour and stir. Let sit for 30 minutes.

Heat oil over medium heat, pat the shrimp, scallops and fish with paper towels, season with salt and pepper and sear in small batches on both sides and set aside.

Add to a pan the onion, leeks and garlic, cook for a minute then add in potatoes, tomatoes, wine, stock and Italian seasoning. Heat to boiling, then reduce to a simmer.

Simmer for 30 minutes then add in the mussels or clams, top with the seared seafood and crab, cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes until mussels or clams open and fish is cooked through. Top with lemon slice and parsley.

Painted Hills at sunset
Painted Hills Road Trip by Gary Randall on 03/01/2017

The mountain is such a beautiful place to explore with all that it has to offer the outdoor enthusiast and landscape photographer. With unmatched scenery that includes scenic vistas, old growth forest groves, moss lined creeks and majestic waterfalls, there’s no shortage of beautiful scenery. There’s really no reason to go far to find a world class photograph, especially during beautiful conditions.

In landscape photography the weather affects, and in some ways regulates, when we are able to make the most striking images. Some seasons are certainly more photogenic than others. A creative mind can usually find beauty in the most mundane or challenging conditions, but even the most creative mind can get weary of the weather, especially when they’re patiently waiting for springtime and all that it brings.

We are in a unique position here on The Mountain in that we’re able to travel east a relatively short distance and find fairer weather. I always keep this in mind come April or May. On those gray rainy days when I feel captive in my own home I am known to head east.

On one particular day in May, after a long winter that pushed snowfall into the days that are typically conducive to wildflower blooms, I had had enough. It was past lunch time. Half of the day was gone so I thought for a minute. The Painted Hills came to mind. The Painted Hills are only one example of the amazing scenery that we have at our doorstep. Being only three hours from home I packed my gear, my dog and a lunch and headed out.

As I drove the rain seemed to follow. My best consolation was that it was a great Sunday drive. It was doubtful that I would get any photos that surpassed anything that I had taken there in the past, but it’s better than sitting in my living room watching TV. I love the open road, a brown bag lunch and a full tank of gasoline.

I arrived mid afternoon in the midst of a rain squall. There were several other photographers there hooded and hunkered over their tripods. I sat in my dry, warm rig wondering if I should even get out, but I figured that if I was going to drive all the way out here I was going to, at least, eat my lunch.

I sat in my rig and watched as each of the other photographers gave up, got back into their cars and left. In time the park ranger came by. I got out and walked over to have a chat and explained that I was there for the sunset. He looked at me, then looked up into the sky and said, “Well, stranger things have happened I suppose,” before he wished me luck and went on his way.

As the afternoon progressed and it got closer to sunset it didn’t look good, but in time I could see a narrow slot of an opening in the clouds on the horizon to the west. I made a little wish and set up my tripod and camera just in case.

Sure enough the sun moved down to the horizon and to the opening in the clouds and as it did it shone this amazing orange light on the scenery around me. As I stood there looking to the west, with the Painted Hills behind me I started shooting the horizon. My heart was beating as I shot a few scenes. I never expected this show at all. A moment later it occurred to me to turn around and look behind me at the scenery that I had really come to photograph. “Holy macaroni!” The hills were painted with this amazing vivid orange light. I could hardly believe it. I ran around photographing the scene as if it were a super model.

As I photographed the scene it changed and morphed into an incredible light show. As the beam of light moved into the clouds above the hills a rainbow appeared above the scene. As I stand there my in awe of what is happening in front of my camera the only thing that I figure would make the scene better would be a Pegasus flying through the sky or a unicorn grazing in the foreground.

I left that day with some of the best photographs that I have ever made, and I almost missed it. I learned a lesson that day. If you don’t go out you won’t get the photograph. A second lesson is that I wouldn’t make much of a meteorologist.

Don’t discount those days that aren’t obviously epic. At the least you will go for a nice drive in some beautiful countryside. At the most you will experience something epic. And don’t forget your camera.

Stardust Melody: Chapter I by Larry Berteau on 03/01/2017

Johnny Templeton bunched his beige raincoat tightly to his neck and squinted against the objectionable rain that dotted his glasses – not that he minded so much as a freight truck passed by in a belch of diesel smoke that contributed greatly to his knowing that he wasn’t missing a whole lot.

He huddled back against the wall of the dentist’s office with its Cascadian themed exterior that neither polished the rain or snow in winter, nor reflected favorably the flavor of summer sunshine.

Still, he stood there, blinking through the rainbow drops that had reluctantly blended with the winter downpour and the diesel fumes. Until, like an urban mirage, a woman slipped through the traffic from across the street, buried in a mid-calf winter coat and a wet pony tail that kept perfect time with her dance steps on the pavement.

Anna Belle Kimatian – though no one added Belle to her name except Johnny Templeton – came to a stop on the sidewalk, unsheltered from the rain, and smiled only with her eyes at the man who waited for her.

“Can we get out of the rain?” she asked, her eyes blinking heavenward for an instant.

“Follow me,” he said, waking from the fog of her arrival and the realization they were drowning.

Johnny Templeton turned away from Anna and walked past the side wall of the dentist’s office, around the back into a strip mall parking lot that resembled a million others, and disappeared behind a ticket kiosk of a long ago abandoned effort of a local playhouse.

Anna followed several cautious steps behind.

Under the cover of the visibility defying rain and the ticket kiosk, Johnny Templeton and Anna Belle fell into each other’s arms. They kissed softly.

Johnny loosened a crooked smile. “It feels like someone else.”

Anna leaned back, rain still glistening from her dark cheeks, and questioned him with a tilt of her head.

“Novocain,” Johnny offered, nodding back toward the dentist’s office.

“I can fix that,” Anna said. She parted Johnny’s raincoat and kissed him on his neck.

“I also had my tonsils out,” he said.

Anna slapped Johnny playfully on the cheek.

They embraced again, lost in each other like lovers in a Russian novel.

Johnny removed his glasses so their noses touched.

“How long?” he asked.


Then the Russian play at the shuttered theater lingered as long as was allowed.


It should probably be mentioned that this nearly lost town in Oregon is called Wildewood. The extra “e” came from the founder’s name: Casper Wilde. No one knows for sure when Casper settled here, even though a journal has survived him. Seems he was a writer of few words. Entries in his journal – never dated – went like these:


Still stuck in the snow


Had to a shoot a horse


This’ll do


(presumably “this’ll do” was written when his wagon arrived in the place that now bears his name.)

He must have been mighty proud of his daughter, Ruby, because he nearly became so prolific in his praise of her you’d think Tolstoy had grabbed on to his journal:


Ruby plays every day down at the river always all alone


And to this day, it’s known as Ruby River.

Anna was born Anna Belle Wilde. Casper was her great-great grandfather. Ruby belonged in Anna’s family tree based on their mutual affection for that river.

Anna Belle’s father was Randy Wilde, her mother, Brandy Wilde. When Anna was eighteen Brandy was mauled by a mountain lion. Brandy loved to be alone – like most of the Wilde women – and would take two and three day solo hikes in the wilderness. Despite the fact she was woodsy savvy, on this day she met her match. A great hunting party ensued for the mountain lion once the scene of the attack was discovered. There were Brandy parts to follow but soon an early autumn snow arrived and the trail, and Brandy, went cold.

Brandy’s tragic death tipped Randy over the edge, a spot he teetered on all his adult life. He loved his whisky more than anything, which included Brandy, Anna Belle, jobs, chopping firewood, mending a broken gate, just about everything. When Wildewood mourned for Randy’s loss, he used that tidbit as an escape valve. No one is sure where he went. Someone said they spotted him at a football game in Sacramento. Someone else insisted they had it on good authority he went to South America.

At least everyone agreed, he was gone, and attention turned to what would happen to poor Anna.

They needn’t have worried.


State budget shortfall a big concern by State Rep. Mark Johnson on 03/01/2017

The Legislature officially convened on Wednesday, Feb. 1 and it has been a busy couple of weeks. Already this session, I’ve had constituents come to Salem to discuss a variety of topics with me. We’ve also received a lot of completed legislative surveys from people sharing their concerns and outlining what they would like to see addressed over the next six months. I’m thankful to have so many of my constituents engaged because it helps guide me while I’m in Salem and outline my priorities. Please continue to share your thoughts with me as we go through the session by visiting our website or emailing rep.markjohnson@oregonlegislature.gov

One of the top concerns shared was about the $1.8 billion deficit in our state budget. To be honest, I am disheartened to see the lack of urgency on the part of legislative leadership (Speaker of the House, Senate President, and the Governor) to address this budget gap. To date, no substantive meetings have been convened to propose potential solutions to the budget problem or to assemble the bipartisan support that will be needed for any legislation to be successful. Meanwhile, school districts and other programs that depend on state funding are putting together their budget projections for next year without any guidance as to what a final budget solution may look like. The irony of this situation is that we are currently experiencing record general fund revenues in Oregon, but still can’t seem to live within our means and invest in key programs that produce positive outcomes.

In spite of this lack of action from leadership, I’m not waiting around. I’m focused on finding ways to bend the cost curve of our state budget. We currently have too many programs and agencies in our budget that are expanding at a rate exceeding the growth of general fund revenues. This is not sustainable and is largely to blame for our deficit. Of course, fixing this is easier said than done. But this work is necessary to ensure a better quality of life for all Oregonians.

One piece of legislation I am bringing forth to help bend the cost curve, and to provide better outcomes for students, will provide behavioral health support to elementary schools across Oregon. The inspiration for this bill comes from classroom teachers that I spoke with during the interim period about what legislation I could work on that would help them to be more successful in the classroom. What I heard is that high needs students with serious behavioral issues are making it difficult for teachers to teach effectively. Schools are attempting to provide behavioral health support, but just don’t have the funds to provide enough support for teachers either through training or behavioral health staff. Due to these changes in our student population, the state school fund is being asked to provide services it was not designed for. So this legislation does not place an additional burden on our public school budgets, but instead partners with the Oregon Health Authority to identify how their current resources can be shifted to provide needed supports for students with behavioral problems that make learning difficult for them. It will limit costs to provide this support from the state school fund and tap into available funds within our health care system. Access to behavioral health specialists can make a big difference in the quality of learning in our schools. Partnering with the Oregon Health Authority can provide a new model to help relieve the stress on K-12 budgets while not removing a key resource in our schools. I think this legislation will help us limit pressures on the state school fund and allow us to provide more effective classroom instruction within existing budget resources.

There are ways to address our budget crisis, such as the new model I outline above, but it won’t happen overnight and we need to make sure that while the legislature is all in one place for the next six months, we act to provide certainty for the citizens of Oregon. I’m focused on having these conversations, rolling up my sleeves and getting to work. I hope that you will continue to share your thoughts with me on this topic, or any other topic that’s important to you. And after the winter we’ve had on the mountain and around District 52, here’s hoping for an early spring!

Thank you for the opportunity to represent you.

(Mark Johnson is the State Representative for HD 52.)

Insuring your buttocks could require a big premium by Ned Hickson on 03/01/2017

Given that Jennifer Lopez was reportedly able to insure her buttocks for a million dollars, and British food critic Egon Ronay had his taste buds insured for $400,000, I couldn’t help but wonder how much I could get for my legs, which my wife has often referred to as “cute” after a few glasses of wine.

After filling out the necessary paperwork and submitting a photo, it turns out my legs have a combined net worth of just over $68.50.

That’s according to Lloyd’s of London, which assured me their appraisal was pretty much the going rate for hairy-legged, 50-year-old, non-celebrities whose wives admire their husband’s legs while mildly intoxicated.

As you can imagine, I was absolutely shocked by the insurance company’s appraisal of my legs’ value, and immediately responded by firing back a letter telling them — in no uncertain terms — to sign me up before they changed their mind.

That’s right. For just $100 a month, I have the security of knowing that in the event of an accident, my legs — just like our vehicles and home — will be assessed by an experienced claims adjustor and immediately declared a total loss.

No matter how minimal the damage.

That’s because, in each case, I’ve already paid more into the policy than I’ll ever get back.

For example: Both of our cars are over 15 years old. Neither of them has full coverage. Each costs us about $500 a year to insure. And, according to the Blue Book reference chart, their combined net value is still worth less than the premium on my legs. In fact, the only way I might be able to break even with all these policies is if the following were to happen:

While using one car to tow the other, my legs suddenly caught fire, causing me to drive both vehicles directly into the side of our house.

The point is my legs shouldn’t be any less valuable than, say....Michael Flatley’s, which Lloyd’s of London insured for $25 million.

Okay, sure. He is “Mr. Lord of the Dance.”

And yes, his legs can do things mine could only do if I were dancing barefoot on a mound of writhing scorpions covered with cooking spray.

At the same time, I’ve seen the Riverdance video. As impressive as it was, my footwork in a video taken of me trying to run past the water sprinkler while carrying our two cats was equally impressive.

(And, if I may add, a lot more dangerous.)

In fact, plans are being made to release this exciting video, which includes footage of:

• My sprinkler dance with the cats.

• Our neighbors making tourniquets.

• Me riding in an ambulance.

• All of this performed to the dramatic musical score of “Cat Scratch Fever.”

As an added bonus, the first 100 people to buy Sprinklerdance will also get a free documentary about skin grafts.

That said, I must issue a disclaimer telling anyone who watches this video NOT to attempt Sprinklerdancing at home.

Unfortunately, this warning came too late for one celebrity who received an advanced copy.

The good news is, seeing that her buttocks were already insured for a million dollars, she’s expected to make a full recovery.

The cats, however, are another story.

(Ned is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. Write to him at nedhickson@icloud.com)

Lessons from ‘Ruby Ridge’ persist in today’s world by Sandra Palmer on 03/01/2017

We are living in extraordinary political times, in part driven by a distrust of government. Some may remember – but many will not – the roots of our own homegrown terrorism at Ruby Ridge. The Federal stand-offs at Ruby Ridge and Waco dramatically illustrate the true terror of Federal authority run amok when wielded against those who sought to separate from society due to their deeply held beliefs divergent from the mainstream. Anger from these events soon led to the bombing of the Oklahoma Federal building and the beginning of modern-day terrorist tactics.

A recent PBS special reminded me of the power and relevance in this volume. In Jess Walters’ powerful book “Ruby Ridge” (previously published as “Every Knee Shall Bow”) he provides the most complete and authoritative account of the Ruby Ridge confrontation, tracing the roots of the tragedy through the Randy Weaver family’s evolution of beliefs and the federal agencies who first tried to entrap and then to capture or kill them.

The Ruby Ridge confrontation came to a head in the late summer of 1992 but had been brewing for years. Randy Weaver and his family had moved to a very remote piece of land on a hilltop in the Northern Idaho panhandle, about 50 miles south of the Canadian border. Their desire was to be free to practice their unique set of separatist, fundamentalist religious beliefs and to be prepared for an eventual, inevitable confrontation with the evil authorities. Federal agents determined to target Randy Weaver as a potential government informant since he and his family sometimes visited with the nearby White Separatists. Hoping to force Randy to become a government informant, an ATF agent persuades Randy to saw off several shotguns and then attempts to force him to inform on others in order to avoid prosecution for doing so. Randy resists and fails to appear at a hearing which gives the Federal authorities reason to seek his arrest on a warrant. This precipitates a confrontation totally out of proportion to the charges. Soon the Weavers’ small compound is surrounded by massive military, ATF and FBI forces, converging to confront Randy and his family.

With a family compound where all the inhabitants are always armed and trained to shoot is surrounded by armed snipers and Special Forces experts, it is just a matter of time before tragic and deadly mistakes happen. This only increases the out-of-proportion response by the Federal government. Fortunately, lessons eventually were learned at Ruby Ridge that have assisted in the handling of future stand-offs, like our recent Malheur confrontation.

This volume is well written and very much worth your time and consideration. A true American tragedy.

Jess Walter is a NW author who has won national recognition for his reporting and innovative novels. Jess’ former employer, the Spokane, Washington Spokesman-Review newspaper, won a Pulitzer Prize nomination for the paper’s coverage of the Ruby Ridge stand-off in the nearby northern Idaho panhandle with Walters as a key writer. Jess Walter is the author of eight books including “Beautiful Ruins” and “The Financial Lives of Poets.” He’s been a #1 New York Times bestseller, finalist for the 2006 National Book Award and the PEN/USA Literary prize in both fiction and nonfiction and won the 2005 Edgar Allan Poe Award. He still lives in Spokane, Wash. with his family.

Average temps and precipitation tentatively expected in March by Herb Miller on 03/01/2017

As many may have noticed, precipitation has been higher than average this February, and temperatures have moderated substantially from the levels experienced in January, although still lower than average.

The snowfall total in Government Camp has reached 39 inches so far, and will likely end the month close to the average 41.8 inches. The total at Brightwood amounts to only an inch so far, and it appears unlikely to reach its average of 5.9 inches. The return of colder temperatures and light precipitation during the final week of the month will have the answer. But a taste of spring-like weather doesn’t show up on the crystal ball yet.

This winter has been a severe test for the National Weather Service and their confidence is still weak due to an expected active Madden Julian Oscillation pattern over the Western Hemisphere.

This usually translates to some guesswork on their part, so they hesitantly forecast about average temperatures and precipitation for our area this coming March.

During March, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 52, an average low of 35 and a precipitation average of 8.54 inches, including an average 3.15 inches of snow. During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached the 70s during two years, into the 60s during six years, and into the 50s the remaining two years. Low temperatures fell into the 20s during eight years and into the 30s the other two years. On average, there are 8.6 days when the temperature drops to freezing or lower. The record precipitation for March dating back 40 years is 19.17 inches, including 18 inches of snow set during 2012. The record snowfall for March is 19.9 inches measured in 1960. The record 24-hour snowfall is ten inches set on March 4, 1960.

During March, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 41 degrees, an average low of 27 degrees and a precipitation average of  9.30 inches, including 47.7 inches of snow. During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached the 70s once, into the 60s during six years, into the 50s twice and into the 40s once. Lows had six years in the 20s, and four years in the teens. The record March snowfall of 127 inches was set in 1962. The record 24-hour snowfall of 22 inches was set on March 21, 2012 and also March 7, 2003.

MHGS: The dangers posed by algae and how to help by Mary Soots on 03/01/2017

As spring and the growing season are just around the corner, there is one growth that we would like to see a little less of this year. Those of us who are old enough may remember taking a swim on a hot day in a cool lake or pond. Those are wonderful memories for those who were fortunate to have a local swimming hole nearby.

In more recent times, it seems that those same lakes or ponds have been ever increasingly invaded by blue-green algae blooms that appear near the edges and grow toward the center. I no longer allow even my dogs to swim in the toxic swill. In trying to understand the reason for this and what we can do to prevent it, the following information is from an EPA article entitled “Why Is the Beach Green?” that explores algal threats:

Algal threat? How can those little green cells called algae we grew in high school biology class be threatening? ‘Algae’ is actually a term for a broad group of different kinds of microscopic organisms that can live in the water. Algae play a key role in supporting the food chain and they are present in most marine and fresh surface waters. So, how can a good thing like algae be a hazard? Simply put, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

When growing conditions are just right, algae can form massive blooms, fouling surface water, depleting oxygen, and out-competing other organisms in the water. The blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, can produce toxins that if present in high enough concentrations can cause adverse health effects among people and animals. Toxic blue-green algal blooms have impacted drinking water and recreational beaches, so they are a concern for officials who are tasked with protecting public health. Algal blooms can also have adverse economic impacts on communities by increasing the cost of drinking water treatment, and by affecting home prices, tourism and industries that depend on clean water.

Nutrient pollution is a key driver of blue-green algae blooms. The nutrients come from fertilizer use and animal manure, nitrogen oxides produced by fossil fuel emissions, soil erosion, storm water runoff, leaking septic tanks, waste water and some industrial sources. When combined with nutrient pollution, other environmental conditions that support blooms include drought, increased water temperature and low lake and river levels. These environmental conditions may increase in frequency as a result of our changing climate.

While scientists have learned a great deal about harmful algal blooms, there is still much more that we need to learn to help communities protect themselves from the harmful effects of these blooms. EPA is conducting research to better understand the reasons why these blooms occur, to better predict when and where they might occur, and to define environmentally acceptable levels of nutrients, algal cells and toxins that are protective of the health of people and the environment.

EPA researchers will continue to do the science needed to understand the health and environmental hazards of algal blooms and to work with other agencies and local officials to better predict when and where blooms will occur. Yet the best solution is to limit the occurrence of algal blooms. We can protect our water by limiting fertilizer applications, by managing storm and waste water runoff, and by preserving our land’s health and fertility by preventing soil erosion. If we are careful stewards of our land and water, we can continue to enjoy bountiful harvests from our fertile soils and also maintain safe drinking water, healthy fisheries, and inviting recreational waters. Individuals and communities can play a role in monitoring waterways for algal blooms, and also be aware of the sources of fertilizers, waste, and nutrients that may flow into their local waters.

Irish and authentic by Taeler Butel on 03/01/2017

March is the time to celebrate all things Irish, so give ‘em a kiss and an authentic Irish meal, no green food dye needed.

Irish beer & cheese bread

Heat oven to 350. Grease and flour or add parchment paper to a 9x5 loaf pan.

3 cups unbleached flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 t baking powder

1 t kosher salt

1 cup plus shredded, aged Irish cheddar such as Kerrygold - you will need more for a topping.

1 12oz bottle Guinness

4 T unsalted butter, melted

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and 1 cup of cheese. Pour in the beer and melted butter and stir well until combined. Pour the batter into your greased loaf pan and sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of cheese on the top.

Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick insert in the center comes out clean and the top is crisp and golden brown. Let it cool before removing.

Potato pancakes

These freeze well between sheets of parchment - if you can sneak some away.

2 cups leftover mashed potatoes

1/3 cup flour

2 T whole milk

1 T chopped green onion

Salt and pepper

Combine 2 cups leftover mashed potatoes, a heaping 1/3 cup flour, 2 tablespoons milk and 1 tablespoon of chopped mixed herbs in a bowl. Knead until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Divide into 4 balls on a floured surface and flatten each into a 3-inch patty.

Melt 1½ tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the patties and cook until golden brown for 4 to 5 minutes per side, adding more butter to the pan when needed.

Lamb roast

3 T olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 large shallot, minced

1 t chopped rosemary

1 t chopped sage

1 t chopped marjoram

1 t thyme leaves

2 boneless lamb loins with tenderloins butterflied (about 3 lbs)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Make a paste with olive oil, herb and the salt & pepper.  Spoon mixture on the inside of the tenderloin, roll up and season the outside with salt & pepper the cut side down. Sear in a large cast iron skillet with the seam side down. Carefully turn over using tongs. Heat oven to 350 degrees, place the pan in the oven and roast tenderloin in oven. Roast for about 15 minutes and let it sit for 10 minutes before slicing.

The road of life and our bodies – bumping up against mortality by Victoria Larson on 02/01/2017

It doesn’t take a genius level IQ to realize there’s only one guarantee in life. None of us will make it out alive. We need to try and embrace this reality and accept and appreciate our lives. The current frazzle-dazzle lifestyle will only accelerate the race to the endpoint!

That edge of death gives life its exquisite meaning. As we age, we come to realize that some things are simply not worth our time. Arguing over the small stuff, for instance. In God’s eyes, it’s ALL small stuff.

As recently as one hundred years ago, most people were born at home and died at home. Now, the end of a lifetime is usually spent in some sort of care or medical facility. The elderly therein are sapped of energy with addled brains in the slim hope of beating death. But it’s not going to happen. It comes to each and every one of us.

There are still people who live to be 90 years old (I have two friends that age!) or even 100, but most that age are in countries other than ours. Care is difficult. But where several generations live under one roof care is spread out among many. And the “many” care about their loved ones. Monetary constraints in America are bringing some of that back but it’s still not the norm.

In this modern time we have nuclear families and the generation of “self.” Witness the almost constant use of that word in our society. Many grown children are not only “too busy” for their aging relatives, but they’re often too busy for their kids! Making money is necessary but making a life is more important.

The elderly face a lot of challenges. Here’s a for instance: blood supply to teeth and gums diminishes the desire to eat. In the United States, by the age of 60 years old most people have lost a third of their teeth. By 85 years of age, 40 percent have no teeth at all. Tooth care is important so you can keep eating. Food is your fuel.

Tooth and gum problems lead to altered diet. A diet common with the elderly is as follows: cold cereal and a banana for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and not much of anything for dinner. Not enough nutrition, period. Yet how many children and young adults eat like that without the excuse of deteriorating teeth? It’s really not enough nutrition at any age. Again, food is your fuel.

Bones become more brittle as we age and lack proper nutrition. Calcium leaches from bones into arteries leading to increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Every year approximately 350,000 Americans fall and break a hip due to weakening bones. 40 percent of those who do break a hip end up in a nursing home. 20 percent never walk again. Risk of falling increases with the muscle weakness of aging. Use of prescription medicines increases the risk of falling, though you should never discontinue the use of a pharmaceutical medicine without your doctor’s knowledge. These factors increase the risk of falling by about 12 percent. Add in poor balance issues and the risk of falling jumps to 100 percent. Is this how we should be treating the elderly?

Weak muscles and bones more brittle lead to poor posture. The elderly may be “stooped” or lean forward to eat while pushing the head backwards to balance the forward slump. Unfortunately, this leads to a “kink” in the esophagus which in turn leads to an increased risk of choking on food. Yet you need food. Sit up straight to eat your food.

Alerting the elderly to their potential problems may help them avoid more than the necessary struggles and risks of life. With aging also comes what I like to call “creeping wisdom.” It just comes with the territory of aging, but the elderly want to share their wisdom. Be kind, be patient, be respectful. SLOW DOWN, rather than race to the end. Show gratitude in all things. And eat, for food is your fuel. Love to all of the elders out there. Let’s keep bumping along the road of life.

Food for friends (and lovers) by Taeler Butel on 02/01/2017

February food is for friends and lovers. These recipes can be converted to feed a crowd or just one or two.

Shepherd pie potato skins

6 large russet potatoes, baked in 400 degree oven with 2 T olive oil and 1 t salt for 1 hr until fork tender

1 clove minced garlic

1/2 minced sweet onion

2 stalks celery

1 cup frozen peas & carrots

Salt & pepper

Beef bouillon cube

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 T flour

3 T butter

1 lb ground meat browned

Let the potatoes stand until cool enough to handle. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out.

Into a bowl mash in sour cream, 2 T of butter, shredded cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter, add in celery and onion and cook about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook one minute. Add in flour and salt and pepper and whisk about a minute. Add beef bouillon cube and drizzle in about 3/4 cup of water whisking a few minutes until thickened.

Add in cooked, crumbled meat and the frozen veggies. Let it cool, then scoop the mixture into potato skins with a big scoop of the mashed potato mixture on top. Place skins back in oven on 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Layered mac n’ cheese

One package dried elbow macaroni cooked and drained, (2 cups or 16 oz)

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup half & half

1 stick butter

Salt & pepper

1/4 cup flour

1 lb pulled pork

1 jar roasted red peppers

6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

1/2 cup bread crumbs, plain or seasoned

2 T melted butter

In a large skillet melt the stick of butter over medium heat. Add 1/2 t each of salt and pepper, add flour and whisk and cook for about a minute. Add in the half & half and 1 cup of cheese, then add in pasta. Set it aside. Layer a glass dish with a thin layer of macaroni followed by shredded pork, peppers and the remaining cheese. Top with bread crumbs mixed with bacon and melted butter. Bake 30 minutes on 350 degrees.

Budget shortfall must be addressed by State Rep. Mark Johnson on 02/01/2017

On Monday, Jan. 9, members of the Oregon Legislature were officially sworn in for their two-year term. This is my fourth time serving as your State Representative and each term, I am reminded of what an honor it is to stand on the House floor to take the oath of office. I encourage you all over the next few months to take a trip down to your Capitol and witness the session in action. You can also stay in touch by signing up for my newsletter: www.repmarkjohnson.com/newsletter-signup

The main conversation this session will be around the budget, and specifically adjusting the state’s revenue system. You may know that Oregon is currently facing a $1.8 billion shortfall on current spending levels to maintain the service level of existing programs. This means that even if no new programs or benefits are enacted in the next session we have a significant budget deficit. We find ourselves in this situation even though our economy has been producing record revenues for the state treasury over the last few years. The proposed budget by the Governor reflects significant cuts to current programs and services including public education, healthcare, senior services, veterans’ benefits and other programs. It also uses a series of tax and fee hikes to put the budget in balance. This week the Ways and Means co-chairs released their budget plan, which simply complies with existing law and does not raise new revenue but balances the budget through spending reductions. This plan results in much deeper cuts to various programs than the Governor’s plan does.

Neither of these budget proposals takes a comprehensive look at our state budget and makes the reforms necessary to provide long-term budget stability. They each are just a stopgap measure that will only get us to the next biennium when we will be faced with even greater budget challenges. I am working with a group of bipartisan legislators towards a comprehensive plan that will do three things: bend the cost curve on state government so that we can get spending under control, do what we can to address the cost drivers (PERS) that are wreaking havoc on state and local government budgets and also working closely with the business community to design specific tax code modifications that can provide a more stable source of revenue for the state and also encourage business investment and expansion. It’s a huge undertaking but is very important work. It is time that the state of Oregon to stop kicking the can down the road and complete the serious work needed to ensure a successful future for all.

This is the reality that the Legislature faces and must deal with over the next few months. If we don’t change the way our state both collects revenue and also how we spend it, we will be without any investment in any service many of us rely on. I will continue to work with local leaders, in addition to the bipartisan legislative group, to ensure their voices are heard.

I hope that you will stay in touch with me throughout the session. I value your opinion and want to address any other issues that are important to you.

Please contact my office at 503-986-1452 or email rep.markjohnson@state.or.us.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.

(Mark Johnson is the State Representative for HD 52.)

'News of the World'
Kidnapped girl’s return to family fraught with turmoil by Sandra Palmer on 02/01/2017

Johanna Leonberger no longer remembers her parents or life before the Kiowa raised her as their own after murdering her family. Even though she was six when she was kidnapped, none of the trappings of civilization remain in her memory.

Now ten years old with blue eyes and caramel-colored hair, she only speaks the Kiowa language and has no memory of eating with utensils or living in white civilization. After being “rescued” by the U.S. Army and torn away from the only family group she remembers, Johanna is now forced to return to her closest living relatives near San Antonio, Texas.

The army pleads with Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd to transport her the remaining four hundred miles to her family, realizing that having a white man of his background as Johanna’s deliverer will be more acceptable. Not to mention that the army personnel have had great difficulty handling the wild young girl who refuses to submit to any requests and constantly tries to escape so that she is now forcibly lashed down to a wagon. For fifty gold pieces, Captain Kidd reluctantly agrees due to the dire situation and his strong sense of duty.

Fortunately, Captain Kidd knows the area well, with family and business interests in San Antonio and having made a living in recent years by traveling throughout the southwest to read the news for a fee to communities lacking newspapers from the outside world.

And so, Johanna and Captain Kidd’s momentous journey begins over difficult roads and facing many threats from hostile Native Americans, highwaymen and natural forces.

Author Paulette Jiles is a poet and her careful word choices make this novel a sheer pleasure to read. Ms. Jiles has done her homework and knows much of the historical circumstances of young children kidnapped by Native Americans in that era and later returned to the white world. Almost without exception, these young people continued to identify with their Native American upbringing and longed to return to that life, in spite of the desire of their families that they be returned.

Captain Kidd is seventy-one years old and Johanna is ten but – over time, distance and through many dangers – trust and camaraderie develop between the two travelers who face difficult decisions at the journey’s end.

This beautiful novel is a great read and full of revelations about this time of great flux in the West, just after the Civil War. I highly recommend it to you!

(Paulette Jiles is a poet, memoirist and novelist. Her other novels are Enemy Women, Stormy Weather, The Color of Lightning and Lighthouse Island. She lives on a ranch near San Antonio, Texas.)

How married men can benefit from watching ‘The Bachelor’ by Ned Hickson on 02/01/2017

Tonight, I will be watching “The Bachelor” with my wife. I actually watch very little television. The shows I do watch are because of personal interest. I watch “Chicago Fire” because I’m a volunteer firefighter; “Meet the Press” because I’m a journalist; “Hell’s Kitchen” because I was a chef for 10 years; and The Bachelor because I don’t ever want to be one again.

As a ridiculously happily married man, I can tell you the benefits of a good marriage far outweigh the initial discomfort of watching Chris Harrison — week after week — inform everyone who didn’t pass kindergarten math that there’s only one rose left.

You also have to get past the three main types of contestants who appear each season:

The Cryer — Easy to spot because they are reduced to tears and sitting alone within 15 minutes of arriving at the mansion

The Liar — This person is already in a long-term relationship and is a struggling actress. They are always extremely attractive, which causes the Bachelor’s judgment to become cloudy as blood flows away from the brain to an area not directly related to the circulatory system.

And lastly,

The Psycho — Always arrives separately from the rest of the contestants, usually in some uniquely pretentious way, such as by helicopter or riding a unicorn and wearing only a wrestling singlet.

As someone who has been watching The Bachelor with his wife for several years now, I have gained a few insights that have made me a better husband. Here are a few of those insights for husbands who may have missed last (every) season of the show.

First, always keep a rose with you.


Having the ability to — at a moment’s notice — produce a fragrant flower symbolizing your love is a game changer that can diffuse any situation....

Wife: “Are these your dirty BOXERS in the sink... AGAIN?!?”

Husband: [Pulls out rose] “This is for you.”

Wife: “Oh sweetheart! Where else can I look for your boxers? Wait, don’t tell me! I want it to be like an Easter egg hunt!”

In the rare instance a rose isn’t enough, make sure you have a mutual friend willing to be a love liaison for you — someone who cares about you both and has your best interest as a couple in mind.

I would highly suggest getting Chris Harrison. He may not be able to count higher than 1, but he is an artful mediator. Contrary to what you might think, getting his help is actually pretty easy. All you have to do is take a single rose and put it in a basket. He will appear almost instantly to announce it’s the only one left.

So tonight, I’ll once again take a spot on the couch next to my wife and watch as the latest bachelor attempts what is essentially televised cat juggling, complete with claws and hissing. But as he attempts to discover the inner truths of each woman and searches for his soul mate one rose at a time, my wife and I will be eating snack foods and sipping something cold as we share observations about each contestant — which brings me to the most valuable lesson I’ve learned:

Given the chance to be The Bachelor, it would be the shortest season of all.

Because I’d simply choose the amazing woman I’m already married to.

(Ned is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. Write to him at nedhickson@icloud.com)

The Adventure Continues:Episode XV Attackus Interruptus by Max Malone, Private Eye on 02/01/2017

Turncoat, or spy, or MI6 agent, or terrorist, or whatever, Dolly Teagarden was right about the border guards believing we were going camping on our honeymoon. The Belgian in charge of the frontier crossing gazed longingly past me, to Dolly, then back to me, and with a wink handed back my bogus passport and we were off to our campground like two Eddie Bauer-clad yuppies headed to Yosemite.

“You need to listen closely now, Max,” Dolly said in a most unfittingly master sergeant’s voice. “We have plenty of backup at the campground, but the bad guys have to make the first move.”

Despite the fact that I seldom listen closely, especially to a skirt, I remembered what Dolly had told me before we crossed the border. “After dark,” she had warned. “You’re supposed to be dead by then.” That’s the kind of thing that tends to get my attention, especially as the sun was disappearing into the western horizon as we clattered into the campground/killing field.

I cradled by Beretta in my lap as Dolly felt into her jacket pocket for a grip on her pistol as well. There were half a dozen campers, a few people outside taking up the remains of their picnic dinner – in other words everyone acting like nothing was about to happen.

As it turned out, they knew more than we did.

“Wait here,” Dolly ordered as I drew the camper to halt. “Just wait.”

Nothing happened.

Suddenly, two choppers rose above a tree line and headed straight toward us. I slumped down behind the dashboard and cradled my Beretta on the top edge.

“They’re ours,” Dolly blurted. “Something went wrong.”

Call it attackus interruptus.

The choppers landed, the rotors whirred to a stop, campers watched wide-eyed from the safety of their windows, and we got out as a rangy, crusty-looking chap in a trench coat dismounted from the chopper and, followed by four soldiers in full riot gear, approached us.

“I’m Special Agent Mike Donovan,” he growled. “We’ve been deked.”

“Deked?” Dolly asked.

“We’re decoys,” I told her. “They crossed a different border.”

While we stood around scratching various body parts, the soldiers went through the camper. Nothing.

“Dammit,” Donovan said, setting his jaw and looking to the sky as if seeking divine intervention.

I couldn’t help but chuckle, despite the two-hundred-pound-glare from Donovan. “Do you have any other ideas?” I asked him. “Because I’ve never been much of a camper.”

I cared not a whit where the arms deal went down. It was above my pay grade, and I didn’t have a good handle on Belgium geography.

There was a lot of rock kicking and swearing and cell phone calls, all adding up to us piling in the chopper and night-skipping over the Belgian countryside to Brussels, where Dolly and I stood in the Zaventum Airport staring at the ticket counters.

“Come to London with me,” she purred, back from agent Teagarden to seductive Dolly.

“Can’t do it, Dolly,” I rasped, tipping my fedora. “I miss America.”

From a window seat the next morning I watched Ireland, gleaming like an emerald against the blue Atlantic, fade into Iceland – never a more aptly named country – then to Greenland – the most inaptly named, well, you get the picture – finally to Nova Scotia as we chased the sun across Canada, topped the Rockies, and finally dropped down to shoot up the Columbia Gorge to PDX.

Remember Francoise? She was my secretary before I went off the grid to Reno, and Valerie Suppine, and Natasha, and the Grimaldi brothers, and Dolly, and succumbed to a diet of red wine and cheese. Well, she was there waiting for me.

I realized she probably knew more about me than anyone, as we zipped along the Interstate to Gresham, then Hwy. 26 to the mountain community I had left behind, with hardly a word coming between us. We pulled up a familiar dirt road to what had once been my cabin. To my surprise, the charred remains had been cleared away, and a framing job was underway. Three tool-belted men stood at the surviving rock fireplace, a blaze going against the late-afternoon spring chill, passing a bottle, turning to see us pull into the driveway.

It was nice to see my two next-door neighbors, as well as the fire chief, who handed me the bottle of Jameson’s.

Francoise nudged against me. “Welcome home, Max.”

MHGS: Concerns for the environment and beyond by Mary Soots on 02/01/2017

It was a shout that was heard throughout the world. It is estimated that January’s Women’s March in over 500 cities across the United States with more than 600 sister marches across the world brought an estimated 3.3 million people into the streets to express their concerns for a variety of issues such as women’s rights, civil rights, labor rights, environmental rights, etc. Many people fear that the rights that have been hard-earned will be turned back due to the assumption of the position of president of the U.S. by Donald Trump and his cabinet of billionaires.

Clearly as one whose mission is the protection of the environment so that it can continue to sustain humankind for generations, there is concern for the return to fossil fuel extraction which is so harmful to people and planet, rather than continuing the work of seeking cleaner, renewable energy that will not be depleted at the Earth’s expense. After all, we’re not the only species whose lives depend on it.

Reminiscent of the Tea Party or the Occupy Movement, there were many reasons that people joined the Women’s March and many groups that came together to be heard. Though they may have dissenting voices otherwise, they unified for this one moment. This is actually the latest in a series of social uprisings (don’t you just love democracy?). The first shot was fired with the 1999 Battle of Seattle demonstration against the World Trade Organization. The common denominator in all the movements is to express to our leaders that the neoliberal economic model of globalization has led to the stagnation of incomes, the concentration of wealth (a recent report by Oxfam indicated that just eight men hold as much wealth as the rest of the world combined), environmental destruction, among other things.

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was one that appealed to the masses who hunger for a return to an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, with company benefits such as medical insurance and retirement, and the return of a strong middle class. One of the hallmarks of his campaign was his claim that free trade would be dismantled, thus allowing America to return to a manufacturing economy.

It is no secret that free trade has harmed us. We have become a society of overconsumption because we can purchase things manufactured in countries that have been forced to dismantle domestic laws that protect labor and environment in favor of economic gains. This so we can purchase goods in dollar stores and other cheap retail stores. Because those things are so easily acquired, they hold little value to us and we dispose of them and move on to the next thing. The landfills are filled with them.

It is too soon to see how the neoliberal global market economy can be replaced with a protectionist national economy. If we want higher wages, we must be prepared to pay higher costs for the things we purchase and as a side effect, we can reduce overconsumption and the environment will benefit. Perhaps by replacing the political elite with the economic elite as leaders of our nation, we will be the beneficiaries.

It is my fervent hope that Mr. Trump’s vision of making America great again will include protection for the environment upon which the future of our species depends.

Winter’s chill may not last, but Weather Service unsure by Herb Miller on 02/01/2017

This winter goes into the books as one of the coldest, and as of now, records show this winter to have set a record at Hillsboro and the second coldest at Portland Airport.

The Portland area was especially colder than average due to an extended period of arctic air trapped by an inversion.

This arctic air also affected the Mount Hood area, but to a lesser extent. Temperatures averaged about seven degrees lower in Brightwood, and about five degrees lower in Government Camp.

Snowfall in Brightwood totaled 14.75 inches and Government Camp 47.3 inches. Precipitation was only slightly more than half of average. The arctic air moderated after the first two weeks, returning to seasonal levels and precipitation continued to be lower than average.

The National Weather Service is confident that neither La Nina nor the Madden Julian Ocillations will have a significant effect on our weather this coming February, and beyond that, their confidence vanishes. Their various computer models not only disagree, but make predictions that flip-flop opposite to predictions made 10 days earlier. Although making a tentative forecast for our area to have about average temperatures and precipitation, their confidence is shattered.

During February, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 47, an average low of 34, and a precipitation average of 8.63 inches including an average 5.9 inches of snow. During the past 10 years, high temperatures have reached the 60s during three years and into the 50s the other seven years. Low temperatures fell into the 30s once, into the 20s during seven years and into the teens the other two years. On average, there are 12 days when the temperature drops to freezing or lower. The all time record low dating back 40 years was set during February 1989, shared also with December 1990. The record snowfall for February is 32 inches measured in 1986. The record 24-hour snowfall is 10 inches set on Feb. 26, 1971.

During February, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 38 degrees, an average low of 26 degrees and a precipitation average of 9.65 inches, including 41.8 inches of snow. During the past 10 years, high temperatures have reached the 60s twice, into the 50s three  years, and into the 40s the other five years.

Lows had three years in the 20s, four years in the teens and three years in the single digits. The record January snowfall of 112 inches was set in 1990. The record 24-hour snowfall of 25 inches was set on Feb. 24, 1994.

A pinhole camera photo.
The View Finder: Tips on upgrading your camera by Gary Randall on 02/01/2017

I’m asked frequently what camera that I would recommend if one wants to “get into photography.” To this I reply that they most likely carry a camera that will get them into photography every day. In this day and age you don't have to wait to get into photography.

There’s no excuse not to master your cell phone camera before you upgrade to one that’s more complicated. In photography the kind of camera has never dictated the artistic quality or impact of a skillfully done photograph.

Creating an interesting or artistic image in any medium relies more on an eye for an interesting subject, a basic understanding of light, an understanding of basic compositional standards and the ability to use the tools that they have at hand, the camera. A painter can use crude applications of heavy paint using a pallet knife and create an amazing image while another will use the finest brushes and the smoothest paints to create theirs. Both can be masterpieces. It’s about knowing how to use the tools instinctively through practice. Photography is no different.

I don’t discourage anyone from wanting to upgrade to a better camera, especially if they want to work on improving their skill. There’s no doubt that a better camera can yield a better image, especially in challenging conditions such as low light situations, but I do stress that photography is like fishing. Better gear doesn’t always yield more fish, especially in unskilled hands. One of my favorite photographs that I have made was made with a strip of film in a pinhole camera, which is nothing more than a wooden box with a hole in the front of it.

One shouldn’t need a more sophisticated camera until their skill level exceeds the camera’s abilities. In many ways a basic camera such as your cell phone will challenge you and will teach you lessons that you won’t need to learn once you get the better camera. Your learning curve will be smoother and your frustration level lower if you practice first with a simpler device.

Some advice that I do give to those who will be upgrading is to consider some of the intermediate, bridge cameras. Many have quality image sensors while supplying a single non-removable lens with a zoom factor that exceeds most zoom lenses that the average digital single lens reflex photographer uses.

For those that are upgrading to a Digital Single Lens Reflex camera I stress that unless they’re planning to use the gear professionally, there’s no need to purchase professional level equipment. Many intermediate photographers feel that they need a full frame camera to push their work further, when it’s not usually the camera that’s the barrier. The cost for pro gear is more than one needs to pay as the new sensors give outstanding performance. The cropped sensor DSLR’s perform amazingly well at low light conditions. The lenses, filters, etc. also cost less. The only practical trade off is that you won't be able to print the size of a billboard.

Do you still have a film camera? Guess what? Film is cool again. Dust off your old film camera and take some pictures. You can still buy film and you can have it sent off to be developed. You can do it all over the Internet with a little help from the US Postal Service. There are still drug stores that sell and develop film.

The point that I’m really trying to make is that if one wants to get into photography there’s no time like the present. There’s no need to wait. If not having the right kind of camera is your reason for not starting today, you need to get past that. Not having the right kind of camera should not be an excuse. Art doesn’t matter what kind of camera that you use, nor does documenting your children while they grow or any other special moment in your life.

Get into photography. Pick up your camera and take some pictures today.

Winter is the restorative season, so get a full dose of z’s by Victoria Larson on 12/30/2016

The bustle and excitement of the holidays are over, but it’s still cold out there. The shorter days and cold weather, and even the loneliness after the holidays, send some people into depression. So let’s take a look at winter in our yearly cycle and find a way to embrace its lessons.

Winter is a time for going inward, slowing down and resting. It is the yin time of the year. The fauna hibernate, the flora stop growing and we humans sleep more. Or if we’re not, we should be. Sleep is restorative. Our ancestors didn’t have electricity and electronic devices to keep them awake. They also had fewer chronic problems in their health, though infections were still a problem.

Deep in your brain, your pineal gland produces your naturally occurring melatonin. Going to bed earlier will increase the production of this hormone, which helps you sleep - taking even a few too many milligrams of manufactured melatonin, may make your pineal gland “forget” how to work. Light emitting devices (TVs, phones, computers, parties!) will decrease production of melatonin.

Foods high in naturally occurring melatonin can boost your body’s levels in as little time as three days (or nights, if you will). A cup of purple grapes will work, as will cherries. Cherries can be in any form from frozen, dried or as juice. Even one ounce of cherry juice can give you an extra half-hour of sleep! If you sleep with a partner who reads or watches TV, wear an eye mask as any light entering your eyes decreases melatonin.

For thousands of years people slept ten to twelve hours in the winter. Those who slept long had decreased rates of dementia. Lack of sleep leads to amyloid plaques in the brain. Amyloid plaques are the classic lesion of Alzheimer’s disease. In a 2013 study in JAMA Neurology, it found that those who had the worst sleep quality had a five times greater risk of Alzheimer’s than those who had the benefit of sound sleep.

So no need to feel guilty about a nap, especially in wintertime! People with poor sleep quality had a decreased volume in the brain, in the cortex, frontal, parietal and temporal lobes. Granted we don’t use our full brain capacity, but we want it to work as well as possible for as long as possible, especially as we age.

In 2015, the British Medical Journal found poor sleep to be a hallmark sign of ADHD in children and adults. Toddlers need naps until at least three or four years old. Adults can simply choose to go to bed earlier.

The Journal of Sleep found those who sleep less have increased anxiety, decreased joy in life, and a decreased ability to solve problems.

Sleep increases creativity and problem solving. Got a problem? Sleep on it. This time of hibernation in the cold allows us time to conserve energy for the next cycle, when the rains lighten and the breezes soften.

Lack of sleep shows up in the physical body too. In Chinese medicine we think of winter as Kidney time. The kidneys are the seat of fear, and we all have some fears. To evaluate the health of the kidney, look to the tone and color of the skin. A bluish or white patch under the eyes, bilaterally, may indicate kidney imbalance which in turn may indicate fear. If you watch TV look to the non-actors on the screen and see if you can notice this. Something to ponder.

More gifts from the Kitchen! by Taeler Butel on 12/30/2016

It’s always a good time to be in the giving spirit. Pair a loaf of gingerbread with brown sugar cinnamon butter to make a lovely gift for a neighbor, teacher or anyone you want to see smile.


1½ cups all-purpose flour

2 t ground cinnamon

¾ t ground cloves

2¼ t ground ginger

1 T grated orange peel

1 t kosher or sea salt

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 cup applesauce

1 t baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9” x 5” bread pan or use baking spray. You can also use two pieces of decorative 7” x 2.5” disposable bakeware, and they do not have to be greased.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt. Set aside.

In the large bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir in vanilla and orange peel. Add the egg, and mix well.

Scoop the batter into the prepared loaf pan(s). Bake for 25 minutes and for larger loaf turn after 15 minutes.



1 lb unsalted butter at room temp

1 T sea salt

¼ cup powdered sugar

½ t lemon zest chopped fine

2 T dark brown sugar

1 t cinnamon

Whip ingredients together, scoop about 1/2 cup onto wax paper, roll into a log and tie ends with pretty twine. Place into freezer.

Outdoor recreation office a priority by State Rep. Mark Johnson on 12/30/2016

The holiday season is behind us and the New Year is before us. This is a good time to prepare for the upcoming legislative session and set our goals for the next year. Part of the preparation for me means getting things settled on the home front, as I will be working in Salem during the week and traveling back home on the weekends. I’m looking forward to tackling some of the larger issues facing our district and our state in the upcoming months.

One major topic this session will be establishing an Office of Outdoor Recreation. I’ve been working with the recreation community both in district and as part of the Travel Oregon “Outdoor Recreation Means Business” initiative. The Travel Oregon initiative is a coalition of industry members and government officials working on a coordinated effort to improve and sustain the recreation industry across the state. From my conversations locally and as part of this initiative, it is clear that the industry does not have a seat at the table and therefore my legislative priority is to create a permanent position that is responsible for making policy recommendations directly to the Governor. This position will allow the recreation industry to have a voice in the policy making process in Salem. My intent is not to simply create another bureaucracy but to ensure that as state level policy decisions that impact the recreation industry (land use, access to public lands, transportation, etc.) are made with input from the industry itself. This office will also help to build connections between the recreation industry and other sectors of our economy like manufacturing, tourism and even our education system, which will help grow our economy as a whole while supporting local recreation and tourist based businesses. The creation of this position has broad support and I will continue to provide updates as it progresses.

A second priority of mine will be to remain part of the budget balancing and revenue reform discussions happening in Salem. As you may be aware, Oregon is currently facing a $1.5 billion dollar budget deficit for the next biennium based on current spending levels. In order to generate the bipartisan support necessary to address the situation and prevent more costly cuts to education and needed social services, any potential solution to the problem must have bipartisan support. This means that we will have to enact some kind of budget and spending restraints and address cost drivers before any kind of revenue reform can be considered. Particularly, I will work on making sure that any changes to Oregon’s tax structure not be regressive and negatively impact middle class families. It must also stimulate economic growth and business investment.

Any package of revenue reform needs to be comprehensive and also establish clear priorities for spending. For more than ten years now, legislators have not prioritized education and have chosen to favor other parts of the budget over kids in the classroom. I believe a part of any additional revenues that may be generated by modifying the tax code needs to be directed into programs that we know work and lead to clear outcomes for our students. An investment in early learning, and specifically third grade reading, will be what I push for. Students who can read at grade level by the third grade are four times more likely to graduate high school. Setting students up for success early will save money on interventions later and allow students to grow into new opportunities throughout their school career.

In addition to these two priorities, I will continue to work on some local topics to improve the communities across House District 52. I hope that you all have a wonderful start to your New Year and I encourage you to stay in touch with my office. Please email rep.markjohnson@state.or.us or call 503-986-1452 if you need assistance with anything or have any questions.

Thank you for the honor of representing you.

(Mark Johnson is the State Representative for HD 52.)

Historical novel captures Paris after German takeover by Sandra Palmer on 12/30/2016

On June 17, 1940, the French Army was ordered to cease fighting, as France capitulated to Hitler and the forces of the Third Reich. Soon the German forces infiltrated almost every aspect of French life. Jews were rounded up and sent first to prison camps within France and ultimately to the east.

It’s against this backdrop that Alan Furst has placed the story of a brave French resistance cell headed by the novel’s protagonist, code named Mathieu, “A Hero of France.” The book’s action covers five months beginning in March 1941, nine months after the beginning of the German occupation. A vivid example of the type of perilous actions undertaken by his cell opens the book as Furst describes the risks Mathieu undertakes while linking up with and escorting a downed R.A.F. pilot from a rendezvous in the French countryside. They barely escape detection while secreting him to Paris so that he can be smuggled back to England – a valuable asset in the war against the Reich.

Furst, who is known for his detailed research into both sides in occupied Europe, shares stories not just of Mathieu’s group but also many other Germans from many walks of life - including the police and the Gestapo – as they all seek to find a path to survival for themselves and their families.

Mathieu’s cell is similarly diverse, including a teenage girl who acts as a courier on her bicycle and two well-connected women of French society, Annemarie and Chantal. Aiding their efforts is Max de Lyon, a nightclub owner whose establishment caters to German officers, a Polish Jew who hides resistants in his club and puts Mathieu in touch with merchant marine smugglers who specialize in helping people escape the country. De Lyon even blackmails a German officer into aiding the escape of an endangered member of the resistance cell.

Mathieu’s great gift is his ability to accurately evaluate another person’s character. “It’s one of the things I do,” he tells de Lyon, “make decisions about people, can they be trusted. I am good at it. And I’d better be, because I can be wrong only once.” But it takes a great emotional toll on the resistance fighters who must constantly worry about every move, in fear of discovery.

Furst’s descriptions of occupied Paris convey the sinister atmosphere of the time (“Eyes searching the darkness, he had to move slowly, pausing at doorways where he could hide if necessary, hurrying to cross a narrow street, and listening intently for the telltale sounds of the police patrols”), but Furst’s Paris is generally a city where the citizens refuse to give up hope and where their love for France and for their city inspires them to take risks for freedom.

If you enjoy historical novels, you will greatly enjoy this expertly researched work.

(Alan Furst is widely recognized as the master of the historical spy novel and has authored numerous bestsellers. This is his fifteenth. Born in New York, he lived for many years in Paris and now lives on Long Island.)

Don’t forget your cat when taking down the Christmas tree by Ned Hickson on 12/30/2016

For our family, packing up the Christmas decorations is never easy. Not only because it means the official end of the holiday season, but also because it means it’s time to pry the cat out of the Christmas tree.

What makes this process especially difficult is sap. You see, it’s not until after spending the better part of December attached to the mid-section of our tree that our cat realizes she can no longer retract her claws.

A few years ago, this actually resulted in a front-page story in the Weekly World News under the headline:

Holiday tree sprouts cat tumor!

It’s not like we haven’t tried to keep this tragedy from happening. In fact, we’ve even taken our cat to a pet psychologist, thinking that maybe she suffers from a traumatic experience that is somehow triggered by the site of Christmas trees – such as an unresolved conflict with a strand of tinsel.

After six weeks of therapy (equal to eight years in cat time), the only thing the doctor was able to tell us for certain was that our cat had been Shirley MacLaine in a previous life, which, according to him, isn’t all that unusual.

In short: He had no explanation for her behavior.

This, of course, led to my own – admittedly less scientific – diagnosis, i.e., which is that our cat is crazy. This forced us to take drastic measures this year in hopes of avoiding another appearance in the tabloids. To achieve this, we came up with the idea of spraying our entire tree with WD-40.

Initially, this seemed to be the answer as we watched our cat slide down the trunk and into the water bowl. But as we soon discovered, while WD-40 kept our cat out of the tree, it also kept any ornaments from staying on for more than six seconds.

This left us with a handful of desperate ideas, such as moving one of our stereo speakers under the tree and playing “Dogs Barking Jingle Bells” 24 hours a day.

That idea was dropped pretty quickly.

After six barks, to be exact.

We also toyed with the idea of decorating a dogwood tree, the logic being that a cat wouldn’t go near a tree with the word “dog” in its name. That suggestion was nixed after my wife pointed out I’d first have to teach our cat to read.

What all of this is leading up to is something you’ve probably already guessed, which is that, once again, the Christmas tree in our living room will remain there until it is completely brown and withered, and the sap has weakened enough that our cat can safely be detached.

In the meantime, we have already begun planning for next year, when we’ll try to coax our cat to move high enough on the tree that we can use her as a top ornament.

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His latest book, “Pearls of Writing Wisdom: From 16 years as a shucking columnist” is available online at www.PortHoleBooks.com)

The Adventure Continues:Honeymooners At Last Alone by Max Malone, Private Eye on 12/30/2016

Picture an Oregon private eye taken hostage by Arabs driving a camper (of all things) with an irresistible woman named Dolly Teagarden in the passenger seat who just days before was an English-American diplomat who bailed this private eye out of a French prison who was now thrown in with this band of Ali-Baba hoodlums and had a Beretta stashed under her seat and had the audacity to have told me to “just stay calm.”

Well, that’s the picture. More a Picasso than a Monet if my high school Art Appreciation memory served me. That is, surreal and indefinable shapes and colors compared to perky water lilies defining a local pond.

Despite it all, I remained calm on the outside – much like Muhammad Ali before the George Foreman fight – while watching the Arabs leading the way in a fancy Citroen. Going along with Dolly paid off. The Citroen took an exit. Dolly told me to continue straight ahead.

“OK, Max,” she began, that clever smile curling around her mouth like a friendly garter snake. “I didn’t want your reaction to show through the wind screen.”

Hint: wind screen is windshield in British auto speak.

“If everything works out according to plan, we’re going to bust up a serious terrorist ring,” she said, sounding as matter-of-fact as an English housewife on her way to the grocery store. Or, that’s the way I thought an English housewife would sound, never having actually accompanied one to the grocery store. But I digress.

“Whattya mean ‘we’” I shot back, sounding like Tonto turning down the Lone Ranger’s plan to evade a band of Indians.

From Dolly, again the smile. “You, me and Zabun, plus reinforcements.”

“I get it,” I snarled, moving into the passing lane to get by a French farmer’s hay truck. “You expect me to believe you’re a diplomat, then a traitorous terrorist, then a double agent good guy again, right? I’m not that naïve, doll face.”

“Max,” again that damnable purr. “Reach under your seat.”

I ran my hand around and felt the cold steel of a 5-inch barrel and the 15-round magazine of a 9mm Beretta. It wasn’t my old reliable Glock, but certainly a kissin’ cousin.

“Where’d this come from?”

“Zabun wasn’t just giving you driving instructions.”

“You’re just full of surprises, aren’t you?”

“You’re just scratching the surface, Max.”

Somehow, I believed her. What choice did I have? She was packin’ and so was I, thanks to Zabun, and we had a rendezvous with the terrorists. And Zabun was riding with them. At least it was three against three, at the moment anyway, and by my accounts, we had ’em outnumbered.

“So, where we headed?”

“We’ll be crossing the border into Belgium in less than an hour,” Dolly said, seemingly still going over her grocery list. “After about twenty kilometers we’ll get off the main road at an exit that leads to a camper park.”

“You’re kidding, right? A camper park?”

“Yes, and that’s where all the fun begins. There will be four other campers that are part of the deal. And nearby a large lorry.”

For the unwashed, a lorry is Brit speak for a truck.

“OK. But where’s the payload?”

“We’re sitting on a lot of it. There’s more under the floor in the back and between the panels.”

“And it all gets off-loaded into the truck?”

“Yes. After dark. But you’re supposed to be dead by then.”

“And everyone knows that but me,” I said, yielding to a genuine, confident smirk that was my first one in weeks.

“So do you, now. But we have the frontier just ahead.”

There were signs at the border in French and a couple other languages, but none in English. But there were pictures, and I got in the lane for campers and trailers.”

“We’re on our honeymoon,” Dolly said flatly. “That explains the different last names on our passports. We’re headed to the camping park up ahead. And don’t forget you’re a Brit. So, pip-pip and all that, matey.”

“We’re going camping on our honeymoon, and they’re going to buy that?”

“Oh, they’ll buy it,” Dolly said, with a deep-down chuckle. “We’re British.”

Thank goodness, and after all, I am still Max Malone, private eye, mate.

The Mt. Hood Green Scene: Going green with painting projects by Mary Soots on 12/30/2016

In the dark days of winter, our thoughts turn inward to how to make our home a cozy place that gives us joy. Perhaps now that the New Year has arrived, you’d like to give your home a makeover. What could be easier than a little bit of paint to give the house a new look? Painting is an inexpensive way to redecorate and give your home a whole new feel. But before you begin, think of the ways you can save money and bring sustainability to your painting project.

Metro has some great suggestions on how you can do both. When planning, purchase only the amount of paint you need. The amount you use varies depending on the type of paint, the application method and brand, but as a rule of thumb, one gallon of primer will cover 200 sq. feet and paint color will cover approximately 350 sq. feet. You can also use recycled light colored paint as a primer.

To be more environmentally friendly, use latex paint as it is recyclable. Metro.gov sells remade paint for a fraction of the cost of new paint. According to Metro.gov, “MetroPaint is previously unwanted paint remade new. Screened for quality, enhanced with helpful additives and reblended into desirable colors, it’s evolved paint ready for a new purpose.”

According to Metro, there are some great reasons to use recycled paint. It decreases the project’s carbon footprint, reduces the need for landfill space, conserves the water needed to make new paint, and prevents pollution from the mining and extraction of raw materials. To date, Metro has remade two million gallons of paint. We can purchase remade paint in a variety of colors from Metro at various locations, such as Clackamas Miller Paint, Gresham Miller Paint, Gresham Fred Meyer and Estacada True Value.

Be earth-friendly when applying the paint, avoid ground and groundwater contamination, use alternatives to toxic solvents when possible, and use tarps and drip pans to catch spills and splatters. Clean your brushes with non-toxic solvents.

When you are finished with your project, you can recycle at curbside any clean, empty metal paint cans and lids as well as plastic paint buckets (lids cannot be recycled). Any unused latex or oil paint can be taken to a collection center. On the mountain, the Mt. Hood Green Scene has worked with the Welches Mountain Building Supply Company to collect used paint. You can also share your unused paint with friends and neighbors, possible through a sharing website. You can donate paint to the Habitat for Humanity or the ReBuilding Center for use by others.

If you have leftover hazardous waste from your project, such as solvents and removers, please comply with laws regarding hazardous waste disposal and take them to Oregon City, or look for hazardous waste collection events in Sandy.

And when the rains stop and it’s time to paint the exterior of your home, remember that you can find affordable recycled exterior paints as well.

Average temps and precipitation expected for January by Herb Miller on 12/30/2016

December has been colder than average, with Brightwood about four degrees lower and Government Camp more than seven degrees lower. In addition, snowfall has been plentiful with Brightwood getting a total of 14 inches and snow on the ground continuously since the fourth. Government Camp is having a great winter season and has received 58 inches of snow so far this month. No records were set and the low of 19 degrees in Brightwood was its coldest temperature since December two years ago.

The National Weather Service has observed a reduced influence made by a weakened La Nina pattern on weather experienced in North America and is also keeping a watchful eye on the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) influence which is expected to become more of a factor at the end of January. For now, our area is forecast to have about average temperatures and average precipitation during January.

During January, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 43, an average low of 34, and a precipitation average of 10.75 inches including an average 8.6 inches of snow. During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached the 50s during nine years and one year failed to get above the 40s. Low temperatures fell into the 20s during seven years, into the teens during two years and into the single digits the other year.

On average, there are 14 days when the temperature drops to freezing or lower. The record snowfall for January was 47 inches measured in 1980, although more recently, 29.5 inches was recorded during 2008.

The record 24-hour snowfall is 29 inches set on Jan. 9, 1980 compared to a more recent 16 inches measured on Jan. 11, 1998.

During January, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 36 degrees, an average low of 24 degrees and a precipitation average of 13.30 inches, including 57.8 inches of snow. During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached 70 once, into the 60s twice, into the 50s three years, and into the 40s the other four years. Lows had two years in the 20s, two years in the teens, and six years in the single digits. The record January snowfall of 155 inches was set in 1964. The record 24-hour snowfall of 35 inches was set on Jan. 9, 1980, although just three years ago, 27 inches was recorded on Jan. 29, 2013.

Views of 2016
The View Finder: The views of 2016 by Gary Randall on 12/30/2016

It’s been another great year here at Gary Randall Photography. I hope that it was for you as well. After all setbacks are considered, we’re thankful for the growth and progress that has taken place in life and business, including being included as a writer for The Mountain Times.

As I look back on 2016 I thought that I should share a few of the photos that were made and share what it took to get the shot. The photos might not be my most beautiful or technically brilliant but combine my memory of the moment with the resulting image and they’re some of my personal favorites. Consider this a year in review. I hope that non-photographers enjoy them and that fellow photographers and photographic artists can learn or be inspired to push their work to be the best that it can be.

I hope that 2017 brings good health, happiness and many photographic opportunities to you.


Mount Hood at night

(top left)

This photo is one of my favorites from this past year. After getting the black and white photo of Mount Hood  (see page 16) I decided to return again after dark to see what I could do with the scene at night, especially under the moonlight. This photo might be considered an unexpected benefit of looking all around me while I was photographing the mountain. This scene was behind me.

To get this photo I used my tripod to be able to extend my exposure to 20 seconds. I stopped down to f/22 to allow the light to play off of the aperture blades which created the light star from the moon’s light.

A snowboarder had cut a line through the scene that aligned with the shadows of the moonlight. I felt that the simple composition created a much stronger image than a wider view of this scene.


The Alvord Desert in southeastern Oregon

(top right)

Early spring is a good time to explore those places that heat up during the summer. The Alvord Desert is a great example. The mud tiles of the playa start to form as the mud starts to dry and the skies give you a good chance for a sunset at that time of the year as well.

To get this photo I had set up for a sunset and then waited. The sunset was nice that night, but the color didn’t come on in a dense colorful way until after I watched the “first sunset” fade and I had started to pack my gear into my Jeep.

This second sunset is the result of the last beams of light shining from below the horizon and up under the clouds that were in front and above us.

Always stay until the end of the show.

Rural Victoria ruin near Dufer

(bottom left)

I’m a guide and photography instructor. I love taking people from all over the world to places in and around the Mount Hood area. Less than an hour away we have a whole different world to explore by heading east toward open skies and Central Oregon.

This photo is one that I used to demonstrate my focusing techniques. My goal was to get the wheat in front of the camera as well as the house behind in perfect focus.

To get this photo I set my camera on my tripod to give me a stable platform to allow me to take my time with my composition and adjustments. There was also a bit of a breeze so it allowed me to repeat the shot if it didn’t turn out the first, second or third try.

I stopped down my aperture to maximize the focal distance, moved my focus out to infinity and then focused back until the wheat became tack sharp. I set my exposure and took the shot.


Alaskan workshop, Matanuska Glacier

(bottom right)

I took this photo as we were making our way across the ice of the Matanuska Glacier. In all we spent three days exploring this amazing place. As tour leader I was able to lead everyone out to a spot inside the heart of the ice to get amazing photos of a real Alaskan glacier up close and personal.

To get this photo I turned behind me to see them all coming over this crest of ice. I asked them to stop as I set my camera to Aperture Priority, opening my aperture and setting my ISO at about 800 to insure a fast enough shutter and then snapped a series of photos, taking this one as the best of the group.

Although landscape photographers typically prefer to set their cameras manually, there are times when you have to work quickly so it’s perfectly acceptable to switch to a more automatic mode such as Aperture or Shutter Priority to insure that you get the photo.

Making the season even better by engaging with each other by Victoria Larson on 12/02/2016

As we turn to the last page of the calendar we give certain pause. For the year we’ve just known is winding down and the future is an unknown. Though a chore to many, greeting cards and good wishes put us in touch with family and friends, both distant and past. And this is good.

Contact with other humans is different now than in years past. With such a huge and growing Earth population, and so much to do, many of us are unable to answer our phones. We are often in our cars. Some only communicate via electric devices, which is simply not the same as face-to-face contact that may include a hug or a kiss on the cheek.

Friendship and contact are treasures we must seek and honor. Without friends, the winter may seem pretty bleak. We need other people. We need touch. Or we die. OK, we die anyway but it’s the journey that makes it worthwhile. And it’s up to each and every one of us to make it as wonderful a journey as possible.

As recently as 1945 most births and deaths occurred at home. By 1980 only 17 percent of births and deaths occurred in the home. Home was the center of many people’s lives. All the more reason to seek comfort during the colder seasons. Your well-being may depend on it.

The divorce rate in America is above 50 percent, 62 percent of us are obese, emotional neglect of children has risen over 300 percent and cases of autism have risen by 600 percent in just the last ten years. One in four women is sexually molested in her lifetime. Are we losing our grip? Where are we going wrong?

A lot of problems stem from overwork, high stress, poor diet, and sadly, lack of true commitment. First of all, we no longer “take the time” to commit. It’s all fast! fast! fast! This is because we are a nation of instant gratification. Which leads to credit card debt, sorrow and guilt. Everything fast is electronic. If it’s true that 80 percent of human communication is non-verbal, then it’s no wonder we’re missing something in our lives!

Now ‘tis the season for warmth and love. Talk to people. Really talk and you may find that people are “real.” So when Aunt Mary insists on giving you her special recipe for gooseberry pie, listen, maybe even write it down. By next holiday season you may be glad you did it even if you never bake the pie.

Life is short no matter how long you have. We miss a huge portion of it when we just rush through it. Savor some ceremony, be it Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas or Kwanza. We may be blessed with some magic (like snow? or a new baby?) that will quiet and calm us in the true spirit of the season. Reflect on how these things feel to you. Photograph the moments if you want but realize that your mind will hold the memory anyway.

Winter is a dark and inward time of reflection on the year just ending. Honor this time during mid-winter Solstice as the light begins to return to the Earth. Sit by the fire, huddle for warmth, burn that Yule log. Engage in the rituals you love, from bubble baths to family game night.

Festivals of love and warmth are good for us. Just don’t burn the candle at both ends or you will flame out. Sure you may succumb to eating some sugar but concentrate more on the scents of the season and find pleasure therein. There’s pine and peppermint. Frankincense and myrrh, but also rosemary and sage. Eat lots of nuts, drink more warming tea, stay home more. Give your kids your attention. What we all really want this season is each other. Have a lovely holiday season.

Gifts from the Kitchen! by Taeler Butel on 12/02/2016

This season give them what they want. Food!!

Create incredible gift baskets right from your kitchen. I like to make some things as well as add store bought items. Baskets can be cost effective and fun to put together. These recipes are gifts of their own or can be put in an inexpensive basket for a co-worker, teacher, or any other lucky recipient.

Biscotti with pistachios and cherries

1 3/4 cups dried cherries

1/2 t almond extract

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface

2 t baking powder

1/2 t coarse salt

4 T (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

2T vanilla

4 large eggs (3 whole, 1 lightly beaten)

3/4 cup chopped, shelled pistachios

3 T coarse sanding sugar

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Put butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in 3 whole eggs, one at a time. Mix in reserved cherry liquid and the vanilla, reduce speed to low, and gradually mix in flour mixture. Stir in cherries and pistachios.

On a lightly floured surface, halve dough. Shape each half into a 12 1/2 by 2 1/2-inch log. Flatten logs to 1/2 inch thick. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush logs with beaten egg and sprinkle with the sanding sugar.

Bake 35 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer to wire racks to cool, about 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.

Cut each log on the diagonal into 16 to 18 pieces. Transfer pieces to racks, laying them on sides. Set racks on baking sheets. Bake 8 minutes; flip. Bake 8 minutes more. Let cool until crisp. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.


Cream cheese scones with cranberries and white chocolate chips

2 1/2 cups flour plus more for rolling dough

1/2 cup sugar

2 t baking powder

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup white chocolate chips

1/2 t salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

3 ounces soft cream cheese

1/3 cups heavy cream plus 1 tablespoon for brushing

1 T coarse sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry blender, or food processor cut in the butter and cream cheese until the mixture is crumbly. Add the heavy cream, stirring just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in chocolate chips and cranberries.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll or pat the dough to 1-inch thickness. Cut the scones using a 2 1/2-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with the remaining tablespoon of cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes.

The success of the ‘Oregon Promise’ needs sustainable funding by State Rep. Mark Johnson on 12/01/2016

The year has almost come to an end. As we prepare for winter and the changing of seasons, I’m looking forward to enjoying time with friends and family and some fresh snow on the Mountain so that my wife and I can put our skis to good use. I’m also looking ahead to the New Year and the start of the legislative session. Before heading into the New Year, I like to reflect back on some of the recent progress that we’ve made, the successes we’ve had and the challenges we will tackle.

It’s not often that a legislator comes face to face with the benefits of the policies he or she has passed into law. I had such an experience in October when I was able to address a room full of students at Columbia Gorge Community College, who are the first cohort of Oregon Promise students in the Gorge.

The Oregon Promise is a program that I was able to pass into law along with Senator Mark Hass (D-Beaverton) in the 2015 legislative session. It provides tuition waivers to Oregon high school graduates that meet eligibility requirements and accept all federal and state grants that they may qualify for. The state then picks up the last dollar owed for their community college tuition so that the debt burden is removed for students who want to attend a college or trade school.

At the Oregon Promise student orientation I asked for a show of hands for those students who were enrolled at CGCC only because they had been able to obtain a tuition waiver. Half the hands in the room went up. That was the most vivid evidence I could have asked for to demonstrate the success of the vision that Senator Hass and I had two years ago. The hands that were raised belong to students who are enrolled in classes that will lead to jobs as dental hygienists, nurses and technology manufacturing right here in the Gorge. And they will be able provide for themselves rather than rely on our costly social safety net.

Since we passed the Oregon Promise into law the response across the state has been tremendous. Over 19,000 applied to the program and 10,000 scholarships have been awarded and now these students are attending one of our 17 community colleges in Oregon. Across the state, enrollments are up five percent, showing that students and families are excited about the prospect of a debt-free education and being on a successful career path.

In the next legislative session we will need to ensure sustainable funding for the Oregon Promise and make sure that critical student support services are available statewide so that we aren’t just enrolling more students, but making sure they receive their degree.

Part of ensuring there is adequate funding available for programs like the Oregon Promise is addressing the way our state generates revenue for state government and some of the current high-cost services that can be reformed to save money. We are at the beginning stages of the revenue reform conversation in Salem as well as looking for ways to address the cost drivers that are consuming too much of the budget. I’m a part of a bipartisan group of legislators that will be working on this and trying to put together a framework that the legislature can consider in February when the next session begins. I will continue to update you on this conversation as it develops and encourage you all to stay in touch with me throughout the legislative session. Feel free to contact my office at 503-986-1452 or email rep.markjohnson@state.or.us

It’s an honor to represent you and I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

(Mark Johnson is the State Representative for House District 52.)

Wilderness expedition examined in Ivey’s second novel by Sandra Palmer on 12/01/2016

Those who read Eowyn Ivey’s first novel, “The Snow Child,” will not be surprised by the luminous writing and layers of Native American mysticism in her new book, “To the Bright Edge” of the world. It is also set in the beautiful but unforgiving Alaskan wilderness in the 1800s as an expedition explores the rugged Wolverine River Valley.

The tale is made more fascinating due to the many differing perspectives offered by the tales’ characters.

Like “The Snow Child,” this new novel offers gorgeous prose to describe the expedition, the daunting wilderness and the physical and spiritual challenges faced by Colonel Forrester’s expedition and his pregnant wife who is left behind awaiting his return.

The format of the novel is also unique as Ivey uses letters, journals, photographs, newspaper clippings and artifacts to tell the story rather than a simple narrative. The premise is that a future great nephew of Forrester is fascinated by the trove of materials he finds that relate to his uncle’s expedition and sends the collection to an Alaskan museum for preservation. Both curators puzzle through the details to reconstruct the story of the expedition. The reader is a part of putting the details together as the many documents and details are unveiled.

Readers of  “The Snow Child” will already know that skill with which Ivey weaves myth, folklore and the supernatural into her tales. This unique novel’s adventure details the dangerous trek through the uncharted wilderness with his small band of explorers and his wife Sophie’s experiences back in Oregon as she explores a newfound passion for the natural world and photography instead of more traditional feminine pursuits.

There is intrigue and mystery as Allen Forester’s expedition makes its way through a haunted territory to complete their exploratory mission.

“I can find no means to account for what we have witnessed, except to say that I am no longer certain of the boundaries between man & beast, of the living & the dead. All that I have taken for granted, what I have known as real & true, has been called into question.” – Lt. Col. Allen Forrester

This historical novel is a beautiful blend of supernatural occurrences and magical realism with a treacherous exploration tale and a remarkable love story.

(This is the second novel by Eowyn Ivey, bestselling author of “The Snow Child”, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She is a former bookseller and she lives in Alaska with her husband and children.)

The Adventure Continues: Leaving the nest, Hatching a plan by Max Malone, Private Eye on 12/01/2016

From a glowing excitement in the farmhouse, the mood slowly ebbed like a low tide in the Bay of Fundy.

We had run out of Dolly’s prison soup – so my Arabic hosts had to settle for Camembert cheese and a daily baguette from the local bakery. I applauded the culinary upgrade.

As the spirits waned, mine improved. When you’re a hostage, every day is a new experience – much like a gold fish with every trip around the aquarium.

Security grew lax. Every night cuddled up to my bed partner – the radiator – had proved somewhat fruitful. I had managed to unscrew the supply line and wedge it behind one of the coils so as not to be noticed, but had yet to figure out how I was going to drag it out of the farmhouse without drawing attention. I tried not to get all steamed up over my predicament.

I confess to amusing myself by imagining walking into a nearby village dragging a radiator and trying to explain myself in English to puzzled onlookers.

Dolly Teagarden shaved me this morning. There was no twinkle in her eye, but her gaze lingered on me during the mustache removal.

Her eyes were as blue as a Dizzy Gillespie trumpet solo.

After the shave, I dined on a croissant (yesterday’s croissant, call it a hostage croissant, as the hostage takers got today’s croissant), with half a spoonful of orange marmalade. The croissant insult never landed. I never completely warmed up to croissants. But half a spoonful of marmalade? Could you spare it?

That very day, a day with a liberated yet useless radiator, a day of another hostage croissant, a day with a whisper of marmalade, a day with a lingering look from Dolly Teagarden, a day with a Kalashnikov pointing in my direction, a day of Zabun covering ‘Monday, Monday’ as if he was on a Neil Diamond holiday, in other words a day like any other day, the phone rang.

Everyone jumped but Ahmed. He smiled narrowly and picked up the phone. He wasn’t doing much of the talking, but he was nodding like a rookie pitcher getting signs from Buster Posey. It seemed like all the air had been sucked out of the room. We were getting our marching orders.

I was certain my affair with the radiator had come to an end. Oh, well. It wasn’t my first.

Bewildering chatter flew around the room like a chapter from ‘One Thousand and One Arabian Nights.’ Clothes went into suitcases, my captors even brushed croissant crumbs off their shirts. Yep, the Ali Baba show was hittin’ the road.

I was escorted to the driver’s seat in the camper. Dolly climbed in, putting something under her seat. Ahmed lingered at her window and they exchanged what seemed to be pleasantries. How sweet it was. I licked marmalade residue from my lips.

The band of Arabs piled into their car and took the lead. Dolly nodded her head toward them. I took the cue and followed them out the country lane leaving the farmhouse and my radiator bed partner in the rearview mirror.

I tossed a sneer at Dolly.

“What makes you think I can’t pile this camper into a tree and get to that Beretta under your seat before you can?” I growled.

“Max,” she purred, as if we were suddenly thrown back to the future.

“Don’t Max me, sweetie. I’m not in the mood.”

“You just need to keep calm,” she said, her motor still running like a pleased Persian cat.

“How’s it feel, Dolly? Sleeping with the enemy. Ahmed must be a bundle of joy.”

“It’s easy, Max. Ahmed has no imagination.”

I was starting to boil over, looking for the perfect tree to plant in Dolly’s lap.

We bumped off the country lane onto a highway.

“Where we headed?” I asked, making it sound more like a demand than a question.

“I’ll fill you in as we go along,” she said, still managing that measured tone in her voice.

How could she do this? Throwing in with terrorists. Leaving Natasha with a hole in her head. All I knew for sure was the more miles I put on the camper, the closer I got to a stickier situation than the one I was in.

I had to hatch a plan.

After all, I am Max Malone, private eye.

The Mt. Hood Green Scene: Looking forward and sustaining by Mary Soots on 12/01/2016

The holidays are upon us and we are more than ever a nation divided about the direction that our country should take. Families and friendships have been faced with the reality that our values are not shared by others, and this can make for a very tense time sitting around the holiday table. However, we need to find the things that unite us in order to heal the rifts that politics have created. That is the only way we can heal as a nation. We must understand that in the end, we all share a love for our country and we each want to find a way to do what is best for all.

On a local level, in terms of environmental sustainability, it seems that the thing that most divides us is that on one hand, there are those who see economic opportunity in our environment and the way to make those gains is through extraction of resources such as timber. On the other hand are those people who believe that the remaining rain forest should be protected at the cost of the economy. The result is that “Pacific temperate rain forests have been subject to ongoing large-scale industrial logging since the end of the Second World War, cutting over half of their total area. In California, only 4 (percent) of the redwoods have been protected. In Oregon and Washington, less than 10 (percent) of the original coastal rain forest area remains.” (source: Wikipedia)

We must look forward in a way that unites the two interests, to create economic opportunities that will benefit the members of our community while protecting our environment. It is my belief that we don’t fully recognize the power of our environment to build an economy based on environmental protection. The Pacific Northwest Rain Forest is a unique ecosystem found no place else in the entire world. It is the largest temperate rain forest on the planet. The biomass in our ecosystem is at least four times greater than that of any comparable area in the tropics. And geologically, ours is a fascinating history.

The Cascade Mountains are a young mountain range, rising up only about seven million years ago during the Pliocene period. They were made by up of thousands of small, short-lived volcanoes. You can see the history of the formation of our mountain if you know where to look. The rain forest, primarily consisting of conifers, only began to grown as the glaciers and ice sheets retreated a few thousand years ago.

We have some of the most beautiful rivers such as the Salmon which has the designation of protected National Wild and Scenic River. The beauty of the rivers as they travel over volcanic rock is documented in beautiful artwork produced in this region. And I need not speak to the beauty of the waterfalls that surround us, thanks to the rivers.

In addition, our unique ecoregion is home to a plethora of animals and plants. Although the grizzlies are gone, we have abundant numbers of brown bear, and as Wikipedia notes, “other wildlife species of note include the bald eagle, marbled murrelet, wolf, sitka deer, and Bigfoot.” Besides those that make their home in our area, the wildlife that travels through as it migrates during the spring and fall are bountiful. Marking the seasons are everything from salmon spawning to birds and butterflies passing through.

An ecosystem is the sum of its parts. The canopy of the trees protects the temperature of the rivers and provide habitat for the species that call it home as well as those that travel through. The biomass the trees produce provide the area that mushrooms flourish and feed the soil that provides the food that others depend upon. Without the habitat, the cougars, bears, eagles, owls, salmon and even Bigfoot have no way to survive. Habitat loss is the largest threat to the survival of thousands of species.

So instead of thinking of our beautiful and unique place that we call home as something that should be destroyed so that a few can profit until it is gone, let us think of ways that we can capitalize on what we have. Visitors from around the world would be willing to spend a few days in our area taking a geologic tour or learning about ancient forests or taking a hike to a remote waterfall. Those visitors in turn will need a place to stay, a place to eat and they will need to rent some equipment, buy some souvenirs, etc. Let’s look forward to a future economy built on sustainability instead of repeating the mistakes of the past where resource extraction and environmental destruction was the only way to a healthy economy. And by doing so, we might teach others how to work together and overcome their differences.

We wish you a season of peace and love.

Good snow this winter, but December warmer than average by Herb Miller on 12/01/2016

The rainfall last October set a new record in Brightwood with a total of 17.86 inches, smashing the previous 14.67 inches set in 2012. The Government Camp total ended with 14.52 inches, nearly an inch shy of its record 15.51 inches set in 1967. November got off to a much dryer and milder start with less than an inch of rainfall during the first 11 days. Cooler temperatures moved in during the last half of the month, and Government Camp measured its first snowfall on Nov. 15 with the week following accumulating a total snowfall of 7.6 inches. Higher elevations had enough snow to encourage skiers and boarders to the slopes after Thanksgiving. But the unusually warm and dry weather during the first half of November resulted in temperatures averaging about six degrees above normal in Brightwood and over seven degrees above normal in Government Camp. Precipitation was around half of normal in both locations.

The National Weather Service is now basing its forecasts on an established La Nina weather pattern. With this in mind, it’s likely the mountain can expect a good snow cover this winter. Our area is given a hesitant outlook for temperatures to be above average and precipitation to be about average this December.

During December, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 42, an average low of 33, and a precipitation average of 11.50 inches, including an average 5.7 inches of snow. During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached the 50s without exception. Low temperatures fell into the 20s during six years, into the teens during two years and into the single digits the other two years. On average, there are 12 days when the temperature drops to freezing or lower. The all time high precipitation total of 28.09 inches of was set in December of 1964, compared to the impressive 24.74 inch total recorded just last year. The record December snowfall of 48.8 inches was measured in 1968, compared to the more recent 43.75 inches recorded in 2008. The record 24 hour-snowfall of 12.5 inches was set in 1968.

During December, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 36 degrees, an average low of 25 degrees and a precipitation average of 13.80 inches, including 50.9 inches of snow. During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached into the 50s during four years, into the 40s during six years. Lows had five years in the teens, four years in the single digits and one year recorded -1. The all time high precipitation total of 32.54 inches was measured during that disastrous flood year in December, 1996. The record December snowfall of 122 inches was set in 1971. The record 24-hour snowfall of 26 inches was set only recently in 2008.

Capture your holiday moments.
The View Finder: Tips for better holiday photos by Gary Randall on 12/01/2016

With the holiday season here many of us will be taking more photos than we typically do throughout the year. Family dinners, Christmas mornings and, in many cases, the one time of the year that we spend quality time with our friends and family. Photos of these times can be priceless treasures in the future. Just a little bit of thought and preparation can make sure that you get the shot and make an image that more beautiful or impactful. With this in mind there are a few easy to master techniques that will help you to do this.

Fill your frame – Either move closer or zoom in to fill the frame to exclude all that could clutter or distract from the image. With either a planned group photo or a close up of someone, move or zoom in. If you are taking a photo of a child opening a gift, for instance, make sure that it’s a close-up to include their gift and their face to capture the whole context and emotion of the moment. A wide angle view of the room won’t be able to capture the moment in the same way.

Mind the background – Be aware of the background behind your subject. If there’s clutter or a group of people not meant to be in the frame, for instance, find a nicer background. Move your subject or subjects in front of some holiday lights, Christmas tree or decorations. You can also blur the background. One way to do that, if you have a camera that you can adjust manually, is to open up the aperture, set to a smaller number, which will make the depth of field shallower which will soften the background or stand back from your subject and zoom in. Most of the time this should give you a similar effect.

Use fill flash, or not – a general rule with digital cameras is to use flash if your subject is standing in front of a bright background such as a window. Unless the room is very dark try to get the shot without a fill flash. This will give you a more even tone and natural looking photograph.

Use the timer and a tripod – you should be in the photo too. It’s most always been the case that, when sharing your photos, you will need to explain that you were there but were taking the photo. Why not be in the shot? Learn how to use the timer on your camera. You can usually set it for anything from 10 to 30 seconds or more to allow you to click the shutter button and casually walk around into the shot with time to smile. It’s usually very simple to set the camera quickly to Self Timer and then back again. Set your camera on a tripod if you have one, otherwise find something sturdy that you can set the camera on while the shot is taken.

Video – you can be a videographer. Most digital cameras these days will allow you to create videos simply. Most cases all you need to do is flip a switch and press a button. Once you are videoing you can zoom in and out. Once you have made your videos you can easily download them to your computer and edit them in various programs that come with most all personal computers. Apple products can use iMovie while Windows users can use Windows Movie Maker and either brands can use many aftermarket programs as well. Both programs are easy to use and have many tutorial videos available online.

I hope that these tips will help you to get the shot that may have gotten away. The most important tip of all is to get the camera out, charge the batteries, learn to use your settings prior to your event and make sure that it’s handy so you can grab it when the opportunity to save a moment for posterity is provided.

Time is fleeting, memories are treasures. Take more pictures this holiday season.

Being grateful for the everyday conveniences in USA by Victoria Larson on 11/01/2016

As modern citizens of the United States, we take too many things for granted. Flip a switch and instantly there is light. Turn on a faucet and you have an abundance of free flowing water. Press a handle and waste matter is whisked out of sight. Our supermarkets are always filled with food and non-food items alike. There’s always gas at the pumps.

But this is not how most of the world lives. Travel to other countries teaches us about the rest of the world. Travel to countries like China or Jamaica or India teach us even more. What if our plush American lives were continually “inconvenienced?” Over two-thirds of the world lives without electricity, so no heaters, air conditioners, refrigeration. The list goes on.

I loved traveling to beautiful places and staying in four-star hotels with room service and pools. I equally loved my travel to places less plush. Twenty years ago I travelled to China for a month with a group of medical students and our instructor. A year later I helped deliver ninety-three babies in Kingston, Jamaica. It’s all good. It was all a learning experience.

In China, electricity was only turned on for two hours a day. You only hoped it was at a convenient time. Generators were few, and used mostly, astonishingly, for televisions tuned to schlock! Water flowed downhill from the mountains into central fountains used for both washing and drinking.

In Jamaica, moderate temperatures left little need for heating or cooling, but water only trickled from showerheads and toilets didn’t always flush. Showers were shared with fifteen other midwives-in-training and the tubs didn’t always drain. This is how more of the world lives than not.

Food was pretty scarce and of minimal quality in both of those countries. I was not travelling in the “big cities” and well-known places of either country. In China we went as far north as the Tibetan province. A disputed area, where we had to be escorted by police for our safety sake. There was barbed wire around the perimeter of the hospital in Jamaica where we brought the babies into the world. It was to protect the doctors, nurses and midwives! Kingston, Jamaica is fraught with violence – the sound of gunshots in the streets accompanied the squalls of babies being born.

We have it pretty nice in the good ol’ US of A. It couldn’t happen here, right? Or could it? Pretty much no one is denying global warming anymore. This could, and has, led to crop failures and further rises in foodstuffs. The reason we are told to have a three-day supply of water and food during weather alerts is because it is estimated that the supermarkets only hold about three days of food on their shelves, should there be an emergency. And we all know what happens at the stores when a snow day is predicted.

So what do you do? First of all, give thanks for all that you have. Stop driving frivolously; you don’t really need strawberries in December. Increase your preparedness and self-sufficiency. Growing even a small amount of your food will leave you feeling secure and proud. Don’t purchase so much imported food or any junk food. If you’re not already doing so, raise chickens for plenty of protein or learn to hunt or fish or forage for nuts and fruits. We leave so much waste in orchards and gardens. Share your wealth.

Continue to be optimistic, but don’t be frivolous. You can do this. Anyone can do this. It can be fun and challenging for all of us, and stabilizing to our country. For we should be very grateful to live in this relatively safe and lush country.

Pumpkin Spice up your life! by Taeler Butel on 11/01/2016

Here’s a couple of ways to add even more pumpkin spice in your life. These snacks are great to have around, to pack in lunches, or pack in a pretty bag and celebrate the season of giving thanks!

Harvest spiced granola

This granola is so good, you’ll want to sing it a 90s love song. Please feel free to swap out ingredients or add your own – a pinch of chili powder might be nice...

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees

In a small bowl whisk together:

1/4 cup pumpkin pie filling

1 t sea salt

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1/2 t cinnamon

1/4 cup agave syrup

Set aside

In large bowl toss together:

2 cups whole oats

1/2 cup each

  Flaked coconut

  Sliced almonds

  Pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

1/4 cup quinoa

Stir in pumpkin mixture and spread onto a large baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes tossing every 15 minutes. Let it cool then toss in 1/2 cup dried fruit such as apples, apricots, cherries or cranberries and 1/2 cup of baking chips of your choice – butterscotch would be delicious!!


Pumpkin spice popcorn

Heat oven to 275 degrees and grab a large cookie sheet.

6 cups popcorn (from about 3/4 cup kernels)

1 bag pumpkin spice marshmallows

1 cup vanilla baking chips, melted

1 t sea or kosher salt (fine)

1 T vanilla

1 T pumpkin pie spice

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (optional)

1 cup vanilla baking chips, melted

In a large pot melt the butter with marshmallows, then add vanilla and salt. Pour popcorn (and seeds if using) onto the cookie sheet. Drizzle the melted marshmallow mixture and toss lightly – sprinkle on pumpkin spice and place in oven. Bake 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes and let cool.

Reflecting on domestic violence and what needs to be done by State Rep. Mark Johnson on 11/01/2016

I want to begin by reflecting back on October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It is important to discuss and acknowledge violent crimes that occur in our community so that we can work together to prevent further crimes from happening and to better support the survivors. In the last session we took steps here in Oregon to provide better resources and support through legislation such as: providing safe harbor and confidentiality for victims of sexual assault who seek services on a college campus; providing funding for emergency shelters for victims of domestic violence and legal and medical advocacy for survivors; and extending the statue of limitations for these crimes to be prosecuted. As a strong supporter of this legislation, I have learned that more needs to be done in order to create a better environment for victims to become survivors and I will continue to work with organizations in our communities, as well as the statewide coalition, to make sure we continue this progress.

I was happy to be able to be part of the conversation about the future of the Villages community representation last month. I think the strong turnout for the most recent meeting at the Resort reflects the communities’ commitment for finding a solution to not currently having a Villages board. I will remain engaged as the conversation continues going forward and provide any help and support I can in order to ensure that the community has the type of local representation they deserve.

Looking ahead to the 2017 session, I have pre-session filed legislation creating an Office of Outdoor Recreation to raise the conversation of recreational tourism in Oregon to the highest policy making level. Currently Washington, Colorado and Utah have this kind of office and it is helping these states to align state policies in order to keep their recreation industries expanding. If Oregon is going to be able to continue to expand our recreation based economy throughout the state, I think it is necessary to have this type of coordination as policies are made. I would envision this office playing a key role in the recreational liability issue that I have discussed before, as well as access to public lands for outdoor recreation.

It’s an honor to represent you and I’m happy to have a conversation about these or any other issues. Please feel free to contact my office at 503-986-1452 or email rep.markjohnson@state.or.us at any time.

(Mark Johnson is the State Representative for House District 52.)

Unique bond of friendship helps neighbors through struggles by Sandra Palmer on 11/01/2016

An unexpected knock on the door prompts an unusual discussion between Addie Moore and her neighbor Louis Waters, long-time acquaintances and neighbors but not close friends in their tidy neighborhood in Holt, Colo.

Both are living alone after the deaths of their spouses many years ago and fighting loneliness in their own ways with families many hours distant.

Addie proposes an unorthodox solution to their long, lonely nights: sleeping together as friends with plenty of conversation before turning out the lights and providing physical companionship throughout the night without any further expectations. After thinking about the surprising suggestion, Louis agrees to give the arrangement a try – initially with much trepidation and stealth but as their bond of friendship grows stronger, the two decide to be open about their agreement even though some of the community are shocked and assume much more is happening than conversation and companionship. Soon Addie and Louis are daring enough to visit downtown businesses and go on picnics without concern of the gossip this creates.

This novel is a delight as Addie and Louis’ trust and knowledge of each other grows closer as they share the stories of their lives and their families – children, tragedies, loves and disappointments. Soon challenges arise, of course, as Addie takes on temporary custody of her grandson when his parents separate, considering divorce. Their arrangement is also challenged by her son who heartily disapproves and threatens to withdraw opportunities for her to be with her family.

Haruf is adept at weaving the spell of simple small town life and the neighbors and experiences that bind people into a community. The developing strength of the relationship between Addie and Louis is slowly paced and realistic as two lonely people learn to confide in and trust each other from such an unorthodox beginning, their friendship providing the strength they need to confront the remaining challenges of their lives.

This is truly an unexpected delight of a book. Please don’t miss it!

Kent Haruf is the author of many well-received novels set in the mythical town of Holt, Colorado; this is his last published work before his death at 71 in 2014.

Never ‘Stop, Drop and Roll’ with your deep-fried turkey by Ned Hickson on 11/01/2016

The human brain.

Most of us have one.

For those who don’t, there are warning labels.

Unfortunately, these warnings don’t appear on actual individuals. Instead, they are issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which has the monumental task of thinking up ways people might injure themselves using standard household items.

While the commission generally stays ahead of the curve with the help of researchers, lab studies and a select group of retired circus chimps, from time to time a product is embraced so tightly by the general public that there’s simply no time to warn them that actually embracing it could result in serious injury. According to the safety commission, reports of house fires involving large men submerging whole turkeys into deep fryers has risen dramatically in the past decade. This has prompted the commission to issue a special, multi-paged consumer alert called:

Fryer, Fryer Pants on Fire.

Using this handy combustible pamphlet, I’ve organized a safety checklist from the American National Standards Institute, which oversees turkey-fryer safety standards, as well as any consumer product that includes the three components of what safety experts call the Triangle of Fire:

1) A heat source.

2) A meat product.

3) An intoxicated male.

This brings us to safety tip number one:

Never leave your turkey unattended.

Studies show that once the initial excitement of watching hot oil has passed, men quickly get bored and wander off in search of the nearest flat-screen TV. So, as a precaution, the standards institute suggests that wives keep an eye on their turkey at all times — or, at the very least, until he’s done using the deep fryer.

Tip number two:

Always use turkey fryers outdoors.

Given the opportunity, men will set up their turkey fryer in the living room in order to watch football while cooking. This is dangerous because, should his team score at the wrong moment, there’s a good chance the turkey will get spiked into the fryer. And hey, even if you manage to avoid this hazardous situation, there’s also your home’s resale value to consider – meaning that, should you ever decide to sell, describing your home to a potential buyer as having “three bedrooms, two baths and a pleasant fried-turkey smell” will, in many cases, end negotiations.

And finally, tip number three:

Don’t move fryer while it is in operation.

You should always wait until the oil is completely cooled before moving your fryer.

The only exception to this, of course, is if your wife catches you cooking in the living room.

(Ned is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His books “Humor at the Speed of Life” and “Pearls of Writing Wisdom “are available online at Port Hole Publications, Amazon Books and Barnes & Noble. Write to him at nedhickson@icloud.com)

Episode XII: Half asleep and mint free by Max Malone, Private Eye on 11/01/2016

As my escape plans kept dancing through my head like the last tango in France with Nicole Kidman, the scene changed.

Rolling up the dirt road to the farmhouse lumbered an honest-to-god camper coach, with British license plates, driven by an Arabic-looking chap, who was singing along with the blaring CD player rendering a Mamas and the Papas cut of “Monday, Monday.”

I was trying to keep my sanity as I became engulfed in the plot of this Fellini movie. Plus, it was Monday. Can’t trust that day.

Ahmed (sorry Nicole, tough guys don’t dance) was the first out the door to greet the new arrival. My two armed guards were turned to the window as well.

What was that? Did Dolly just wink at me before turning to the window? Yeah. THAT Dolly Traitor Teagarden.

Zabun was the name of the camper captain. He was introduced to Dolly and the two guards. Ahmed was as happy as a Sinai desert camel on oasis day.

“We’ll leave at first light,” Ahmed said – I figure he must have watched a few too many John Wayne movies. “Zabun, check out our British tourist with the camper.”

I was the British tourist (remember the Brit passport Dolly rigged for me back in the good old days).

Zabun was not your typical terrorist. He really liked everything about the camper and that meant the very best the western world of wilderness wonder could offer, right down to showing me how the cruise control worked. Even my armed guard seemed mildly interested.

I considered marrying Zabun’s forehead with the steering wheel, but the camper wouldn’t be able to outrun my Kalashnikov cronie.

But it was apparent I was going to be driving the camper somewhere, and that would have to provide a better opportunity for this private eye than what existed at the moment.

Plus, there was that wink, right?

Or was it an out-of-place eye lash?

I was led back to the farmhouse as the sun melted into the horizon behind a field of some sort of grain. That’s as close as I can get. I used to live in Portland and on the mountain, not Kansas.

Zabun was still humming “Monday, Monday” while Dolly stirred a pot of something that smelled like prison soup. Meanwhile, I was once again cuffed to the chair, consequently, I was actually looking forward to the soup.

Such are the little things when you’re reluctantly playing the lead role in a hostage movie directed by an insouciant Italian.

That night saw me back on the floor, cuffed to the radiator, no blanket, no pillow, no mint.

But my mind was whirling. Why am I driving the camper? And where were we going?

As best I could figure, I had a much better chance driving that rig than a terrorist if we were crossing a border. The conclusion must be that the camper had value.

Or cargo.

But the rear of the camper looked so normal it could have belonged to the Cleavers.

There was a bed in the back. And a sofa. A table. Overhead storage areas. And who knows if that’s a false floor, or not? And who could tell?

Certainly no one would suspect a tweedy Englishman like me. Hell, they’d probably provide me with a briar pipe to cinch the charade.

And then there was Dolly. Wink or no wink.

And there was Zabun harmonizing with Mama Cass.

And somewhere between a Dolly Teagarden eyelash and “Things just turn out that way” I drifted half asleep – with one eye on the nearest Kalashnikov.

After all, I am Max Malone, private eye.

The Mt. Hood Green Scene: Sustainable holiday gifts by Mary Soots on 11/01/2016

The stores have been filled with Halloween-Thanksgiving-Hanukkah-Christmas decorations since September in an effort to inspire holiday shoppers to part with their cash. We shop until we drop and then we shop some more. Online shopping makes it even easier with just a click of a pop-up ad. It seems that people receive gifts that go directly into the donation pile rather than into the house.

Each year, I struggle to think of clever gifts to buy for the person who has everything. It’s a hard thing to do for one who is aware of mass overconsumption. So one year, I chose to have a philanthropic Christmas. I attended an alternative gift fair with dozens of non-profit organizations and made donations in the name of various family members. Together, we supported environmental causes such as a rain forest in southern Mexico, the Conservation Fund, endangered species, the Amazon forest and a few others. We also proudly supported social justice causes such as victims of forced labor and sexual exploitation in Thailand and funded a microloan program. Each organization sent a card to the recipient thanking them for their donation. I had a great time deciding which non-profit organization would be best suited as a gift for each individual. After the initial surprise at receiving their gift, they felt their gift had a greater impact and were happy to give up a gift in exchange for supporting a worthwhile cause.

Other years, I’ve purchased only locally produced goods. Not only are they unique, but they also put money back into our own community. It’s not a hard way to shop since we have such a gifted artistic community on the mountain.

Sustainable gifts can be found in so many ways. Perhaps a cell phone solar charger for camping (this would come in handy in an emergency too). Food makes great gifts, especially if it’s something homemade. If there’s a gardener in your life, you can order heritage seeds and delight them with some exotic fruits and vegetables. If you do purchase something, there are many companies that will make a donation when you purchase their products. Buy something while helping to make the world a better place.

Another thing to keep in mind this holiday season is the gift wrap. Unfortunately, gift wrap is not recyclable and tons of it ends up in the landfill. Instead of wasting money on something that is so environmentally wasteful, think of other alternatives. Perhaps wrap with colorful old magazines or maps and use a holly clipping instead of a bow. Cloth from old sheets, tablecloths, or curtains in beautiful designs and colors makes great wrapping material. Many years ago, I purchased some reusable fabric gift bags for my nephews and nieces and each Christmas, they look for them under the tree. It wouldn’t be Christmas without them.

If you’re a conscientious gift recipient, you can ask for some alternative gifts as well. Recently, a niece implored that we please not buy any more toys for her kids for Christmas as they had so many already. Instead, she said that she would appreciate gifts that involved activities. This type of gift is something that gives people something to look forward to doing and they will hold on to the memories of the activity (especially if you join in the fun!) Maybe they would enjoy a performance at the Sandy Theater. Maybe they can look forward to whitewater rafting in the spring or a weekend stay at the coast. A family membership to something like OMSI is a gift that they use over and over again.

One year, I asked family members to only give me gifts that they had made themselves. I received the most wonderful gifts! One that I will always treasure was a box of wishes. With this, the person who made the gift distributed blank cards to friends and family members. Each one wrote something that they wished for me. The wishes included things like “the kind of inner peace that leaves you sleeping securely and restfully every night, the kind that comes from honesty, dignity, pride, confidence and living out who you truly are without compromise to your beliefs and values” to more simple things like “I wish that you could have a kiss from a little two-year old boy. Love, Phillip (2 years old).” The sister who gave me this gift said she’d had a great time compiling the wishes.

‘Weather pattern’ – Weather Service changes outlook again by Herb Miller on 11/01/2016

Our fall rains got off to an early start with the arrival of October and never let up until setting a new record. Brightwood has received 16.02 inches of rain so far, compared to the previous record of 14.67 inches set during October 2012. Government Camp had a higher hurdle with its record 15.51 inches recorded in October 1967. Temperatures were close to seasonal averages but rainfall was nearly a daily event.

 The National Weather Service has revised its outlook and returned to its earlier prediction that a La Nina weather pattern will set up during the coming months. If this actually occurs, we can expect our area to experience a more typical winter, but their predictions for our area during the last two months have missed the mark. Regardless, their prediction for our area this coming November expects temperatures to be close to average and precipitation to be a bit above average.

During November, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 48, an average low of 38, and a precipitation average of 11.85 inches including an average 2.5 inches of snow. During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached the 60s during seven years and the 50s during three years. Low temperatures fell into the 30s during four years, into the 20s during four years, and into the teens during two years with an average of six days that reach the freezing level. The record November snowfall of 27.7 inches was measured in 1973 and the record 24-hour snowfall of 8.8 inches also occurred in 1973. This record was threatened only two years ago when eight inches was measured on Nov. 13, 2014. As the rain year ended Sept. 30, Brightwood had received an annual total precipitation amount of 91.42 inches, which is 112 percent of the average 81.70 inches.

During November, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 41 degrees, an average low of 29 degrees and a precipitation average of 12.15 inches, including 33.5 inches of snow. During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached into the 60s during four years, into the 50s during five years and one year in the 40s. Lows had five years in the 20s, four years in the teens and one year in the single digits. The record snowfall total for November was 32 inches set in 1974. The record 24-hour November snowfall of 20 inches was set only recently in 2010, also 2006 and 1996. This record was also threatened recently when 19 inches was measured again during 2010. As the rain year ended Sept. 30, Government Camp had received an annual total precipitation amount of 79.88 inches, which is 92 percent of the average 87.28 inches.

Photographers flock to a popular site.
The View Finder: Take photos, leave no trace by Gary Randall on 11/01/2016

If you haven’t noticed lately, the Pacific Northwest has become quite popular. Many of the folks that are visiting or relocating here are inspired by the photos posted on social platforms such as Instagram or Facebook. We have all seen that epic photo of someone standing on a hill in the foreground with their hands up in the air as if victorious after an epic journey. Behind them you see a sweeping view, idyllic light and Mount Hood towering in the distance. These photos inspire those who yearn to express the human spirit of adventure and exploration. It also causes an increased number of people trekking to these locations. When I post a photo online the most asked question is usually, “Where is that?”

No longer is there an attitude that you should go out and explore the world and find these places. In this day and age it’s about the image and not the adventure. The location that’s easy to get to and to take a striking photo of especially. The result of this is that these iconic, beautiful and many time environmentally sensitive locations are being overrun by folks that may be inexperienced in the outdoors. Many that I have met seem to have the attitude that they are in a landscaped and maintained city park or, with some, an amusement park for extreme outdoor sports. At the end of the day it really is but a way to make an awesome photo to post online in an attempt to feed their own vanity.

This may sound harsh, but as a professional outfitter and guide as well as a photographer and social media practitioner I experience this frequently. You may think that this is about me railing against the virtues of humility but it is not. The purpose of this is to point out that this activity on public land is causing it harm. With the increase of use of all of the trails and facilities in the Mt Hood National Forest and the Columbia River Gorge, my domains, it is more important than ever before to realize our effect on the land. Therefore I feel compelled to make a list of suggestions that will help to minimize the effects of this increased usage. This applies to us all, not just photographers.

Don’t create new trails in established trail areas. Stay on the existing trails. If you can see that someone has already been to an area, look for a trail to it before you cross virgin territory. I was at Elowah Falls one day and observed two photographers looking down and over the embankment to a spot in the creek below. As I approached I could tell that they were considering trailblazing their way to it. I walked up and started a friendly conversation about how beautiful it was there. I told them that there’s a great little trail just behind us that will take them there. They thanked me and took the trail. They were unfamiliar with the location, but if they would have taken just a few more minutes looking they would have found the trail.

Pick up other’s trash. We’ve all heard the saying, “Pack it in. Pack it out”. In this day and age it should be, “Pack it in, pack it… and other less considerate people's trash, out.” I always carry a kitchen trash bag and some Ziplocs in my backpack. They can come in very handy for this and other purposes. If you’re hiking with a dog, pick up the poo with a plastic baggie and do not leave it along the trail with the intent of picking it up on the hike out. Put it in its plastic bag and then put that into the trash bag. If you’re still worried about getting poo in your pack, double bag it.

Don’t pose in sensitive areas. I have seen people standing in or erecting their tents in places off trail just for a photo. This sends a message that this location is fine to walk to which will cause damage in time. Choose a location that a trail already accesses.

Be original. With the sheer amount of people accessing these areas think about why you would want to go to the same location to get the same photograph. This mindset creates a herd. And with any herd it causes a swath of wear to these places. I’m not saying not to go, but think about all of the other less photographed areas left to explore. If we as photographers seek out new locations it will scatter the herd and at the same time you will create more unique photographs.

Buy trailhead or commercial use permits. There is a purpose to purchase forest passes or commercial use permits beyond paying another tax. It’s also a way to help regulate the use of these areas. If you’re hiking frequently consider a season pass. It’s convenient because you don’t have to buy one every time that you go hiking, and it saves you a lot of money. I’m one of a mind that this land is ours to use freely, but in the 21st century we have a few harsh realities that a permit system addresses.

Volunteer. The Forest Service or many social or civic clubs have ways for one to volunteer to clean trails and trailheads. This gives you a chance to give back all that our public lands provide. Contact the US Forest Service office to inquire about how you can help. Join a meet up group and go out for a walk with new friends and teach by example how easy it is to clean a trail as you hike.

None of these points are abstract or obscure concepts. This was how my parents raised me as we hiked on Oregon trails as a boy. I’m not one to claim that we’re doomed in this day and age because of the deterioration of society. Even when you toss that out of that argument there’s one glaring fact that can’t be ignored. There are more and more people coming here and just that fact alone dictates that we treat our trails and public land with even more respect.

The risks of breast cancer and how you can reduce them by Victoria Larson on 10/01/2016

The risk for breast cancer used to be two out of ten people. Now it’s one out of eight. While more treatment options are available now, the incidence of cancer is still increasing, perhaps with our increasingly aging population. Still, it’s time to admit the facts: we are also living in an increasingly toxic world.

The Dr. Susan Love Research Center states that this does not mean you are always at risk, but the one out of eight number covers your risk over a lifetime. At age 20 your risk is more like one in 1,700, so not very high. At age 30 that risk increases to one in 228. But once you reach 50 your risk becomes one in 43. Those are the risk numbers for breast cancer, not overall cancer risk.

You should not panic, but you should know your risk factors and be proactive. The American Cancer Society still recommends a yearly mammogram for any woman over 40. But according to the U.S. Preventive Task Force, a mammogram every two years after age 50 is fine for those with decreased risk factors.

Options other than mammograms include digital mammograms (which are becoming more standard), 3D tomosynthesis, thermography (using heat in the breast to alert to tissue changes) and, of course, self exams. Not all of these methods are covered by insurance, leaving us with some questions.

Interestingly, 85 percent of breast cancer patients (and this includes men) have NO family history of breast cancer. Estrogen dominance appears to drive breast cancer (as well as many other cancers). Alas, many ignore these symptomatic risk factors or may not even know them. The risk factors include excess body fat (especially around the lower abdomen, hips, and thighs), gallbladder disease, pre-menopausal bone loss, slow metabolism and other factors.

Factors that contribute to estrogen dominance include both oral contraceptives and Premarin for over five years, overeating, Type ll Diabetes, depression and stress, as well as faulty liver and gastrointestinal function. Among other factors are exposures to environmental hormone disruptors, like Round-up and other herbicides (see my previous columns). In addition, there are hormone disruptors in cleaning products (including most laundry soaps), personal care items (hair dyes, shampoos) and in plastics like phlalates (even in children’s’ toys), parabens (in cosmetics) and BPA (in soda bottles and other plastic bottles).

Those born after WW ll were raised in an era of high exposures to herbicides, pesticides and other by-products of the war. TV dinners, fast food and decreased backyard gardening led to lesser nutrition as well. Exposure while still in the womb when breast and ovarian cells are maturing leads to damage when adulthood is reached. Exposures to environmental hormone disruptors in infancy and youth, while bodies are still growing is also a risk. In other words, for most people, the damage is already done.

This does not mean we are all doomed to a breast cancer diagnosis. While you cannot change your family heritage of DNA or your previous exposures, you do have recourse. The absolute biggest thing you can do to keep breast cancer at bay is to exercise. Thirty minutes five times a week of brisk walking is great. More than that can lower your risk by 40 percent and help you maintain a healthy weight.

One or fewer alcohol drinks per day appears to be somewhat protective, but “saving up” to have five to seven glasses of wine on the weekend is not! While your daily cup or two of coffee may lead to breast cysts (an uncomfortable risk factor) there is no direct link to breast cancer. And underwire bras show no direct link to breast cancer either. In fact, newer studies have actually shown that underwire bras may decrease the strength of breast ligaments, leading to sagging of breast tissue later in life.

So live the “anti-cancer lifestyle.” Eat cruciferous vegetables, decrease meat, exercise and get the toxins out of your life (including cleaning products, cosmetics and plastics). If you do receive a diagnosis of breast cancer, don’t panic. Those who have emotional support from family and friends within the first six months of diagnosis have an almost 50 percent decrease risk of recurrence. So keep family and friends nearby for health and well-being.

Easy does it by Taeler Butel on 10/01/2016

Bye bye summer – we love you!! Until next time, let's grill one more time and get in some prep for back to reality meals. These minimal ingredient lunch and kid friendly deals are my birthday month gift to you – oh yeah, cake.

Balsamic Chicken

Recently my friend blew my mind with this simple and delicious cooking. Mel and I go way back and fit together like pie ala mode – she'll bring a few ingredients and I'll add a few of mine. It always works out perfectly and somehow all of our picky kiddos get fed. Here's what we did.


Juice and zest of 1 lemon

1 t seasoned salt

1 t cracked pepper

3T Balsalmic glaze

1/4 cup olive oil

Whisk ingredients together and save 2–4 Tablespoons. Add up to two lbs of chicken, toss to coat and let it marinate for 1–4 hours. Let it sit at room temp for 20 minutes before grilling. Heat grill or grill pan over med high heat and grill for about 6 minutes one side. Don't move the meat until you have a nice crust, then grill meat on other side adjusting the temp if necessary. Turn heat to medium and grill covered, turning meat every 3-5 minutes.

Salad "kabobs" – Give the kiddos a skewer and set up a small salad bar with cubes of bread, various veggies, cheeses and even big filled pastas such as tortellini. Put out dips and dressings so they can dress their salad sticks.

Here's what we did:

Sliced cucumber

Cooked corn on the cob, sliced 1/2" thick

Boiled new potatoes

Cherry tomatoes

Red lettuce leaves

Salami slices

Provolone cheese

Oil & vinegar dressing, and Caesar dressing

Texas sheet birthday cake.

I'm in love with a sheet cake and I'm not sorry.

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

2½ t vanilla

1/2 cup sour cream

2¼ cups flour

1 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

1 cup milk

1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles, plus more for decoration

Vanilla Frosting

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

3 cups confectioners' sugar

2-3 T cream

2 t vanilla extract

1/8 t salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease and lightly flour a 12x17 inch half sheet/jelly roll pan.

Set aside.

In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the softened butter for about one minute on medium speed. Add the sugar on medium speed and beat until fluffy and light in color. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Beat in the sour cream on medium high speed until combined.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together. Pour half of this flour mixture into the creamed butter mixture. Beat on low speed for five seconds. Pour in half of the milk. Beat on low speed for five seconds. Repeat with the rest of the flour and beat in the remainder of the milk. Do not overmix.

Using a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula, fold in the sprinkles.

Spread the cake batter into the prepared pan. Smooth it out into an even layer with a rubber spatula. Bake for 20 to 24 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Now, make the frosting.

For the frosting: Using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy – about two minutes. Add confectioners' sugar, cream, vanilla extract, and salt with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for three full minutes. Add more confectioners' sugar if frosting is too thin, more cream if frosting is too thick, or a pinch more of salt if frosting is way too sweet. Spread frosting all over cooled cake, then top with sprinkles. Slice and serve. Cover leftovers tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Johnson to push for education and logging standards by State Rep. Mark Johnson on 10/01/2016

October is here and that means school has been in session for about a month now. This is the first year that the Oregon Promise has provided thousands of students with tuition waivers and set them on the path to debt-free education. In September, I visited the Mt. Hood Community College and Columbia Gorge Community College to welcome these incoming students and share the importance of their experience for both Oregon and the nation.

With the Oregon Promise, Oregon was nationally recognized for leading the way in college access and affordability. Our community colleges provide vital training and help students learn the necessary skills to land a well-paying job. Today, at least two-thirds of jobs require some form of post-secondary training, and our state has made a commitment to supporting students in their endeavor to gain these skills. I believe it’s a wise investment for the state to help some students with the cost of tuition in order for them to gain the skills necessary to be successful for life. I was proud to support the Oregon Promise in 2015 and in the upcoming legislative session I will be working to ensure the program remains funded so that Oregon can continue making that promise to its students.

In other local news, it appears the proposed logging project in the Brightwood area will not be moving forward this season. It was determined that the developer would not be able to complete the project prior to the arrival of winter weather. This means the project will be up for review again next season. I will continue to work with the Oregon Department of Forestry and Clackamas County to ensure the proper procedures are followed in order to protect local landowners and the communities involved. I’m also working in Salem with key representatives of the logging industry to see what kind of safeguards might be able to be put in place to ensure that developers are compelled to obey existing laws and to eliminate loopholes that appear to exist. This will be one of my priorities in the upcoming legislative session.

Another priority of mine in the 2017 legislative session is to ensure that every third grader is reading at grade level. The third grade reading benchmark is one of the main components that helps a child be successful. Those that can read at grade level are four times more likely to graduate. An investment in this benchmark will include early interventions, saving the state money down the road and helping the student be much more successful early on.

As always, I am available to talk about these or any other issues that concern you. Please feel free to reach out to my office at 503-986-1452 or email rep.markjohnson@state.or.us

Thank you for the honor of representing you!

(Mark Johnson is the State Representative for House District 52.)

'Before the Fall,' by Noah Hawley
‘Before the Fall’ creates mystery following deadly plane crash by Sandra Palmer on 10/01/2016

Scott is initially hailed as a hero after swimming for his life after a high-profile plane crash while also saving a young boy over almost impossible odds. They are the only survivors from the passengers and crew, which soon places Scott in the middle of intense and unrelenting media glare. However, as the investigation into the crash revs up – with scrutiny of the celebrity passenger list as well as the airline’s crew – Scott soon finds that he is also a potential suspect as the authorities strive to determine the cause.

The many flash-backs which describe the crash of the charter jet in foggy, stormy weather off Martha’s Vineyard are harrowing and dramatic. But the real meat of the novel is in the stories of the passengers and crew members leading up to that fateful journey. While Scott Burroughs is a simple painter who became friends with some of the plane’s influential passengers at the weekly marketplace in Martha’s Vineyard, the boy he saves is the youngest child of a powerful media mogul’s family. Another couple on the doomed flight is a Wall Street power broker and his wife. In the media, there is much speculation about why these influential persons were traveling together and whether the crash is evidence of some sort of conspiracy to manipulate broader events.

While Scott struggles to come to terms with his survival and the trauma of the crash, the young boy he rescued from the stormy Atlantic battles his fears from the traumatic events as well as the loss of his family. A special bond exists between these two survivors but the media frenzy and the official investigations limit their contact and question Scott’s motivation since the future custodian of the boy will be privy to a substantial fortune.

Finally, the many stories of the passengers and crew come together to answer the big question of why the crash happened. By the time this is revealed to the reader, an expertly written novel with great insight into the human condition and our society has been appreciated.

This terrific novel has my strongest recommendation.

Noah Hawley is the Emmy, PEN, Peabody, Critic’s Choice and Golden Globe Awarding-winning creator of the TV show “Fargo.” He was also a writer and producer for the hit TV series “Bones.” This is his fourth novel.

Why not start your day with a flaming Pop tart? by Ned Hickson on 10/01/2016

Why not start your day with a flaming Pop tart?

Cooking can be dangerous, especially when it includes all three components of what experts call the Triangle of Fire:

1) A heat source

2) Combustible material

3) Our son.

While I can vouch for him having absolutely nothing to do with any wildfires, he was in fact responsible for the 2015 Oak Street popcorn smoke-out. It only took that one experience for us to realize just how dangerous popcorn kernels can be once their internal temperature exceeds 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Let me just say that if your microwavable popcorn bag is ever allowed to expand to the size of your favorite pillow, DO NOT open it.


Our government has special underground dump sites specifically designed for this kind of toxic material; please use them.

However, even with all of the precautions we’ve taken, it would seem that our family has been overlooking another potentially dangerous component in the Triangle of Fire:

The Flaming Pop-Tart.

According to a Philadelphia newspaper, that’s exactly what happened to an unsuspecting New Jersey woman who said her kitchen caught fire after her cherry-flavored Pop-Tart “burst into flames like a blow torch!”

I’ll be the first to admit that a fiery breakfast treat spewing artificial fruit filling would be a scary thing. In fact, aside from finding the real “Cap’n Crunch” floating around in my cereal bowl, I can’t think of a more frightening breakfast experience. However, there are a couple of things worth noting about the flaming Pop-Tart incident — the first of which is that my son had nothing to do with it.

He doesn’t even know anyone in New Jersey.

Secondly, the Pop-Tart in question had been left unattended for 20 minutes while Brenda Hurff took her children to school. It was during this time that investigators believe the Pop-Tart “freakishly ignited” as a result of either a) the toaster malfunctioning, b) the pastry malfunctioning, or c) the surprisingly combustible nature of artificial fruit filling.

To ensure the safety of the general public, investigators called in agents from both the FBI and CIA to make sure that the burning Pop-Tart was, indeed, an isolated incident with absolutely no to any terrorist channels.

In addition, they also ruled out my son, and any links to him watching The Food Channel.

In case you were wondering, investigators have also decided against the possibility of spontaneous combustion as a cause for the blaze. This conclusion was reached after days of around-the-clock observation of assorted Pop-Tarts in a controlled environment, after which the following joint statement was released by the agents involved in the study:

“We quit.”

In any case, the fact that we don’t have to worry about living in a world of spontaneously combusting Pop-Tarts is something that should help us all rest a little easier.

But I’d still suggest keeping them away from the popcorn, though.

Just to be safe.

The Adventure Continues: Don't Kid with Me Nicole by Max Malone, Private Eye on 10/01/2016

When it came to women there was precious little doubt I was on a serious losing streak – think Casey Stengel’s lovable Mets.

It went back to the time when I lost Hope. After ventilating my fedora with a terrific shot, she had matriculated to state prison and was still wearing her graduation outfit of solid orange.

Then came Valerie Suppine, the meanest little woman in thirteen western states, who, unsatisfied with that dishonorable title, had thrown in with Johnny Longo and the Grimaldi brothers for a mere twenty-five large and left me tossing in the Reno wind.

Then the notorious Natasha LaRue, who cast some sort of witchy spell over me and ferried me off to France, evidently as some sort of play toy while she laundered money for a modern version of Ali Baba and his 40 thieves, and ended up with a hole in her head – but a least the cheese was delicious.

Finally, all seemed to turn out well due to the diligence and dalliance of Dolly Teagarden, the British diplomat attached to the American embassy in France. But, keeping with the comparison to the Amazin’ Mets, my losing streak continued as Dolly was no more a diplomat than I was Marv Throneberry.

This shipwreck of women has left me tied to a trio of terrorists, and a complicit Dolly, and now tethered to a kitchen chair somewhere in the French countryside in a centuries old farmhouse with an alarmingly modern set of phones, computers, and other equipment I can’t identify.

I haven’t been knocked around, nor have I ever been more than three steps from an assault rifle in the hands of the wrong guy. The boss of the three Arabic types is known as Ahmed – it sounds like something you might utter if you were suddenly surprised by Nicole Kidman asking you to dance. He speaks English. He and Dolly have a thing going. I have nothing going. No plan.

At least that’s the way three days went by at the country chalet. My hands were untied twice a day to eat, if you want to call it that – seems no one in this idyllic setting ate cheese. My hands and ankles were set free when I needed the facilities. The bathroom, or water closet to the French, or loo to the Brits, was separate from the actual bathroom. It was a commode, nothing more, except for a window high on the wall, maybe, just maybe, large enough to squeeze through, or maybe not. Even if the window was breeched, there was little cover outside, just a couple spindly trees that couldn’t conceal Twiggy.

Like I said, by end of day three, no plan.

It might have helped if I understood why I was part of this plot. But whenever I brought it up, or anything for that matter, Ahmed (why yes, Nicole, I’d love to dance) just turned away, Dolly’s mouth turned into a slit that a timber rattler would have envied, and the assault rifle would bump into the back of my head.

But by day four, a couple things became apparent. Despite not understanding a single word Ahmed (Nicole, what fragrance is that?) said over the phone, or being able to decipher a single letter off the computer screen, we were either awaiting orders or reinforcements. The fact that several times each day after a phone exchange, Ahmed (it’s OK if I lead isn’t it, Nicole?) and Dolly would exchange glances and one, or both, would impatiently shrug their shoulders. Another thing, and perhaps the most important, was that the tough guy with the Kalashnikov was losing interest in me – not totally his own fault, for my passive behavior would have coaxed a Spanish fighting bull into a coma.

So I whiled away the hours, eating my two meals sans fromage, making rare eye contact with Dolly, whirling Nicole Kidman around the room with a frenzy of tango moves that kept her breathless, but always looking for an opening.

I had no plans on spending my last days with this unsavory band of messianic muttonheads.

Nicole and I were waltzing out of here.

After all, I am Max Malone, private eye.

Leave No Trace principles by Mary Soots on 10/01/2016

We were all troubled recently by the vandalism that involved the tipping over of an iconic sandstone rock pedestal affectionately called the “duckbill” on Cape Kiwanda. The natural rock formation was deliberately destroyed by a group of people.

Although Oregon receives approximately 45 million visitors annually to its parks and natural areas according to statistics, the incidence of vandalism is relatively small. On a hike last year, I was very disturbed when I noticed that a piece of ancient forest had been destroyed by someone who had removed a large piece of trunk (approximately 3 feet by 5 feet by 1 foot) from a Douglas fir tree. The individuals who had removed the piece of trunk had used a ladder to access an area approximately 10 feet from the base of the tree and left the tree to perish.

These are examples of intentional destruction of our natural beauty. On this side of the mountain, campers occupy illegal campsites, leaving trash in their wake. But there many examples of unintentional damage to our environment as well. One is that 45 million visitors cannot help by leave a trace.

With so many new residents moving into this region, it is inevitable that there is more traffic through the area. Where was once a random encounter with another person on the hiking trail along Oneota Gorge is now a scene reminiscent of a college frat party. In the age of technology, the problem is self-perpetuating. A person photographs an incredibly beautiful place and posts it to their Facebook page and soon 10 people want to see that same place. They in turn post beautiful photographs to their Instagram accounts and soon the area becomes a crowded tourist attraction.

It is a sign of the time and we must learn to share the outdoors with other users and allow them to enjoy the same beauty. We can be aware of the impact that we have when we venture into the outdoors. The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics offers the following among its tips:

Plan Ahead and Prepare

•             Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you’ll visit.

•             Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.

•             Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.

•             Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.

Leave What You Find

•             Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.

•             Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.

•             Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.

•             Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.

Minimize Campfire Impacts

•             Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.

•             Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.

•             Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.

Respect Wildlife

•             Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.

•             Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.

•             Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.

•             Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.

•             Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.

 Be Considerate of Other Visitors

•             Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.

•             Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.

•             Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.

•             Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.

•             Let nature’s sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.

La Nina pattern no longer in line for October by Herb Miller on 10/01/2016

Contrary to the forecast, September was cooler and wetter than average. During the first eight days, high temperatures never exceeded the 60s and rain occurred during every day but one in Brightwood. Warmer daytime temperatures followed during the following week but the 18th and 19th recorded unusually heavy rainfall for September, with Brightwood getting soaked with 2.13 inches of rain. The last weekend of the month accompanied a brief period of summer-like weather but it appears that fall will arrive on schedule.

The National Weather Service has rescinded its earlier outlook and no longer expects a La Nina pattern to set up, at least not during the fall and winter months. The forecast for our area again calls for warmer temperatures and lower precipitation than average during October.

During October, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 59, an average low temperature of 43 and a precipitation average of 6.52 inches. During the past 10 years, high temperatures have reached the 70s during eight years, and into the 60s during the remaining two years. Low temperatures have dropped into the 40s once, into the 30s during seven years and into the 20s during two years.

During October, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 53 degrees, an average low of 36 degrees, and a precipitation average of 7.03 inches, including 5.5 inches of snow. During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached the 70s during six years and into the 60s during four years. Low temperatures fell into the 30s during three years, into the 20s during six years, and into the teens once. The record snowfall in October was a 34 inch total set in 1984. A record 24-hour measurement of 15 inches was set in 1984, although more recently, a 12 inch amount was recorded on Oct. 20, 2009.

Some creative photoshopping.
The View Finder: The art of photoshopping by Gary Randall on 10/01/2016

“Is that photoshopped?” I hear that question every now and then, mostly on social media, although not as much as I used to ten years ago. I suspect that it could be that digital photography has become accepted more, and with websites such as Instagram that allow the user to alter their photos with a touch of a thumb, most of the time in an attempt to emulate a bad film photo, people are more accepting of photos with an artistic twist.

Photoshop is a photo editing program, but the word is now used as a transitive verb usually in past tense to describe an altered photo. An altered photo is a very broad description for a process that can easily go from simply resizing a photo to altering a photo into representing something that wasn’t there. There are those who find no fault at all in the photographer editing their own photos, and there are those who say that one dare not touch their photo lest it become fake.

In reality, even back when we sent our photos to the drug store they were altered in some way through the process, usually in an attempt to auto correct by the technician or because of the quality of the maintenance or calibration of the machine used to develop the film and even the type of film that we used.

As a photographer who learned how to shoot using a 35mm camera, a Yashica Electro 35 to be precise, and learned how to develop my own black and white photos I have my own take on the whole, sometimes controversial, subject.

Back when I started out as a hobbyist in 1977 I wanted to learn how to develop my own film in a darkroom. I joined a camera club and learned from the “old guys” there. One thing that I did learn is that it’s not just a simple process of developing, rinsing, fixing and drying. There’s also more to enlarging and making a print than what I suspected. What I learned the most is how much one can alter the look of the photo either by accident or on purpose in the darkroom. This is not to mention how one can alter a photo while they are making the image in the camera using the basic adjustments.

While in the darkroom one is able to push or pull the process which involves leaving it in the developing solution for a longer or shorter period of time, as well as dodging and burning areas independently of other areas. This was a favorite process of Ansel Adams and how he was able to put into practice his Zone System. Masking can be done with cut outs made of cardboard during the printing/enlarging process. Pieces of other photos can be combined, other details removed. One can be creative in the darkroom and most don’t realize that this was done regularly.

The composites that I mentioned that were made in the darkroom are still done today, and are the likely source of the use of the word “photoshopped” as a verb. These include images that include components that were not a part of the scene at the time such as huge moons, false skies or a person in a scene that they weren’t a part of. Some do it not to deceive but to create art. It’s done as an artistic method and the image or the artist usually makes it known. But as with all good things in all good things there will always be those who abuse it. If it’s not real, say so.

I say that in a judgmental way and I’m not afraid to say that. Any kind of deception isn’t good. In the world of photography it makes those who would otherwise enjoy genuine hard earned and skillfully made photos question the photo’s authenticity. It also makes beginners hesitate to enjoy the freedom that they have today in digital photography to be able to develop their own photos without chemicals or a dark room.

In digital there’s no such thing as not adjusted, or as some call it, “SOOC,” straight out of camera. It’s a myth that the image is a pure image. You have presets that are programmed onto the camera when it’s manufactured, usually Landscape, Portrait or Vivid, Neutral or even Black and White. All of these are processes that develop your photo in the camera. An engineer is, essentially, processing your photos for you, so why not do it yourself?

All of this considered, today we have the ability to do the same processes with our computers with the lights on. In my work, my processing workflow follows closely the processes that are used in a darkroom. Exposure, contrast, color correct, dodge, burn etc. Even the one “special effect” that I use was made for film photography, the Orton effect.

I urge anyone who has ever wanted to learn to become a photographer and develop their own photos to not let digital stop them. I also tell them to not let the judgment of others affect what they do in either life or photography. Don’t let the question, “Is that photoshopped?” stop you from being creative with your photography. And the best part is that, due to the introduction of the program Lightroom you can say no it’s not, that is until “lightroomed” becomes a verb.

Down to the core, apples offer strong health benefits by Victoria Larson on 08/31/2016

More than 2,500 varieties of apples are grown today, yet only a few varieties make up 80 percent of what we buy! What a shame, given the many benefits of all those types of apples.

While apples are high on the list of fruits that should be chosen in organic form, they’re still an important source of many antioxidants, fiber, flavonoids, calcium d-glucarate and quercitin, plus all the constituents we haven’t discovered yet. If you cannot get organic apples, at least wash them in a mild vinegar/water rinse to reduce the amount of contaminants.

Washing reduces E. coli and Salmonella outbreaks as well as decreases some pesticide residues. Do not wash with dish detergent as the residue from the dish detergent can dissolve the mucous lining of your gut, causing gastrointestinal upset or diarrhea.

And do not peel the apples as the skin of one medium sized apple provides a whopping 20 percent of your daily fiber requirement. Better to eat the peels. The French National Institute for Health found that it is the peels of apples that are high in procyanidins. Lab studies showed that animals fed apples with the skin on were 50 percent less likely to die of colon cancer. When choosing between apple juice or apple cider, choose the cider, as it is made of apples with the skin on. Cider is also an unpasteurized and unfiltered, “raw” food. Therefore it should be cloudy and brown. Apple juice, on the other hand, has been filtered many times and is heated so it will stay fresh for a longer shelf-life.

Most people prefer an apple that will not turn brown quickly, but this may be a mistaken choice. Commercial growers have developed apples that don’t turn brown by decreasing the chemicals that oxidize the apple. This is a consumer-driven product and the kind of thing we need to think about when we purchase food. An apple that turns brown is a healthier choice as most of the polyphenols are in the skin of the apple. This is why your apple cider will be brown and the juice will be “soda-colored” and clear.

Apples also contain flavonoids which are super antioxidants. The Nurses’ Health Study found that women who ate one or more apples a day were 37 percent less likely to develop lung cancer. Finnish studies found those with the highest consumption of apples were 46 percent less likely to develop lung cancer. A Netherlands study found that men who ate one green apple a day were 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack. Onions and tea also help decrease the risk of heart attack.

Important to our aging society is decreasing the risk of cancer. Apples provide the benefit of calcium d-glucarate, which is also found in bean sprouts and grapefruit. The chemical structure of calcium d-glucarate is similar to the body’s own detoxifying agent, glucaronic acid. Therefore, eating apples (an apple a day, anyone?) helps eliminate toxins, including excess hormones, via urine and stool. This detoxifying agent has been known to decrease the size of existing tumors as well as helping fight colon, lung, and prostate cancers.

High fiber foods like apples, cruciferous vegetables and beans help bind harmful cholesterol, hormones, and harmful fats, speeding their removal from your body. This helps to avoid toxic build-up in your bowels. Fiber binds with excess estrogen molecules and other hormones to block their re-absorption into the bloodstream. This means a decreased risk of hormone cancers such as breast, prostate, ovarian and uterine cancers.

The peels of apples also contain high amounts of quercetin. Also found in citrus fruit rinds (organic please), onions and tea, quercetin helps reduce radical damage to the eyes and decreases the risk of allergies. Seems to me a better choice than over-the-counter allergy medicine that leaves you feeling very groggy and foggy. There are people out there driving while taking OTC allergy medicine! When one apple a day, with the skin on, provides as much quercetin as one-half cup of tea or two-thirds cup of raw onions.

From 1950 to 2000 a pesticide known as methyl parathion was used on apples and other fruits. Many of us ate them when we were younger. Methyl parathion is a neurotoxin that was outlawed in 2000 due to child safety laws. Round Up (see previous columns) is still used on fruit and vegetable crops, sometimes in your own backyards. Round Up has been linked to genetic damage in humans and is now classified as carcinogenic to humans. It has been linked to reproductive problems and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I advise against the use of Round Up anywhere as it seeps into groundwater.

Organophosphate pesticides have been found in more that 70 percent of apples. Farmers in India use Coca Cola to kill pests in the fields. Boy oh boy, doesn’t that tell you something! We need much more transparency regarding pesticide use. Know your fields, your neighbors’ fields and your own backyard. Make sure the person telling you the produce is organic is not using the term loosely. Or just grow your own, organically or biodynamically.

On my farm I have Clackamas County’s oldest, living Gravenstein apple tree, as well as three other varieties of apples. I like to take my apples to the Foster Farms Cider Fest and hand crank the cider press handle and watch the sweetly-scented brown cider flow into my vintage, apple-shaped glass bottle. What fun and yum!

Recreation liability law a priority for Johnson by State Rep. Mark Johnson on 08/31/2016

September is here and that means fall is right around the corner. After a summer of networking on the Mountain, I’m excited to fill you in on what I’ve been working on!

As you may have read in previous issues, I have been working to update recreational liability law. Any business that provides a recreational activity usually requires the participant to sign a pre-activity liability waiver (think ski tickets). This acknowledges that there are natural risks associated with the activity, which helps protect the business from expensive lawsuits brought by customers who had a negative experience based on a natural risk of the activity. These waivers are, of course, not meant to relieve all responsibility of the provider but a recent court case has since stated that these waivers really don’t protect a business. Therefore, providers have to pay for more expensive liability insurance, or end up in a costly lawsuit. In order to prepare for this potential cost, any business providing a recreational service will likely be seeing increased costs and greater liability to provide the activity.

This topic is especially important for the Mountain and Villages area because of the number of businesses that provide recreational activities. Anyone who allows access to their land for recreation, various parks and recreation programs, outfitter/guides, resorts, running events and of course businesses like Timberline and Ski Bowl could be subject to similar lawsuits. As a result of their liability insurance costs going up, the price of the activities they provide will also go up. The net result is that we may see less visitor traffic, due to the high price of the activities. Obviously this would have a negative impact on the local economy.

So, what am I doing to help solve this issue? I am introducing legislation in the 2017 legislative session to create a position at the state level to focus solely on recreational tourism, help solve issues like the one described above, and also promote growth and protection to support the future economic success of the recreational tourism industry. Other states around the west including Colorado, Utah and Washington have created similar positions and this has helped give the recreation industry a voice and a place at the table as state policies are created. This is a way that we can make sure that issues of local importance like recreational liability get the serious attention that they deserve. I’m excited to bring this legislation forward because it will not only address the conversation about recreational liability, but it will also give the recreational tourism industry the recognition it deserves for the contribution it makes to our state. I hope to share more on this as I continue to work with stakeholders and find solutions.

Last month, I held a town hall at the Resort and had a great turnout. We discussed the proposed logging project in Brightwood/Tim Rim area and the valid concerns held by many of the local residents in that community. I was happy to step forward and connect with the local citizens there to make sure that they were being heard by the state agencies involved like the Oregon Department of Forestry and to help monitor the situation.

If there are any local issues that you would like to address, please don’t hesitate to contact me at 503-986-1452 or email rep.markjohnson@state.or.us

I’m looking forward to connecting with you in the district soon. Thank you for the honor of representing you!

(Mark Johnson is the State Representative for House District 52.)

Recluse’s evolution at heart of surprising ‘A Man Called Ove’ by Sandra Palmer on 08/31/2016

Ove is to be the grumpiest, most unpleasant and difficult person in his small neighborhood. Since the tragic death of his wife, his only pleasure seems to be enforcing his rigid rules on his neighbors and sticking with his entrenched routine – while insisting that he is left alone. When an unruly new family – including a very pregnant wife, two lively children and a husband who is totally incapable as a handyman – arrives, Ove’s solitude and well-ordered existence is shattered.

Ove is so devastated by his overwhelming loneliness and grief that he has finally decided to end it all. But every time he sets out to implement his plans, a neighborhood emergency interrupts him and pushes his tolerance to the max. And every time Ove helps out with a neighborhood challenge, it only seems to open the door for more interruptions and situations that pull him out of his precious solitude and into the middle of the neighborhood’s small and large calamities. Soon Ove ends up with constant interruptions from his lively – and well-meaning – neighbors and the responsibility of a near-dead stray cat with attitude. Totally unacceptable!

In spite of his rigorous ways of thinking and living, Ove is soon revealed to the reader as a man with a big heart who is honest and can be totally depended upon with skills many other no longer cultivate. Soon he becomes a resource that his neighbors depend upon while also making room in their hearts for his curmudgeonly ways. But will Ove be able to open his home and his life to others? Or will he be successful in his plans to retreat and ultimately seek that final peace he longs for?

This is a surprising book with a serious subject but filled with heartwarming humor. “A Man Called Ove” is a must-read for everyone. I highly recommend this delightful book!

(Fredrik Backman is the author of several other bestsellers in his native Sweden. He lives in Stockholm with his wife and two children.)

I’ll be dressing as Marilyn Monroe to help fight cancer by Ned Hickson on 08/31/2016

I don’t have good-looking legs.

Not even in heels, which I have worn during the Men’s March Against Domestic Violence, and also the night I turned 21. Fortunately, in both cases (Well, one for sure) I had pants on, so other than looking like a standard poodle walking on its hind legs for a dog biscuit, everyone was spared from seeing my hairy stork legs.

To be honest, even a stork would probably wear pants if it had my legs.

However, come next weekend. I will jeopardize the vision of hundreds of people at the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in my hometown by dressing as Marilyn Monroe for the “Mr. Relay” fundraiser.

Naturally, I will be wearing heels. And yes, at some point my skirt will be blown upward, revealing a sight that even Miley Cyrus said “Crosses the line of decency.”

I’m relieved to say I won’t be alone in this endeavor.

At least, I better not be.

The way it was explained to me, there will be about a dozen men dressing as their favorite female movie actress or character. Given that I’ll be turning 50 a few days later, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to cross off “Emotionally scar as many people as possible all at once” from my bucket list. I had actually considered dressing as “Black Widow” from “The Avengers,” but the thought of wearing something THAT skintight had me worried. Not so much because of my figure, but out of fear that my growing lack of flatulence control as I’ve aged might cause the suit to expand like a piece of Hubba Bubba bubble gum.

If it were to pop, the concussion could cost people their hearing. And I don’t even want to think of what could happen if the stage is anywhere near an open flame.

Remember the Hindenburg?

So for everyone’s safety, I’m going to stick with Marilyn Monroe. Though there is still the risk of emotional scarring, at least there’s good ventilation.

Some of you might be asking, “Why are you doing this?”

Others might be asking, “Where exactly is Florence, Ore., so I can protect the one I love by going nowhere near it this weekend?

Rest assured that as long as you stay on the I5 corridor through Oregon, you will be safe. As for why I’m doing this? A portion of the money each of us raises in this competition goes to support cancer research, with the rest going to programs in and around my community. Like many of you, I have lost people I love to cancer, including a best friend who was barely 30.

And yes, he had much better legs than me. If my hairy stork legs can help keep someone else from losing a loved one to cancer, I’m all in.

Even if “in” means wearing a short dress and high heels.

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available online at Port Hole Publications, Amazon Books and Barnes & Noble. Write to him at nedhickson@icloud.com)

The Adventure Continues: A girl’s gotta make a living by Max Malone, Private Eye on 08/31/2016

Dolly and I worked our way around a Continental breakfast buffet in the basement of the train station hotel, picking up melon, croissants, orange marmalade and bowls of steaming French coffee. There was another couple in the room – a sad, middle-aged man drooped over his bushy mustache avoiding eye contact with what must have been his wife, her hair longing desperately for a shampoo, yielding a faraway look into a past she’d left behind, or perhaps never had.

In comparison, Dolly and I were Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

The night before, in the cozy hotel bed, after evening antics, Dolly laid out the plan. More importantly, she explained my role. It was a terrible idea. I’d be making myself seen in such exotic places as Brussels, Luxembourg and Baden-Baden.

Right. Exotic. There is no one in Brussels younger than seventy – and it’s not a good looking seventy. Luxembourg is a walled fortress dating back to the conquering armies of Rome – with all the charm as well. Baden-Baden has a history that matches the surrounding Black Forest in color and shame.

Dolly sensed my reluctance and spent breakfast tilting her head to one side like a cocker spaniel, trying to lure me in. Seeing her situation deteriorating, she played the Teagarden Card.

“Think about it Max,” she cooed like a Paris pigeon. “We’d be checking in with each other all the time.”

I shook my head slowly while munching away on my croissant smeared with marmalade. In harmony with the munching, things got fuzzy. Dolly’s spaniel became blurred. The couple seemed to disappear, which wasn’t such a bad thing, but the floor coming up in my face was.

I ended up on a bench in the back of what seemed to be a delivery van, empty in the back except for me on one side, and two dusky chaps on the opposite bench seat. They looked like a couple extras off the set of Lawrence of Arabia – perhaps cousins of Anthony Quinn or Omar Sharif. They even had rifles nestled on each side. All I had was a headache of hangover proportions and a smear of blood on my upper lip. I felt like I’d gone 15 rounds with Joe Frazier.

The driver was barely visible in profile, while the front passenger seat concealed anyone who might be sitting in it. We were motoring well within the speed limit on what the French call an “N” road, their version of an interstate, four-lane divided.

The faulty vision began to clear up. Of my two immediate adversaries, one was alert, certainly able to handle himself, and not exactly enamored with me. The other was fading in and out of a nap, his head bobbing in rhyme with the road. If I could get to the tough guy quickly enough, I’d probably still have time to take care of Sleepy. My only restraint was a seat belt. But the real problem was: what, if anything, was in the front passenger seat.

And where was Dolly?

In a voice raised over the din of the van, the tough guy jabbered something to the driver, who turned slightly and cast a quick glance at me. “Yes, you moron, I’m awake, I have a headache, and I’m pissed” my return glance said as best I could form it without a Berlitz book.

That got me nothing but a slight sense of satisfaction.

Sleepy raised an eyelid then went back to his private place. Tough guy flicked looks at me but seemed uncomfortable fixing his gaze against my unblinking glare.

“What the hell’s going on?” I yelled at tough guy but loud enough for the driver to hear. “If someone doesn’t say something I’m gonna make a mess out of this vacation trip through the French countryside.”

Her head leaned around the passenger seat. The cocker spaniel had split, replaced by the smug visage of a sassy, satisfied woman.

“You gotta be kidding me,” I said, dripping with disbelief.

“Hey, a girl’s gotta make a living, love,” she said.

After all this, I’m still Max Malone, private eye.

The Mt. Hood Green Scene: Cloth napkins save paper by Mary Soots on 08/31/2016

I recently had the good fortune of attending a barbeque hosted by a friend and neighbor. Dinner was served in an idyllic setting, like many homes on the mountain—outdoors, surrounded by trees, accompanied by the music of the nearby Sandy River. It was a casual affair, just a few neighbors gathered to enjoy each other’s company on a warm summer evening.

While this is a familiar scene to most of us, what made that particular evening feel like a special occasion was that the hostess had draped the outdoor tables with beautiful embroidered linen tablecloths and used linen napkins.

It was only a few days later when I was in Portland that I couldn’t resist driving through a popular donut chain. I ordered one glazed donut and the young man placed it in a bag and handed me ten paper napkins with it. Ten napkins?!? Really? Doesn’t he know there is only limited space in the side pocket of my car door to store extra napkins?

It seems that this sort of excess use of paper napkins is rampant in the fast food world. I have been known to keep one or two and hand back the rest, leaving the perplexed server pondering what is wrong with this crazy woman? Apparently I don’t conform to the mold of people who simply disregard the excess and throw the napkins in the trash. It is my hope that by giving the server pause, perhaps the next person will only receive five napkins with their donut (or sandwich).

Paper accounts for 25 percent of landfill waste and 33 percent of municipal waste. Handing out fistfuls of napkins is obviously eco-insensitive, but it wastes perfectly good paper by providing, in some cases, at least twice as much as necessary. Additionally, the cost of all the wasted napkins must cut into profits for restaurants. A minor change can be made by teaching servers to limit the use of napkins. This would cut expenses into their bottom line by at least 50 percent.

Schools cafeterias can also teach children that they should take only what they will use. Children will carry this ecological awareness into the workplace when they in turn become the servers in restaurants. Parents can support this teaching at home as well by reducing their use of paper products. Instead of reaching for a paper towel, why not use a kitchen towel to dry your hands? And instead of using paper napkins at home, why not use cloth napkins? Keep napkins at arm’s reach so they are easily accessible rather than stored in a linen closet.

By foregoing the use of paper products, you will cut your bottom line as well, and keep paper from going to the landfill. Towels and napkins can be reused and simply be tossed in with a load of laundry. A bonus is that you will never run out of supplies.

Something else I noticed that summer evening as we dined al fresco at my friend’s barbeque. When the tables were set with linen, the formal atmosphere somehow made people behave differently, somehow more genteel, a little more on their “company” behavior. Why not give it a try?

Reduced La Nina expected to arrive this fall by Herb Miller on 08/31/2016

August has been exceptionally sunny with only four days having cloudy skies and the rest being clear. Despite the abundant sunshine, no record high temperatures were recorded, and hot weather was limited to three days in the 90s in Brightwood during the 18th to the 20th with another three day hot spell during the last week of the month. High temperatures averaged just two to three degrees above normal for the month in both Brightwood and Government Camp. Rainfall was much less than average, as would be expected.

The National Weather Service has reduced its earlier expectations for the onset of a La Nina pattern, although the forecast continues to predict the probability one will become established this fall and winter period. Their outlook for our area during September calls for above average temperatures and precipitation near normal.

During September, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 70, an average low temperature of 48 and a precipitation average of 3.41 inches. During the past 10 years, high temperatures have reached 90 degrees or higher during four years, and into the 80s during the remaining six years. September has had a total of 11 days reaching 90 degrees or higher during the past 20 years and only one day that recorded a freezing temperature. Over the past 10 years, low temperatures have dropped into the 40s during six years and into the 30s the remaining four years.

During September, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 63 degrees, an average low of 43 degrees, and a precipitation average of 3.35 inches. During the past 10 years, high temperatures have reached the 80s during nine years and into the 70s during the remaining year. Low temperatures fell into the 30s during nine years, and only one year settled for the 40s. Snowfall in September is somewhat rare, with the record four-inch total set in 1972. A record 24-hour measurement of three inches was set on Sept. 23, 1984, although more recently, a 0.2-inch amount was recorded in 2009 and trace amounts were observed on each of the four days during Sept. 26-30, 2009.

Try not to use direct sunlight.
The View Finder: Tips for taking cell phone photos by Gary Randall on 08/31/2016

What did we ever do without our cell phones? In this era of miraculous technology it's hard to remember how it was to wait until we got home to make a call or to search for a phone booth along the way. They have revolutionized communication. These little devices have also revolutionized photography as well.

Gone are the days of limiting the amount of photographs that you take or the need for delayed gratification due to having to send the film out for developing. We just snap, smile, share with our friends on social media or email then forget about them as we continue to record in more pictorial detail our day to day lives.

As cell phone camera technology is improved the pictures become better and better. They have become so good that they have essentially replaced the point and shoot camera. They are all the average person will ever require for their personal photography needs, and even though they have become incredibly capable, they still take a little experience to master, especially in challenging light. A few tricks can make your photos even better.

Don’t shoot with a dirty lens. As we carry our phone here and there we can put them through a lot. Dust and dirt can collect on the lens of the camera. A little lens cleaner on a soft cloth will help to keep your photos clear and crisp.

Don’t miss the shot. Cell phone cameras won’t give you an instant shutter actuation. They take a second or two to find and focus your subject. This is referred to as shutter lag. Anticipate this shutter lag and be prepared to get the shot a few moments prior to the moment. This is especially true with moving objects.

Don’t use direct sunlight when photographing people. Find bright shade to eliminate sharp contrast of glare and shadows. Your subject’s eye won’t be as apt to be squinting.

Don’t use your flash. The stark light of your flash will wash out your photos. There’s an HDR (high dynamic range) setting, use it. And of course there are always exceptions to the rule. I like to use a flash when my subjects are backlit, such as at sunset.

Don’t zoom. Zooming with your cell phone camera is not an optical zoom but an electronic enlargement of the image. The image quality suffers when you zoom in. Choose to move forward or back to fill the frame. If you have a cluttered background, move in to fill the frame to make your subject dominate the scene.

Don’t use harsh light. If you are going to do portraits choose to do them in either mid morning or late afternoon. The light during these times has a less harsh feel and is more warm and welcoming. The camera will struggle less with the light and the photos will turn out nicer.

Don’t settle for straight out of the camera. Post-process them. Your camera does, why not you? Download applications such as Snapseed or Lightroom Mobile to adjust the photo to make it look its best. Most camera phones come with their own image editing application.

Don’t be selective in what you shoot. Film is cheap when you’re shooting digital. You increase your odds of getting a great photo if you take more of them.

Don’t forget about them. In the past we would take our photos, print them and put them into a photo album. We can still do that today even though we’re no longer using film. You can either print them yourself if you have a printer, go to the drugstore and use their kiosk or you can send your digital file to a company online who can print them and send them back. Even better is that you can now self publish your own book in any quantity, including a single issue of your vacation photos.

Do have fun with it. It’s always with us when in the past we would leave our cameras at home today it’s usually within arm’s reach at any time of the day. You have a much better chance these days to get a unique photo of life as it happens around us. With these few little tricks you can make your photos better, but it takes practice and the willingness to tell your camera what to do.

Digging deeper and asking more about groceries by Victoria Larson on 08/01/2016

The U.S. Department of Agriculture current research reveals that nationwide, approximately 160,000 farmers are currently selling their products via local markets like farmers’ markets, CSAs (community supported agriculture), etc.

This is great for communities as it keeps money local, brings fresher food to consumers, provides local jobs and decreases transportation vehicles on our already clogged roadways. The USDA also reports that sales of local food increased from $5 billion to $14 billion between 2008 and 2014. That’s good news for participating farmers. It’s a bandwagon farmers want to jump on, for obvious reasons.

What we need though is a high level of transparency and truthfulness and consumers who think things through. You must dig deeper. You must become the “researcher of your own dietary inputs.” Some of the things that we take for granted in America are ease, convenience and low cost. But there’s more to it than that.

Perhaps it starts with decreased supermarket shopping and more local shopping, like farmers’ markets and community supported agriculture. CSAs are where you pay the farmer in advance to grow your produce and then pick up a basket or box weekly or every other week. It is a win-win for anyone who makes the commitment. If the farmer loses a crop for whatever reason, they still survive as they have built-in customers. And the customers always have plenty of fresh food to eat.

Or perhaps you begin your commitment to local food in your own backyard, swapping produce with your neighbors. Big box stores have cheap food that’s traveled far. Sometimes that makes sense as with large families or gallons of organic olive oil. We don’t have much in the way of local olive oil so I admit to succumbing to occasional forays into the big box stores. But if I can buy something locally instead, I will. Knowing that one dollar of every four dollars you spend in a grocery store goes to advertising, refrigeration, storage and transportation keeps me from buying very much in a supermarket.

Truth in advertising is difficult to find even when purchasing locally. “Local” is an interpretive word, meaning “within a three hour drive,” “within a one hundred mile radius” or what grows in your backyard or your neighbor’s yard. As an herbalist in the 1980s I was taught that “what you need grows around you.” Even weeds. When I have a big patch of Cleavers (Gallium aparine) in my fields, I know that’s the tea I should be drinking. I walk into my field (zero transportation needed and free exercise), pick some (become engaged in my own well-being at a very earthly level) and I have a product I can trust (zero contamination). And it’s free besides!

Of course, sometimes people just want to go to the supermarket and trust what others have placed there. But if your commitment to yourself and the environment includes more local choices, you need to know what questions to ask. And you need to interpret the answers.

Not everything needs to be “certified” organic, but you must trust what you see and make decisions accordingly. If you buy carrots peeled and formed and in a plastic bag you need to know that much of the nutrition has been sacrificed for that convenience. If “certified organic” matters to you, and there are many places where it should (see previous columns) then you may need to see that “9” label on your food. If you buy fresh carrots, best to buy with the tops on so you know how fresh they are. Just because carrots keep a long time does not mean you should buy them aged!

Make informed choices. If what you want is instant gratification or convenience, your food will probably come in a plastic bag. But I’ve seen stores and farms where non-organic cauliflower is removed from its cellophane wrapper, placed in a plastic bag and sold as organic. How would you know? Is it a chance you’re willing to take? If so, that’s fine, but don’t you think you deserve to know the truth about your food?

Some consumers bring their own bags for unbagged produce. This, by the way, is commonly done in other countries, both industrial and third world. In most countries you must bring your own shopping bag as stores and open-air markets don’t provide them. Or support your local farmers’ market and buy one of their cloth bags. That’s advertising that pays off.

I pretty much gave up shopping at my closest supermarket years ago, except for coffee and kitty litter. I drive a little farther away to teach my grandkids to look for a #9 tag on the produce, which means its certified organic produce. The farther-away market also tells me the country of origin and whether or not something is organic. Non-organic is sometimes acceptable to me but I want to know what I’m getting! I want it to be my choice. Digging deeper will lead to more transparency and truth in advertising.

August cool down by Taeler Butel on 08/01/2016

Thai beef and noodle cold salad


3 T olive oil

1 T rice wine vinegar

1 T smooth peanut butter

1 T chili sauce

2 T low sodium soy sauce

1 t fresh grated ginger

1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed

2 T honey

Juice & zest of 1 lime



2 carrots thinly sliced

2 green onions sliced

1 yellow bell pepper sliced thin

½ cup plum tomatoes cut in half

1 cup broccoli, chopped into small florets

1½ cups cooked vermicelli rice noodles

½ pound cooked leftover beef/steak (or any other meat/fish/tofu), cut into small cubes

¼ cup chopped cilantro

2 cups mixed salad greens

Sesame seeds


Place all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together until thoroughly combined.

Layer the salad - pour dressing and toss at the last minute.


Coconut cream watermelon smoothie

Can be frozen after blended.

Blend together:

Juice from one lime

2½-3 cups watermelon

¼ cup coconut cream

15 fresh mint leaves

Toasted coconut for garnish

½ cup ice cubes

3 tablespoons water

Taelers’ take

Is Kobe beef worth the $$$?


Trying new proteins is one of my favorite activities. Kobe beef is incredibly clean and lean tasting.

Just season with salt and heat up the cast iron skillet. Sear a few minutes on each side developing a nice crust, then finish with butter and top quality condiments.

Town Hall in August brings Johnson to Mountain by State Rep. Mark Johnson on 08/01/2016

August is here and it seems like the summer is just flying by. I hope you’re all planning to attend my town hall held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 4 at the Resort at the Mountain, 68010 E. Fairway Ave. in Welches. I’m looking forward to sharing some ideas for the 2017 legislative session and hearing from you on local community issues.

Recently, residents of the Tim Rim community in Brightwood contacted me with concerns about a proposed logging operation on a parcel above their community. Some of the major concerns are the risk of landslide and erosion and overall safety in their homes, as they live at the base of the proposed operation. Additional concerns have been raised regarding the risk to wildlife and water quality on the land itself. After hearing these concerns, I organized a tour lead by Oregon Department of Forestry so that I could see firsthand where the operation would take place. Throughout the tour, it was apparent that local concerns are valid and that more analysis of the proposed logging facility is necessary. The land use review process is happening now at Clackamas County and at the Oregon Department of Forestry. I will be monitoring this process and providing oversight of the appropriate government entities to ensure that local citizens are heard and protected. Please contact my office at 503-986-1452 or rep.markjohnson@state.or.us to share thoughts you have on this or to find out more details.

In late July, I hosted a listening session with business owners on the mountain so that they could share how current laws are impacting them, which laws make if difficult for employers and what the best opportunities are for strong economic growth on the mountain. Those that attended each represented a different type of employer in the area and it was interesting for me to see where the agreement was on which policies were positive or negative. In order to best support the economic growth and development on the mountain, I encourage all business owners to contact me and share their thoughts. If you can’t attend my town hall on Aug. 4 please contact my office because the more information I can gather the better policies I can help develop in Salem.

As the summer continues to pass us by, I am looking ahead to the 2017 legislative session. While it seems so far away, preparing legislation now allows more time for community input and to build support both in the district and also in the capitol, which increases the chances of passage when the session starts. Making targeted investments in our K-12 system continues to be a focus of mine. While an increased budget for our public schools is always an underlying goal, we can also make sure that the current budget is put to good use and is best supporting teachers and students to improve student success. A second priority of mine is to ensure the Oregon Promise remains fully funded and successful. The Oregon Promise is giving thousands of students a path to higher education and the workforce without the burden of debt, so I am focused on continuing this progress.

As always, it is important to work in coordination with local agencies and organizations to make sure that the community is well represented. I hope that you will attend my town hall to continue the discussion and please contact my office if you need assistance with anything. Thank you for the honor of representing you!

(Mark Johnson is the State Representative for House District 52.)

The Adventure Continues: Episode IX Pip, Pip and a Spot of Tea by Max Malone, Private Eye on 08/01/2016

The arrival of Dolly Teagarden for a “wrap-up” session was a miserable failure before it began, and it had nothing to do with Dolly’s tweed business suit, frothy silk blouse, with a sawed off skirt that should have been given a shotgun rating.

It was what was walking next to her. He had broad shoulders, a narrow waist, dark suit, skinny tie, black wing tips, aviator sunglasses – which were utterly useless against the overcast Brittany sky – and sported the last crew cut in captivity. If he wasn’t a running back for the Dallas Cowboys, then he was a fed.

Guess which one?

As they mounted the front porch I retreated to the kitchen and shoved the cork back inside a bottle of Medoc, condemning it to breathlessness – at least for today.

I ushered them in. Dolly brushed against me before turning and lifting a bent wrist toward the intruder.

“Max, this is Agent Dick Champion. Dick, Max Malone.”

He removed his shades. I nodded in his general direction.

“Grab a chair,” I said, as I plopped down on the couch. I then asked if I could get them something in the most insincere manner I could muster – and I’m pretty much in the big leagues when it comes to insincerity. Plus, now plunged comfortably in Natasha’s couch, they weren’t prying me out of it with an abalone iron.

Dick took the most uncomfortable chair in the room, and it appeared he preferred it, while Dolly slid into an easy chair and crossed her everlasting legs.

“Max,” she offered in a most serious manner. “Dick is with the CIA.”

“Imagine that” I said, tossing Dick a smile with all the conviction of a Bert and Ernie cartoon exchange.

“Max, can I call you Max?” Dick asked. His was only the second American version of English I’d heard since arriving in France. And the other one was dead. The best I could muster was a nod of approval.

“Ms. Teagarden, Dolly, has filled me in on how you fit in here,” he said with precision. “And it’s time you get filled in as well. There’s no reason for you to remain on the outside of this unfortunate situation.”

“Is that what you boys call them?” I said, the wind hissing through my teeth. “Situations?”

Dick handled my surly manner without flinching, but did resort to clearing his throat and raising his eyebrows, as if inviting me in on the big secret.

“Max, Natasha was working for us.” He paused allowing me to take in the news. I glanced quickly at Dolly who was gnawing on her lower lip like a caged squirrel. “We were close to extracting her when they shot her.”

I leaned forward, disgusted with myself that I had not picked up on the situation. “How did they get on to her?” I asked.

“We don’t believe they did,” Dick said matter-of-factly. “It would appear they were one step ahead of us, and simply didn’t need her anymore.”

“She was their money connection, right?”


I leaned back into the sofa. “Who are they, Dick?”

“Gun runners. Natasha set up accounts for them in Luxembourg, the Caymans, Dahka. We were about to drop the hammer but got delayed by the French. They’re a little touchy about dealing with us.”

“Any idea where they are now”

“We’re pretty sure they’re still in France, but can’t be certain. They’re operating on Belgian passports, so because of the European Union, they can cross EU borders without visas.”

“So they could be anywhere.”

“Yes, but previous plots by groups like this has them laying low for the dust to settle, before they move on.”

“So where do we start?”

Dick turned to Dolly, then slowly back to me.

“We are hatching a plan, Max,” Dolly said though hooded eyes. “It would include you, but it would also be dangerous.”

“Natasha was my friend. What’s next?”

Five days later, traveling on a British passport, checking into a train station hotel in an ancient French city with medieval manners, trying to look natural in my Harris tweed jacket, I asked my traveling companion while signing the hotel registration:

“After we check in to our room, dear, would you like a spot of tea before dinner?”

“Yes love,” she said.

After all, mate, I am Max Malone, private eye.

The Mt. Hood Green Scene: Ten ways to help the environment by Mary Soots on 08/01/2016

So often we hear negative and worrying news about our environment and how we are threatening our planet. Recently, however, we had a bit of very good news. It was reported last month that the ozone layer, which protects us from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, was actually showing signs that it had begun to heal. In 1986, a hole was discovered over Antarctica that was being caused by harmful chemicals such as chlorine and bromine. The exposure to these harmful rays created a risk of skin cancer. This realization led to the banning of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). These gases were found in everything from hairsprays to refrigerators to air conditioning units. The new awareness also led to other changes. And as a result, scientists recently reported that in September 2015 the hole was around 4 million square km. smaller than it was in the year 2000 – an area roughly the size of India. We are all to be congratulated for the work we have done!

There are other things we can do to ensure that we continue on the right path. Today I have a few more ideas that may be simple but pack a big punch. This is a list of ten ideas that can save consumers money while decreasing our impact on the environment by 20 percent. These ideas are from an uplifting book entitled “Eco Barons: The New Heroes of Environmental Activism” by Edward Humes. The list includes the following:

1. Adjust your thermostat by two degrees (cooler in winter, warmer in summer), to save one ton of greenhouse emissions a year.

2. Switch from incandescent lightbulbs to compact fluorescents and save 300 pounds of greenhouse gases per bulb.

3. Insulate your water heater with a simple thermal “jacket” and save 550 pounds of greenhouse gases a year.

4. Replace air-conditioner filters to save 350 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions a year.

5. Unplug “vampire” electronics that suck up electricity even when turned off—television sets, VCRs, DVD players, cable boxes, chargers—anything that is instant-on or that has a blinking light. The typical household will save half a ton of greenhouse gases just by making sure “off” is really off.

6. Wash clothes in cold water and save one ton of greenhouse gases.

7. Dry clothes on clotheslines and save nearly one and a half tons of greenhouse gases.

8. Take mass transit or telecommute once a week to save one ton of greenhouse gases.

9. Check tire inflation every week to increase fuel efficiency by three percent and save a quarter ton of greenhouse gases. (Most drivers have chronically underinflated tires, which make the engine work harder and burn more gas.)

10. Lose ten pounds – the average weight gain for Americans in the past ten years. Airlines use 350 million more gallons of jet fuel every year hauling those extra pounds.

11. Bonus items, Tammin suggests, to substitute where necessary: eat fresh food, not frozen food (fresh food consumes 90 percent less energy); eat less beef (the production of beef, pound for pound, uses up more energy than any other food); avoid bottled water and disposable grocery bags; buy local produce and other foods to avoid the 1,300 miles the average American meal travels on its way to the dinner table, using fossil fuels all the way.

Above average temps for the mountain in August by Herb Miller on 08/01/2016

The first week of July got off to a mild start after which daytime temperatures lowered to what usually occurs during early May. The last week of July brought a return of warmer temperatures peaking near the end of the month and resulting in monthly averages close to normal. As a matter of interest, the record high temperatures for August shown are all-time high temperatures recorded in both Brightwood and Government Camp from records dating back to 1979 in the case of Brightwood, and from records dating back to 1959 in the case of Government Camp.

The National Weather Service has reported the end of El Nino conditions but is now focused on the probability that a La Nino pattern will take place in early autumn and continue throughout the winter. Their forecast for our area this August is to have above average temperatures and precipitation a bit below normal.

During August, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 76, an average low temperature of 51 and a precipitation average of 1.46 inches. During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached 90 degrees or higher during nine years and into the 80s during the remaining year. On average, August has two days reaching 90 degrees or higher and during the past 20 years there has been only one day reaching 100 degrees or higher. Over the past ten years, low temperatures have dropped into the 40s all but once when the low fell to 39.

During August, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 68 degrees, an average low of 46 degrees, and a precipitation average of 1.58 inches. During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached the 90s during three years, into the 80s during six years and one year couldn’t make it out of the 70s.

Low temperatures fell into the 40s during four years, and into the 30s for the other six years. A trace of snow recorded in 1996 is the only record of any snowfall in August from records dating back to 1959.

A Mount Hood landscape.
The evolution of the darkroom by Gary Randall on 08/01/2016

I remember getting my first camera, a Brownie Hawkeye box camera. It used medium format 620 roll film. I wasn’t much more than six at the time and a roll of 12 exposure black and white film was a luxury especially considering that after the photos were carefully taken, you didn’t want to waste a shot, it was sent to the drugstore to be developed. That was where the mystery happened. All I knew was that I had to wait about a week for the photos to be returned to me in their colorful envelope complete with their negatives. Opening up the envelope, I had two things on my mind. Did they turn out and what the heck did I take photos of? It was like opening a gift.

As time went on, I grew up and transitioned to 35mm film and dabbled in the mysterious darkroom processes as a hobby. I would photograph in black and white and develop the photos myself. At the same time I was still shooting rolls of color film and sending it to the drugstore to be developed, but I was starting to understand how the best photos were made. I learned how photographers who were considered artists made their photographs.

I learned about tools and methods that were used to balance the tonality of the photo. The most notable may be Ansel Adams and his zone system that, in simple terms, used a system to balance the brightness and darkness of areas in the photo using methods such as “dodging” and “burning,” which used a small light to expose more or a paddle to block light to underexpose areas. I realized that the mystery could be affected.

I enjoyed playing in the darkroom, but I’ll admit that I probably would have preferred doing the same process with the light on. Not everyone is interested in learning the complexities involved in the chemicals and mathematical formulae to develop film photos. Welcome to the 21st Century and digital technology.

I think that it’s finally safe to say that digital photography has developed, no pun intended, in the last 15 years to rival, and in many ways surpass, film as the chosen imaging choice with both hobby and professional photographers. Both the cameras and digital imaging computer software can now replicate quite effectively the mystery of analog darkroom film processes. It’s quite easy for those who prefer to develop their own photos to pull up to their computer, download their photos, start a program and process their photos chemical free all while enjoying a nice tasty beverage of their choosing.

The digital single lens reflex cameras that have replaced their film counterparts create what is called a RAW file which can be considered a digital negative because it can be developed with software and saved as a finished photo file but can always be returned to in the future, reset and redeveloped into a new photo. With so many popular programs available a RAW file gives the photographer the ability to apply the digital equivalent of traditional darkroom developing to their photos and a lot more. The photo can then be sent to a company who can print your image as a frameable ink and fine paper print or on metal or a canvas print, dare I say coffee cups, t-shirts or even your own self published book?

On the other hand, for those who still have the simple need to “make snapshots and take the film to the drugstore” in the digital age, you're covered as well. Each camera can make jpeg (.jpg) files developed automatically with presets within the camera’s onboard software. You can choose one of several “image effects” or styles such as Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Portrait, Landscape as well as the ability for you to set and save your own custom effect. This allows you to set your preferred style, take your photos, connect your camera to your printer and just print your own photos. You can even set your camera to make black and white photos. Digital technology and the software included with the camera make it all very simple.

Couple this all with how we use our camera phones and you can see how, in this day and age, digital photography has become so popular. When I was a boy my enthusiasm for photography was limited to twelve photos in a matter of a month or maybe two. Today the sky’s the limit when it comes to how many photos one can make, and we no longer must wait a week for the drugstore to let us know if we failed. It is adaptable to all levels of interest, from snapshots to fine art photography.

Today everyone is a photographer. It has been computed that one trillion photos will be made this year alone. Like I always say, “Film’s cheap when you’re shooting digital.”

Round ’em up, head ’em out - the pesticide problem by Victoria Larson on 07/01/2016

“Round Up,” that supposedly “safe” weed killer is also known as glysphosphate. And it is not “totally harmless” as most farmers and homeowners have been told. You may have some on the back porch or in your garage or garden shed. Time for a “heads up” and let’s get it out of our biological systems.

The Environmental Working Group is the group that publishes the “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce” and it’s something we should all be aware of and follow. The list is of the most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables. Non-organic apples have been found to have the highest amount of pesticides for five years in a row. And much as I hate to say it, if it doesn’t have a “9” number sticker on it, there is absolutely no proof that the apple is pesticide-free.

Peaches and nectarines occupy the 2nd and 3rd spots on the “dirty dozen” list. The USDA tested produce samples and found that 2/3 of the non-organic samples to be pesticide-laden. This at a time when consumers want food that is not doused with agricultural chemicals. The Environmental Working Group states that the USDA found 165 different chemicals on the samples. Oops! And this is your protections agency. Have you read this anywhere or heard it on the news?

Topical pesticides aren’t the only contaminants. There are fungicides, miticides, nitrate fertilizers and the ever-popular Round Up. Also known as glysphosphate, Round Up is now classified by the World Health Organization as carcinogenic to humans. Meaning it’s been found to cause cancer in humans. The WHO has even found Round Up in human breast milk, infant formulas, and honey. Round Up is found primarily in and on non-organic foods.

Round Up residues in cattle feed can predispose cattle to botulism because it suppresses healthy gut bacteria. Do you suppose this is what disrupts human gut bacteria? Eating pasture-raised meats will help to mitigate this problem, as will eating raw (not processed) sauerkraut and certain supplements, once the GI tract is cleansed of overgrowths of improper bacteria.

Even eggs are exposed to Round Up. Chickens given a diet of non-organic corn or soy, and antibiotics have disrupted gut systems as well. And so do all of us when we eat those foods. Eggs from birds that are caged, cage-free or even free-range, can still be fed these rations. Only pastured eggs that come from hens that have no Genetically Modified (GM) corn or soy in their diets can be truly considered safe. That means only organic feed for those hens. Hence the explosion in home-raised hens. Twenty-five years ago I was begging my favorite feed store to carry organic feed. They do now, and I, and my hens, very much appreciate that.

GM crops in America have led to the blanketing of millions of acres of crops, including human and animal food crops. GM crops means that those plant’s genes have been modified and altered to resist Round Up. So the farmer/grower can use more Round Up on those crops. Thereby keeping the chemical companies in business and getting richer.

Resistance to Round Up is found in areas of Kansas and the Great Plains, where most soy and corn is raised. Most corn and soy is GM. Now the weeds are developing resistance to Round Up while those corn and soy crops have been modified to resist that chemical onslaught. Guess what we need is more and stronger pesticides. I’m being facetious here, as I’m never going to be a believer in more pesticides.

In the never-ending battle to fight nature, what do you suppose is causing the never-ending battle to fight disease? Daily decisions have the power to change lives, our own and others. Let’s re-evaluate what we stand for. Let’s show by our daily actions and choices in everything we do.

Fruits that should be organic are apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, and grapes. Veggies that should be organic are often those that have a high water content like celery, cukes, greens, peppers, and tomatoes. Foods less likely to hold pesticide residue, and therefore may not need to be purchased in organic form, include asparagus, avocadoes, cauliflower, cabbage, citrus fruits, eggplant, kiwi and sweet potatoes. But if you can choose all your produce to be organic, so much the better. Choose according to your beliefs and your pocketbook.

And get rid of that so-called “harmless” Round Up. Round ‘em up and head ‘em out, to the Metro Hazardous Waste station, and we’ll all be better off.

Let’s taco bout it by Taeler Butel on 07/01/2016

Celebrate this Independence Day with a southwest menu - picked for a crowd.

Tres Leches Cake


2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1½ cups granulated sugar

3½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

1¼ cups milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 eggs


1½ cups heavy cream

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

¾ cup milk

2 teaspoons rum extract


2 cups heavy cream

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a 13x9-inch baking pan, grease and flour bottom and sides and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat all cake ingredients together until just combined. Pour evenly into prepared pan.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for five minutes.

Meanwhile in a medium bowl, whisk together all filling ingredients and set aside. Once cake has slightly cooled poke the top using a fork approximately every half-inch apart. Pour the three-milk (tres leches) mixture evenly onto the cake. Loosely cover and refrigerate up to three hours or until majority of the tres leches has been absorbed.

In a large chilled bowl, beat topping ingredients until stiff peaks form. Once cake is ready, spread whipped cream over cake and lightly sprinkle with cinnamon.

Allow cake to cool to warm before pouring the tres leches into the cake.


Creamy shredded chicken for tacos

Serve with salsa, cheese, avocados and shredded cabbage.

4 skinless boneless chicken breasts

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup chicken stock

Juice of one lime

¼ cup finely chopped onion

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

3 tablespoons heavy cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Lime wedges and more cilantro for garnish.

Heat a large skillet over med/high heat and add in olive oil and onion. Pound out chicken to 1/2 inch thickness. Sprinkle each with salt and pepper.

In a large ovenproof skillet, add the chicken and cook for six to seven minutes, turning once. You want the chicken nice and browned on the outside. Set chicken on a plate and cover tightly with foil.

Remove skillet from heat and add the broth, lime juice, onion, cilantro, and red pepper. Return to heat. Cook and stir to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Bring to a boil. Allow to boil gently, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until the liquid is reduced to around a 1/4 cup. Reduce heat to medium-low, then add the cream and butter. Stir until butter has melted.

Add chicken back to pan and place the skillet over medium heat. Cook uncovered until the chicken is completely cooked through, about 5-10 minutes. Cool and shred.

The work starts now for the 2017 legislative session by State Rep. Mark Johnson on 07/01/2016

Summer is officially underway and in House District 52 that means picking fruit, hikes on Mount Hood, and enjoying the many summer festivals. The summer months are also an important time for me as a legislator to begin planning for the next legislative session. While January 2017 seems so far away, and thinking about the cold weather is the last thing we want to do, I start the planning process early to make sure that I have time to get input from my constituents.

One of the major legislative topics that will be discussed is a change to the minimum wage law. On July 1, Oregon’s minimum wage increases .25 per hour in rural counties and .50 cents per hour everywhere else. Next year, the state will be separated into three tiers: Portland-Metro, Nonurban and Rural. Many small businesses, non-profits and community organizations are finding the increase difficult to absorb and in such a short timeframe; the bill passed in February, the Bureau of Labor and Industries clarifying rules on June 15 and the increase begins on July 1.

Legislative leadership, including House Speaker Tina Kotek and Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick have acknowledged problems with the law as it currently is and stated that there will need to be changes in the 2017 legislative session.

Because of this, I am meeting directly with business owners and the Executive Directors of community organizations across the district to hear how the law could be adjusted to better accommodate their ability to maintain their business and continue to provide community services. One concept is flexibility in the requirements for young workers and trainees. Another exception may be for the agricultural industry, as they cannot control prices or their goods and may need to be on a different wage structure than other businesses.

Another reason I am focused on adjusting the law is because of the impact to public education. Oregon’s public universities have stated they will need to cut student work-study positions and make other budgetary cuts to account for the money that was spent on increased wages. The University of Oregon estimated $2.3 million and OSU estimated $4.8 million in additional wages for the 2017-2019 biennium. This puts the Universities in a tough position and I believe the result will be an increased tuition, which, in combination with fewer work options, is the worst possible outcome for students. What I will be introducing in the next legislative session is a bill allowing for certain exemptions at University and Community College institutions to help prevent tuitions from being raised to cover wage costs.

I hope you’ll join me to continue this discussion at a town hall I am hosting in August.

What: Town Hall

Where: Resort at the Mountain, 68010 E. Fairway Ave.

When: 5:30 – 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 4

If you want to discuss this, or any other topic, before the town hall, please contact me at: rep.markjohnson@state.or.us or 541-308-5306. Thank you for the honor of representing you.

(Mark Johnson is the State Representative for House District 52.)

A public service message about horrible pick-up lines by Ned Hickson on 07/01/2016

I’ve been ridiculously happily married for almost ten years now, so the singles bar scene is a long-forgotten memory. Or maybe just a deeply repressed one.

At least it was until yesterday, when an old friend came to town and treated me to a beer at a local hangout. As we began catching up, we couldn’t help but overhear a series of pick-up lines being exchanged by a group of 20-somethings who — at least in their minds, and thanks to several happy-hour pilsners each — had assembled a list of clever lines “no woman could resist!”

Their words, not mine.

In a moment, you’ll understand why.

Think of this as a Public Service Announcement of sorts, aimed at single men everywhere, and in particular to that group of 20-somethings once they’ve sobered up: I felt obligated to jot down some of your “fail proof” pick-up lines and explain — through a “trial” and “error” format — what you can expect should those lines leave your mouths in the general direction of an actual living female.

Let us begin…

Trial: Do you like magic? Because I’d like to make your clothes disappear.

Error: Even David Copperfield wouldn’t attempt this horrible pick-up line. If you do, chances are the only thing disappearing will be her drink in your face.

Trial: Do you know CPR? Because baby, I think I’m having a heart attack!

Error: This is particularly ineffective for men over the age of 40, who could easily be mistaken for having an actual heart attack. Nothing says “sexy” like coronary infarction.

Trial: I’m not a religious man, but you make me want to shout hallelujah!

Error: I must warn you there is a very real risk of being struck by lightning from God at the sheer stupidity of that line.

Trial: If I were Captain Kirk, I would love to boldly go where no man has gone before.

Error: Better keep that one in your Captain’s Log because it will send women away faster than you can say “Warp speed, Mr. Sulu.”

Trial: Someone call the police because I think you just stole my heart!

Error: With a line like this, the only call anyone is going to make will be to the 1980s so they will come take you back. Assuming they want you.

And lastly,

Trial: Baby, your smile is so sweet it should come with a calorie count.

Error: As any supermodel will tell you, there’s no point in counting calories when you’re too busy throwing up after a line like that.

In a random poll taken here in our office, women unanimously agreed that their favorite pick-up line starts out like this: “Hi, my name is…”

If any of you in that group of 20-somethings is reading this, there’s no need to thank me. If one woman is saved from enduring any of those torturous pick-up lines, that will be thanks enough.

Not to mention the lives this column might end up saving.

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available online at Port Hole Publications, Amazon Books and Barnes & Noble. Write to him at nedhickson@icloud.com)

The Adventure Continues: Episode VIII - Don’t Follow The Money by Max Malone, Private Eye on 07/01/2016

So the dearly departed Natasha was something besides what I thought she was. My only excuse: I wasn’t paying attention.

Perhaps it was the cheese aisle in the grocery store. Or the constant flow of important people in and out the door of Natasha’s house. Or the daring distraction of French women refusing to break eye contact while passing the afternoon at a nearby outdoor table at the local café.

Or maybe it was fancy pants Rickey Benoit, the neighboring horseman, and his thoroughbred interest in Natasha.

And that thought got me back to business. Rickey – not Rickey Schroeder, not Rickey Nelson – but Rickey Benoit (as in Ben Wah) needed a visit. After all, the fatal shot that snuffed Natasha came from the direction of his foppish horse farm.

 I ambled along the tow path of the barge canal that flowed between the two properties, past the scene of the shooting, checked out the discarded rifle still hidden in the bushes of a hedgerow – right where I’d left it – swung over the white fence of Rickey’s horse pasture and continued on to the stable making certain not to obtain any savory French manure souvenirs along the way.

Rickey was patting a stabled horse’s nose – why do horse owners spend so much time patting horse noses, I wondered – and he turned slowly toward me and shared that bemused French smile that alternately puzzled me and nearly made me gag.

“Monsieur Malone,” he offered in an inoffensive Rickey way. “I have been expecting you.”

“And I didn’t want to disappoint you, Mister Benoit,” I responded, refusing to give a Rickey an inch.

“Come wis me,” he said, leading me around the stable while I amused myself at the Frenchman’s inability to pronounce the ‘t h’ sound. Oh well. Zat’s show biz.

We settled into chairs on a broad expanse of patio that was dotted with enough rose bushes to make a White House gardener blush. No more were we planted than a servant arose from nowhere and cast an adoring smile in my direction – just another of those French things – and awaited Rickey’s request. Two espressos appeared in the time it took Rickey to carefully extract a Gauloise cigarette from a pack, tap it lightly on the back of his hand, light it, lean back and take a long drag that probably knocked two years off his life.

“So, Monsieur Malone, have you figured out what ze lovely Natasha was doing all ze time you were z’air?”

I resisted loaning him a ‘the’ or a ‘there’ and after a sip of the espresso that was strong enough to take me in a fair fight, I responded. “I believe I have, Rickey. How about you?”

“Oh, I assure you, sir, I always knew. I tried to stop her. But,” he shrugged one shoulder “Natasha sot she always knew best.”

I’d finished my espresso, causing me to lean forward involuntarily. “Who shot her, Rickey?”

“Choose any one of ze men who came sru ze house. I told her when zay were finish wiz her, zat would be zat.”

I held his doe eyes with a long glance. He wasn’t lying. “What were they doing with the money?”

“Zat is somesing we do not want to know, Monsieur Malone. But you saw zem. Zay way too dangerous for a simple horseman,” he said, smiling broadly, waving a confident hand encircling his estate. “And, a simple private eye, no?”

As I returned along the barge canal I couldn’t help but think that a Frenchman named Rickey might have just been right. And the manner in which these thugs dispatched Natasha when she was no longer needed did suggest that, besides being outnumbered, I was also in deeper than the canal water that trickled along as it had for hundreds of years.

Perhaps it was time to open the lock and sail away.

But first I had a date that night. Dolly Teagarden was coming to town and there was no reason under the Brittany sky that I should disappoint her. She said she wanted to “Wrap things up.”

I was all for wrapping things up.

After all, I am Max Malone, private eye.

Mount Hood Green Scene by Mary Soots on 07/01/2016

From the outset, the Mt. Hood Green Scene recognized that a key factor in sustainability was engaging youth as theirs was the Earth to inherit and to protect. Guiding them on how to take on that responsibility was something that we could do to help them on their journey through life. As one student stated, “Some of us are trying to help the environment like the Green Scene and other groups who go around teaching people about the environment and how we can help it sustain itself.” Building a sense of ownership and responsibility would require knowledge of the life cycle of goods. When we created the organization, we held a contest at the Welches Middle School to name our group. “The Mt. Hood Green Scene” was the brainchild of a young man named Benny.

Since that time, young people have been pivotal to our work. With the assistance of the science teachers at the Welches Middle School and at Sandy High School, as well as the youth of the Ant Farm in Sandy, young people have participated in MHGS Sustainability Fairs, our annual Recycling Event, as well as events such as clearing out the wooded area next to the Welches School for the Outdoor School.

Their boundless creativity and imagination have not failed  to delight our community, as did a group of students who created an outstanding dramatic interpretation of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax for one event. Earlier this year, we once again tapped into the creative juices of the Welches Middle School students by holding another contest, asking the Outdoor School students to do an essay, with the theme of, “How nature teaches us about recycling.” The Mt. Hood Green Scene, in partnership with the Mountain Times, awarded $500 for their Outdoor School program.

We would like to thank everyone who submitted an entry to the contest. There were two that we felt were exceptional, and we would like to recognize the authors and provide highlights (the complete winning essays can be found at mountaintimesoregon.com).

In his essay, entitled Recycling and Sustainability in Nature, Sam Butler describes various cycles. “Nature is defined as ‘The phenomena of the physical world, including flora, fauna, geography and other features of Earth’. There are examples of recycling and sustainability in all of them. To start, there is the Earth itself. The rock cycle is a process through which igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rock, along with sediment and magma, interact with and change into each other. This is an example of recycling. Moreover, this cycle happens by itself, without outside intervention. …The ecosystem is very sustainable. Anything that dies in a working ecosystem is used by other organisms. Nature recycles things.”

Similarly, Grace Bliesner’s essay, What Nature Teaches Us About Recycling and Sustainability also explored various cycles. “Some resources such as trees and water are renewable resources which means they can be reproduced. Others like coal and oil are non renewable which means the [sic] can’t be reproduced or it takes billions of years to reproduce them. …When it comes to resources and trash the best thing to do is reduce the amount you use so it doesn’t take so much energy and materials in the first place. The next best thing to do is reuse the materials and resources you already have. …Did you know that one large tree can make enough oxygen for four people! It’s true but some people figure the world’s population of trees has so far decreased by 40 percent. But they teach us about recycling too. Trees turn carbon dioxide and other harmful gasses into oxygen for us to breathe. Then we breathe out carbon dioxide and they turn it into oxygen it is a cycle.”

Understanding our world and how it works helps us understand the disruptions to the cycles of nature. It is our hope to continue to engage our community and our young people to continue to find ways to help our Mother.

End of El Nino brings above average temps for July by Herb Miller on 07/01/2016

The first week of June was hot with Brightwood recording 96 degrees on the fourth and Government Camp reaching 88. Starting on the tenth, a string of cool, showery weather extended through the 19th followed by moderating temperatures and the final week rewarding us with perfect late-June weather. Precipitation was close to average but temperatures ended two to three degrees above monthly averages.

The National Weather Service has reported the end of El Nino conditions and it’s forecasts are now based more on soil moisture and sea surface temperatures that border the coasts. Our area is forecast to have above average temperatures for July and precipitation near normal.

During July, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 75, an average low temperature of 51 and a precipitation average of 1.30 inches. During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached 100 degrees or higher during three years, into the 90s four years, and into the 80s the remaining three years.

On average, July has three days reaching 90 degrees or higher, and during the past 20 years there has been six days reaching 100 degrees or higher. Over the past ten years, low temperatures have dropped into the 40s without exception.

During July, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 68 degrees, an average low of 46 degrees and a precipitation average of 1.04 inches. During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached the 90s during three years and into the 80s for the remaining seven years. Low temperatures fell into the 40s during three years and into the 30s for the other seven years. July is a snow free month, and the only record mentioned is a trace amount that fell during 1981.

Rhododenrons and Mount Hood during a sunset.
The View Finder: Flowers for every frame by Gary Randall on 07/01/2016

Spring has come and gone and now we look forward to summer here on Mount Hood. Summer on Mount Hood is our best time for wildflowers. Most of the flowers at the lower elevations have come and are starting to go, but our elevation and snow cover delays the bloom and gives us amazing flower filled alpine meadows and forests full of native rhododendrons and dogwood trees.

Many landscape photographers wait in anticipation of the spring bloom. And because of this they develop an interest in understanding the cycles of nature including weather patterns and celestial occurrences such as sunrise and sunset times and moon phases. The more one understands nature, the better that they are able to interpret it through their photos.

In the early spring the flowers at lower, warmer elevations such as the east end of the Columbia River Gorge bloom. Beautiful purple grass widows are usually the harbinger of spring in the hills around Hood River and The Dalles, on both sides of the river, and can be seen poking up through coatings of fresh snow some years. Amazing views of the gorge with lupine and balsamroot in the foreground can be had in April and May. The lupine and balsamroot are the larger more visible flowers and will, on a typical year, bloom along side of each other, complimenting each other perfectly.

As the season progresses the flowers move up into the hills and in time to the high altitude alpine meadows of our snow capped peaks. The flowers can cover fields or they can be scattered along roadways. They can even be in your yards. The more that you look for them, the more you notice.

Photographing flowers can be a way to create some beautiful photographs. It can also be a great way to spend some time outdoors. The combination of the two can create a peaceful and centering situation. I can get lost in my own little world as I wander with my wide angle lens among the fields that cover hills or meadows or on my knees with a macro lens in my yard getting close up photos of flowers, mushrooms and bugs.

When I’m out to photograph the grand landscape I try my best to be there either in the morning during a sunrise and into the golden hour or conversely in the evening when the light is nice, but don’t discount a beautiful blue sky especially one with some nice clouds to break up the space. I mention that as an ideal, but the reality is that we live in Oregon and a nice drizzly day can yield beautiful photos as well. On an overcast or cloudy day the light is even and the raindrops on the flowers are beautiful. No raindrops? Use a squirt bottle filled with water to mist the flowers.

Let’s talk about the two previously mentioned forms of flower photography, wide angle and macro, or close-up photos. Both forms can be done with any camera.

Let’s first take a look at our cell phones as an option. Taking a nice photo of a field of flowers is pretty simple and the basic tenets of composition apply no matter what kind of camera that you use. While framing your photo tilt the camera up toward the sky or down toward your foreground to make sure that the sky isn’t too bright or the foreground too dark. Turn on your HDR (high dynamic range) setting and turn off your flash unless it’s getting dark and you want to try to illuminate your foreground. Another use for a flash is to shed light on a person especially when you are pointing toward the sunlight. To take a macro photo with your cell phone you can get a clip on macro lens that doesn’t cost much. The lenses usually come in a set. The other lenses in the set I can live without, but the macro lens works reasonably well.

Using a bridge camera, or an all in one non interchangeable lens camera, is handy. The zoom range can go from 24mm to 400mm and some have a fixed aperture of f/2.8 no matter the zoom range. So you can use the zoom in to get close to your subject or zoom out to get the wide view.

A digital SLR (single lens reflex) or even a film SLR, yes you can still use film, can give more options for photographing flowers but the basics, as mentioned previously, still apply. The biggest difference is lens options especially for macro photos.

On an SLR you can get a close up photo two ways. One is to put on an extension tube to extend the focal length of one of your prime lenses such as a 50mm, or you can use a longer focal length zoom lens. With an extension tube set up you will be closer to the flower than you could normally get, but it will allow you to fill the frame with the photo and still maintain focus. It’s not so good when you’re photographing bees. The second way is to use a longer focal length zoom lens and zoom in, a much safer way to photograph bees.

Buy a field guide to flowers. It’s fun to identify them. Be a Leave No Trace photographer. While in the field be respectful of the plants around you and try your best to not crush them under your feet. It’s easy to look out away from you while getting the shot and not see the flowers below you.

As always, the technical details mean less than the action of actually getting outdoors with your camera.

I may discuss a few minor details about the process but I always stress that it’s less about the process and more about the real reason.

The value of a diagnosis and of staying healthy by Victoria Larson on 06/01/2016

Worldwide there are many kinds of medicine. From medical doctors and surgeons in the United States to shamans and spiritual healers in South America. There’s really no good or bad in any person who helps you with your health. There are just different approaches.

Looking at some of those approaches we find a patient with wrist pain. Her first choice of treatment may be rest or heating pads. Her last choice of treatment might be surgery. Or she could try alternating hot and cold, a respected treatment used by medical doctors in the nineteenth century, but now considered “archaic.” But it still works for relieving pain.

Two containers: one with hot water as hot as you can stand it without burning yourself, another container with ice in it. Place affected part first in hot and then plunge into cold.

You won’t be able to endure either one for very long, maybe just seconds. Repeat three times in a row, ending with cold. It helps to recite, “this is good for me, this is good for me,” rather than cussing. If done correctly you should feel a slight throbbing but you will have hours of pain relief. Try it.

If this patient thought the hot and cold treatment was too “old fashioned” she would have probably gone to her computer, which would make her doctor obsolete, and her “all knowing,” because computers have all the answers, right? She might be obsessed with finding her “diagnosis” rather than finding pain relief. Is the answer in the diagnosis or in the response?

Certainly knowing the diagnosis can aid in treatment protocols, but knowing the diagnosis doesn’t necessarily lead to cure. Before insisting on diagnostic procedures, one could try alternating hot and cold, diet changes, herbs, homeopathics, hydrotherapy, fasting, meditation, prayer, sunlight, yoga or any number of less invasive procedures. Most of them costing virtually nothing.

The need to know the ANSWER may not necessarily get one. After spending big money on diagnostic procedures the “working diagnosis” may help....or it may not. My best friend from the sixth grade on was “diagnosed” with multiple sclerosis after college.

Years later her “diagnosis” was changed to liver cancer, which she eventually died of, after many, many years of treatments for MS. I’m sure the treatments didn’t cause her any harm, but it might have been helpful to keep looking for causes of her discomfort.

To give my best friend credit, she personally, at her own expense of time and money, tried numerous alternative therapies. Alas, her “diagnosis” actually got in the way of her alternative treatments. But she was willing to look at alternatives, despite insurance that sent her in the direction of invasive diagnostic procedures.

Insurance keeps our American medical system going. And expensive. Americans keep buying into this fear-based system. True, anything can happen to anyone anytime, but forcing people to buy insurance may be a backwards approach.

Don’t get me wrong, insurance is a great thing to have. But what if we put more value on healthy living? What if you were rewarded for giving up diet sodas or eating only organic food? What if you had to pay to be healthy, not pay to hope you don’t get sick. In China, the patient pays to ‘stay well’ and if the patient gets sick, he or she doesn’t have to pay. Just a different mindset.

Sometimes our approach to health needs to be gentle, non-invasive and self-motivated rather than giving away power to the All Knowing computer. The only All Knowing is out there in the Universe where trust lives. Perhaps we need more connection. With each other and with the Universe.

And perhaps we shouldn’t deal with wrist pain using an ax. The results could very well be dangerously disastrous! Maybe that alternating hot and cold treatment would be enough. Maybe it’s worth a try.

Cake! ‘Tis the season to celebrate! by Taeler Butel on 06/01/2016

 All you need is cake - choose the flavors of the season and stay away from the box.


Angel Food

12 egg whites (room temp)

Cake flour

1 3/4 cup fine sugar

1 1/2 t cream of tartar

1/4 t salt

1 t vanilla

1/3 cup warm water

Sift the flour, salt and half of the sugar together. Grease and sugar an angel food cake pan. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In an electric mixer mix water with egg whites, vanilla and cream of tartar. Beat on medium high, adding in sugar in a slow stream and whip until peaks form.

Sprinkle and fold in flour a little at a time, spoon into the prepared pan and bake 45 mins. Serve cake with freshly whipped cream and berries.


Pound cake

This cake makes me smile, it’s the base to my tiramisu. Add chopped toasted almonds or coconut into the batter before baking.

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup butter, softened

3 eggs

1 T vanilla extract

1/2 t salt

1/2 cup sour cream

1 3/4 cup flour

1 t baking powder

Pre heat oven to 300

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Beat together the butter and sugar in an electric mixer until pale yellow. Add the eggs one at a time, then add vanilla and flour mixture alternating with the sour cream.

Butter and flour a loaf pan and line with a long strip of parchment paper, if you have it. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean or with just a few crumbs.


Flourless chocolate cake

Also called a torte, this cake is better the second day.

2 sticks unsalted butter

6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 t salt

6 eggs

1 t vanilla

In a large glass or metal bowl over a double boiler add in chocolate and butter. In a separate bowl beat the eggs with the sugar until light yellow, then add in salt and vanilla, fold in egg mixture and pour into a greased and cocoa-powdered pan lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 325 for about 30 mins. Turn oven off and leave cake in oven with the door cracked for another 1/2 hour. Cool and refrigerate.

Improving roads a priority on the mountain and across the state by State Rep. Mark Johnson on 06/01/2016

When I think about what the core responsibilities of state government are, the issue of transportation is near the top of my list. Providing safe roads and highways and maintaining them so that we can travel to and fro and conduct business is important to each of us personally as well as to our economy.

Every time we fill up at the pump we are paying the gas tax that provides the funding for Oregon’s highway maintenance and construction. A good local example of a project paid for by this fund is the Hwy. 26 safety project that has been underway near Government Camp. The latest word from ODOT on this project is that it will be complete sometime in October. Although it’s certainly been an inconvenience at times for local residents, I think we can all agree that when the project is complete it will significantly improve traffic safety on that stretch of the Mt Hood Highway. Here are a few interesting facts that I obtained from ODOT:

FACT: To date over 30,000 truckloads of dirt and rock have been removed from the site.

FACT: Over 13 miles of blasting holes have been drilled in the rock along the highway.

The topic of transportation is an important issue in Salem as well. I think it’s obvious to most people that the highways in the Portland metro area are in need of significant improvement to address the ever increasing traffic congestion. At the same time many of our roads and bridges across the state are in need of structural repairs due to wear and tear and seismic updates. These factors are the driving force behind discussions about how the state should address these issues.

Recently Governor Brown appointed a bipartisan special committee of legislators to begin to lay the framework for a transportation package that can be passed by the legislature in the next session. Over the course of the next six months this group will be taking a close look at all areas of the state and evaluating the condition of the highways and bridges based on their safety and their ability to handle traffic flow. When assembling a transportation package for Oregon it’s very important that all areas of the state receive some positive outcomes from the new construction. Upgrades to roads and bridges create good paying jobs and it’s important that the economic benefits be allocated statewide.

The committee will also be considering what revenue streams should be tapped to provide the funding for the package. Traditionally the gas tax has been the primary funding source for transportation packages. But is it time to consider additional sources? Is it time to consider toll roads in the Portland metro area to pay for expanding the highways there? Electric vehicles take up space on the road but don’t pay any gas tax. How will they contribute? These are all questions that will be considered over the coming months.

If you have any comments or thoughts about what a new transportation package for Oregon should look like and suggestions for specific projects in HD 52 or elsewhere that should be in the mix please contact my office.

The best ways to do that are by emailing me at rep.markjohnson@state.or.us, or by calling my office at 503-986-1452. You can also find out about my events by joining my newsletter at www.repmarkjohnson.com/newsletter-signup,

Thank you for the opportunity to serve House District 52.

(Mark Johnson is the House District 52 Representative.)

‘The Crossing’ a smart crime novel that’s hard to put down by Sandra Palmer on 06/01/2016

Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch, star of many Connelly-authored police procedurals over the years, is having a tough time adjusting to not being a cop.

After a forced retirement, Harry is fighting boredom and frustration when his brother in law, “Lincoln Lawyer” Mickey Haller, approaches him for help proving that his client, murder defendant Da’Quan Foster, is actually innocent – in spite of a positive DNA match and his lack of an alibi.

Harry has a hard time giving serious consideration to going over to “the dark side” by assisting the defense after so many years as a police officer, proving crimes rather than trying to free a defendant.

But, as we know, Mickey is a great persuader - and Harry is really, really bored. So, tentatively at first, Harry digs in to what he loves – digging through the case details and current evidence to find the truth.

“The Crossing” is a great title for the book as Harry is soon obsessed by trying to find how the victim and the murderer crossed paths.

And, of course, Harry has to endure hurtful comments from his former co-workers in the LAPD because of his professional “cross-over.”

As we might expect, Harry’s close analysis of the Murder Book and all the gathered photos and evidence guide his relentless pursuit of the case. Soon a small detail – the murder victim’s missing watch that was never mentioned in the property lists – leads him down a very unexpected path. It takes time to make the connection but this small detail eventually helps Harry to break the case wide open.

Unlike many crime novels, Michael Connelly’s books rely on smarts, not violence, and Harry’s approach is very cerebral which makes each one a treat for those who want a challenging puzzle. This novel is especially interesting as Connelly brings us behind the scenes of the police investigators, the defense attorney and Harry as the private investigator on behalf of the accused.

And this novel is a skillful combination of “Lincoln Lawyer” Mickey Haller with Connelly’s long-time police detective all in one. A little for everyone this time! If you have never read Michael Connelly before, you will be surprised to find out how hard his carefully constructed novels are to put down.

Michael Connelly is the author of twenty eight novels, most featuring LAPD Detective Harry Bosch. His other series features The Lincoln Lawyer which spotlights unconventional attorney Mickey Haller. Connelly lives in California and Florida.

Want to be a better father? Get a bigger grill by Ned Hickson on 06/01/2016

Come Father’s Day morning, I will awaken to the sizzle of bacon and eggs, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and the shuffle of approaching feet as I lay in bed quietly thinking to myself: My God, my wife is leaving me.

Then I’ll remember: Wait! It’s Father’s Day!

It’s the day we fathers are revered for our wisdom, patience and, in a few rare instances, our neckwear.

For one whole day I’ll be the perfect father since my wife will be handling everything for me. She does this to help me relax and enjoy my special day.

The problem is, it’s hard to relax when, by handling everything herself, my wife makes it clear I could be replaced by a dishwasher and a few extra power cords.

Okay, that’s not entirely true.

I can still claim “The Grilling of Food” as my main contribution to the daily operation of our family. I have managed to keep this duty the way most men do, by making the task of grilling appear as complicated and miserable as possible, even if it means faking a heat stroke while grilling pre-cooked hot dogs.

I realize there are many new fathers who have made themselves indispensable during the diaper-changing phase. Just remember: your indispensability in this area — much like this morning’s tightly-wrapped dooty — will eventually disappear into the Diaper Genie. That’s when grilling even the simplest things, such as a bratwurst, should be made to look as difficult as possible.

To do this, you’ll need a large grill. The bigger the better. In fact, if a hibachi is your main grilling source, go now, hop into your vehicle, and accidentally back over your hibachi several times and replace it with something more practical.

And, practically speaking, we’re talking a grill roughly the size of a Jeep Cherokee.


Because you need a large cooking surface so that you can convincingly spray down flames and battle for control over a raging inferno that, if not for your grilling skill, would quickly consume everyone’s bratwurst — and quite possibly the world. Unless you are highly experienced in pyrotechnics, or live near an open gas line, trying to produce this same effect on a hibachi is very difficult.

Once you have your giant grill, you’ll need to keep a spray bottle handy. Your wife will assume it’s to prevent charring. This is partially true. But mostly you’ll be using it to spray on your face and body to appear as though you are perspiring when, in fact, you are frequently supplementing any loss of body fluid with liberal amounts of ice-cold beer hidden behind the grill.

Lastly, you should purchase a special, custom-made spatula that is so enormous and so heavy it can only be wielded with two hands. This will make the grilling process appear even more difficult by requiring a “spotter” every time you flip someone’s burger.

Put all of this together — spray bottle, giant grill, two-handed spatula — and you’ll have the dramatic image you want, which is that of a sweat-stained father staggering in and out of the flames of his grill, both hands gripped tightly around the handle of his 50-pound spatula as he devoutly retrieves the evening meal.

Sure, this may sound like a lot of effort; you could fold clothes instead.

But the effort is worth it when it comes to family.

Besides, it’s really hard to keep beer cold when it’s hidden in the laundry.

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available online at Port Hole Publications, Amazon Books and Barnes & Noble. Write to him at nedhickson@icloud.com)

Episode VII: The Olive Connection by Max Malone, Private Eye on 06/01/2016

While pondering the circumstances surrounding the bizarre demise of Natasha, I wandered around her house looking for clues.

The French Keystone Cops had searched the place while I was simmering in the cooler, with no apparent result (in either circumstance). It seemed they enjoyed Natasha’s lingerie department – who knows, a few of them might have improved their own wardrobe – but little else was disturbed.

Having been inspired at an early age – a moment that led to my present condition – by Dashiell Hammett’s “The Thin Man” series, I fashioned a beaker of martinis, stirred not shaken, and with a Nick Charles air of utter urbane aplomb launched my own search, figuring my recent knowledge of the notorious Natasha would serve me well, especially in light of the Keystone competition.

I skipped what was left of Natasha’s undergarments – having seen them in every possible array known to man or beast – and started in the kitchen. They didn’t find my passport folded under the wooden handle of the skillet, so why not?

I ignored the silly things that are portrayed in movies – after all, this is real life, right? – like the sugar and flour containers, and concentrated on items that would fit into any ordinary kitchen, but not in the extraordinary existence of Natasha.

There was an early clue: a pantry with shelves full of pantry stuff, like canned peaches, tomato sauce, noodles, olive oil. OK, you’re wondering how I could tell, right? I was in France. All the items were in French. C’mon, there were pictures on the labels.

Sheeeeesh. I poured myself another martini, and tipped my fedora to William Powell and Myrna Loy. If you happened to have missed the whole Nick and Nora Charles Thin Man bit, for shame. Have I ever led you astray?

The pantry was a clue, yes, but a second martini was the inspiration. The only pantry item that had Natasha written all over it was a jar of martini olives. I took the jar down, opened it, plopped two of the green delights into my martini, and detected a slight defect in the wood panel. One slight shove and it fell away.

Stuffed into the newly revealed alcove – like the pimentos in the olives – were several spiral notebooks, folded into funnels. I had made the olive connection.

Before opening the notebooks, I celebrated by draining the beaker of martinis into my glass, with an appropriate splash of two more olives. Keeping my priorities straight, I stirred up some more gin and vermouth reinforcements.

It was a cool, shimmering military necessity.

Retiring to Natasha’s desk, I began work on the notebooks. The first one had a list of numbers and passwords that made little sense, on first glance. But I kept staring. They were in Natasha code, and, after all, I was bound to break it.

Down the left side were a series of numbers: like 2003, underneath 1675, under that 1725, and so on. In a corresponding column appeared things like 48-51 01-43, and so on. The next column over was easier, dates, like: 020816, and so on.

Regular dates, in ascending order, corresponding to two other sets of numbers – nothing to celebrate yet, despite the fact my glass was empty. Then the second set of numbers began to make sense. I was looking at longitudes and latitudes. I didn’t know the locations exactly, but my experience aboard a container ship when the crew mutinied against a deserving captain had left me on the bridge for much too long a time, and I remember amusing myself with memorizing the longitude and latitude of my cabin on the mountain – but that’s another story – and now it wasn’t difficult to extrapolate the same for Reno, then stretching east across the Atlantic.

Location, location, location.

I celebrated knowing I had only one more column of numbers to decipher, plus having a new beaker of Dashiell Delight just added to the momentum.

Looking through the other notebooks – despite the martinis – things became clearer. There were international money transfers with coded bank numbers and SWIFT codes.

Natasha had been in the laundry business, and a few things needed to be cleaned up.

After all, I am Max Malone, private eye.

The Mt. Hood Green Scene: The dark corner of recycling by Mary Soots on 06/01/2016

Sometimes it seems that no matter how hard you try, things just don’t turn out the way you planned. Such was the case when last month we caught a report on Oregon Public Radio (OPB) about an exposé by the Basel Action Network, an e-waste watchdog group, after a two-year investigation on the fate of e-waste. According to the report, dead electronics make up the world’s fastest-growing source of waste.

The U.S. produces more e-waste than any other country in the world, sending 50,000 dump trucks of old electronics to recyclers each year. This doesn’t take into account used electronics that are not recycled.

The article was focused on the way that some recyclers of e-waste are exporting those electronics rather than recycling them in an environmentally responsible way as they have assured us that they do. About a third of the e-waste, containing toxic materials such as lead and mercury, was actually shipped out of the U.S. to Mexico, Asia and Africa. Environmental and occupational protection laws that are in force in the U.S. have no equal in developing countries. Workers disassembling the electronics in order to cull the precious metals were unaware that the water they were boiling them in and dumping back into the rivers were now full of toxic waste, and they were endangering the environment as well as their health.

Among the recyclers that the article singled out as shipping rather than recycling all of their e-waste were the Goodwill and Total Reclaim, a company base in the Pacific Northwest that has a no-export policy.

Total Reclaim has handled the Mt. Hood Green Scene’s recycling events over the past five years, so it was with a heavy heart that we learned that in spite of our efforts to prevent these toxic materials from contaminating our environment, some may have slipped through the cracks.

Fortunately, the greater part of the e-waste was recycled as we anticipated. But the reason that some of the waste was being exported was because the cost of selling recycled materials had plummeted and recycling companies are struggling to make ends meet.

The report shed some light into a dark corner and we must face some very hard facts. The cost of recycling is expensive. Perhaps the cost of purchasing an electronic item should include a small fee for the cost of disposal of the item.

But more realistically, we should look at our consumption patterns. Before the ‘Recycle’ aspect of environmental sustainability, we need to consider the ‘Reduce’ aspect and the ‘Re-Use’ aspect. Perhaps instead of upgrading the flat screen TV, computer, game console or telephone to the latest and greatest version each time a company wants to sell you a new one, it might be the time to think about what will happen to the old one. We can generate a lot less electronic waste by not buying everything over and over again, allowing us to keeping a little cash in our pocket.

Why not use the same cell phone one more year? Instead of purchasing unnecessary electronic gifts, why not spend the money to share an experience with your kids or your loved one? You’ll both treasure the time you spend together.  And we’ll all breathe a little easier.

How to use composition and light to help you take better photos by Gary Randall on 06/01/2016

Have you ever stood next to someone as you both took a snapshot of the same subject, looked at their screen and wondered what the heck they did or why didn't you think of doing that? Trust me, it happens more times than you would think, and it happens to the best of us. Taking a photo can be all about luck. Luck to be at a place or a moment or having the camera work just right, just having everything line up all at once if you're really lucky. But if you leave it all to luck, as in life, your chances of getting lucky will be slim. Therefore, it pays dividends to increase your chances of getting lucky by understanding a few basics of how to be more in control of creating the image with your camera.

Image creation is different than just taking a photo. Ansel Adams famous quote, “You don’t take a photograph, you make it,” explains it best. Think of it this way. You can walk up to a scene and point the camera at it and get a photo, or you can take a moment and look around the area around you. What do you see that can be a foreground interest? Let's say that you're shooting Mount Hood, for instance. Many folks, I'm sure, point their cameras at the snow clad peak beyond, ignoring the rhododendron bush close by that would give the photos some scale and depth. Is there some sort of trail or an element that would make a lead-in line. Perhaps a gateway of trees to frame the scene. Look around and find some components that, if you position yourself properly, will create a more thoughtful composition.

And then there's photographing people in landscape and photographing landscapes with people. I tell landscape photographers to include someone in the photo. It gives the photo scale and perspective as well as allowing the viewer to create a story in their minds as they view the photo. Conversely, I tell photographers who photograph people to put the landscape in the photo. Create a compelling photo of a friend or family member of a great time or location by including the whole scene. Get close to your subject and use a fill flash if you need to illuminate them, or have them walk off into the distance and stand on a rock using a noble adventurer stance, pointing off into the distance like Lewis and Clark or their arms thrust into the air in triumph. It will add a dimension of emotion.

Now that we've discussed adding a subject to a scene, or adding a scene to a subject, let's talk a bit about composition. I have an understanding of and yet an aversion to standards and rules. I understand how I can learn them and understand them but I love to break them.

Learning compositional standards is learning the mechanics of art. Learning how to break them is when art happens in my opinion. In the beginning the first standard one learns in art is the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds dictates a few rules that I feel is always a good place to start, such as not centering your subject, putting the horizon on either a top third of the frame of the bottom third of the frame and, in some forms of interpretation, in no case shall you center your subject, to which I would reply never say never, ever. Although I may start with the rule, it typically stops once I put my subject off center, such as a person at the side of the frame as not to block the view of the Mount Hood scene behind. At that time I will look to each side and up and down to position the frame to include everything that I want in the frame and excluding all that I don't.

Move in toward your subject or further away, zoom in or out. Try shooting lower or stand on something to put yourself higher. Picture your photo inside of a frame. Be creative.

Light is important when making a compelling image. Try to go out and get your shot either in the morning light or in the late afternoon when the light is less harsh and warmer. Midday sunshine is the most challenging light to get a nice photo in. Don't be afraid to photograph your subject into the light. If you're photographing people, try filling them with a fill flash because they will be in their own shade, or put them in shade and do a nice fill flash.

One thing that I rarely do is put my subject in a position where the sun is shining into their faces, primarily because they will be squinting their eyes, but their faces will be too bright in most cases. Use the light to your advantage but don't fight it. If you have the ability to do so return under a nicer light.

You have a lot of options to be able to create an image. Don't be afraid to experiment with some of your manual setting if you have them. It always pays to know your camera and to override the automatic setting if it isn't getting it right. Conversely, don't be afraid of the automatic settings. If your manual settings aren't getting the shot, flip it over onto Automatic and give it a try. The last thing that you want to do is miss out on the photo by messing with camera settings.

The next time that you're out with your camera consider what Ansel Adams said and make your photograph, don't just take it. Create an image not just a snapshot, but whatever you do capture the moment.

Open air markets offer local food for thought by Victoria Larson on 04/30/2016

With the weather sometimes improving at this time of the year, it’s time to get out of the BigBoxStores and into the open air. Many more farmers’ markets are opening up this month as the weather continues to keep us on our toes. That sometimes warmer air invites us to stroll among the outdoor booths and converse with our neighbors and eat fresher, healthier food.

Last column I mentioned the the average distance that supermarket food travels is 1,200 miles! A bit far for my taste that prefers far fresher. The average distance that farm market produce travels is around ten to 100 miles. It’s bound to be fresher, far better for you and more healthful. Choices will be limited to what’s actually in season, not something shipped from some faraway place.

The shocking knowledge that the majority of supermarket food comes from 1,200 miles away bows to the fact that much of it is junk. Not just junk food, but junk. Local sourcing of berries, eggs, fruits and vegetables is fairly easy to accomplish. Even dairy, fish, and meat can be more local. Many stores now “announce” their sources and the location that the available food comes from. It’s a good start. But if you don’t want salmon from China or berries from California, then take control yourself. Shop farmers’ markets. Pat yourself on the back for “eating in season” which may mean you have to wait for those strawberries or tomatoes.

Here’s something funny about human nature: if a local product costs $20 more than the product at the BigBoxStore, I can understand reluctance. But if the local product cost 2 cents more, where’s the hesitation in purchasing? Food banks are inundated with the products people say they are buying - organic eggs, veggies, and fruits. Inundated because these better products are not really selling as well as their BigBox 2 cent cheaper versions. Those foods that traveled the 1,200 miles to get to you.

Shopping locally can and should be fun. Shopping the stranger-faced BigBox stores is often not. We just need to get the word out to our friends and neighbors. Which may mean leaning over the back fence. It takes more effort. My farm business, farmacopoeia, was where my eggs, fruits and vegetables were sold in a small town farmers’ market for a couple of years. A market in the middle of Boring. There are only two stoplights in Boring and maybe a half mile between them. Balloons and signs announced the market each week. And I cannot tell you how many people would tell me they “never found it”. Now defunct, it may require using your eyes and ears to find the open air markets near you.

A $1 spent with a local vendor at a farmers’ market will be more likely to be spent locally as well. A $1 spent at a BigBoxStore will go to the CEOs and shareholders of a large corporation in another state! Be mindful. Who do you want to support? BigBoxStores exist because people want them to. Not such a bad idea if you have nine in your family, but probably overkill if there’s only two or three of you.

Ask questions of your local vendors. Something you really won’t be able to do in the big, corporate-run stores. The local vendors may not know all the answers to your questions but you will be able to have a dialog. Don’t make assumptions though. Think. Ask. Ask about fertilizer use, seed sources, location of the farm, was the produce raised by the farmer/vendor or brought in from elsewhere (which is often OK, but you deserve to know, don’t you?).

If you are buying plants and starts, are they Open Pollinated seeds or Hybrids? You’ll want to know this if you plan to save seeds from these plants to use at another time. Always ask about Genetically Modified (GM) seeds and products, and avoid them. Their safety is unproven and they may be the biggest threat to our food diversity (and our health) that our planet has ever seen. Besides, do you really think it’s wise, or even safe, for three or four seed suppliers to control all of the foodcrops grown worldwide? Probably not a really good idea.

Many, many studies have shown that societies can provide much of their own sustenance by growing organically or biodynamically, using open-pollinated seeds, cover cropping and manuring lands. Find out more. You owe it to yourself.

Camp Cookin’ by Taeler Butel on 04/30/2016

Pack a packet. Make ahead and freeze if you’d like. Pop in the oven or into campfire coals and everyone gets what they want.

Use double layers of heavy duty aluminum foil - use about 12” square per packet.

Chicken fajita packets.

Bake time 35-40 mins. (8 individual) Toss together:

1 thin sliced yellow onion

1 thin sliced red bell pepper

1 thin sliced green bell pepper

8 T olive oil

8 large chicken pieces (breast, or hindquarters). Add 5 minutes if using dark meat.

Seasoning mix:

1 T salt

1 T cumin

1 t each of chili powder, pepper, garlic powder, oregano.

Mix well. Place chicken pieces on aluminum sheet, pile on 1/2 cup of pepper mixture onto each and drizzle in 1 T olive oil & 1t of seasoning. Fold ends in, fold sides in. Bake 35 - 40 mins in 400 degree oven or in hot coals.

Salisbury steak packets. 

Serves 4. Bake time 35 mins.

1 lb sirloin burger

1 cup grated yellow onion

1 t each salt & pepper

1/4 cup cornstarch, mixed with 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1 package (8oz) sliced button mushrooms

Mix together with a fork the grated onion, burger, salt & pepper. Separate meat into 4 1/4 lb servings, top with 1/4 of the Worcestershire slurry and 1/3 cup of mushrooms. Fold and cook as above.

Banofee campfire packets.

Bake time 20 mins.

Place into packets:

1 banana

2 marshmallows

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup toffee pieces

Bake 20-25 mins. Let cool slightly and enjoy!

‘The Stranger’ twists around mysterious disappearance by Sandra Palmer on 04/30/2016

In this twisty-plotted novel, bestselling author Harlan Coben provides his trademark suspense in an unusual novel brim-full of the unexpected. A secret about his wife turns New Jersey dad Adam Price’s world upside down when a complete stranger approaches him with information that makes him doubt his wife, his marriage and his neat, comfortable suburban life.

After Adam confronts his wife she disappears, causing Adam to set out to track her down while at the same time seeking to determine the validity of The Stranger’s revelations.

Soon Adam uncovers more related situations and others who have been confronted by The Stranger or those working with him. Adam puts the rest of his life on hold to find his wife and to solve the mystery of how The Stranger operates and why.

Soon Adam realizes that his marriage, his family and even his life are in jeopardy but clues about his wife’s disappearance are widely divergent and confusing. And he receives no further contacts from her. Is she alive or dead? Has she left him permanently? Or will she eventually return to her home, job, and family? And what can he do to help her? Is his whole life that seems so ideal nothing but a sham?

Adam is afraid to share what is going on with neighbors or fellow parents of his sons’ lacrosse teammates but many of the parents seem strangely, inappropriately interested in his wife Corrine’s disappearance. Are some of them connected to his wife’s secret life? Are they part of her disappearance or aware of her whereabouts?

Coben can always be counted on for reliable suspense but The Stranger has even more twists and turns than normal for his novels. Even with all the complexities, Coben provides logical plot sequences for his readers to follow as Adam seeks to unravel the mystery begun by The Stanger’s revelation.

Harlan Coben is an internationally bestselling author of more than twenty previous novels. He has won numerous awards including the Edgar. He lives in New Jersey.

Ashes to ashes, dust to … hey, not so fast! by Ned Hickson on 04/30/2016

I’m turning 50 this August.

There. I said it.

The truth is, I haven’t given it much thought because I don’t feel 50. Sure, there are some days I roll out of bed, walk to the bathroom and realize the creaking and popping sounds I hear aren’t coming from the floorboards. And yes, I’ve noticed when I’m cleaning out my razor it looks like someone used it to shave our neighbor’s grey Schnauzer. But most days I throw on a rocker T-shirt or slim-fit dress shirt, leave it untucked over my jeans, lace up my superhero Vans or hiking boots and am on my way.

Then I rush back in for a second trip to the rest room.

But still... I’m technically on my way.

However, over the last several months I’ve started getting reminders from society’s collective data bank that I am getting older. The first came in my email back in January, when I got one of those Singles Looking for Love In Your Area! messages. I’ve received many of these over the years, and they always include the image of an attractive 30-something woman in a sun dress laughing with an equally attractive 30-something man as they sip wine on a beach at sunset.

Not anymore.

This time, the word “singles” has been replaced with “seniors,” and the two 30-somethings apparently found a hotel room, leaving behind a white-haired couple sipping on fruit smoothies and playing Canasta. Soon after that, I received a free trial subscription to AARP magazine. I have to say, there’s nothing like having an entire magazine full of people living it up on cruises, attending Broadway musicals and playing tennis to remind you that you’re still another 15 years away from retirement. I’ve also been receiving a lot more pharmaceutical spam. Mostly for reducing blood pressure.

And for increasing my, uh...


But it wasn’t until yesterday, when I opened our mail box to find a letter addressed to “Mr. Ned Hickson” from Neptune Cremation Service, that I felt the buzzards beginning to circle. Death was not only coming for me — he knew my address! I opened it and was a bit relieved it wasn’t a coupon with an expiration date. At the same time, I was a little unnerved by a statement in the opening paragraph that read:

“More and more people are being cremated — and the numbers are increasing every year!”

The numbers of what, dead people? Was this a veiled threat?

All of this made me come to the realization that, yes; I am getting older. At least on paper.

However, the fact that society’s collective data bank isn’t aware that I’m ridiculously happily married, am in reasonably good health and am more than a decade away from qualifying for Social Security just shows they don’t know everything.

Given the fact that I come from a long line of longevity and late bloomers, I think I’ll keep the cremation plans on the back burner for now (although that pun might kill someone) and think of approaching 50 as the second act of my life as opposed to the final act.

Besides, I still need to find out who keeps using my razor on that Schnauzer...

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available online at Port Hole Publications, Amazon Books and Barnes & Noble. Write to him at nedhickson@icloud.com)

Episode VI: The Horseman Knew Her by Max Malone, Private Eye on 04/30/2016

Well, as is so often the case, when inspired by a babe to the point where I’m thinking as straight as an Eddie Izzard stand-up act, Dolly Teagarden was not at the train station. Because, in her clever Anglo way, she was parked at the curb in front of the gendermarie in a Parking Interdit area. 

I wasn’t sure what “interdit” meant in French, but I was fairly certain it didn’t mean “reserved for Dolly.” That opinion was reinforced by the confusion Dolly had visited on two gendarmes, who were either loitering or planning an all-out approach.

The gendarmes’ day was not enhanced when an American private eye parted them like an Inspector Poirot hairdo before swinging into the passenger seat of Dolly’s cushy Citroen.

“Did you spring me, or did they just get tired of me?” I asked, breaking the ice like the crackling of a James Bond martini.

Dolly’s smile wiggled across her face, punctuated by a capricious drooping of her eyelids. “I’m quite certain it was neither,” she said, bending down to push the starter button inspiring the Citroen into action. “You have much to learn when it comes to the French criminal justice system.”

“I’m not much in the learning department, Dolly,” I said, searching for the business end of the seat belt. “I prefer teaching.”

“Jolly good, Max,” she said. “Have it your way, which is probably the way it usually goes. But I’m starved. You?”

We worked our way through a “Plat de Jour” which wasn’t bad, plus a bottle of wine which was as perfect as a grape can be. Then, against every instinct known to a private eye, I had Dolly drop me off at Natasha’s house.

The house had been searched, but in such a casual manner the only thing that might have been discovered would have been an elephant in the room. I was almost embarrassed as I went into the kitchen and unscrewed the wood handle on a 16-inch fry pan and unrolled my passport. With my exit assured, I poured myself a serious glass of 7-year-old Havana Club. Rum makes me as conspiratorial as a ticked-off Che Guevara.

Viva la Revolution.

I gave a lot of thought to the constant stream of French police that would come and go like a herd of women in a T.S. Eliot poem. As the rum drummed the rumba beat of my memory percussions, one image reared its head: All the police at Natasha’s house had short hair cuts, no facial hair, and immaculate finger nails. That description did not fit a single gendarme at the jail. Of the men who showed up in civilian clothes, they all bore the mark of the Middle East, even though I never detected an accent any different than the other Frenchmen. But in the spirit of full disclosure, the Malone family command of the French language was abandoned somewhere near Waterloo – with full apologies to the little corporal.

The only other person who made an appearance prior to Natasha’s death was the snooty horseman from the neighboring property. He had a stable of thoroughbreds and an attitude like one. I would see him in his cute riding pants, jaunty jacket, rakish cap and boots, trotting a handsome bay along the tree line separating the properties. On a couple occasions I witnessed Natasha chatting with him, stroking the nose of the horse, not him. His name was Ricky Benoit (pronounced Ben Wah) which raised the question: what’s a grown man doing with a name like Ricky? I didn’t like him. In the states, guys like him were always chosen last.

So did he figure in Natasha’s death? The gun shot did come from the direction of his property. And how did the flow of cops fit into this caper? What was Natasha doing that attracted so much attention, and eventually landed her on a slab in the morgue?

I poured another Havana Club and restrained myself from an impromptu samba. There was a lot of thinking to do, and a lot of questions that needed answers. And there was Dolly Teagarden.

After all, I am Max Malone, private eye.

Education, recreation and craft consumables top Johnson’s list by State Rep. Mark Johnson on 04/30/2016

Oregon is a beautiful place during this time of year, particularly in House District 52. After a challenging legislative session in February and March, it’s great to be back in the district during the interim and connecting with all of you again. It’s a privilege to serve as your state representative and although I am back home, my commitment to serving and leading our community doesn’t stop when the Legislature concludes. I am thankful to have the opportunity to share with you what I am working on during this time.

Education first, always

First, I want to recognize that Teacher Appreciation Week is May 2-6, 2016. Thank you, teachers, for all you do to educate and invest in our students. Building a stronger education system in Oregon has always been a top priority of mine, and I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish over the last five years as your legislator. It hasn’t always been easy, but I’ve fought hard to improve what Oregon can do in education. I will continue to focus on ways we can set our kids up for success, achieve better outcomes in the classroom and find solutions to challenges at every education level. I’m working with my colleagues in the legislature as well as with families, community colleges, educators and students around the district to plan ahead for the 2017 legislative session.

One bill I will be introducing will increase efficiency at the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission, or TSPC. As the licensing agency for educators, TSPC is responsible for issuing and renewing licenses. Educators have experienced frustration when trying to complete licensing requirements such as delays in processing, loss of paperwork, etc. Now, a new topic arising is the certification of technical professionals that want to be teaching in the classroom. There is currently no process for these professionals to go into a classroom and share their personal knowledge as an instructor. This is especially unfortunate because career and technical education is a growing part of our economy. There are opportunities for students right out of high school or those continuing education in a particular field, but we need to have instructors ready to teach. Creating efficiency at TSPC will relieve frustration for current teachers and open new doors for the futures of our students.

Continuing to increase access to post-secondary education is an important step for Oregon. This includes adults that, for whatever reason, need to return to college in order to begin a new job. The Oregon Promise was a big step forward in helping recent high school graduates enter community college. I will continue to focus on ensuring this program is successful and will research creating a parallel program that offers similar opportunities to adults taking a new direction.

Oregon’s Vast Recreation Industry

House District 52 is home to some of the most remarkable recreational activities available in Oregon. It’s incredible just how diverse our recreational and tourism industry is here—and also, how vulnerable it can be. Our weak recreational liability laws are a huge risk for consumers and business owners alike. Last session, I fought to update the ski statutes, and while that was unsuccessful, I was able to add some language into legislation that will have us look at some of the barriers to recreational tourism. Since then, a grassroots organization has been formed to advocate for these recreation businesses and for the needs of the consumers these businesses serve before the 2017 Legislature. You can join their efforts by visiting oregonbigtent.org. It’s important that we work together to make sure everyone can safely, responsibly and equally enjoy all that Oregon has to offer.

Meeting on Craft Consumables

Small businesses are what build great communities – they bring culture and diversity, create jobs and support our economies, and they change the dynamics for how we all work together to build our futures. My office participated in a “craft consumables” meeting put together by Rep Lininger (D-Lake Oswego) to discuss ways to help Oregon's craft food and beverage sector grow. Legislators from both sides of the aisle were in the room, along with producers of a variety of craft products. We listened to the hurdles that these businesses encounter and we brainstormed solutions. Here are a few of the topics that were discussed:

• Need for Oregon Research & Development (R&D) capacity: Consider investing in Oregon universities' capacity to fulfill that function so businesses do not have to seek R&D support from institutions outside of Oregon.

• Access to skilled workers: Invest in university training programs for skilled workers; ensure access for workers who can hand-harvest; support development of a craft food and beverage ecosystem that helps Oregon businesses attract and retain top talent.

• Vertical integration and direct access for customers: Adapt land use requirements to allow for direct customer access, development of tasting rooms, and integration of production and processing facilities.

• Branding and tourism: Consider use of transient room tax resources to expand tourism in the craft food and beverage sector and to strengthen Brand Oregon.

I believe Oregonians are unique in our ability to provide craft products. These industries create jobs across our state and are large contributors to our economy, which is why finding solutions now will help us remain strong and competitive nationally. There will be a hearing before House Special Committee on Small Business Growth During May Legislative Days (May 23-25). The hearing will be on craft consumables with a focus on producers identifying obstacles they face and potential solutions. Please contact me if you would like more information on how to participate in this hearing.

Working with you, for you

Serving as your legislator is extremely important to me and a role I do not take lightly, but I am living and working in House District 52 every day just like you — as a neighbor, small business owner, family man and an Oregonian. Having conversations at community meetings or over coffee with constituents or with someone at the grocery store or the Saturday market keeps me best informed about what’s happening in our district and what I need to do in Salem to better serve as your state representative.

I hope you’ll stay in touch with me throughout the interim. My office is available to discuss any issue you have questions about, need assistance with or just want to discuss overall.

The best ways to stay in touch with me and find out about my events are by joining my newsletter at www.repmarkjohnson.com/newsletter-signup, emailing me at rep.markjohnson@state.or.us, or by calling my office at 503-986-1452. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve House District 52.

(Mark Johnson is the House District 52 Representative.)

The history of Earth Day by Mary Soots on 04/30/2016

I remember it like it was yesterday. Standing in front of my family’s home talking with my sisters, I pulled out a piece of gum and threw the wrapper on the ground. My sister Theresa stooped down to retrieve it, telling me that I was “polluting.” It was the mid-1970s and this was a whole new concept, that I was responsible for creating an environmental problem. This was at a time when you would go to the drive-in, get your food and then throw the garbage out the window without any thought to where it might go.

We’ve come so far from where we were at that time and as a global society we have learned so much more about how our actions affect our planet and our own, as well as the rest of God’s creations’ well-being. I would like to reflect back on how our consciousness has evolved around our environment, and to the history of a movement.

Each year, Earth Day—April 22—marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement. The height of counterculture in the United States, 1970, brought the death of Jimi Hendrix, the last Beatles album and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” War raged in Vietnam and students nationwide overwhelmingly opposed it.

At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V-8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. The publication of Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962 represented a watershed moment, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries, beginning to raise public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and links between pollution and public health.

The idea for a national day to focus on the environment came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, Calif. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes from Harvard as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land. April 22, falling between Spring Break and Final Exams, was selected as the date.

On April 22,1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. By the end of that year, the first Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. “It was a gamble,” Gaylord recalled, “but it worked.”

As 1990 approached, a group of environmental leaders asked Denis Hayes to organize another big campaign. This time, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. Earth Day 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

As the millennium approached, Hayes agreed to spearhead another campaign, this time focused on global warming and a push for clean energy. With 5,000 environmental groups in a record 184 countries reaching out to hundreds of millions of people, Earth Day 2000 combined the big-picture feistiness of the first Earth Day with the international grassroots activism of Earth Day 1990. Earth Day 2000 used the power of the Internet to organize activists, [and] sent world leaders the loud and clear message that citizens around the world wanted quick and decisive action on global warming and clean energy.

Much like 1970, Earth Day 2010 came at a time of great challenge for the environmental community. Climate change deniers, well-funded oil lobbyists, reticent politicians, a disinterested public and a divided environmental community all contributed to the narrative—cynicism versus activism. Despite these challenges, Earth Day prevailed and Earth Day Network reestablished Earth Day as a relevant, powerful focal point. Earth Day Network brought 250,000 people to the National Mall for a Climate Rally, launched the world’s largest environmental service project – A Billion Acts of Green – introduced a global tree planting initiative that has since grown into The Canopy Project, and engaged 22,000 partners in 192 countries in observing Earth Day.

Earth Day had reached into its current status as the largest secular observance in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year, and a day of action that changes human behavior and provokes policy changes.

Today, the fight for a clean environment continues with increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more manifest every day.

The previous are excerpts from the eartday.org website.

May offers above average temps for the mountain by Herb Miller on 04/30/2016

Precipitation during the first three weeks of April was at a record low, with only six days receiving measureable amounts. Sunshine and warm temperatures were also in record breaking territory. The rest of the month returned to weather more typical for April. The record in Brightwood for average high temperature is 64.2 degrees for April set in 1987, and this year put it at risk. The winter snow total in Brightwood amounted to 7.75 inches which is only 29 percent of the average 26.7 inches. Although the winter snowfall in Government Camp exceeded last year’s, the amount this April was a scant six inches, due to the warm, dry month.

The National Weather Service remains influenced predominantly by the continuing El Nino conditions, but has now discounted any influence from the previous MJO activity. Our area is forecast to have well above average temperatures for May with precipitation near or slightly lower than average.

During May, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 63, an average low of 43, and a precipitation average of 5.88 inches. During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached the 90s twice, into the 80s during six years and the 70s twice. Low temperatures had one year down to 29 degrees, and the other nine years dropping into the 30s. Measureable snowfall during May occurred only twice from records dating back over 60 years – with two inches recorded on May 20, 1960, and two inches recently on May 5, 2010.

During May, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 53 degrees, an average low of 35 degrees and a precipitation average of 5.39 inches, including 6.7 inches of snow.

During the past ten years, high temperatures have had two years in the 80s, six in the 70s, and one year each in the 60s and 50s. Low temperatures had eight years in the 20s and two years in the 30s. The record snowfall for May was recorded in 1974 with 32 inches. The record 24-hour snowfall was set fairly recently with 13 inches measured on May 13, 2000.

Accessories that make a difference for your camera by Gary Randall on 04/30/2016

Last month I shared a few thoughts to consider when choosing the right digital camera for your use. I mentioned how one can easily get by with just their cell phone camera, while others will consider much more when deciding on a camera and will decide on a Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) or Mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses.

This month I want to cover a few accessories you will need sooner or later when taking photos with a DSLR camera.

Lenses: I recommend a wide angle to mid range zoom such as an 18-55mm and a 55-200mm will also come in handy. Many times a camera kit will come with both lenses. One can get spend a bit more and get an 18-200mm. Then you will have the most common range in a single lens.

A good backpack: your backpack will be your first line of defense from damage to your gear. Make sure that you get one that’s well padded and has partitions for your body and lenses. I like to make sure mine has an extra compartment for a lunch or a jacket.

A solid tripod: a tripod is used as a steady platform to place your camera on while taking a photo, typically during a longer exposure. You usually don’t need to use a tripod if your shutter speed is fast enough to keep the shot from blurring due to motion. Examples of when you would want to use a tripod is if you’re taking a photo in dim light, or if you are taking a longer exposure of a waterfall for instance.

Don’t scrimp on a tripod. You don’t need an expensive one, but don’t get a cheap wobbly one that will fail in the field or shake at the hint of a wind.

Filters: the only filter that I can’t live without is a circular polarizer to reduce glare or to enhance the blue of the sky. Many people use a UV, or Ultraviolet filter, but because digital cameras have a filter on the sensor to do it, a UV filter is now used to protect the front element of the lens.

A warning about using filters at night or with bright lights: you can get light refracting between the lens and the filter. City lights are a good example where you want to remove your filter.

Memory cards: get good memory cards that have good read/write speeds. It helps the camera write the photos to the card quicker as well as downloading to your computer. A fast card will help a lot if you’re doing a burst of a continuous sequence of photos.

A better card will be less apt to fail on you. There’s nothing worse that losing a whole memory card of irreplaceable photos.

Camera strap: a good camera strap will save your camera from hitting the deck. If you’re walking around with it, sling it around your neck. I buy neoprene straps with buckles that allow me to remove the strap from the camera while it’s on the tripod. It keeps the strap from getting caught on my arm and knocking the tripod over, plus it keeps the camera steadier without the strap flapping in the wind.

A remote shutter release: it’s very easy to get shake and slight motion blur in your photos by pushing the shutter button down while mounted on a tripod. A remote shutter release will keep this from happening. They connect via a wire or via remote. I use the wired type because I find them more reliable.

Computer: these days the digital cameras are making some amazingly fine and detailed photos, but that quality can come with a price. Processor speed, memory and storage will be taxed if you have an older computer. Make sure that you have plenty of room to store your photos on your machine, and consider backing them up to a separate external hard drive in case of computer failure.

I recommend deleting any photo that you deem a failure to save hard drive space. Today’s cloud storage services provide a great place to backup your photos. Another practical solution is to sign up to sharing sites such as Flickr or even printing sites such as SmugMug to store your photos.

The bottom line: my approach to photography, and most things in life, are to keep it all simple. You don’t need a truck full of doo-dads, gizmos and what-nots to take a good photo. Your best accessory to your photography is going to be your knowledge of your camera and how to use it on manual to have control of the light that makes your photos.

(Gary Randall is a mountain photographer and graphic artist. Find him and updates on his photography classes on Twitter (@thegaryarandall), Facebook, Instagram and www.gary-randall.com.)

The View Finder: What to look for in a camera by Gary Randall on 04/01/2016

There’s the old adage that, the best camera is the one that you have with you, and a lot can be said for that.

You can’t take a photo if you don’t have a camera in your hand. This role is easily served well by the modern cell phones, which could be considered a camera first and a phone second in many cases. Most of the time the photos that are made are perfectly acceptable. With a little experience and an application or two and an Instagram account one can call it good and their photographic needs are taken care of.

Because cell phones have their limitations, if a person wants to be able to take a little better quality photo, especially in challenging light or fast action, they can choose some excellent cameras today that make the pro models from years past look primitive, even at entry and bridge camera levels. A bridge camera, or prosumer camera, is one that gives the user the ability to either shoot in automatic, programmed modes or manual mode. Generally speaking they don’t have interchangeable lenses but have a large zoom range. Some offer from 24-1000mm equivalent focal length zoom capabilities. These cameras usually run from around $300 to $1000, with the average around $500 to $600 and cover the majority of the needs of the average consumer or hobbyist.

The next step up the progression of abilities are the Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras. The majority of serious hobbyists or professional photographers will want to own a DSLR camera because of their increased capabilities such as more control, larger file sizes for larger printing, lower light capabilities, better lenses etc. I tell anyone who is considering buying a DSLR camera that if they don’t plan on learning how to use it on any other setting than Auto to not bother with the expense as the Bridge cameras will give you the equivalent image. An entry level DSLR can cost as little as $500 for the camera body with lenses additional, up to $6000 - $8000 for a pro model with a myriad of costs and models between. I will cover the differences in the different types of DSLR cameras in a future article.

It is important to note that technology marches on and in the next few years we can see a shift in the camera paradigm since the Japanese 35mm film SLR’s came to the consumer market in the 1950’s. The next big thing in cameras is the elimination of the mirror mechanism that’s the main part of the single lens reflex camera. The mirrorless cameras have no moving parts and the sensor controls the exposure. Another benefit is that they are smaller and lighter. Manufacturers such as Sony, Fuji and Panasonic are leading the way while, oddly, the big guys Canon and Nikon seem to be dragging their feet at this time, but it’s logical that all of the other will follow suit soon.

I always tell anyone who wants to use a camera as a hobby to create artistic images that it matters little the type of camera. I have made beautiful photos with a wooden pinhole camera and 120 film. A pinhole camera is, essentially, a box with a little hole in the front. The photographer uncovers the hole for a moment to expose the film and then covers it again. I have made some photos with an old Brownie Hawkeye that would rival a Hasselblad. Don’t use the excuse that you don’t have a good camera to start taking photos. Use what you have. Learn how to use it. Learn what good and bad light is. Learn a few composition rules and practice. Learning photography is like any skill. It takes a lot of practice. And the true art of photography doesn’t depend on cost or complexity of the paintbrush. There’s a lot to be said about using gear that is more suited to your skill level and growing to the point where the camera’s limitations are limiting your own. I always say that a pair of fancy golf shoes or an expensive titanium driver is not going to help my golf game. If I were a pro or a very good hobbyist, maybe.

I have not addressed or endorsed a recommended brand. There’s no reason to choose one over the other. Arguing about Canon or Nikon is like arguing about Ford or Chevy. It’s all about personal preference. The brands do what brands do. They leap frog each other to try to have the best. We all win because of it. The main reason that a person chooses one brand over the other is the user interface or lens selection. And once you choose a brand and invest in a few lenses, one has little incentive to change brands just to buy a whole new set of lenses, which is indeed something to consider when choosing a brand.

I should also mention that if you are an old film fan you can still purchase film and have it developed, but, sadly they have taken our Kodachrome away!

(Gary Randall is a mountain photographer and graphic artist. Find him and updates on his photography classes on Twitter (@thegaryarandall), Facebook, Instagram and his website, www.gary-randall.com.)

Making healthier choices for us and for Earth by Victoria Larson on 04/01/2016

You’ve heard the expression, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the pollution.” During this “Earth Day” month, lets look to the source of our health: our air, our water, our food, our sustenance. Our nation’s worst air is said to be in New Orleans. I’ve been there, twenty years ago, and it didn’t seem so bad. China’s air is the worst I’ve seen. I’ve been there too. I’ve never been to Mexico City but I understand it’s really bad there.

Because air pollution usually comes to us slowly, we really don’t notice it. I’ve lived in Los Angeles where the smog caused me to cover my nose and mouth while travelling the freeways. The air stung my eyes and made breathing uncomfortable. My beautiful cat died of lung cancer, as did some of my chickens. And I lived in “the country” outside of L.A. forty years ago. Now the smog over Portland and surrounding areas often looks like L.A. forty years ago. And now I live in “the country” again. Around here, in the areas surrounding Portland. It’s here too, people. All around us. And we’re part of the problem. Forty-nine carcinogens are in the air around us.

And there’s pollution in our soils too. And in the water. It’s finally catching up to us. And it’s not just in “certain areas” that may or may not be in the news. This has been creeping into our lives for a long time. Our Earth is a biological system. Just like we are. If we want to be healthy, we need to care for our Mother, our Earth. Since WWII we’ve been glutinous, not just with food but with everything. More, more, more is not sustainable. Taking without giving back is not a viable equation.

Bigger is not necessarily better and in fact is often worse. Big corporations, oil companies and banks hold the world’s wealth. What can we do? Lower our expectations by just saying “no.” Shopping carefully, frugally, locally, keeps your spending down. Driving less keeps more of your money in your pocket and keeps you from playing the “gas price game.” Growing organically or biodynamically gives back to the soil (compost, cover cropping) to decrease or eliminate the use of chemical fertilizers and herbicides.

NASA reports tell us that 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide is the maximum concentration humans are adapted to as our currently evolved species. To its credit, the Big City (as we outlanders sometimes refer to it) of Portland managed to decrease its per capita carbon emissions by more than ten percent, mostly due to increased bike paths. It’s unfortunate that biking in the outlying areas is often less safe than in the city!

When I first moved to my farm, twenty-eight years ago, I remember counting how many cars drove by in a day. That number was somewhere between six and twelve cars and a few pick-up trucks, maybe the occasional tractor. Now at least three log trucks, three container freight trucks, and sixty to ninety cars speed by every day. Maybe it’s a farm but I’m not still in “the country” am I?

We need to be more accountable, more mindful. Almost one dollar of every amount of money spent in a supermarket goes to cover the cost of advertising, packaging, storage and transportation. Is that what you really need to be paying for? One out of every four vegetables or fruits never even makes it to our tables because they spoil in transit or storage. Gratefully, many stores now inform us of locally produced items, though “local” is a variable term. Still, it’s something. Nonetheless, if not locally raised (for instance, out of season foods) the average distance that your supermarket food has traveled is twelve hundred miles! Maybe we don’t need strawberries in December. Lingonberries would be just as red and as delicious.

In 1960 the average person in the developed world ate 116 pounds of meat protein. Now that figure is well over 200 pounds per person, per year. Don’t get me wrong, the Paleo and GAPS diets are fine, but there is no question that we need to move towards a more plant based diet. It takes eleven times more fossil fuel to raise a pound of animal protein as it does to raise a pound of plant protein. Plants are really good for you.

Food is important. It’s time to learn to cook, to spend more time in the kitchen and in the garden. We should attempt to get six to ten servings of variably pigmented produce into us each day. Doing so would eliminate many of the digestive and elimination and obesity problems facing so many Americans today. It takes approximately four hundred gallons of oil each year to feed an American, and that’s just in packaging, refrigeration and cooking. Are we “eating oil” and spewing out greenhouse gasses? Perhaps we could eat more of our vegetables raw if tolerated. Spring is arriving and now that’s more likely and possible.

We need to be more mindful. Make some lifestyle changes. When a video game console is on, it can use as much electricity as a couple of refrigerators. Turn your refrigerator down. It’ll be cold enough. Turn your water heater down. It’ll be hot enough. Take fewer baths or showers. Unless your job has you getting really dirty, don’t even bathe daily. It’s hard on your hair and skin to do so. If we learn to turn off the water while scrubbing our hands, we can conserve water. Or make a rain barrel.

Insatiable is not sustainable. We can be part of the solution, we just need to curb our voracious appetites.

A spring feast by Taeler Butel on 04/01/2016

Spaghetti squash bake

1 T olive oil

1 T butter

1 small yellow onion, chopped

1 medium carrot, grated

1 medium zucchini, sliced

1 cup minced mushrooms

1 t rosemary

1/2 t basil

1/2 t oregano

2 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup red wine

1/2 t each salt & pepper

3 cups freshly grated mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Poke holes all over squash with a knife; bake in microwave 10 minutes. Let sit for five mimnutes, cut in half, scoop out the seeds and discard (or keep if you’re planning to roast them). Place the two halves cut-side down in a large baking dish or rimmed sheet pan.

Bake for 45 minutes to one hour. Once the squash has cooled, use a fork and scrape the flesh of the squash and  set aside.

In a 10-inch skillet add the butter and olive oil. Add in the chopped onion and grated carrot. Cook for five to eight minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent. Remove the cooked onion and carrots to a plate, and set it off to the side.

Add the sliced zucchini squash to the pan. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until the vegetables start to soften and turn a little golden, stirring occasionally.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the minced mushrooms and garlic. Stir and cook for two to three minutes.

Add the cooked onion and carrot, rosemary, basil and oregano and cook for one additional minute.

Next pour in the can of crushed tomatoes and wine, and add the sugar, salt and pepper. Stir and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

In a rectangular baking dish (7x11), add a spoonful of the sauce and spread it around the bottom of the pan. Evenly lay down half of the spaghetti squash and season with a little salt and black pepper.

Top with half of the sauce, a cup of the grated mozzarella and a quarter cup of the grated parmesan.

Layer the rest of the spaghetti squash, more salt and pepper, the remaining sauce and the remaining two cups of grated mozzarella.

Sprinkle the remaining quarter cup of parmesan over top.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.


Quinoa taco bowls

1 lb ground chicken or turkey

1/2 yellow onion diced

1 can black beans

1 cup frozen corn

1 can diced tomatoes w/chiles

1 t each cumin - salt- chili powder

1 T oil for cooking

1 cup quinoa cooked

1/4 cup copped cilantro

Toppings- sliced olives, salsa, shredded Monterey Jack cheese, lettuce, guacamole etc.

In a large skillet warm oil over med/high heat add chopped onion, spices and ground turkey breaking up turkey with a wooden spoon.

Cook meat throughly. Add in canned tomatoes quinoa, corn and beans. Top with cilantro and toppings of your choice.


Broccoli salad

1 bag broccoli slaw

1/2 cup dried cranberries

2 hard boiled eggs, chopped

1/4 cup sunflower seed kernals

1/2 cup cooked sliced bacon

1/4 cup sliced button mushrooms

1/2 cup poppyseed dressing

Toss all ingredients in a large bowl; salad can be refrigerated as it will not wilt like lettuce.

What’s next after 2016 legislative session by State Rep. Mark Johnson on 04/01/2016

We just finished a fast and furious short session in Salem and now I am back home in Hood River. And although we have 11 months until the next session, I’m using this time to look ahead and prepare. As an experienced member of the Legislature, I know the interim is a time to connect with my constituents, be engaged in the various communities of House District 52, and really delve into and research issues that can make a positive difference. So here is a sneak peek at the life of your Legislator over the next month.

One area that I will be focused on in the coming weeks is the Columbia River Historic Highway. I was appointed by Governor Brown to be a co-convener of a collaborative taskforce which is tasked with addressing issues stemming from overcrowding along the Gorge. It’s no secret that the Gorge is an extremely popular tourist destination for both in-state and out of state visitors. The tremendous increase in visitor counts is putting great pressure on existing resources. In May we will be having a signing ceremony to present our proposed changes along with celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the Historic Highway. The event will feature an announcement of how various agencies and stakeholders agree to do their part to alleviate the congestion along the Highway so that people who live in that area, and visitors, can enjoy it without inflicting harm on the natural resource.

Another way I will stay connected is by doing presentations in the various communities that make-up HD 52. In the next month I will get the opportunity to present to the One Gorge group about how the work that we did in the February session resulted in streamlining the process for the Port of Hood River to access federal funds to assist with the eventual replacement of the bridge at Hood River. I will also be hosting three town halls (Welches and Hood River in March, and Sandy on April 18, 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the library) to share a debrief of the short Legislative session with my constituents and get feedback on current issues and future solutions. I will be doing similar presentations at the Rotary and area Chambers. See below for a list of ways that you can hear about my events and stay engaged.

As we move through the interim I will also be focused on researching various policy ideas. Education is a key priority of mine, so my office is already looking ahead to the ‘17 session and researching potential legislation that can improve outcomes for students. Over the coming months my staff and I will be meeting with teachers, superintendents, and other stakeholders and listening to their ideas about practical changes that could be made to improve public education in Oregon. We will also be sharing our findings with my legislative colleagues in order to build bipartisan support for our efforts to better prepare our students for college or career. I will also have the opportunity to participate in national education conferences that will deepen my understanding of what other states are doing to improve outcomes for their students.

And last, but not least, while I’m home in Hood River, my wife Melodi and I like to play tourist!

It’s nice to be able to go wine tasting, try a new restaurant or find a new hike with a spectacular view. In the Gorge and up on Mount Hood, there’s always a new place to explore. Enjoying this time in the district is important because it allows me to deepen my understanding of each of our communities and their diverse needs. Having the time to travel throughout the area and explore deepens my appreciation for what a special place this is. 

As always, I want to be available to all of my constituents, so I hope you’ll stay in touch with me throughout the interim. My office is available and open to discussing any issue that you need assistance with or just have questions about. The best ways to stay in touch with me, and find out about my events, are: 

Join my newsletter at: www.repmarkjohnson.com/newsletter-signup

Email me: rep.markjohnson@state.or.us

Calling my office: 503-986-1452

Thank you for the opportunity to serve House District 52.

(Mark Johnson is the House District 52 Representative.)

Mitchell Zuckoff takes readers behind Benghazi attacks by Sandra Palmer on 04/01/2016

Yes, this book is about THAT Benghazi incident. With the help of a group of security personnel who survived the dreadful attacks on the US Embassy and Annex In Benghazi, Syria on Sept. 11, 2012 – resulting in the death of US Ambassador Chris Stevens among others – author Zuckoff has collected a detailed account of the terrifying attacks and the puzzling delay in U.S. response to the threats and attacks.

Even at the time, it was hard for the protection details on the ground In Benghazi to understand why governmental authorities failed to prioritize the warnings – and then the attacks – or the many delays in responses that were finally authorized. And it is hard not to agree that lives would have been saved – including that of US Ambassador Chris Stevens – if additional protection had been provided when requested.

Individual first-hand accounts from Mark “Oz” Geist, Kris “Tanto” Paronto, John “Tig” Tiegen, Jack Silva, Dave “D.B.” Benton and Tyrone “Rone” Woods provide clear descriptions of the military challenges faced once the attacks on the embassy compound begin, eventually spilling over to the CIA annex location a few miles away with each wave of attack more serious than the last. They also describe in detail the frustrating search for ambassador Stevens in the smoky, burning embassy complex.

While the sympathies of the readers are certainly with the plight of Ambassador Stevens, it is the personal experiences and decision-making of the security teams facing impossible odds that have our full attention.

And when casualties and deaths occur, these are the participants who have our primary sympathies – in large part because we have been experiencing the events through their eyes and emotions.

Have lessons been learned? It’s hard to say why events unraveled in the manner they did or if challenges in the future would be handled differently. For this reason, it is worthwhile to explore the attacks in Benghazi on Sept. 11 and 12, 2012 and for appropriate reflection on US preparation and planning.

Readers who enjoy military procedurals will certainly enjoy this tense account which has lessons for us all. However, expect to be haunted by the stories contained in this volume and skillfully collected by author Zuckoff.

You owe it to the world to pursue your weirdness by Ned Hickson on 04/01/2016

As an Oregonian who spent several years living in Portlandia, I feel the city’s unofficial mantra “Keep Portland Weird” is a noble pursuit. The world needs weird. Not the current presidential candidates kind-of-weird, which is like a Stephen-King-horror-novel-with-a-rabid-dog-and-terrifying-clown-kind-of-weird.

No, I’m talking about a less volatile, better coiffed and more enjoyable kind of weirdness that helps us keep a fresh perspective on daily life.

Albert Einstein, Edgar Alan Poe, Leonardo da Vinci, Lucille Ball — all were geniuses in their own way who reminded us to see the world with wonderment by unapologetically pursuing their weirdness.

I’m no genius. I’m reminded of this every time I spend five minutes getting frustrated with the TV remote, then realize it’s the garage door opener — usually after the neighbor calls to tell me our Labrador is repeatedly being knocked unconscious. Though I’m no genius, I do consider myself weird. And so do others. Particularly my teenagers, who avoid eye contact whenever we’re in public because they’re afraid I’ll do something weird that will embarrass them.

Or as they jokingly say, “DESTROY OUR LIVES!”

Ha! Ha!

Ok, maybe they’re not joking.

The truth is, though they may feel being in the car with Dad while he orders from the drive-thru in an Arnold Schwarzenegger voice could have a lasting impact on their reputations — or at the very least completely screw up our dinner order — I believe the example of infusing random acts of weirdness into daily life is an important one.

That’s because being weird requires looking at a common situation in an uncommon way. As a parent, there are few skills I want my children to develop that are more important than the ability to think unconventionally. It’s that type of thinking that leads to technological breakthroughs, builds self-confidence and develops problem-solving skills.

Not counting me and my TV remote, of course.

Being able to wield weirdness is like having Thor’s mighty hammer to smash negativity and the mundane. Although if you think you’re going to look as cool doing it, you’re kidding yourself. Regardless, it’s an effective way of turning a bad situation into a better situation; an unfortunate circumstance into a laughable moment; Kanye West into ... another laughable moment.

You get the idea.

The world is getting more plugged in and, coincidentally, more stressed out. Weirdness is a necessary coping mechanism that benefits everyone.

So please do the responsible thing by embracing your weirdness. Or even someone else’s.

But if they’re part of the Portland Naked Bike Ride, I’d have them put pants on first.

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available online at Port Hole Publications, Amazon Books and Barnes & Noble. Write to him at nedhickson@icloud.com)

Episode V Passport, Please by Max Malone, Private Eye on 04/01/2016

Much like snobbish French waiters, the gendarmes ignored Dolly Teagarden and me, leaving us to whatever it was we thought we were about. And whatever that was, the gendarmes/waiters could not have cared less.

This was fine with me on several levels, least of which was not sitting across from Dolly, answering her questions which came at me like the purring of a Persian cat, only accented by her delicious English properness.

Having tromped through the short weeds of Natasha LaRue’s and my relationship, Dolly proceeded to ask about Natasha’s dealings with the French police. I told her they came and went at her house at irregular intervals, and that I was never privy to what it was about, nor was I particularly interested.

Dolly seemed to understand that last part perfectly, giving herself away with an unconscious crossing of her legs and rocking of an ankle.

I continued for a bit longer, telling how much I didn’t know about Natasha, when suddenly it dawned on me. I remembered the time in Ecuador when an Australian woman popped her clogs on the couch of the apartment adjoining the one I was staying in, and the more I was unable to tell the local constables due to not knowing any more Spanish than what allowed me to order freely from the menu at Taco Bell, the less interested they were in me and the more interested they were in getting the Aussie’s corpse out of the apartment building and into the back of a van before the devil showed up as was evidenced by the continual crossing of themselves as they went in and out of the apartment. But that’s another story.

So the solution was to play dumb.

Performance art came quickly. Dolly’s allotted time with me had expired, and she exited with a quick glance back that either meant “hang in there” or “meet me at the train station by nine o’clock.” I actually glanced down at my watch.

Enter the bald investigator with the audacity to sit down in Dolly’s chair. He was accompanied by an armed guard – remember I had my handcuffs removed – and I have to say the guard appeared to be able to take care of himself. He was the first French policeman to fall into that category.

The inspector began. “I am certain, Monsieur Malone, that you have not to be interested in staying here -- his eyes surveyed the dank surroundings -- any longer than you wish.”

The act began, in step with his fractured grammar and syntax.

“That’s right Mr. Inspector,” I said, flashing a broad, aw shucks, Warren Beatty smile. “I know you have a job to do, but I sure would like to just, you know, go back home.”

“You never explained to me your relationship with this, uh, Natasha LaRue,” he said, one eyebrow rising toward a long abandoned hairline.

“Well, Inspector, you saw Natasha, right?” I offered in a conspiratorial, between-you-and-me-wink-wink manner.

“I saw her body,” he said, clearing his throat.

“Yes,” I said, my head nodding like a cuckoo on a clock striking midnight.

The Inspector looked away, shuffled the folder and clutched it to his sunken chest for support. He slowly raised his doleful eyes and looked back at me, only to find Warren Beatty.

“Monsieur Malone,” he managed to wiggle out, “you understand we must hold your passport and you are not leave the country, or even Brittany, until we return it and clear this up.”

“I’m pretty sure your crack detectives have my passport,” I said, the smile on my face inching dangerously close to making me ill. “It was at Natasha’s house.”

“I am certain of that as well,” he said, rising from his chair, which, for him, was a short commute.

And he was gone, along with the guard. There I was, left alone, under hot lights that would have broken a Marine to reveal troop movements. I walked out, down an empty hall, into a holding area where Dolly was waiting for me. I glanced around for the train station.

And there was no way they found my passport at Natasha’s house. After all, I am Max Malone, private eye.

The Mt. Hood Green Scene: Recycling and sustainability info by Mary Soots on 04/01/2016

Instead of a recycling event, this year the Mt. Hood Green Scene is working with the Welches Middle School’s Outdoor Program because we believe that children are our hope for a sustainable future.

We are holding a contest for the best essay with the theme “How nature teaches us about recycling”. 

This is the first time in the past six years that we don’t hold an annual recycling event. In an effort to help our community find ways to live a sustainable life and reduce, re-use and recycle, we instead compiled a list of websites that we hope will inspire you.

Re-Direct Guide


Eco Metro/Chinook Book Coupons


Sustainable Living and Dying Green Building Resources



Green Cleaning


Safe Pets


Green My Parents (kids can help)


Community Supported Agriculture/subscription farms


Sandy Farmers’ Market

Saturdays 8:30am-1:00pm beginning May 7, 2016.

Oregon/Portland Farmers’ Markets


Green Burial Services



“Say No to Junk Mail” guide


Energy Trust of Oregon (energy conservation program)


Waste Reduction Tips


Illegal Dump Clean-Up



Free Geek (computers, electronics)


Freecycle (household items, clothing, misc.)


The Rebuilding Center (building supplies)


Boneyard NW (online building material exchange program)


Hippo Hardware (hardware/fixtures)


Rejuvenation House Parts (hardware/fixtures)


Community Cycling Center (bicycles)


Recyclery (bicycles)


Schoolhouse Supplies (school supplies)


Habitat for Humanity ReStore (building supplies)


Soles 4 Souls (shoes)


UPS Store (packing peanuts)






Televisions, Computers, Monitors (Free)




Household Batteries






Scrap Metal


Styrofoam blocks (not food-related)




Automotive Batteries


Sustainable Travel

Mountain Express


eRideShare (carpooling)


National Geographic Oregon Sustainable travel initiatives


Sustainable Business

Sustainable Business Oregon


Green Biz



Native Plants



Healthy Lawn & Garden




Non-native Invasive Species

Backyard Habitats


Gardening Resources



Weed Guide


Extreme El Nino conditions to persist on mountain in April by Herb Miller on 04/01/2016

Our weather during March had high temperatures that averaged very close to long-term amounts but low temperature averages were a bit above average. Government Camp recorded 33 inches of snow so far, compared to only four inches a year ago.

Brightwood received precipitation during all but three of the first 25 days, although much of it fell during nighttime hours. Everything considered, a rather uneventful month with a reward of spring-like weather during the last week.

Same as last month, the National Weather Service continues to be heavily influenced by the extreme El Nino conditions that are expected to remain through at least April. Their forecast is somewhat guarded, however, by the very active MJO (Madden Julian Oscillation) pattern that is expected to center over the tropical western Pacific Ocean by the end of April.

Our area felt the effects of the atmospheric river from this same pattern earlier this year. At any rate, their forecast for our area during April calls for temperatures well above average and precipitation near average.

During April, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 55, an average low of 38, and a precipitation average of 7.70 inches. During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached the 80s twice, into the 70s during seven years, and the 60s once. Low temperatures fell evenly with five years into the upper 20s and five years into the 30s. On average, April has four days with a freezing temperature. Snowfall is rare and averages only 0.85 inches for the month.

During April, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 45 degrees, an average low of 30 degrees and a precipitation average of 7.43 inches, including 26 inches of snow. During the past 10 years, high temperatures have reached into the 70s twice, into the 50s once and the other years settling for the 60s. Lows had two years dropping into the teens, one year into the 30s, and the other seven into the 20s.

Inside Salem -- March 2016 by State Rep. Mark Johnson on 03/01/2016

Greetings from the midst of the hectic February session in Salem. I’ve come to describe this year’s session as “Big ideas, little time.” There have been some very complex issues placed on the agenda for the legislature to consider, but we have not had adequate time to fully investigate the issues, and our constituents haven’t had enough time to provide their input.

The proposal to increase the minimum wage is a clear example of a complex issue that wasn’t fully investigated by the legislature. This issue greatly impacts the Hwy. 26 corridor and communities in House District 52. The House passed SB 1532A off the floor on a partisan 32-26 vote on Feb. 18. The bill will phase in a hike in the minimum wage bringing the base wage in the Mountain communities to $13.50 per hour by 2021. I voted against the bill because businesses across all industries and size throughout HD 52 shared with me their deep concerns about the negative impact of a higher wage mandate. In the agricultural sector specifically, owners outlined how difficult it will be to remain competitive and to afford to pay their current employees.

In the public sector, the list of negative consequences of the wage hike is diverse and far-ranging. Oregonians will see higher costs for child care, higher costs for home health care, fewer work study opportunities for college students, higher costs for pre-school programs, and the list goes on and on. Between these increased costs and the overall impact to business in our communities, I am concerned for the negative affect on Oregon’s overall economy.

As I write this, there is still hope for a bipartisan and centrist proposal that would require a smaller increase in the minimum wage, but provide direct relief for farmers. The proposal would also allow for a new employee training wage. These options could provide more flexibility than the current proposal and I’m hopeful it can be considered before we adjourn this short session in early March.

One of the bills I brought for consideration this session has been updating the Ski Activity Statute that is in Oregon law. In doing so, my office has been working closely with the Pacific NW Ski Association (PNWSA) as well as with local representatives from Timberline, Meadows and Ski Bowl. This issue is important to our local area because the language that currently exists in statute dates back to 1979. It was written long before snowboarding became a popular activity on the slopes and before the ski areas began to provide services such as terrain parks. Terrain parks are a next level activity where skiers and snowboarders can do tricks off of things like ramps, jumps and half pipes. Anyone who has visited our Mount Hood ski areas recently knows how popular terrain parks are with skiers and boarders. This increased interest equates to more visitors traveling through the area, which means more customers for local businesses on the mountain and a positive impact on the local economy.

I think most skiers and snowboarders would agree that anyone who chooses to enter a terrain park at Timberline or Meadows understands that there is an inherent risk in the activity. They are willingly accepting the trade-off between the fun that the snow feature provides and the increased risk of injury while using the features of the park. The problem that we are facing in Oregon is that the statute doesn’t mention the inherent risk that exists for users of terrain parks, nor does it address ski area responsibility to provide proper maintenance and notice. The outdated statute creates large liability issues for both resorts and consumers whereas an updated code would have created clearer protections for both parties.

We crafted HB 4077 to update the language to reflect the modern sport of skiing. Unfortunately, the Oregon Trial Lawyers were unwilling to compromise with the PNWSA and opposed HB 4077. So, at this point, the outdated language remains as do the concerns related to liability over terrain parks.

We will continue to work on this issue in the interim because it is of great importance, not just for the ski industry, but potentially for all of our recreation industries like biking, water sports and competitive events.

Join me for a post-session town hall!

Where: The Resort at the Mountain

When: Saturday, March 19, 10–11 a.m.

As I write this, the legislature is still in session. My focus in the last few weeks will be finding bipartisan solutions on the issues before us. While the process can be challenging, I consistently work to represent my constituents to the best of my ability and I thank you for that honor.

As always, if you have any questions or comments please contact me at: 503-986-1452 or rep.markjohnson@state.or.us.

The Adventure Continues: Episode IV, The Dump by Max Malone, Private Eye on 03/01/2016

As much as I wanted to get out of the holding cell at the gendarmerie, there was a disturbing onset of inertia that went by the name of Dolly Teagarden – the English attorney at the American-English Consulate’s office.

As the cell walls seemed to drip with history, Dolly’s blue eyes inspired history. We were only getting started, but everything was going swimmingly.

“Did the inspector tell you why you were being held?” Dolly asked, being careful not to ripple the moody water.

“I probably didn’t give him a chance,” I said, shrugging my shoulders in little-boy innocence while jangling the chains cuffed to my wrists.

“Oh, wait a minute,” Dolly said, holding a finger in the air and stepping smartly to the door. She rattled off something in French through the barred window and a gendarme quickly stepped in, eager to take his turn with Dolly. She pointed at me, a frown furrowing her brow like a delightful dose of scorn, followed by another avalanche of what had to be perfect French. The gendarme obeyed, unlocked my cuffs, bowed smartly to Dolly, then exited but not before banging into the door due to having his head turned for one last glance.

“You’re being held on suspicion of murder,” she said, as I admired her ability to switch from handcuff housekeeping to consulate concern.

“And how long do they get before they have to charge me, or release me?” I said, posing the obvious question.

“It varies,” she said, shrugging her shoulders, rolling her eyes toward the ceiling, before mooring them back at my dock.

“Wait a minute,” I rasped. “Whattya mean it varies?”

“This isn’t Kansas anymore, Mr. Malone,” Dolly said, wrinkling her mouth around the words.

“Oregon,” I said flatly.

“Hmm,” she said, arching a sly eyebrow. “Oregon.” She paused, then “I’ve never met anyone from Oregon.”

“I’ve never met anyone from England,” I said unflinchingly, despite it being a lie of intercontinental proportions. After all, there was the young English woman I met in Greece who required a rescue as she had run out of money and ideas simultaneously, and I was obliged to escort her from Athens to London all the while restoring her faith in American hospitality by picking up the rent on a one-bedroom apartment in Chelsea, one block off Kings Road, near Sloan Square which provided a fine view for the retired Russians who lived in the Soviet Sailors Home, and who, presumably are still living there despite the fact that I was forced to abandon the English lady when her mother caught the train up from Twickenham and objected to our cozy situation, which I came to interpret later on as a situation the mother would have preferred to have for herself.

But that’s another story.

Dolly got back to business, glancing down at notes she had obviously received from the good inspector. “Did you shoot Natasha LaRue?”

I was suddenly disappointed with my blue-eyed counselor. “No.”

“Don’t get upset Mr. Malone. I have to ask these questions.”

“I’m not upset,” I said, obviously upset. “You’ll know when I get upset.”

She grinned broadly, her high cheek bones reaching to the sky, her watery blue eyes brimming with good humor. “OK. OK. You’re not upset,” she cajoled, winning me over with gentle persuasion. “What is, uh, was, your relationship with Miss LaRue?”

“You’re supposed to ask me where I was when she was shot,” I said, trying to match her smile.

“I’m not trying to represent you at trial, ol’ sport,” she said in perfect cadence. “I’m trying to get you out of this, this” she looks at the ceiling again, “this creepy dump. And I think you should want the same. I imagine you will have plenty to do once you’re out.”

She was good, very good. I nodded in complete agreement. “You bet I will.”

“Good. Now, about that relationship.”

I offered the easy explanation, how we had a business relationship that first went well, then sour, so we decided to cool off in her house in France. I made no mention of Johnny Longo, the midget casino owner, and certainly steered clear of any reference to Valerie Suppine, the meanest little woman in thirteen western states.

“Is that all?” she asked, expecting more.

Of course it wasn’t. After all, I am Max Malone, private eye.

If the jeans fit, wear them ... at least until your legs go numb by Ned Hickson on 03/01/2016

I have a favorite pair of jeans I refuse to give up, and which, over the last few years, my wife has attempted to eradicate on six different occasions. She hates these jeans because, according to her, they are “ripped, frayed and embarrassing.” Particularly when I forget to change them before going out somewhere in public, such as our yard.

Her attempts to get rid of my jeans have escalated from them being “lost,” to an incident last week in which she claimed my jeans “spontaneously combusted,” forcing her to put out the flames with the nearest extinguishing device: A meat cleaver.

 She later apologized for hacking my jeans, telling me she reacted instinctively to a dangerous situation. I told her I understood, and that, instinctively, I planned to continue wearing my newly perforated jeans, at least until the remaining threads give way to the force of gravity and I am suddenly de-pantsed.

 Probably while raking the yard.

 There was a time when my wife actually liked seeing me in these jeans. Whenever I wore them I’d get...The Look – an eyebrow raise and quick scan of inventory suggesting the merchandise might be leaving the shelf before I could announce my blue light special.

 Now when I put them on all I get is a roll of the eyes suggesting I hold a clearance sale to reduce some of my inventory.

 Does that mean I’ll stop wearing them?

 Of course not.

 That’s because I’m a man. And as a man, looking good isn’t nearly as important as proving I can still fit into the jeans I wore eight years ago, even if getting them on requires a case of cooking spray and an electric winch attached to the bumper of a Chevy 4x4. It doesn’t matter that the waist is so tight my spleen is temporarily relocated behind my ears. Or that the contents of my pockets look like they’ve been vacuum packed…

 “Is that a 1964 penny?”


“How long until the impression on your leg goes away?”

“Depends. One time I had a Susan B. Anthony dollar that lasted a month.”

“I hear you. I’ve still got a bruise from my car key – see?”

“Plymouth Voyager?”

“Wow, you’re good.”

 This illustrates a fundamental difference between how men and women think. Women by their very nature are theoretical thinkers. For example, just because fitting into the same jeans they wore in their early 30s is now like trying to stuff eight pounds of hamburger into an espresso cup, then, “theoretically,” those jeans no longer fit. (Naturally, there are women who are exceptions to this rule, as anyone who has been in Wal-Mart can tell you.)

 Men, on the other hand, think in terms of practicality, i.e., if we can practically button our jeans without losing all feeling in our legs, then they obviously still fit! It doesn’t matter that our mid section is hanging over our belt like an over-proofed dinner roll. What matters is that we are in our jeans, and therefore “practically” in the same physical shape we were during our early 30s. Assuming, of course, that we were shaped like an inverted milk jug.

So, yes, I will continue to wear my “ripped, frayed, embarrassing” and now recently cleaved jeans. In fact, I may even wear them when I get home tonight.

Unless my wife has hidden the cooking spray again.

The Mt. Hood Green Scene: Businesses lead the way to the future by Mary Soots on 03/01/2016

As a social scientist, I view my world in the ways my professors taught me to see it – looking at the history, environment, social organization, economy, lifestyles, etc. When I move into a new area, whether it’s a new neighborhood or a new job, I see the world through the lens of these categories. The mountain community is an especially fascinating one as it is a community that depends more upon one another than it does on outside services. It is one where we know that we are vulnerable to the vagaries of nature but find that the benefits outweigh the costs.

My curiosity especially propelled me to ask how people made a living when there is no production and little commerce in this community. I quickly learned that there were some individuals for whom their mountain abode was a second home that was used for recreation purposes. Families enjoy short-term stays but return to their normal lives in more urban areas. Upon retirement, some will take up residence in their mountain home. Many retirees populate the mountain, as do many who live with disabilities. They stay until they reach a point where the services they require are not available and most must return to mainstream life. Likewise, many young people must emigrate to larger communities to advance their education and find careers.

Some people come to work at the ski resorts but are able to make a living only for a short period before returning home or moving on. Others come and stay and find work primarily at service jobs that cater to visitors. Heartier souls sacrifice the long commute to work in far-away places in order to live in paradise, while a fortunate few are able to tele-commute.

Only a small core group of people are able to make a life, raise their families and make a permanent home on the mountain. Business owners are buffeted by the whims of nature measured in snowfall amount that draws visitors to the mountain, lives hanging in the balance during difficult times. As I reflected upon the community, I realized that the most permanent members of our community are not the individuals, but the businesses that stay as staff comes and goes.

We have a wonderful community of business owners whose tenacity has been rewarded. They are individuals who love the mountain, genuinely caring about its geology, its grandeur, and protecting it from overexploitation so that it can continue into the next millennium. Businesses realize that it is the natural beauty and all it has to offer that draws the visitors who become the customers. As a recreational destination, their mere existence relies on the environment.

Many businesses have embraced the protection of our environment, and we would like to give credit and name just a few. Page’s Auto and Tire has worked tirelessly with the Mt. Hood Green Scene to help recycle tires. Chris Page designed a way to drain oil from oil containers so it doesn’t seep into the ground. The Wraptitude features responsibly sourced healthy alternatives to fast food. Former owners of The Resort on the Mountain Ed and Janice Hopper lead stream restoration for salmon habitat. Bob and Margaret Thurman of Welches Mountain Properties are strong environmental advocates, as are the owners and staff of the Mountain Times newspaper. The Thriftway is collecting used plastic bags for recycling, and the Welches Mountain Building Supply is collecting paint for re-use. These are only a few of the efforts that our businesses are making to champion our environment.

Their efforts are very much appreciated as it will be the legacy of these business owners who have created the infrastructure that will live on long after the current staff has moved on with their lives. Those institutions are the ones that will shape the future for our community once we are no longer in the driver’s seat. Following their lead, the staff will take those owners’ ideas of how to become stewards of their world wherever they go. In our community, it is the businesses that will lead the way. We would love to hear from you about ways that other businesses are working to protect the environment. Place your comments on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Mt-Hood-Green-Scene-323987735221/

The Mt. Hood Green Scene members are announcing that there will not be a Recycling Event this year due to the number of options available. The next event will be held in 2017. Next month, we will publish a list of items and locations where they can be recycled.

The mindful eater: do you know how to eat? by Victoria Larson on 03/01/2016

I’m not going to tell you to chew your food thirty times (though that wouldn’t hurt) or to not drink ice water with your meals (though you shouldn’t) or to give up chocolate (though limiting it wouldn’t be a bad idea). Eating is a fairly complex issue these days.

While there are those who peruse the grocery stores flummoxed by choices, declaring that “everything seems to be bad for you” we can begin to ferret out some good choices. How do you know what to eat? What influences your choices?

Primarily we learn from what we were fed as children, though these choices may not necessarily be the best for us. Ethnic background, religion, values, all may confine our choices. Or expand them. Many have lost their familial and religious heritage. That leaves knowledge of food to come from news blips (mere seconds long), ads on the Internet (why do we capitalize the word as if it were “God”), or from what stores have put on sale (fixed by the large corporations who manufacture those items).

Frankly, most people don’t have a clue how to eat. They feel vindicated and knowledgeable to be gluten-free or vegan or whatever the latest eating trend may be. Unfortunately, these are the people who think they’re doing the right thing when they subsist on gluten-free pizza or vegan French fries. Pizza and fries are still not the answer.

In fact, eating out, though immensely enjoyable, is often not the best choice for top nutrition. Most communities, no matter how small, have more than one fast food choice. But is that really a choice. There are fewer and fewer sit-down restaurants because we are always so rushed. Perhaps there’s a key issue there?

The Slow Food Movement (have you even heard of it?) looks at how we view food, with consciousness and mindfulness. People who eat out too often (more than twice a week I’d wager) put themselves at higher risk for diabetes and weight gain. But how could they know. There are all those choices out there, right?

It’s a matter of viewpoint. I remember going to a fast food taco establishment with a pre-med friend of mine. While she declared she was having health food, I relinquished myself to having what I called junk food. Though tasty, I know it wasn’t my best choice and used to come away from there saying “two beans or not two beans” just to lighten my distress.

Learning to cook at home (part of the worldwide Slow Food Movement) does so much for you – better health, slows down your hectic life, and saves tons of money. Get a crock pot (or two) and put stuff in there in the morning. You’ll come home to a ready hot meal at a time when you’re admittedly tired, hungry, and may even too cranky to cook. Whew, doesn’t a pre-made dinner sound like a good idea.

Shop primarily on the edges of your preferred grocery store for the most nutritious foods. If you must venture within the inner aisles, choose wisely. I certainly understand the need to purchase things when they’re on sale, but not because some huge corporate advertiser just changed the packaging of some new junk food offering.

Look mostly for protein (fish, beans, eggs, meat) and vegetables, and read the labels on everything else carefully. Any food that has sugar as its first ingredient should be removed from your cart. A diet of white flour and white sugar will wreak havoc on your health and the health of your kids. Turn off the TV so the kids (or you) don’t watch the ads for sugared foods. You’ll never see an advertisement for broccoli or cauliflower on TV but the kids may be willing to gobble it up if served with some tasty hummus or a good yogurt dip.

Don’t rely on TV ads or Internet to tell you what to eat. Go back to your upbringing. Fish Friday is a great boost to your nutrition. Nonna’s potato latkes, lovingly cooked, would be a better choice than fast food French fries cooked in oil reheated innumerable times. Most importantly, if the first ingredient on any package is sugar, don’t buy it. Period.

Book pulls back the curtain on the O.J. Simpson trial by Sandra Palmer on 03/01/2016

I normally review a recently published book in this column but the fascinating TV mini-series based upon this book prompted me to read and review it. Both the television series and this nonfiction account of the O.J. Simpson murder case are filled with fascinating, newly revealed details – a surprise for those of us who were obsessed with the media coverage of the case at the time. Author Jeffrey Toobin offers up a detailed insider’s account of the crime and the behind-the-scenes dramas during the criminal and civil trials of the popular former athlete, charged with the violent murder of his ex-wife Nicole and her acquaintance Ron Goldman who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The evidence pointing to O.J. Simpson as the murderer was overwhelming and all the investigators and attorneys realized almost immediately that Simpson was guilty. However, one of the many Simpson attorneys, Alan Dershowitz, commented, “Once I decide to take a case, I have only one agenda: I want to win. I will try, by every fair and legal means, to get my client off – without regard to the consequences.” And the “Dream Team” of legal experts hired to defend Simpson did just that, helped along by simmering mistrust and hatred toward the Los Angeles Police Department and tactical mistakes by the prosecution team.

The many attorneys and experts involved in the complex and lengthy criminal trial provide fascinating reading as Toobin shares their rivalries and larger-than-life personalities. It is still amazing to realize how much legal and investigative star power was focused on this highly publicized trial – in spite of Simpson’s clear responsibility for two bloody murders which shocked Los Angeles and made headlines around the world. If you are interested in seeing the O.J. Simpson trial in a whole new light, I highly recommend this very well-written account to you!

Jeffrey Toobin is the author of numerous books including “The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court”. He is a staff writer for The New Yorker and a legal analyst for CNN.

One skillet wonder by Taeler Butel on 03/01/2016

All you need is a pan ... and maybe some forks:

Cheesy chicken and sausage pasta

2 links spicy kielbasa sausage sliced

1/2 lb. cubed chicken breast

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup half and half

1 T flour

1 T butter

1 cup chicken stock

1 t each salt & pepper

1 t paprika

1 t Italian seasoning

2 T oil for sautéing

2 cups any pasta, cooked

In a large cast iron skillet heat oil over medium-high heat and add chicken and sausage, toss in seasonings and cook until chicken is browned. Add butter and flour, toss to coat and cook a minute more.

Add chicken stock and scrape bottom of pan, reduce heat to medium-low, adding half and half, as well as 1 cup of cheese, stir until sauce thickens.

Add pasta and stir. Sprinkle on the cheese and place under broiler to melt cheese. Serve!

Irish soda bread in a skillet

A little oil for your skillet

4 T cold butter

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

1 t salt

2 cups buttermilk (substitute whole milk with 1 t vinegar)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly oil the frying pan. Mix the dry ingredients then cut in butter using your finger tips (you can also use a pastry cutter or two knives).

Add the buttermilk with a wooden spoon or spatula to combine. Press it into a thick, slightly flattened ball.

Score and brush with buttermilk. Using a sharp knife, mark a large X into the center of the dough, going all the way from end to end, about a half-inch deep. Brush with a little buttermilk. Place in oven bake, about 20-30 minutes.

March brings warmer temperatures and normal precipitation by Herb Miller on 03/01/2016

Our February weather has mostly agreed with the forecast to have above average temperatures and precipitation near average. Brightwood had only three days that dropped down to freezing, compared to an average of 13.

Temperatures averaged about four degrees above normal in Brightwood and about four degrees above normal in Government Camp, which received a total of 15 inches of snow so far this month. A touch of spring was enjoyed Feb. 8-10, and again during the last week of the month. Needless to say, the snowfall that fell on the mountain during the later part of the third week was most welcome.

Once again, the National Weather Service forecasts continue to be heavily influenced by the extreme El Nino conditions that are expected to remain through at least March. Their forecast for our area again expects warmer than average temperatures with near normal precipitation.

The extended range forecast calls for our area to continue to have warmer than average temperatures for the rest of the year, with cooler than average temperatures starting next February.

During March, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 52, an average low of 35, and a precipitation average of 8.43 inches including an average three inches of snow.

During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached the 70s twice, into the 60s during six years, and the 50s the other two years. Low temperatures fell into the upper 20s during nine years, and the exception settled for 30 degrees.

On average, March has nine days with a freezing temperature. The record precipitation total for March amounted to 21.59 inches set in 2003 and the record 24-hour precipitation total of 5.31 inches was set during the same year on March 7.

During March, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 41 degrees, an average low of 27 degrees and a precipitation average of 9.30 inches, including 48 inches of snow.

During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached into the 60s during five years, into the 50s during two years and into the 40s during three years. Lows were evenly divided with five years dropping into the teens and five into the 20s.

Episode III Well ‘Hello Dolly’ by Max Malone, Private Eye on 01/30/2016

No matter how often it happens in my line of work, witnessing a stiff is never a pleasant moment. And in this case, standing over the lifeless body of Natasha LaRue, it was most unpleasant. Her carotid artery had been severed by the bullet from the hunting rifle – an object I had quickly stashed under a hedge. It was a perfect kill shot, whether intended or not. But I suspected the former.

I studied my hands, covered in Natasha’s blood, as the splats of a Brittany rain shower echoed through the oak tree overhead. In perfect rhythm, the approaching sound of the French constabulary’s ambulance played its part, sounding like the musical bridge of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Who called them? And perhaps more importantly, what was I in for?

The ambulance horn section was accompanied by a paddy wagon. White coated doctor types sprinted to Natasha’s body while one gendarme leveled an assault rifle in my direction, the other was too busy squinting in a Frenchman’s best imitation of a no-nonsense investigator.

Trust me, it was brimming with nonsense.

While the white coats scurried for a stretcher, the gendarmes escorted me into the back of the paddy wagon, all the while prattling on in a language that the only word I had mastered up to this point was “fromage.”

Mind you, it was outstanding fromage.

The ride to wherever we were headed was uneventful save the bouncing on a metal bench to which I was handcuffed and the shaky hold on the assault weapon by the gendarme sitting across from me. Of the two, the metal bench was the most uncomfortable. After all, I was sitting four feet away from the pink-cheeked gendarme, and he only had one clip.

The gendarmerie (I only know that’s where I was because the word was emblazoned on the front of a tired stone building, albeit the letters with blue paint hadn’t been touched up since the occupation) doors swung open as I was taken inside. Footsteps echoed on the cement floors from unseen rooms. The French language bounced off walls like the monster insects attacking my net covering in a tent in Nairobi when I got suckered into a safari led by an egotistical maniac who thought he was Lord Jim.

But that’s another story, with apologies to Joseph Conrad.

I was plopped down on yet another metal bench at a metal table and left there, my constant refrain of “American Consulate” going as unheeded as the lyrics of “Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown” being crooned by an off-key singer in a Motel 6 Lounge in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, before an audience of NASCAR pit crew members who had slipped away from the track after the car they were supposed to service blew a head gasket on Lap 3.

After a grim hour or so, that seemed like thirty, in walked my interrogator. (I use the term loosely.) He was five-foot nothing, his bald head shining like an Ovation guitar, wrapped in a seedy suit that was badly in need of a trip to the cleaners.

“So Monsieur. You are Max Malone,” he offered, the heavily French accented English words slithering over his lips like a satisfied asp taking leave of Cleopatra’s wicker basket.

“American Consulate,” I shot back, attempting to lean forward and plop my arms on the metal desk, only to be stopped by my shackles which raised the desk off its clunky legs, causing my adversary to lurch backward, which pleased me greatly.

“Monsieur Malone,” he gathered himself, “Your position is not a good one.”

“American Consulate,” I repeated.

He slid his chair back, closed his folder, clutched it to his sunken chest, and exited.

Hours passed, but the wait was worth it. Wearing a smart, grey suit jacket and matching short skirt, a delightful woman issuing a faint odor of expensive and well-placed perfume clicked across the cement floor and unfolded across from me.

“Mr. Malone,” she said, almost smiling. “I’m Dolly Teagarden, an attorney from the Consulate.”

Everything about her made perfect sense except her British accent.

“You’re not American,” I said, that being all I could get out as I was too busy swimming in her sparkling blue eyes.

“No, I’m English,” she said. Was I imagining it, or did I detect a purr? “We’re in Brittany, not Paris. The British and Americans share the Brittany office.”

“How do you get along?” I asked, trying to dry off after my dip.

“Jolly well, actually,” she said, and this time a thin smile etched its way across her face triggering a rise in her already-elevated cheek bones. “You’re a private detective, the French police told me. Is that correct?” I nodded.

“Then you must be somewhat accustomed to such proceedings, perhaps not from that side of the table.”

How could I tell her there was no way I was accustomed to being in such a room with a woman named Dolly Teagarden?

After all, I am Max Malone, private eye.

Drier outlook ahead with more typical El Nino conditions by Herb Miller on 01/30/2016

January got off to a cold, dry start with only .32 inches of precipitation recorded in Brightwood including two inches of snow during the first ten days.

Government Camp has recorded 48 inches of snow with a week still to go in January.

Precipitation became more normal during the rest of the month in Brightwood and temperatures rose slightly above average.

The El Nino weather conditions have become more typical and the jet-stream either splits or directs incoming storm systems south of our area, resulting in less precipitation for our location, compared to normal. From all indications, we will not see a repeat of the extremely wet weather experienced during November and December.

The National Weather Service forecasts continue to be heavily influenced by the extreme El Nino conditions that are expected to remain through at least February. Their forecast for our area is for warmer than average temperatures with near normal precipitation.

During February, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 47, an average low of 34 and a precipitation average of 8.58 inches including an average six inches of snow.

During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached the 60s twice and the other eight years topped out in the 50s.

Low temperatures fell into the teens during three years, and into the 20s during the other seven years. On average, February has 13 days with a freezing temperature.

The precipitation total for year 2015 amounted to 82.17 inches, slightly more than the long-term average of 81.31 inches. Somewhat surprising, considering the parched nine months previous to the very wet months of November and December that more than offset the deficit.

During February, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 38 degrees, an average low of 26 degrees and a precipitation average of 9.65 inches, including 42 inches of snow.

During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached into the 60s twice, into the 50s during three years and into the 40s during five years. Lows had three years in the single digits, four years in the teens, and the other three years in the 20s.

For love and football by Taeler Butel on 01/30/2016

Be on your game with these recipes – here’s a nice spread that comes together easy and is inexpensive to make. Think bar food, which I happen to love.


Pizza bread

1 lb frozen bread dough or 1 recipe white bread dough (see below)

1 cup pepperoni sliced

1/2 cup sliced olives

Artichoke hearts

2 cups mozzarella cheese

1 small jar marinara sauce

1 small jar Alfredo sauce

Roll out one loaf of dough into nine-inch by 11-inch rectangle, layer on cheese, pepperoni, artichoke hearts and olives.

Roll length wise place on baking sheet seam side down, brush loaf with oil- cover with plastic let rise.


Home made chicken tenders

2 lbs chicken tenderloins trimmed

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/2 cup oil for frying

1 t each - lemon pepper, onion powder, garlic salt

Slice each tender length wise into two strips place in between plastic wrap and gently pound out to 1/4-inch thick.

Pour seasonings and cornstarch into a plastic bag and shake together.

Heat oil in heavy 10-inch skillet until hot.

Carefully place tenders into oil frying three minutes on each side. Serve with dipping sauce.


Sloppy Joe bar - rolls- frozen- pretzel rolls etc

2lbs ground beef, turkey, bison, etc.

1 onion minced

2 stalks celery minced

3 cloves garlic minced

1 carrot chopped fine

1 green bell pepper chopped fine

1 T salt

1 t black pepper

1 cup ketchup

1/4 cup yellow mustard

1 T oil

1/4 cup Worcester sauce


Sliced onion for serving

Canned or homemade cheese sauce.

Cook ground meat in oil until brown, add veggies and cook until tender adding salt, pepper, Worcester sauce, ketchup and mustard.

Simmer over medium heat 15 minutes more.

Serve with rolls, raw onions and  cheddar cheese sauce.


White bread dough

2 pkgs yeast

6 cups white flour

1 cup warm milk

1 cup warm water

1/4 cup honey

2 eggs

6 T unsalted room temp butter

2 t kosher salt

In the bowl of a mixer or by hand dissolve yeast in milk and water, add honey. Let foam five minutes.

Add eggs, flour, salt and butter. Knead five minutes, place in buttered bowl cover with plastic wrap and let rest until doubled (about an hour). Makes two loaves.

Strout’s latest novel offers journey from sadness to joy by Sandra Palmer on 01/30/2016

A new novel by Elizabeth Strout is always a great treat. Author Strout always delivers work that is peopled by unique – sometimes quirky – characters that are emotionally believable and complex. The subject matter is often tender and nuanced.

In this country, we all tend to believe that any of us can choose to become someone “new” or pursue a completely different direction toward a new life if we wish, completely starting afresh in spite of our past. But can we really leave it all behind?

In her latest novel, “My Name is Lucy Barton,” the author uses a mother’s hospital visit to her daughter as the opening for a story that unfolds years of sadness and estrangement. Healing comes gradually as Lucy and her mother share stories about those she has not seen since her childhood in the small town where she grew up. Gradually, Strout weaves in details with the readers about Lucy’s departure from a troubled home, her goal to work toward becoming an author, her marriage and her deep love for her two children.

Surprisingly, the comfort of her mother’s presence soothes her and brings her happiness during this difficult period of her life. And – while they avoid painful conversations about Lucy’s childhood – Lucy and her mother soon find closeness in the stories they share. Even though Lucy is a writer, she is careful in choosing words even when speaking with her mother about her life – present and past.

At its core “My Name is Lucy Barton” is about loneliness - loneliness of a profound variety that cannot be shared even with those who endured the same hardships and sorrows within a family. Loneliness so profound that it cannot even be shared years later since it is too painful even to articulate – or to attempt to find words to express it. However, this well written novel brings us from the depth of sadness to pure joy due to the skill of this amazing author.

Elizabeth Strout is the Pulitzer prize-winning author of “Olive Kitteridge” as well as “The Burgess Boys” and other novels and short stories. She lives in New York City.

Spotlighting some of the benefits of light by Victoria Larson on 01/30/2016

After months of darkness in mornings and early afternoons, the precious light begins to return to the earth. Improving moods, lifting spirits, we contemplate our future gardens and outdoor activities. Light bathes our bodies and renews us.

Some may think light touches our bodies only on the surface, but this is an understatement. Sunlight passes through the skin to our blood and to our brains through our eyes. As sunlight hits the retina of the eyes and the rods and cones therein, it is converted to electrical energy! Neurons in the optic nerve carry the images in the light to give us our vision.

Additional light-sensitive cells were discovered in 2002 that carry electrical signals on a separate pathway of nerves. This bundle of nerves travels to the suprachiasmatic nucleus or the SCN. This regulates our “biological clock” determining our wake/sleep cycles.

As normal morning light enters our eyes, it heads for the SCN which in turn wakes up our organ systems. At night, when it gets dark the light traveling to the SCN sends a message to the pineal gland to release melatonin. If not in front of light-emitting devices (computer, hospital, phone, tablet, TV) we become sleepy.

Exogenous melatonin at anything stronger than one milligram can override the body’s own ability to produce it’s own melatonin, something, the body is naturally able to do. I prefer to use herbs, and never more than one milligram of melatonin to help with sleep. And never for long periods as lifestyle changes and natural living work very well.

 Natural light is a mixture of wavelengths from radio waves to X-rays to microwaves. The only wavelengths visible to the human eye are between 400 and 700 nanometers. High intensity lasers (hot lasers) can harm flesh, but are used in surgery to destroy diseased tissue.

Low intensity lasers (cold lasers) promote healing. They give off so little heat that patients usually feel nothing during the brief procedure. The changes that are promoted at the cellular level are felt after treatment. The damaged or diseased cells heal themselves.

In 1979 two Russian scientists (Karel Martinek and Ilya Berozin) found that our bodies have numerous chemical switches and amplifiers that are light sensitive.

These switches can even affect the enzymes we produce within our bodies. Most mainstream practitioners know little about low intensity (cold) lasers even though there are more than 3,000 publications on the topic and more than 200 clinical trials. That’s more trials than are required for most drugs. Admittedly, most of the trials were done in Russia and eastern Europe, India, China and Tibet. These are areas of the world that value energy in medicine over drugs.

At a seminar in the late 1990s a colleague and I attended a talk on cold laser light therapy. I’d never been keen on volunteering for demonstrations, but living on a farm I sometimes experienced back pain from the heavy lifting required (bags of feed, bales of hay, etc).

However, assured that whomever volunteered would not be subjected to any embarrassment or the need to remove any clothing, I chose to “volunteer” my back. The laser device was placed against my low back, over my clothing for maybe 10-15 minutes.

After that 15 minutes I felt 80 percent improvement in my pain level! Most treatments require at least three to four visits and take a little longer to be effective. The cold laser has brought me and my patients relief from many minor and major complaints.

Still, I always encourage people to get out in the sunlight for 15-20 minutes a day. To turn off those light-emitting devices at night and get some refreshing sleep. I know in Oregon we don’t always get direct sunlight every day, but let’s appreciate what we do get when we have it.

Remote-controlled husbands beginning of Brave New World by Ned Hickson on 01/30/2016

As I’ve mentioned before, because of our home’s proximity to the local wharf, from time to time we have a problem with rodents. Now, when I say “rodents,” I mean rats; and when I say “problem,” I mean finding mysterious entries scrawled on our grocery list that read:


Git mor cheeez


However, I know that we aren’t alone in this, and that our neighbors undoubtedly have the same rodent problem. I know this because 1) They are our neighbors, and therefore live as close to the wharf as we do, and 2) Because we routinely lob assorted cheese curds into their yards before going to bed.


[Note to neighbors: We are NOT trying to entice the rats from our house into yours; we’re simply trying to entice you to eat more cheese.]


That said, some recent discoveries could change the way we go about solving our rat problem. According to a recent article in the journal Nature, researchers at the State University of New York have created the world’s first living remote-controlled rat. By implanting tiny electrodes in rats’ brains, scientists can command the rats to turn left or right, climb trees, navigate mazes, and, in some cases, stage dramatic light saber duels while dressed as tiny Star Wars characters.


The science involves three electrodes, implanted at specific locations in the brain, which are then triggered by a remote device which produces controlled responses in the rat. Interestingly enough, this very same technology is utilized by many wives, who use the TV remote to trigger controlled responses from husbands by switching the channel whenever they get up to use the bathroom…


“Hey, what happened to the game?”

“You weren’t watching it.”

“I was in the bathroom for 30 seconds!”

“Did you put the lid back down?”


[Controlled response:]


“...I’ll go check.”


Understandably, there are those who think that manipulating rats (or husbands) is inhumane, and that it is only the first step toward an “Orwellian” world of human-control technology. While this is certainly possible, others argue that we can’t dismiss the many practical applications that Robo-rats offer. For example, Professor Howard Eichenbaum of Boston University says the research “holds the promise of using animals as couriers to reach trapped victims.”


I don’t know about you, but when trapped beneath a crumbled overpass, I can honestly say a rat is just about the LAST thing I want coming in after me (not counting someone from FOX News).


Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that Robo-rats don’t have their place. It just doesn’t happen to be anywhere near ME.


Or my house.


But at my neighbors’ is fine.


To be honest, it wouldn’t exactly come as a shock. Especially with all of that cheese they’ve got lying around.


(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available online at Port Hole Publications, Amazon Books and Barnes & Noble. Write to him at nedhickson@icloud.com)

Inside Salem by State Rep. Mark Johnson on 01/30/2016

On Monday, Feb. 1 the 2016 legislative session officially begins. You may recall that annual sessions were approved by the voters in 2010 and the even year sessions were limited to 35 days and intended to give the legislature an opportunity to make needed budget adjustments and to consider minor policy needs. More on this later...

 My first priority for this session is an investment in much needed supports for community college students. After passing the Oregon Promise in the last session and establishing a tuition waiver program for recent high school graduates, we are now one of the national leaders in increasing affordable access to higher education. The next step in making sure the Oregon Promise is successful is helping students who enter college, complete college. In my testimony before a White House panel in December I told the participants that passing the policy bill was the easy part. Now we have to make sure that these new students that the state is investing in become successful students and complete their degrees. HB 4076 calls for an investment in proven programs that have shown to help students complete. By completing their two-year degree or career technical certificate, many students will be ready to fill a family wage job and have a clear path to a financially successful future.

 Last month, I highlighted a topic brought forth by representatives from Timberline, Ski Bowl and Meadows to update language about skier responsibilities in Oregon law. My bill will update current language, which dates all the way back to 1979. How many of you skiers are aware that Oregon statutes still require you use ski straps to fasten your skis to your boots? Since 1979 there have also been huge changes and developments including snowboarding and terrain parks.

By updating the statute, we will increase skier (and snow boarder) awareness and safety by clarifying how they should conduct themselves on the slopes and what potential hazards may exist and we will also be able to clarify ski area responsibilities as well. This much needed language change will also allow Oregon to become aligned with our other neighboring ski-states.

Back to the voter-intended limited scope of the February session.... One major topic that the legislature will be considering is an increase in the minimum wage. This discussion will be on our plate because proponents of a $15 minimum wage for all of Oregon have said they will put the issue on the November of 2016 ballot unless the legislature takes satisfactory action in February. The Governor unveiled her plan in January. The basic timeline of her plan is to take six-years and reach a $15.52 an hour wage in the Portland area and $13.50 everywhere else. I’ve received many concerns about what this increase will mean for many of our small businesses and the agricultural industry in District 52. This will be an important topic to share your opinion on, which leads into my next note…

Join me for a telephone town hall! On Wednesday, Feb. 4 from 6:30 -7:30 p.m. I will host a telephone town hall from Salem. We will discuss what the first week of Salem has been like and hear from you! You can RSVP by texting: REPMARKJOHNSON to 828282. For more details and sign up options, visit my site: www.RepMarkJohnson.com

The February session will go by fast. I hope that you will sign up for my newsletter at www.RepMarkJohnson.com to stay up-to-date and informed as the session progresses. If you have any questions or comments, please email me at Rep.MarkJohnson@state.or.us. As always, thank you for the honor of serving House District 52.

The Mt. Hood Green Scene: Prescription Medicine Disposal by Mary Soots on 01/30/2016

When my late husband’s life was being sapped away from prostate cancer, he was treated with life-prolonging medications. The cost for a month’s supply of one medication was $7,000. Another was $6,000. For us, the silver lining on that dark cloud was that the same government that had exposed soldiers fighting in the jungles of Viet Nam to the toxic Agent Orange (a stronger version of Round-Up produced by Monsanto), had acknowledged the link between it and so many diseases that killed slowly. As a result, his medical care was courtesy of the VA Administration. Without that, we would not have been able to afford even the cost of the insurance co-pays and would have had to make the difficult choices that others must struggle with.

After he passed away, I was left with a month and a half supply of those medications. I knew there were others who could benefit from a donation of the prescription. Surely I could help offset someone’s expenses. According to a study by the Commonwealth Fund published in 2013, about one in four American adults — around 50 million people — failed to fill a prescription they needed because of the cost. Among adults who were uninsured, the figure was 43 percent. Unable to return it, surely I thought there must be a way to donate this to someone. But I was wrong.

As much as I wanted to, I was not able to find a way to donate the life-extending medicine. Why, I asked, when I had an unexpired, unused medication that could prolong someone’s life must I dispose of it? Was it because there was a risk of abuse? Was it because the pharmaceutical industry had such a strong lobby that they didn’t want people to recycle prescription medicine? With tears of frustration, I was forced to dispose of those and other medicines.

Our country spends over $270 billion on prescriptions annually according to a 2009 report by The Healthcare Distribution Management Association (HDMA). With the ever-soaring cost of prescription medicine (unlike many other countries, the U.S. doesn’t regulate pricing and Medicare is not allowed to negotiate costs), the average annual cost of cancer drugs increased from roughly $10,000 before 2000 to over $100,000 by 2012, according to a recent study in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. In the past 15 years, what are known as “Good Samaritan” laws at the state level have made it possible for certain institutions such as health facilities, assisted living, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies to re-use or recycle prescription medicines. The non-profit organization Sirum (www.sirum.org) has found a way to connect donor organizations with recipients. However, there is no way for individuals to make donations.

A state such as Oregon that actively courts the health industry as economic partners and that is known as a leader in environmental stewardship should be at the forefront of finding a way to ensure that medicines can be redistributed to those people who can’t otherwise access them. Instead, our law is very restrictive. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Oregon law states, “Repository not permitted. Return and reuse is permitted only in long-term-care pharmacies where drugs have remained in the control of facility staff and are packaged in tamper-resistant containers.” It seems to me that we can find a way to expand this program to the individual level.

Until such a time as that becomes a possibility, it is imperative that we dispose of medicines in a responsible manner. Flushing medication down the toilet or drain has hazardous environmental effects. More than 100 pharmaceutical agents have been found in lakes, rivers, reservoirs, aquifers, and streams throughout the world and have an impact on aquatic life. Trace elements are found in our drinking water, including bottled water.  There are less dangerous ways of disposing of unused medicines (prescription or non-prescription). A number of years ago, the Mt. Hood Green Scene held a community prescription collection event in collaboration with Clackamas County. This year, April 30 is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day and events will take place around the country. In our neck of the woods, we are now fortunate to have a prescription drop-off box at the Sandy Police Department lobby where one can anonymously drop off human or pet medication (except syringes). Collections are then incinerated.

Episode II Leopard Hunting in France by Max Malone, Private Eye on 01/04/2016
A few weeks pass, but not without more confusion than a tick infestation in Arkansas. Natasha’s little village of Plougennie has more cops (they’re called gendarmes) than the previously mentioned tick attack.

They come and go at the house, pleasant tips of their gendarme hats – they’re so cute you expect them to be leaping out of little clown cars – kisses on cheeks, a tipple of pastis, shuffling of feet, and every one of them waiting for a personal chat with, you got it, the seemingly famous Natasha LaRue.

They don’t pay any attention to me, which is fine with me. Cute clown hats don’t mix with fine fedoras.

They come at all times of day and night. Two, three, sometimes four at a time. In the brief spells when we are gendarme-free I inquire as to what’s going on.

“Just business, Max,” Natasha purrs. “Nothing to worry about.”

I insist on doing the grocery shopping. I’ve informed you of the super market with the football field of cheese. There’s much more, or in some cases, less. The canned food aisle is so short it took me three shopping sorties before I saw it. The French don’t go for canned foods. The few containers of peas could have been labeled: for Brits only.

My most recent grocery run was extraordinary. Besides falling in love five or six times with femme fatales that would corrupt Snidely Whiplash, I found what seemed like the perfect cheese. It broke records for aroma. 

I should have become suspicious when the checkout clerk arched an eyebrow in my direction as she slipped the cheese through her station faster than a Donald Trump dodge of a policy question. 

On the drive home, I got it. Better yet, I was transformed. The aroma of my perfect cheese wafted out of the trunk, slipped silently past the back seat like a monster-movie fog, before settling on top of my head like the monster from the previously mentioned movie.

It wasn’t just overwhelming. The smell would have gagged a maggot. Despite a cold Brittany rain, I opened the window, stuck my head outside, and blinked and wiped my way back to the village, where I tossed the cheese over a privet hedge for the neighbors to enjoy, and wondered if I should simply blow up the car.

But it wasn’t my car. It was Natasha’s car. And she owned the aroma from that point on.

Natasha did drive the car after my misfortune, but she never said a word. I have avoided the car for two weeks now. No sense in taking chances.

It was mid-morning yesterday when Natasha invited me to go for a walk in the woods. Despite suffering from cabin fever – probably called maison madness in France – I declined. Natasha was wrapped in a full length leopard coat and the thought of walking any distance next to that frock would have sent me in a Joseph Conrad state of dystopia.

Fifteen minutes passed.

The crack of a hunting rifle lifted me from the couch. A high-pitched feminine scream followed and I was out the door. I spun around a couple times looking for the woods. 

Aha! Woods!

Voices of Frenchmen led me straight to the scene. They were standing away from what appeared to be a fallen leopard. Seeing me sprinting in their direction they took off into the woods.

Natasha was gasping for air. Blood was spurting from her neck. I grabbed onto the artery but held out little hope. There was too much blood on the woodsy carpet.

Natasha took one last, almost sweet, breath. Her acquisitive eyes dimmed, then closed. She was lifeless.
I ran a few steps toward the Frenchmen’s retreat, but they were out of sight. On the ground was a hunting rifle of unfamiliar vintage. I almost picked it up. Instead I kicked it into a thicket until it was out of sight.

This little foray into foreign serenity had come to a crashing halt. I had lost Natasha. A rush of displeasure awoke from its slumber.

After all, I am Max Malone, private eye.
December Close to Record Precipitation Levels by Herb Miller on 01/04/2016
December’s highlight is the precipitation total nearing record levels. Most years during periods of El Nino, our area is much dryer than average, but this year, November and December are notable exceptions.

Temperatures have averaged a little above normal, although cold enough to allow a return of meaningfull snow to the mountain bringing joy to many. Government Camp received a snowfall total of 70 inches and Brightwood measured two inches. Precipitation moderated significantly during the last week of the month, and we can all be grateful there was no disastrous flooding in our area, despite the heavy precipitation.

The National Weather Service forecasts are influenced heavily by the extreme El Nino conditions, but mindfull of what is referred to as the Madden-Julian Oscillation, which is disruptive to the effects of El Nino. This may explain their failure to forecast the heavy precipitation received in our area during November and December. 

For what it’s worth, our area is forecast to have warmer than average temperatures with near normal precipitation during January.

During January, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 43, an average low of 33, and a precipitation average of 10.73 inches including an average nine inches of snow. During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached the 50s during nine years and one year settled for the 40s.

Low temperatures fell into the 30s during two  years, into the 20s during six years, and two years into the teens, with an average of 14 days that reach the freezing level. The precipitation total so far this December amounts to an impressive 24.01 inches but will not reach the record 28.09 inches set during 1964, although it comes in second, beating out the 22 inches recorded during 1996, both years noted for disastrous floods.

During January, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 36 degrees, an average low of 24 degrees and a precipitation average of 13.30 inches, including 58 inches of snow. During the past ten years, high temperatures had a record 70 degrees set last year, into the 60s during two years, into the 50s during three years and into the 40s during four years. Lows had three years into the 20s, two years into the teens, and five years into the single digits. The all-time record precipitation total of 32.54 inches for December was set in 1996. and the record for January is 24.10 inches set in 1975.
The Frozen Pantry by Taeler Butel on 01/04/2016
Busy? Lazy? Gone half crazy? Pull a meal right out of the freezer into the crock pot or oven and feel like you’ve got it all together.

Freezer meal prep for a week - you will need:

1 bag of frozen corn
1 bag frozen Italian style veggies
2 lb penne pasta
2 jars pasta sauce
2 lbs bulk sweet Italian sausage
4 lbs Yukon gold potatoes
2 lbs ground beef or chicken
Italian seasoning
Sour cream
Mozzarella cheese
Chicken stock
Bread crumbs
Steak sauce
Salt, pepper, Italian seasoning

Brown two pounds bulk sweet Italian chicken or pork sausage - cool and separate into two labeled containers - freeze for later use.

Boil two pound penne pasta, then drain, cool and freeze into three separate bags or containers.

Boil four pounds of peeled, cubed Yukon gold potatoes in salted water until tender.

Heat one cup whole milk with one stick of butter in a small pan until butter is melted, add to potatoes being careful not to over mix, add one T garlic powder plus salt and pepper to taste. 

Cool and separate into four containers, place in fridge uncovered until cooled completely pop in freezer.

Meatball and meatloaf prep
2 lbs ground beef or turkey separated
2 cups panko style bread crumbs
2 T mustard
1 cup ketchup plus 1/2 cup for topping
1 T salt & pepper
2 beaten eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup steak sauce -

Mix all ingredients gently by hand or fork - divide in half roll one half into half-inch balls and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes until done completely, cool and freeze in large zip type plastic bags. 

Form the other half of meat into a meatloaf and top with ketchup, then freeze uncooked.

To make meatloaf just thaw in fridge and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or set frozen in crockpot on low for six to eight hours - serve with mashed potatoes.

Shepherds pie
Place one pound of sausage in the bottom of a glass baking dish.

Mix 2 T flour and a half cup chicken stock - pour in a layer of frozen corn and spread mashed potatoes on top- bake at 350  degrees for about 45 minutes.

Top with half cup of cheese  and place back in oven 15 minutes. Enjoy!

Crock pot baked ziti
Place 1/2 of the meatballs, one bag of pasta, one jar of sauce in a crock pot, and  add in 1 T Italian seasoning.

Cook on low for three hours, top with one half cup of shredded cheese.

Serve hot.

Crock pot meatball minestrone
Place the remaining meatballs, one-half bag Italian frozen veggies, one jar pasta sauce, one bag penne noodles, one T Italian seasoning and three cups chicken stock in crock pot.

Cook on low for three hours, top with a quarter cup  of cheese per bowl.

In a large pot place remaining sausage, one bag of pasta, two cups chicken stock, two cups frozen Italian veggies and one T Italian seasoning.

Heat to a boil, reduce to low. Stir in one cup sour cream and one cup mozzarella cheese.

Stir until thickened, then serve hot. 

It can also be made in crock pot on low for three hours stirring in cheese and sour cream during last few mins of cooking.
King David Revealed in Brooks’ ‘The Secret Chord’ by Sandra Palmer on 01/04/2016
Geraldine Brooks is fearless in the selection of her subject matter and in “The Secret Chord” she takes on the story of one of the biggest characters in the Bible – King David. Using the narrative voice of Natan, the prophet, she provides insight into David’s life as poet (the author of Psalms), lover, military commander, harpist, political leader, giant killer and King.

She also uses other contemporary characters to add insight into David’s life, talents and famous flaws.

“They knew him. They knew his flaws,” says Natan. “Indeed, I think they loved him all the more because he was flawed, as they were, and did not hide his passionate, blemished nature.”

It is comforting for all to realize that David was so very loved and blessed in spite of his similarly enormous sins and heart-breaking choices.

Author Brooks deftly creates the atmosphere of David’s time, providing context for many familiar incidents of his life while also relating the drama of less well known events.

Natan seems like the voice of David’s conscience as he documents his life story but we also see David revealed by those closest to him - including his three wives and his much-loved son, Solomon.

As always, Geraldine Brooks has an amazing ability to bring historical characters to fresh new life on the pages of her books. This novel is – as expected – beautifully written and revealing of faith, family, desire, ambition, betrayal and power. Be ready for an emotional and revealing historical drama that will prompt you to think deeply about own life and choices.

Geraldine Brooks is the prize-winning author of “March,” as well as “People of the Book” and “Year of Wonders.” She lives on Martha’s Vineyard.
Finding the Ways to Savor Every Moment by Victoria Larson on 01/04/2016
Though I enjoy the hustle-bustle, frazzle-dazzle of the holidays while it’s happening, I am glad for the quiet of the early part of each year. The stillness. The slowing down of living Though we should savor every minute of the year anyway.

For twenty-seven years I’ve lived on this farm, almost half of them by myself. Farming isn’t exactly the “slow lane” but moments of pure joy slow me down, give me time to reflect, to be in the moment. Slowing down has actually been a goal for a long time.

I cooked on a woodstove for thirteen years before moving here. No back up heat but the house was less than 800 square feet! Cooking on a wood cookstove puts you in touch with reality. I prefer the intimate contact that comes with cooking, baking and canning on a wood cookstove. The right temperature is bound to be found somewhere on that cooktop. 

When I realized I could not perform the repairs on the stove myself, I gave it to a friend of mine on Whidbey Island. I know once repared, he will cook many a meal on that stove. And he will sing as he does so and think of me.

A favorite memory of that beautiful, Danish, red enamel cookstove was canning peaches on a hot August afternoon. All the windows were open to disapate the heat when a freak storm, complete with thunder and lightening, resulted in a loss of power. For a mere moment I almost panicked, wondering if all that peach peeling time would go to waste. Then I laughed at myself, realizing that canning on a wood-fired cookstove changed nothing. But I did receive the gift of lovely memories with every jar of peaches I opened during the next twelve months!

Slowing down, making memories, savoring the moments of life, makes sense. You don’t get to take your car or your carpets to the grave. Nor your money or your time. All you take when you become one with the Universe is the memories, the love, the mere moments of your life.

That woodstove sat in a room that had windows on all three sides when it was a screened sleeping porch. I can remember lying on the top bunk, feeling summer breezes, reading a good mystery or a couple months worth of homesteading magazines. For years later I wondered where those moments went and how I could “afford” them. 

Creeping wisdom that comes with a different stage of life tells me I can’t afford to not have those moments. Leaving the frazzle-dazzle behind I now seek the state of “being here now.” I purposely buy nothing electronic. And when something electronic breaks down, I don’t necessarily get if fixed. I’ve owned a dishwasher in the past, but it ruined my red-and-white “Purina” checkered floor in the kitchen. When I wash dishes by hand I now get to stare at Mount Hood and watch birds at the feeders. Once, adult and juvenile Pileated woodpeckers were at my feeders. Now there’s a sight I’ll never forget, both oversized for the small, square suet feeder they were greedily hanging onto!

I’ve owned clothes washers (Martha Washingmachine) but never a clothes dryer. I have one now but it’s not hooked up and I have never used it as anything other than a feeding station for my cats. In winter (the inevitable question) I hang clothes in my attached, unheated greenhouse or on drying racks in front of my woodstove, my only heat source. I get to feel and smell the clothes and I get to slow down, to contemplate, to appreciate what comes my way. 

When I sold the Schoolhouse in Sandy, I vowed to downsize, de-tech and de-stress. Got rid of the FAX machine, the copier, the computer and the credit card devices. Life began to simplify again. I no longer own an electric frypan, a bread machine or electric waffle maker. And I usually cook, from scratch, three meals a day. 

I do not own a Smartphone (I do have a dumb phone, but when you tend to wash them there’s no sense spending money on something expensive). I have no TV and only occasionally listen to NPR on the radio. I’ve learned to predict the weather as well as most weather reporters. I have an old Eric Sloanne weather book that tells me all I need to know. My porch lights died several years ago, but I can see the stars clearly.
There is no time to wallow in post-holiday blues. This is a time to rest, relax, trust, believe. For amazingly soon the days will lengthen, the light return, the outdoor chores beckon. Trust that Spring is actually just around the corner. Time to think and plan what comes next and most importantly, to savor every single moment.
My Intuition Tells Me Our Family Will Be Drowning in Tuition by Ned Hickson on 01/04/2016
As parents, my wife and I have been very honest with our three teenagers about the level of financial support they can expect from us for college. To do this, I used my annual donation to our local public broadcasting station as an example.

“You know how they have different levels of supporters? And how the more money you contribute, the nicer the gift they send you as a show of their appreciation for your support — like a T-shirt or really nice backpack, or if you’re a gold-level member an entire season of your favorite PBS show in a special limited edition boxed set on Blu-Ray?”

Our kids nodded.

“As a gift, we received a refrigerator magnet for a show that was canceled three years ago.”

Blank stares from our kids.

“So yeah, the only free-ride scholarship you’re going to get from us will have already been spent on food and your unlimited texting and data plans.” 

Because of this, and because our teenagers were still staring blankly into space with their mouths open, my wife and I attended a scholarship fair where local community organizations were providing information about the many scholarships they offer.

In addition, there were three workshops discussing everything from how to apply for federal education grants, to tips on interviewing and properly filling out scholarship applications. It wasn’t long before, much like our teenagers, my wife and I were staring blankly with our mouths open.

Here’s the problem. After much consideration and analysis, including a mathematical formula involving median income combined with cost projections, annual inflation predictions and an old abacus I found at a garage sale, I was able to determine what I believe is the biggest financial challenge facing students and their families when it comes to continuing their education beyond high school:

Colleges cost too damned much.

In fact, if I didn’t know better I’d say colleges are being run by pharmaceutical companies — which would make sense since, coincidentally, most of the side effects found on drug labels are the same symptoms I felt while researching annual tuition costs: headache, chest pain, shortness of breath, vision loss, diarrhea, vomiting, paranoia...

According to the American College Board, the average annual cost of tuition at a private college is $32,405, or if you’re looking for a real bargain, $23,893 a year to attend a public college from out of state. 
However, your best bet is to enroll in a community college as an in-state resident, where the average tuition is $9,410.

Which, by the way, is still $9,310 more than we’ll have saved up for our oldest son’s college fund. 

Fortunately, there are lots of scholarships for students who consistently earn a 4.0 grade-point average.
Ours just don’t happen to be any of them. They are average students who excel in subjects they are interested in. Truth be told, they’re a lot like their father.

Who, I should probably mention, never went to college. It’s not that I’m advocating against receiving a college education. I’m just saying I’ve owned two homes and done alright without one because ultimately, with or without a degree, what matters most is a drive to succeed and willingness to work hard for it.

No degree can guarantee success over an individual’s desire to be successful.

Do I want my doctor to have a medical degree? You bet.

Should a lawyer be required to have a law degree? Certainly.

Would I be ok with a doctor without a medical degree operating on the average lawyer?

Most likely.

If our kids choose to attend college, we’ll find a way to make it happen. The question is whether the rising cost of higher education is making it less valuable, especially when compared to what can be achieved with a high degree of dedication and hard work instead.

And the freedom to pursue your life’s passions debt free.

Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available online at Port Hole Publications, Amazon Books and Barnes & Noble. Write to him at nedhickson@icloud.com
Reflecting Back, Looking Forward in Salem by State Rep. Mark Johnson on 01/04/2016
The holiday season found me reflecting on the many wonderful and fulfilling experiences that I am able to have as I serve the beautiful and diverse House District 52 as State Representative. 

One of the things I enjoy most is being able to find solutions to problems that have been brought to my attention by constituents and groups within the district. Some of you are aware that I have been working with representatives from Timberline, Ski Bowl and Meadows to update language about skier responsibilities in Oregon law.

The current language on the books dates back to 1979, the days that were pre-snowboarding and terrain parks! These updates are very important as they will help to increase skier (and snow boarder) awareness and safety by clarifying how they should conduct themselves on the slopes and what potential hazards may exist. By increasing skier safety and awareness, ski areas liabilities will also be clarified, which will help them to keep the price of lift tickets as affordable as possible. In the February session I will be introducing legislation to make this much needed language change and align ourselves with our other ski-states that have already taken this language.

Recently, I was contacted by the Port of Hood River about an important and timely need that they have. New federal legislation contains language that could, for the first time ever, make it possible for federal highway dollars to be invested in the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area for transportation improvements (this is tremendously important, as anyone who has crossed the existing 1920’s vintage Hood River bridge that was built for model T’s knows).

Someday the bridge at Hood River will need to be replaced and the modern traffic load it now supports will likely bring that day sooner rather than later. Potentially having federal dollars available to help with this would be hugely important. The Port of HR, who own the bridge, state that in order for the bridge to qualify for this assistance there needs to be language in Oregon law that mentions the bridge as a part of Oregon Hwy 35. So in February I will introduce an amendment that will put this important language into state law.

Lastly, it’s especially gratifying to me to have some of the policy work that I have accomplished be recognized and appreciated nationally. Many of you will recall SB 81, the bill that created the Oregon Promise. This bill addressed both the need for a better educated workforce and the problem of the high cost of college.
Many of our high school students can’t afford to attend community college or trade school. The Oregon Promise means that all qualifying high school graduates will now have the opportunity to enroll in a community college or trade school and have the cost of their tuition paid for with state or federal support. Since the bill was signed into law in July the response from students and their hard working parents has been overwhelming all across our state.

On Dec. 8 I was honored to participate on a panel at a White House conference in DC on education and making college affordable. It was a huge privilege to be able to share with other legislators, governors and their staff from across the country the good work that we did in passing the Oregon Promise and of the many young adults that would be able to afford the education they need to find a good paying job and to be self-reliant. 

I hope that these few examples help to show the variety of ways that I am privileged to be able to serve HD 52 and the state of Oregon. 

And in the New Year, let’s all look for ways we can serve those less fortunate around us.

Mark Johnson is the State Representative for House District 52.
The Mt. Hood Green Scene: Food Smart by Mary Soots on 01/04/2016
The holidays are always a time of reflecting upon the things that we have. They are also a time when we share food with others. Whether at holiday meals with loved ones, at parties or gifts of cookies and baked goods to express appreciation, we are a society that honors our guests by providing the best we have in abundance. 

Each year, I enjoy holiday meals where everyone brings food and at the end of the feasting, there is enough for everyone to take home leftovers. The uneaten food takes its place in the refrigerator because I can’t bear to throw it out while it’s still good. When it finally goes bad, I no longer feel the guilt because the decision is no longer in mine to make.  Each year I resolve I’m going to make/consume/waste less food.

Lately we’ve been learning more about the amount of food that we produce but don’t consume. I recently saw where a man had bicycled across the U.S., eating only food found in store dumpsters. It was all perfectly good food, but had been thrown out by grocery stores because it was no longer seen as marketable.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, approximately one-third of the world’s food produced for human consumption goes to waste. In the U.S., about 40 percent of our food is wasted, the equivalent of $165 billion each year. The loss of food comes at all stages of production, retailing, and consumption and according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, “represents a waste of the labor, water, energy, land and other inputs that went into producing that food.” The U.S. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) notes that food production in the U.S. accounts for “10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land, and swallows 80 percent of all freshwater consumed in the United States.” 

It is shocking when we think of the number of people who haven’t enough to eat. Just 15 percent of the food wasted would feed more than 25 million Americans every year at a time when one in six Americans lack a secure supply of food to their tables, states the NRDC.

On the other end of things, the food that ends up in the landfill, while it may seem that it is compostable, is the single largest component of U.S. municipal solid waste. Composted food needs air and light to properly break down, but in a landfill the rotting food is one of the largest producers of methane gas which contributes to global warming. It’s great to see that some cities like Portland have programs for composting food, but that is not available everywhere.

There are a number of organizations that aim to help us reduce our “foodprint”. One such group, Think, Eat, Save (thinkeatsave.org) offers suggestions to help reduce our waste and to save money. Some of the key suggestions include the following:

Shop Smart—plan meals, use shopping lists and avoid impulse buys. Don’t succumb to marketing tricks that lead you to buy more food than you need, particularly for perishable items. Though these may be less expensive per ounce, they can be more expensive overall if much of that food is discarded.
Buy Funny Fruit—many fruits and vegetables are thrown out because their size, shape, or color are not “right”. Buying these perfectly good funny fruit, at the farmer’s market or elsewhere, utilizes food that might otherwise go to waste.

Understand Expiration Dates— in the US, “sell-by” and “use-by” dates are not federally regulated and do not indicate safety, except on certain baby foods. Rather, they are manufacturer suggestions for peak quality. Most foods can be safely consumed well after their use-by dates.

Zero Down Your Fridge—eat food that is already in your fridge before buying more or making something new, which will save time and money. Follow storage guidance to keep food at its best. Websites such as lovefoodhatewaste.com can help you get creative with recipes to use up anything that might go bad soon.

Say Freeze and Use Your Freezer—frozen foods remain safe indefinitely. Freeze fresh produce and leftovers if you won’t have the chance to eat them before they go bad. You can also do this with take-away or delivered food, if you know you will not feel like eating it the next day.

Request Smaller Portions—restaurants will often provide half-portions upon request at reduced prices.

Compost—composting food scraps can reduce climate impact while also recycling nutrients.
Ski statute needs updating by State Rep. Mark Johnson on 12/01/2015
As I write this update, I’m looking out at the Willamette University campus from the window of my legislative office. It has been a cold and blustery couple of days in Salem as the legislature has been holding what are called “Legislative Days.” For three days committees meet to receive updates on how laws are being implemented and to get a peek what policy proposals may be coming up in the next session.

During the February 2016 session I will be using one of the two member bills that I will have to introduce legislation to update the Ski Activities Statute. This statute outlines the inherent risks to participants in ski activities and has not been updated since 1979. The outdated language in the statute does not reflect changes that occurred in the industry over the last 36 years including the addition of terrain parks, new lift technology and changes to ski equipment. And of course in 1979 no one had even heard of snowboarding! Without reflecting these changes, the outdated statute does not effectively protect the participants or the ski resort. 

Let me provide a summary of the changes that will be proposed:

• Add and define “freestyle terrain” as features for skiers and snowboarders built by trained resort staff vs. users building their own feature.

• Incorporating the responsibility code that resorts use into the statute. As the industry changes their liability agreements, these changes need to be reflected in state law in order to protect both the consumer and the industry. 

• Additional relevant changes in the industry in the last 36 years. 
This update is important from a consumer protection standpoint and also an economic one. At least 68 percent of Oregon residents participate in outdoor recreation each year; 141,000 direct Oregon jobs are provided; and the average annual visits to Oregon ski resorts is around 2,000,000. We all appreciate how important Timberline and SkiBowl are to the local economy on the Mountain. Updating the Skiers Code of Conduct will help ensure that ski resorts and the skiers and snowboarders with have the protections they need to keep snow sports affordable and accessible for all. 

There were two forums in November to discuss this update in Hood River and at The Resort at The Mountain. If you missed these forums and have any additional questions or comments on this update please contact me! (Rep.MarkJohnson@state.or.us) 

I hope that everyone had an enjoyable and safe Thanksgiving and will have a wonderful Holiday season with family and friends. Thank you for the opportunity to serve House District 52.
Putting the (Vitamin) C in Christmas by Victoria Larson on 12/01/2015
It’s the season for slowing down, staying in more, and resting. It is also the season for holiday events, parties and plays and sing-a-longs, coaxing you back out!

The trick is to find a happy medium. Because it’s also the time of change: colder weather, richer foods, less light, we are challenged to find a balance.

Getting through the holidays without getting sick can be a challenge. Eating less sugar and more root veggies may not do the trick. Or, at any rate, may not be enough to stave off wintertime illness. But it’s a way to start.

Honoring the cycles of nature, we do try to eat what’s in season. Hopefully you’ve preserved some of your summertime garden abundance as that saves you money as well as giving you produce that you can be proud of bringing to fruition.

Perhaps you’ve got a fall/winter garden going, with dark, leafy greens, watercress and chickweed for salads. (Yes, the chickweed you may have considered a summer weed in your yard makes a fantastic addition to salads!)

Take advantage of squashes you’ve stored or bought at the farmers’ market or store. Nuts are abundant at this time of year. Seeds from the winter squashes can be roasted with cayenne or chili pepper to warm you! And this is mushroom season, with a myriad of choices. The seasonal foods will keep you well fed, well fueled and warm.
In addition to the beautiful and colorful foods of the season, we are blessed to have an abundance of foods in season from not-too-far-away territories. Citrus foods are gorgeous, colorful, and fragrant. Besides eating them, you can dry them for use in teas, potpourris or decorations.

In the early 1500s, cases of scurvy were epidemic on sea going vessels. Hundreds of shipmates were lost to this deficiency disease. Yet it wasn’t until 1747 that James Lind did an experiment on the men who were severely ill with scurvy. 

Different seamen were “dosed” with either cider, garlic, horseradish, vinegar or citrus fruits. The only men cured of scurvy were the ones given oranges, lemons or limes. And seamen became known as “limeys’.”
By 1865, our own American Civil War left us with over 30,000 cases of scurvy. Yet despite James Lind’s earlier experiments, precautions were not put into place in the United States until 1895! By 1932 the Russian Albert Szent-Gyorgyi isolated Vitamin C.

Vitamin C is water soluble, so putting the rinds of organic citrus fruits into hot water or tea is a great, tasty way to get some extra Vitamin C. The enzyme needed to synthesize Vitamin C is called L-gulonolactone oxidase. This enzyme is not present in primates, bats, Guinea pigs, or humans. All other animals can make Vitamin C internally.
We humans need to take in Vitamin C on a daily basis. This is why the foods we choose to eat are so important to keep energy levels up and keep illness at bay. Vitamin C is easily obtained from the aforementioned citrus fruits and winter root vegetables, as well as the summer foods such as bell peppers, chili peppers, kiwis, and dark, leafy greens.

A deficiency of Vitamin C can lead to fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, aching joints and muscles, dry skin and the tendency to bruise easily.

More pathological conditions such as viral and bacterial infections (colds and the flu), allergies, gout, diabetes (Type II), cataracts and cancer can result from Vitamin C deficiency.

So now is the season to enjoy the foods that abound. Some people are more sensitive to larger quantities of Vitamin C and may experience diarrhea, or a misreading of occult blood or glucose testing. The “Father of Vitamin C,” Linus Pauling says a couple of grams of raw to gently cooked Vitamin C foods should not cause a problem.
And, let’s face it, having increased energy and not being sick for the holidays, well, that’s priceless.
Gifts from the Kitchen by Taeler Butel on 12/01/2015
This year I’m sending a basket with yummy nut butters and fresh loaves of bread from the kitchen as well as store bought cookies and candy. Now who wouldn’t want that?

Pumpkin cashew butter
For this recipe, you’ll need a food processor or find a store where you can grind your own (to make chocolate cashew butter omit pumpkin and pie spice, and add 2 T cocoa powder):
2 cups cashews
1/2 cup pumpkin purée (canned)
2 T pumpkin pie spice
1 T sea salt (fine)
1 T fine sugar
2 T coconut oil
2 T maple syrup
Place ingredients in a food processor and run until smooth and creamy.

Pronounced “holla,” this eggy buttery bread is lovely for French toast and also wonderful stuffed with chocolate chips or fruit preserves:
4 cups all-purpose flour plus up to 3/4 cup more for kneading
2 T sugar
2 1/4 t rapid rise yeast
1 cup warm water
1 ⁄3 cup honey
2 whole large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 T kosher salt
1 T poppy or sesame seeds
Fillings such as fruit preserves - chocolate chips (optional)
Whisk the flour, sugar, and yeast together in a large bowl and make a well in the center.
Whisk the water and honey with one whole egg, all the yolks, olive oil and salt in a small bowl and pour into the well.
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon to make a soft, moist dough.
Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead by hand, adding up to 3/4 cup more flour as needed, until the dough is soft and supple, about eight minutes.
Shape the dough into a ball.
Brush a large bowl with oil and turn dough around in bowl to coat lightly.
Cover bowl with a clean kitchen towel and set aside until dough doubles in size, about one hour.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface; knead briefly to release excess air, re-shape into a ball and return to the bowl.
Cover and set aside until doubled in size, about one hour.
Line two baking sheet pans with parchment paper.
Divide the dough in half.
Lightly dust hands with flour and roll each portion of dough into a 30-inch-long log.
Roll each length of dough around itself to form a coiled round loaf on the prepared pans (if adding fillings you can fold them into the coils).
Lightly stretch the end of the coil and moisten it with water; gently press the end into the side of the round to seal the coil into a loaf.
Press down on the loaves gently, cover with a kitchen towel and set aside until doubled, about one hour.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Beat the remaining egg with a tablespoon of water and brush loaves evenly with it; sprinkle with poppy seeds if desired.
Put the loaves in the oven and immediately turn the oven down to 400 degrees, and bake until golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes.

And here are two favorites from years past that can be added to any gift basket:

Homemade Vanilla 
3 vanilla beans
1 cup vodka
Glass jar with tight fitting lid
Pretty bottles with bottle stoppers
Use a sharp paring knife to cut lengthwise down each vanilla bean, splitting them in half, leaving an inch at the end connected. Put vanilla beans in a glass jar or bottle with a tight fitting lid (mason jars work well). Cover completely with the vodka. Give the bottle a good shake every once in a while. Store in a dark, cool place. To gift, funnel into pretty glass bottles adding a strip of vanilla bean, and attach a recipe using vanilla.

Herbed olive oil for 
Dipping Bread
This recipe will make four small jars:
In a large bowl mix together:
1 t each dried oregano, basil,  rosemary, kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 pinch red pepper flakes, 
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 cup extra virgin olive oil. Ladle into jars then pour in about 1/8 cup good quality balsamic vinegar.
History’s darkness comes to light in “The Witches” by Sandra Palmer on 12/01/2015
Although the Salem Witch trials occurred over three centuries back, they continue to fascinate. Now Stacy Schiff’s historical account provides a carefully researched history of what really happened in that small colony so long ago. The Salem Witch trials in 1692 are the most extensive and deadly in American history.

During the Salem Witch trials, 19 people were put to death – primarily by hanging – although one person was crushed by stones increasingly upon his chest. Even two dogs were killed in the community’s attempt to stop the witchery.

Stacey Schiff’s last best seller was Cleopatra which shared the detailed biography of the famous Egyptian ruler. Now, she has used her formidable research skills to reveal as much as we can know about the famous witch trials during which between 144 and 185 people were accused. Those accused and jailed ranged in age from five to 80 years old and men as well as women were accused. However, during the height of the frenzy, “…husbands implicated wives; nephews their aunts; sons-in-law their mothers-in-law, siblings each other.” Four of those jailed accusers died in prison while awaiting trial under horrific conditions.

The first group of the “afflicted” were hysterical teenage girls and the hysteria and strange behavior spread rapidly through the community from that point. Interestingly, many of the typical documentation usually kept meticulously by the colony was absent and appears to have been intentionally destroyed. Nonetheless, Schiff does a great job of weaving the tale using the remaining historical records.

While it is confusing at times due to the huge cast of characters and their intricate community relationships, the growth of suspicion and accusation continued rapidly during that particularly cold, dark winter. 

Even those in positions of authority in the colony – officials, clergy, and the well-educated – dared not stand up to the witch trials, allowing the innocents and suspected to be put to death. Why? As Schiff writes so eloquently, “In isolated settlements, in dim, smoky, firelit homes, New Englanders lived very much in the dark, where one listens more acutely, feels most passionately, imagines most vividly, where the sacred and the occult thrive.”

Schiff won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography for “Vera,” a biography of Vera Nabokov, wife and muse of Vladimir Nabokov. She was also a finalist for the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography for Saint-Exupéry. A guest columnist at The New York Times, Schiff resides in New York City.
Men are from NAPA, Women are from Macys by Ned Hickson on 12/01/2015
If you want to observe the difference between men and women at its purest form, study their shopping habits. With the holiday buying season well underway, there’s no better time to witness this phenomenon for yourself.
Here’s a brief study guide to get you started. 
a) Define an outfit as something comprised of at least three pieces of clothing, all of which are interchangeable and flattering. 
b) Have researched the best buys and know where there’s a sale today.
c) Are undecided about whether or not a drop-waist makes them look fat.
d) Will try on all clothes within arm’s reach of the fitting room.
a) Define an outfit as something comprised of jeans. And maybe a fishing lure. 
b) Have researched today’s game schedule on ESPN and know they can get to the store and back during halftime.
c) Are undecided about how to answer when their wives ask if a drop-waist makes them look fat.
d) Won’t get within arm’s reach of the fitting room. 
Obviously, the best time to conduct your study is when both men and women are in the store at the same time. This is easy to do if you just follow the Saturday sports schedule and plan your visits during halftime periods throughout the day.
The first thing you’ll notice is the difference between how men and women enter the department store.
Men don’t browse; they buy.
Being a man for many years myself, I can attest to the fact that we enter the store with absolute purpose, and continue walking that way, even if we have no idea where we’re going. When we do find the clothing section, there’s no wasting time on decisions about color or fabric.
If it’s denim and has working pockets, we’re done shopping.
By comparison, most women enter a department store like archeologists stumbling upon the remains of a lost civilization. After creating a mental grid of the area, they begin the long, slow process of sifting through every rack and every bin of twisted undergarments until, eventually, they conclude there’s nothing worth buying.
At which point they move to the next isle.
For a thorough study of the shopping habits of men and women, you must also include men who accompany their wives shopping. Keep in mind that, in most cases, these men are there by choice, i.e., they’ve chosen to go shopping over having their wives sleep in mechanic’s overalls for the next six months. The easiest way to tell these men apart from those who aren’t there with their wives is to look for any man leaning on a shopping cart with the “100-yard stare.” This is an unblinking gaze fixed on the exit doors, which, in most cases, are within 100 yards.
It’s interesting to note some of the defense mechanisms that have evolved in these men over time. For example, waving at them instantly triggers loss of sight. Next comes deafness. 

Should you somehow manage to get their attention, these individuals will be unable to speak.
Carrying on the experiment past this point isn’t recommended unless you are a certified physician.
That said, as we enter the holiday, gift-giving season, let’s take time to rejoice in the differences between men and women. Let’s embrace our diversity, and savor those things that define our genders.
And if possible, let’s do it within 100 feet of the exit.

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available online at Port Hole Publications, Amazon Books and Barnes & Noble. Write to him at nedhickson@icloud.com)
Episode I: First Dance in France by Max Malone, Private Eye on 12/01/2015
The first thing you notice upon entering France is that everyone is speaking French.

The second thing you notice is that it smells different. On the Mountain, odors of conifers permeate everything. In Paris, there’s a striking mixture of fresh bread and expensive perfume.

The third thing you notice is how short French men are. Most of their wives/girl friends are taller.

The fourth thing you notice is they all wear funny shoes.

Then comes the driving experience. Attempting to wheel a rented Peugeot out of Paris resembles a platoon of French soldiers scurrying along the Maginot Line looking for directions.

With Tasha (now and forever more, apparently, known as Natasha LaRue) at the wheel, I make my best effort to play the role of navigator. There’s a problem. The signs are all in French. So are the names of the towns. We’re not talking Tillamook, or even Estacada. Try Ville de Clemenceau, or Argenton sur Prise. (Why the French put a capital P in surprise is and will forever be a mystery to me.)

Like being sprung from a hopeless situation at the pen of a dime store novelist, we escape Paris into the countryside. Hilly green fields roll by, separated by neat hedgerows in perfect patterns that makes it impossible to not imagine German tanks rolling by.

We pass through Normandy into Brittany. The big difference between the two is that Brittany cows are taller than Normandy cows. It reminds me of the women vs. men thing.

As we roll into Natasha’s village of Plougennie (you pronounce this by sprinkling pepper on your tongue, taking a swig of milk, rolling it around in your mouth, then expectorating with a toss of the head), she announces we need supplies. 

France is famous for its little shops, but the bourgeoisie have done their best to create super markets. There are, of course, some differences. And vive not so much le difference.

Shockingly, you have to pay 1 euro to liberate your shopping cart from the rack. Even more shockingly, when you return the cart to the rack your euro pops out. It’s some kind of security deposit. Think short term cart rental.

The first stop is the cheese aisle. It’s not really a stop. It’s multiple stops. There are more stops in a French cheese aisle than in the MTA that bumbles through Boston. There have to be a million varieties. (This is an estimate, as I got all soft in the head -- cheese pun -- after three thousand two hundred twenty one.)

Wisconsinites would weep.

For me, it’s always been a choice between extra sharp or just plain sharp cheddar. The French laugh at such provincialism. In fact, the French laugh at me a lot. It must be the fedora.

The bread aisle rivals the cheese aisle, but I’ve switched into crusty mode by then and I’ve risen above counting.
With supplies in hand we slide through the checkout stand without incident.

Wait. Hold that.

There are no bags for the groceries. You bring your own. Or, in our case, you put it all back in the rented cart and take it to your rented car.

We get to Natasha’s house. For her, it’s a modest dwelling: four bedrooms, three bathrooms (complete with a bidet -- which I’m not going to explain. Look it up).

We open a bottle of 5 euro wine that, I must admit, is the best wine I’ve ever had. It’s not Jameson’s mind you, but quite drinkable.

Natasha surprises me by putting on an Edith Piaf vinyl and we dance the rest of the night away under the light of a milky moon that pours through the living room skylight.

By chance, if you have the opportunity to dance in France, you might be touched by a ray of romance.

But don’t forget, I am still Max Malone, private eye, and somehow, someway, something will go wrong.
November brought precipitation, higher temps in store by Herb Miller on 12/01/2015
November got off to a cool, wet start and remained that way until two days before Thanksgiving after which a cold, dry air mass took over and sunny skies returned.

For the most part, the month was typical for November and it was encouraging to see snowfall return to the mountain, although Government Camp received only about half of its average quota.

The National Weather Service reports El Nino conditions continue at record levels and are expected to continue into the spring months.

El Nino is one of the major factors in their forecast which calls for our area to expect above average temperatures with precipitation near normal.

Of interest, November is the first month since March that Brightwood recorded above average precipitation, and the deficit totals 12.62 inches to date, compared to an annual precipitation average of 81.31 inches.

During December, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 42 degrees Fahrenheit, an average low of 33 degrees Fahrenheit and a precipitation average of 11.10 inches, including an average 6 inches of snow.

During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached the 60s in seven years and the 50s in the three other years.

Low temperatures fell into the low to mid 30s in four years, into the 20s in another four years and the other two years into the teens, with an average of six days that reach the freezing level.

The record December snowfall of 48.8 inches was measured in 1968. The record 24-hour snowfall for December also occurred in 1968 when 12.5 inches was measured on Dec. 18.

During December, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 36 degrees Fahrenheit, an average low of 25 degrees Fahrenheit  and a precipitation average of 13.80 inches, including 51 inches of snow.

During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached into the 50s in three years, and into the 40s in the other seven years.

Lows had four years that fell into the teens, five years into the single digits and one year recorded minus one degree Fahrenheit.

The all-time record precipitation total of 32.54 inches was set in 1996 and the record snowfall total for December was 122 inches set in 1971. 

The record 24-hour December snowfall of 26 inches was set only recently in 2008.
The Mt. Hood Green Scene: Burning Wood Efficiently by Mary Soots on 12/01/2015
The first storm of the season arrived recently with winds that brought down trees and power lines, putting the mountain into darkness. We are no strangers to power outages, it’s just part of the charm of life on the mountain and most of us are prepared to burrow in for a few days. Whether it’s with the use of a generator, propane fuel or a wood-burning stove, heat is normally not a problem.

In fact, wood-burning stoves are a common way of heating for many mountain dwellers throughout the winter due to cost-effectiveness and our easy access to wood.

Like many forms of energy, regional differences are important. Burning wood is often not a viable option for urban areas. However, when thinking of environmental sustainability, it makes a lot of sense on the mountain. Wood is a renewable resource while fossil fuels are not.

The fact that we have wood a’plenty is another factor, and it requires little transportation, so it eliminates that carbon footprint. It just requires a little bit more commitment to do the intensive labor that is required such as felling the tree, chopping, stacking, etc. And of course, you don’t just flip a switch to turn it on – it requires much more effort to keep your house heated.

Still, there is a sense of satisfaction, of self-reliance, and a connectedness to the land knowing that you can survive the blustery winter without a care.

In thinking about the environmental aspects of using wood to heat your home, people often point out the drawback of smoke and the pollutants to the air. Andrew Jones, author of “Wood Heat” (Firefly Books, 2014), describes three types of smoke pollution: “nuisance smoke (caused by neighbors inefficiently heating their homes); air-shed contamination (caused by too much smoke produced in areas with a depressed topography, such as a river valley, which is prone to temperature inversions in the winter that trap smoke close to the ground); and indoor air pollution (caused by leaky or inefficient in-house wood-burning appliances).” The health implications of this can be significant for those with respiratory ailments, allergies, young children and older adults.

Jones notes that older stoves emit an average of 25 grams of smoke per hour of operation (g/h) and even older “airtight stoves” are not very efficient.  Due to regulations that were put in place in 2000, efficiency has increased and wood smoke has been reduced by up to 90 percent in advanced-technology stoves, inserts, fireplaces and furnaces that produce only two to four g/h. There are several ways to increase efficiency of wood heating while reducing pollution. One way is have an efficient wood-burning stove. While pellet stoves are the most efficient, a good wood-burning stove allows us to burn the wood gathered on the mountain.

In addition, experts advise that you don’t build a larger fire than you need for the space you’re heating. Close doors to rooms you’re not using to maintain the space warm. Clean out the ash often to ensure proper air flow to the fuel.

Using efficient fuel means seasoned wood. Wood should have a moisture content of less than 20 percent. This is achieved by allowing the chopped wood to dry out over a period of six to nine months.

Maintain your chimney regularly. Buildups of creosote and pollutants will not allow an adequate draft for a fire to burn efficiently and can lead to house fires.

Knowing that we are getting the most of our wood-burning stove means that we can cut fewer trees to meet our needs, and will reduce the pain to the wallet, our lungs and our backs.
Appreciating the abundance of life by Victoria Larson on 11/01/2015
While pulling into my driveway, my grandson said “Nana, why are you always so happy when everyone else is worrying about money?” And I thought what a great time to show him abundance, that life is not about money. I’ve been there. On both sides. Over my lifetime I’ve been a single mother on welfare, and I’ve been a millionaire (well, on paper anyway). There’s not a whole lot of difference between the two. You just cut higher on the green onions and never throw out the mushroom stems.

Sitting in the driveway I was able to provide some of the ongoing reassurance that the children need in these so-called tough times. I’m able to give the benefit of my experiences. I’m old school, so I never reveal my age, but I’ll take pride in the “creeping wisdom” that comes along with it.

How did I get to my current comfort zone? I was twenty years old when I read my first issue of “Organic Gardening,” though the magazine had been published since World War II. I was living in a small farmhouse that had been built by Louis B. Mayer, of MGM movie fame. Too young at the time to know much about anything, I jumped into gardening with both boots. Going back to the land was “in style” and I was determined to be “stylish.” Almost unbelievably, I started raising chickens with a retired movie extra. There were fruit trees already on the property: apricots, grapefruit, pomegranates, and an arbor of red, white and blue grapes almost a hundred feet long!

The grape arbor led to a patio with a built-in outdoor grill where Louis B. had fried eggs for a hundred people at a time! Those movie people liked to entertain and the neighborhood remembered. I could hardly believe the stories, nor the abundance, surrounding me. But I was raised by parents who knew depression, the era, not the emotion, and I’d been brought to be frugal and “waste not, want not.”

With a steep learning curve ahead of me, and youthful arrogance, I began learning to process that abundance, to shop wisely, to recycle. I started my first garden as a grown-up. I began to relate to the land and to remember the visceral connection of all things. Everything relates to everything else. I was hooked on “wholeness.”
When you look at the wholeness of life, of living, there are only a few things that really matter. Food, air, water, shelter, community, love --- the interconnectedness of it all. The wild berries that surround my property, the jewel-like eggs of numerous colors that come from our chickens, the donkey poo that fertilizes our fruit trees. Who cares that the blackberries are a wild tangle, that there are fewer eggs in the winter, or that there’s way more manure than my raised garden beds can absorb?

My grandson’s eyes opened wide as he absorbed all this abundance. He has fields to play in and animals to care for and the results of his own labor to eat. He never complains. As the largest part of our populations contemplates retirement, they are again worrying about their personal “recession.” Yet, I know that everyone reading this has air and most have water (though my well struggles this dry year). We have a roof over our heads (that no longer leaks!) and plenty of food (mostly tomatoes and zucchini but it’s food). Check with local food banks and churches if you are struggling for food. Shop wisely. Don’t even buy junk food. Recycle garden waste through composting or, even better, chickens.

 It’s taken twenty-seven years but I now know all the neighbors around me and participate in local organizations - that makes a community. And most importantly I have the love of my grandchildren who live nearby. And you too have friends who love you, even if your grandchildren do not live near you. Churches bring love to you that you may not even be aware of. We all have so much abundance, we just need to be grateful for all of it. Every day should be a day of Thanksgiving. 
Thanksgiving, step by step by Taeler Butel on 11/01/2015
My first shot at thanksgiving was a bit of a disaster. My roommates were coming home from Barbados, I was 21 years old and wanted to impress invited guests. Made a hodgepodge of about 20 items for side dishes ( including soggy canned asparagus and white rice) and stayed up all night preparing a raw on the inside turkey. We still had a blast and although the food was lacking edibility I did impress them with my friendship skills.

Shop the week before if possible then stay away from the store - it’s a mess, you are too cool to shop the day before.

One week out - freeze the breads and whole cranberries, chop 2 of each carrot, celery, onions, apples - slice 2 oranges chop herbs, freeze in plastic bags

6 days - purchase the wines and cheeses - this is an event for me! Choose 1 Chardonnay 1 Merlot 1 Cabernet plus a sparkling wine - also choose a non alcoholic sparkling grape juice - for wine my ideal price is below $8 per bottle, $16 if I’m feeling fancy. Three cheeses will be great- one soft- one blue and a white cheddar, a dish of nuts and fruits such as grapes and figs as well as crisp breads or crackers

5 days prior make the filling and crust for the pies - assemble fruit pies, place in freezer, bake and freeze pumpkin pies and cheesecake.

4 days prior remove turkey from freezer (if frozen).

3 days prior - blanch fresh green beans, remove turkey from freezer.

2 days - make stock using neck - brine turkey - make mashed potatoes - roast yams, make green bean casserole and cranberry sauce.

Day before - roast turkey, make gravy, prep stuffing.

Day of - warm turkey, slice -warm mashed potatoes, bake green bean casserole and stuffing, bake fruit pies, prepare cheese plate.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes for a fantastic holiday:

Fall Fondue
1 ½ cups dry white wine
½ lb each gruyere (swiss) cheese and white cheddar
2 T cornstarch
1 clove garlic
¼ t nutmeg
¼ t white pepper
¼ cup apple juice

I butternut squash, peeled, cubed & roasted
1 lb baby potatoes boiled in salted water until tender
1 lb blanched asparagus spears, tender crisp
Cubed crusty bread
Sliced kielbasa sausage
Sliced pears sprinkled with lemon juice to prevent browning

Directions: In a bowl toss the cheeses with the cornstarch. In a large pot bring the wine and juice to a bubble over medium heat, slowly whisk in the cheese mixture and turn the heat to med low. Continue whisking until the fondue is smooth adding in the clove of garlic, pepper and nutmeg. Simmer for 10 minutes without boiling, then transfer to a fondue pot and serve with dippers.

Whipped Yukon gold potatoes with goat cheese
3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled 
1 t Kosher salt 
1 1/2 cups half and half
6 T unsalted butter 
1/2 cup goat cheese/chevre
1/2 t  freshly ground black pepper
Snipped herbs such as chives (optional)

Directions: Cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes and place them in a large pot. Cover the potatoes with cold water and add enough salt so the water tastes quite salty. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 to 12 minutes until the potatoes fall apart easily when pierced with a fork. 
Meanwhile, heat the half and half and butter in a small saucepan, making sure it doesn’t boil. Set aside until the potatoes are done. 

As soon as the potatoes are tender, drain them in a colander. Place a food mill fitted with a small disc/blade over a glass bowl. Process the potatoes through the food mill, turning the handle back and forth to force the potatoes through the disc.

As soon as the potatoes are mashed, slowly whisk in enough of the hot cream/butter mixture to make the potatoes very creamy.

Add 1 t of salt and the goat cheese and pepper and whisk to combine.

Taste for seasoning and serve hot with snipped herbs if you’d like.

Sweet potato gratin
5 large yams or sweet potatoes peeled & sliced thinly
2 T pumpkin pie spice
1 T salt 
1 stick unsalted butter softened
1/4 cup four 
2 T chopped pecans
1/4 cup light brown sugar 
Butter a 9x13 baking dish 

Directions: Make streusel- With fingers mix pecans, 1/2 stick of butter, 1/8 cup brown sugar & flour set aside 
Mix 1/8 cup brown sugar with the pumpkin pie spice 1/2 of the butter and salt.

Layer potato slices with the butter pie spice mixture until all potatoes are used, top with streusel, bake at 375 degrees 45 mins or until potatoes are tender and top is golden - let cool slightly.

Finally, my number one tip: get invited to someone else’s Thanksgiving dinner and bring a delicious side like the sweet potato gratin!
Erik Larson's latest a fascinating glimpse into history by Sandra Palmer on 11/01/2015
Although we know that disaster looms as the Lusitania prepares to leave New York harbor, Erik Larson’s tale of the passengers, military tactics and personal decisions that lead to the ship’s spectacular sinking keeps the reader’s interest from the first page.

“Dead Wake” tells the gripping tale of that fateful journey and suspense builds as we see events and choices conspire toward the inevitable horror to come.

Many readers will recognize Larson’s skillful historical research translated into a compelling narrative approach which has resulted in many recent nonfiction bestsellers, but this volume is one of his best.

Again, the historical information provides fascinating perspective for compelling personal stories as the Lusitania’s captain and an aggressive submarine commander put their two craft on a collision course.

Unlike the sinking of the Titanic which shocked the world because the state-of-the-art liner was believed to be unsinkable, the attack on the Lusitania shocked in a different way as most had assumed that passenger liners would be immune from attack even as marine warfare escalated.

And the Lusitania was a formidable vessel carrying more than two thousand souls, many of them Americans while the United States continued to avoid participation in World War I.

The two ship captains are a contrast in styles and personality but even the unpredictable fog and the decision not to escort the Lusitania as it approaches its destination play a role in the crucial moments that result in the rapid sinking of the great liner. A “lucky shot” from the German sub who has the unexpected gift of a clear, close shot at the liner maximize the scope of the tragic sinking.

“Dead Wake” provides fascinating history in a compelling narrative. Another magnificent piece of work from Erik Larson that you do not have to be a history buff to appreciate.

Erik Larson, author of many bestselling books including “In the Garden of Beasts” and “The Devil in the White City” (winner of the 2004 Edgar Award) lives in New York City and Seattle.
Last Tango in Reno by Max Malone, Private Eye on 11/01/2015
A few weeks went by. Tasha had dismissed the Grimaldi brothers like a cross-eyed teacher expelling the 3rd grade class clown.

I had settled into the stucco mansion with an endless supply of Jameson’s in the parlor bar. As long as I stayed inside, all was well. On the odd moment I ventured outside I was struck in the midsection by the pink exterior and the city of Reno failing to have the rifraff swept away despite the noble efforts of the Truckee River knifing through the tattered town.

For a time, my options were few. I had lost my mountain cabin. Francoise, my faithful secretary, had taken up with Frank Strong, the former porno film star Feral Strong. She had closed my office – something to do with a lack of payroll. My apartment in the Pearl District of Portland had been taken away by a greedy landlord who sold the buildiing to a dot.com company full of 20-somethings with horned rim glasses and wispy beards.

So settling in with Tasha was a buckdancer’s choice, my friend.

I soon discovered Tasha’s real name: Natasha LaRue. Her French origin came to light one morning over toast and jam and a cup of coffee.

“Have you ever had a croissant with orange marmalade washed down by an enormous cup of coffee with steamed milk?” she purred.

In the three weeks that had passed I had almost become accustomed to Tasha’s sharp conversational turns – that were always managed without a turn signal.

I didn’t answer. I just stared into her Maxwell House eyes steaming with delight.

Call me a Tom Waits wannabee.

“I have a house in France,” she said as if everyone in the world but me knew that.

Aha, I said to myself, discovering the conversational boulevard we were navigating.

“That’s nice,” I offered up like a disinterested politician, but I repeat myself.

“I’m serious,” she said. “I know you don’t like Reno all that much. But you certainly act like you like me.”

She had scored a point, but this was going to be a three-set match.

“So, how about let’s go,” she said, veering sharply ‘a gauche’.

“To France?” I said, feeling my legs suddenly failing me.

“Yes,” she said, through that purring thing of hers.

“What?” I said through numbing lips. “You expect me to ride around in a Peugeot slathering Grey Poupon on my ham sandwich all the while guzzling from a bottle of Pernod?”

“Have you ever been there?” she responded, her teeth clinched on the idea like a wild wolverine.

I had, once, I thought to myself, remembering my astonishment at the overwhelming number of Frenchmen there were.

“We have plenty of money,” she reminded me, as I had witnessed the amount of dough she had bilked from Johnny Longo once I had removed him from the premises. “And you had a lot to do with that. So that makes us ... like ... partners.”

I screeched around the conversational curve holding desperately to my fedora, with Tasha’s purr whistling through my ears.

What’s a guy to do? Tasha was a witch, no doubt. But it’s not like I’m exactly a saint. A bit Mickey Spillane, perhaps, but no saint.

“So when we get to France do I call you Natasha?” I was trying out the no-signal turn.

“Yes,” she said, feline friendly. “Natasha LaRue. And you’ll be Maxmillian.”

Well, like I said earlier, what’s a guy to do?

After all, I am Maxmillian Malone, perhaps a former private eye.
El nino signals warm temps ahead by Herb Miller on 11/01/2015
As forecasted, October has had warmer than average temperatures, but nothing compared to the record breaking summer experienced during June, July and August. In Brightwood, June temperatures averaged 6.2 degrees above normal, and during July, 5.6 degrees above normal, both months breaking the record set during 2003. July also set a record with having 11 days reaching 90 or higher.

The summer had a total of 16 days reaching 90 or higher, compared to an average of just under seven. August averaged 3.2 degrees above normal, threatening the record set during 1986. During those three months, rainfall totalled only 2.80 inches, just 40 percent of the normal 7.01 inches. Temperatures moderated to a more seasonal level during the last two weeks of October and precipitation became more frequent, but still remained dryer than average.

The National Weather Service reports El Nino conditions are expected to peak during November or the early winter period, and that El Nino is the predominant influence on their forecast. November is expected to have above average temperatures and near normal precipitation for our area.

During November, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 48, an average low of 38, and a precipitation average of 11.79 inches, inluding an average 2.6 inches of snow. During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached the 60s during seven years and the 50s during three years. Low temperatures fell into the low to mid 30s during four years, into the 20s during four years and two years into the teens. 

November averages six days that reach the freezing level. The precipitation total of 24.44 inches measured during November of 2006 was surpassed only by the historic record of 28.09 inches set in December of 1964. The record November snowfall of 27.7 inches was measured in 1973, during which a record total of 8.8 inches was measured on Nov. 5, 1973. But last year, an eight-inch snowfall was measured on Nov. 13, 2014.

During November, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 41 degrees, an average low of 29 degrees and a precipitation average of 12.16 inches, including 32 inches of snow. During the past ten years, high temperatures have reached into the 60s during four years and into the 50s during the other six years. Lows had four years that fell to the 20s, five years into the teens, and one year reached into the single digits.

The record precipitation total of 26.51 inches was set in 1995. and the record snowfall total for November was 125 inches set in 1973. Interestingly, the record 24-hour November snowfall of 20 inches was set on two occasions, both within the past nine years, on Nov. 18, 2010 and Nov. 23, 2006.
It's a Wild and Wacky World by Victoria Larson on 09/30/2015
Though we humans have been around for thousands of years, we’ve been very slowly evolving. Agriculture has been around for about 10,000 years and that has caused some of the biggest changes. We were still hunters and gatherers when we began to grow things in one place. First the “wild grasses” were domesticated. 

Around 5,000 years ago, China began domestication of rice. Central and South America domesticated corn and potatoes. These plants (rice, wheat, corn and to a lesser degree potatoes) are domesticated starches. A good 75 percent of our domesticated diet is based on these four food groups. Rice, wheat, corn, and potatoes are all concentrated starches. Decreasing hunting and gathering, domesticating foods, allowed peoples of the world to proliferate. It’s less dangerous to garden and farm than it is to stalk wild animals. Women were the primary farmers, allowing them to stay home, grow food that could be ground into a softer form for children, and have more babies. World population soared.

But there was/is a downside to domestication of our food supply. Carbs (even complex ones) are concentrated energy. Carbs break down to glucose (sugar) which breaks down to glycogen (stored sugar), but it’s all carbohydrate starch anyway. When we were in the hunting and gathering mode, we didn’t just live on starches alone. Wild game was still hunted, all parts of the animal eaten, and wild berries, herbs, roots, and seeds were eaten as well. 
Now we “evolved” humans live in such an abundance of carbohydrates that most grocery stores carry food that is primarily based on rice, wheat, corn, and potatoes. Now “the white foods” abound. Mostly in the form of processed foods. Most of what most people buy in grocery stores. Remember, it is now 75 percent of the United States diet. Is it any wonder that we have a problem.

In addition, people don’t “move around” as much as they used to in hunter-gatherer times. They sit. All day. In cars, in front of computers, in front of the TV. And so we, as a nation, are putting on the pounds. The latest studies show that the biggest health threat we face (after cigarettes) is sitting. Just sitting. So please get up and walk around right now. Swing your arms around. Outside if possible. Take a few deep breaths while you’re at it. A few jumping jacks would not hurt either. When you feel energized, come back in and finish reading this column. For there’s more to learn. And it’s pretty wacky.

I have read books and been to seminars on the evils of gluten, sugar, soy, and wheat. But the truth is, it’s not just one thing. It’s the whole white package. Plants and animals are now disappearing from the face of the earth at a rate 1,000 times faster than at any time in the past 65,000,000 years! That’s an alarming bit of news. We cannot evolve fast enough to process these kinds of changes. We are losing diversity (more about that in a future column - why we need it). 

The United States controls global agriculture with our voracious appetite for many foods and petroleum products. We trust our ongoing and global food supply. Yet in societies where people have fewer electronics and are more closely tied to the land where all their food comes from, have a better awareness. It is estimated that with some kind of catastrophe (earthquake, volcanic eruption, terrorism) the grocery stores would have about a three-day supply of food for our current population. And most of that would be packaged carbs. Just look at what’s on the aisle in your favorite store. 

The average distance that your non-local food travels is estimated to be 1,200 - 1,500 miles. A year’s worth of eating in the U.S. means the average person’s food will have traveled 5,000,000 miles in that year! And that’s a lot of petroleum. The U.S. supplies most of the genetically modified food and seeds (GM) which many of the world’s countries refuses to import. 

Do they know something we don’t know? 

It’s a wacky world all right.  
Hot Sandwiches for Cool Nights by Taeler Butel on 09/30/2015
Just in time again for busy schedules and empty lunch boxes to fill. 

These recipes are easy, scrumptious and freeze well.

1 can refrigerated pizza dough or homemade pizza dough
1 small jar pizza sauce
8 oz Swiss cheese slices
8 oz sliced ham
1 T softened butter
Heat oven to 350 degrees, roll out dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet, spread sauce then cheese then ham. Roll lengthwise and slice into 1” thick slices, then brush tops with butter. Bake the pinwheel sandwiches for 20 mins or until tops are browned & cheese is melty.

Moist pumpkin bars
Stir together:
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 15 oz can pumpkin
1 T pumpkin pie spice
In a bowl stir together:
2 C flour
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
Mix well, pour into a 9x11 parchment lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated 325 oven 20-25 mins. Allow to cool, add nuts and or choc chips to the mix if you like.
Inside Salem by State Rep. Mark Johnson on 09/30/2015
Summer seems to have come and gone quickly, but the fall season brings a lot of excitement across the district. This summer I was able to travel throughout HD 52, visit with constituents, and enjoy the events held in our communities. Throughout the month of September, I held a series of town halls to discuss the outcomes of the 2015 legislative session and to hear from all of you. Listening is an important part of being a legislator! Let me provide a brief update of these town halls.

In Hood River, I invited a panel of energy experts including reps from Portland General Electric, NW Natural, and the Energy Trust of Oregon to talk about policies currently in place affecting our carbon output as a state. This was a great discussion open to the public and we had a lot of constituents attend, ask questions, and learn more about the complexities of energy policy. I felt this was an important event to coordinate because many of my constituents care about the topic of conservation and issues surrounding carbon output. The information presented by the panel is similar to what we legislators can usually receive in Salem, but could be shared more with the general public. Therefore, this was an opportunity for all the information to be out in the open and helps all of us have a more productive conversation. In order to make good policy decisions about energy, or any other issue, it’s important that we all have good objective information on which to base our decisions. 

Following that, Sen. Thomsen and I held a joint town hall at the Hoodland Fire Department. We also invited a representative from ODOT to provide an update on local transportation projects on Hwy. 26 and other locations throughout the district. Having a chance to talk with Village of Mt. Hood residents is an imperative part of representing HD 52 because your needs are unique and often overlooked by Clackamas County. I am always conscious of how policies will affect the communities on the Mountain and always encourage you all to stay in contact with me with any issues or concerns that may come up.

At the time of writing this, my next meeting will be with the Sandy Chamber. This last session enacted significant laws impacting small businesses. Especially in the Sandy and Villages community, small businesses are a vital component of the local economy. I am looking forward to having this opportunity to share with local business owners and employers what new legislation may be affecting them and to receive input that I can take to Salem and use to influence the discussions there. 

It is an honor to represent the Mt. Hood area and the communities in HD 52. I look forward to being able to see more of you at upcoming events in the district. If you want to stay up to date on events, please join my newsletter at www.repmarkjohnson.com.

As always, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me:

Rep.MarkJohnson@state.or.us or call 503-986-1452.
Rev Up for Return of Lisbeth Salander by Sandra Palmer on 09/30/2015
Fans of Steig Larsson’s “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (‘Millenium”) series will not be disappointed as crime novelist David Lagercrantz picks up the series using Steig Larsson’s outlines for the remaining seven books in his planned 10 book series. 

You may recall that there was quite a controversy about who owned the rights to Steig’s materials but his family won out and carefully appointed a successor so that this unique series – and it’s unusual characters – could live on.

I have to admit that I struggled during the first chapters, realizing that the new author was not Steig. 

And series fans may be a little impatient as Lagercrantz teases us in the early chapters with only brief mentions of Lisbeth Salandar as Mikael Blomquist battles writer’s block and sets the stage for their next adventure, finally stumbling onto more than he bargained for. 

But once Lisbeth enters the action, the pace completely revs up and readers are turning pages with no care for any other responsibilities in life. 

I gulped this book down in just a few days, obsessed as usual even with a new author in the driver’s seat.

This literary trip has an unusual international flavor which includes Lisbeth hacking the NSA and chasing down shady characters (including her sociopath sister!) who are involved in international crime. 

There is an interesting story about an exceptionally gifted mathematician and computer engineer with an extraordinarily skilled autistic child who helps to solve his father’s murder and save Lisbeth from international murdering thugs. 

Of course, this provides Blomquist with his next news “scoop” and burnishes his celebrity stardom once more.
Don’t hesitate to dive into this new adventure with the “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” 
The series is in good hands, I assure you!

*   *   *
David Lagercrantz is a Swedish journalist and author. 

He has worked as a crime reporter and several novels. 

This is his first book as he steps into the shoes of Steig Larsson to complete the Millenium series.
Episode X: Longo Comes Up Short by Max Malone, Private Eye on 09/30/2015
The setting is Tasha’s faux-Hollywood home, faux because it’s not in Hollywood, it’s in Reno.

Casino baron Johnny Longo is sitting across from me at a glass-top settee table with matching maroon easy chairs. In this particular case, I have no plans on making Johnny’s chair easy.

Meanwhile, Tasha is draped on a bar stool over Johnny’s shoulder, with me in her line of sight.

“So tell me Max Malone,” Johnny opens, emphasizing my full name as if I’m a mixed breed of dubious origin. “Why have I been summoned here?”

“Well, let’s see, Johnny Longo,” I respond with a corresponding snub at his AKC credentials. “Your business interests have crossed over into my business interests. More to the point, you had my mountain cabin burned down. I also have a pretty good idea why you had it done.”

He arches an eyebrow and shifts in his chair. I interrupt him in mid-arch.

“Uh-uh. Sit tight pal. You asked a question. Do yourself a favor and listen. Your business with Paul Greinke was a big mistake, as even you must have figured out by now. But moving on me is an even bigger mistake.”

Johnny leans forward in a sad Nevada attempt at being a tough guy. I’ve seen better imitations from 130-pound waiters in an English tea room.

Yet, he continues, rolling his dwarf-like shoulders in an attempt to fill out his 32-short shiny sport coat.
“The only mistake I made was you were supposed to be in the cabin at the time.”

He leans back in his chair, comfortable in the mistaken idea he had scored a point that could not be answered.
Out of the corner of my eye I see Tasha squirm on the bar stool.

I don’t like surprises, and I have to admit I never thought I was the real target, not my property. But in my business, I have to deal with surprises all the time.

“Then we need to make something very clear, Johnny Longo,” I spit out. “I’ve dealt with two-bit thugs like you my entire adult life. And if you check it out, I’m still here.”

“I’m a two-bit thug?” Johnny counters, the words spilling over his diminutive chin like a soft current over a river rock.

He stands up as tall as his genetic makeup allows.

I smile broadly and take up the distance between us. He reaches inside his jacket with his right hand.
Tasha leaps from her bar stool in astonishment.

I grab Johnny’s left hand with my right and crunch his fingers into the back of his wrist. He squeals in pain, his empty right hand flying out of his jacket.

My left hand disappears into his jacket and I quickly remove his piece from the shoulder holster and press the business end against his ear.

“You’re in way over your head little man,” I manage to say without laughing as Johnny’s toupee tilts like a tower in Pisa. “What you need to do now is walk out of here as quickly as you can, before I get upset.”

The last words come with a tightening grip on his hand before letting it go.

Johnny tries desperately to not cradle his ailing hand, but fails. He glares back at Tasha, then turns back to me.

“I want my piece,” he says, sounding  like a choir boy late for rehearsal.

“You’re fresh out of wants,” I say, no longer able to hold back my laughter as he adjusts his hairline. “And you want to avoid ever seeing me again.”

Johnny left like an Italian soldier before a Patton army.

Tasha sighed deeply and approached, engulfing me in her arms.

After all, I am Max Malone, private eye.

by Larry Berteau/MT

El Nino to Hang Around Through Winter by Herb Miller on 09/30/2015
The first week of September was cooler than average, with rain during four days. Summer weather followed reaching a peak Sept. 11 with Brightwood recording a high of 92 degrees and Government Camp recording 86.
Summer came to an abrupt end on Sept. 17 with cool temperatures and Brightwood getting soaked with 1.26 inches of rain.

Seasonal average temperatures resumed for the remainder of the month, although rainfall remained less than average.

At the end of the 2014-2015 rain year on Sept. 30, Brightwood received a precipitation total of 75.42 inches, which is 93 percent of the average of 81.31 inches.

In all probability, the fire season has ended and all of us can be grateful to the firefighters for a job well done under trying conditions.

The National Weather Service reports El Nino conditions are at exceptionally high levels and feel convinced they will continue through the winter months, if not longer. October is expected to have above average temperatures and near normal precipitation for our area.

During October, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 59 degrees, an average low of 43, and a precipitation average of 6.56 inches. During the past 10 years, high temperatures have reached into the 70s during seven years and the 60s during three years. Low temperatures fell into the low to mid 30s during seven years, into the 20s twice, and one year settled for 40. The record precipitation total of 14.67 inches was set only three years ago in 2012. The record snowfall of 7 inches was measured Oct. 31, 1994.

During October, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 53 degrees, an average low of 35, and a precipitation average of 6.99 inches, including 5.4 inches of snow. During the past 10 years, high temperatures have reached into the 70s during five years, and into the 60s during the other five years. Lows had seven years that fell to the 20s, two years into the 30s, and one year reached into the teens. The first freezing temperature averages out on Sept. 23, with the latest recorded Oct. 22, 1975. The record high snowfall total for October was 34 inches measured in 1984. The record high 24-hour snowfall in October was 15 inches measured in 1961, compared to a 12-inch total measured recently in 2009.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugli by Victoria Larson on 08/01/2015
Time was when kings, queens, and emperors viewed fruit as a special treat. Not daily fare unless they lived in tropical climates. Worldwide, fruits are in abundance. According the the United Nations, the most common fruits in fruit bowls around the world are bananas (or plantains), apples, citrus fruits, grapes, mangoes, melons, coconuts, and pears. To a lesser degree peaches, plums, dates, and pineapples are also found around the world.

Clearly we have a global economy.For shipping purposes, fruits are now pretty standardized. Ripe fruit goes to mush if shipped any farther than a few miles. Therefore, our global desire for fruit demands that fruits be picked when hard and underripe in order to reach your fruitbowl still in edible shape. Unless your are eating from your own backyard or your neighbor’s.

Fruits are so delectable and desirable because they are sweet. There is much controversy over whether tomatoes are a fruit or a vegetable. Yet in 1893 the United States Supreme Court ruled that tomatoes were a vegetable because they weren’t sweet. Of course, now many are sweet. Rhubarb was legally determined to be a fruit in 1947 because it was almost always served sweetened. People thrive on controversy. There are estimated to be almost 500,000 different fruit bearing plants in the world. While 70-80,000 of these fruits are edible, most of our fruit comes from a mere 20 crops.

History shows us that Galen, the great physician, in the second century, advised against eating fruits. He taught that fruits were laxative and indeed in large quantities they are. The belief that fruits were to be used only medicinally lasted until the Renaissance. Fruits are now a major food group for all who can afford it or have fruits available in their yards.

Until the Industrial Revolution, most people grew their own food. Shipping was not so much a problem in the United States, though in China fruit was bred to remain hard even when ripe, as fruit traveled long distances from the countryside to cities. Canning did not become popular until 1809 and allowed fruits to be stored for the less temperate months.

Messing with fruit (and other foodstuffs) has been going on for a long time. Though vitamins were discovered around WW I, the war made fruit less available. Fruit was rationed. In Canada, rations of raspberry “jam” were actually sweetened turnips, dotted with woodchips to simulate the seeds of the raspberries!

The word “fruit” comes from the Latin word fruor, which means “to delight in” and the word fructus, which means “pleasure and gratification”. Now widely available, pomegranates were uncommon in the United States until 2006. Though I had several pomegranate trees on my farm in Tarzana, California in the 1970s, we hardly knew what to do with them.

Fruits are good for you. The US Department of Agriculture says we should have five servings a day of fruits and vegetables. Naturopathic Doctors say six-ten servings. The actual per capita consumption in America is less than two servings a day. Now is your chance. Summer means there is wide availability of fruit. 

Fruit helps you in so many ways. While not local, bananas help people relax and feel less depressed. Citrus peels (and that includes the ugli fruit which looks like an over-sized grapefruit) combat skin cancer. Figs have more polyphenols (which are good for you) than red wine or tea. 

Locally, berries, cherries, and plums have anthocyanadins, which are flavonoids shown in 2007 to destroy cancer cells in the body without harming the healthy cells. Orange fruits (apricots, peaches, some plums) have carotenoids to protect against heart disease and loss of muscle mass. Now is the time to eat from a rainbow of choices. Everyday if you can.  
Kids in the Kitchen by Taeler Butel on 08/01/2015
Teach a kid to cook and you can say:  “Hey you there – you’re makin’ dinner tonight!” 

It’s so worth it.

Here’s how this went: Each of my kiddos ages 10 & 11 got to pick out groceries to make their dinner of choice for the week. This was Week One. As they master their recipes they can even make dessert and invite a friend over to learn and enjoy their new skills.

My son chose steak and my daughter chose broccoli cheddar soup. Who knew there were so many lessons to be learned in the kitchen like patience and perfect timing. 
Now we can all learn some of that.

Pan seared sirloin steak:
2 lbs sirloin steaks 2” thick
Spice Rub
1 t each – salt, black pepper, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder mixed with 1T olive oil.
Generously apply the rub and allow meat to sit out, about 20 mins until room temperature. Heat oven to 350, heat a cast iron skillet over med high heat until a drop of water sizzles & disappears. Place steaks in a pan and do not touch for about 3-4 mins or until a brown crust forms, then flip and place pan in the oven. 6-7 mins for medium well, 4-5 mins for medium or 3-4 mins for rare.

Broccoli cheddar soup:
2 lbs fresh or frozen chopped broccoli
1/2 white onion finely diced
1/2 cup each fine chopped carrots & celery
6 cups chicken stock
1 cup Half & Half or heavy cream
1 t each salt & pepper
2 cups med sharp shredded cheddar
1/4 cup corn starch
1/4 stick unsalted butter
1 clove garlic - smashed
Sautee the onion, celery & carrot 4 mins or so until the onion is translucent. Add in the garlic and the broccoli and cook over med heat another minute or so. Add in the salt and pepper and chicken stock to cover veggies, bring to a boil and then cover and lower to a simmer. Simmer until broccoli is very tender. Using an immersion blender, blend the veggies into the soup until only small chunks are visible. I do not currently have one so I scoop out 3 cups of the veggies into a blender adding enough broth to cover and I blend until smooth/chunky. Pour back into pot, add cream or half & half and allow to steam but not boil. In another bowl, add the cheese and toss together with the cornstarch. Add cheese to soup in thirds stirring constantly, and allow the soup to boil about a minute or so until thickened.
Inside Salem by State Rep. Mark Johnson on 08/01/2015
The 2015 Legislature gaveled out on July 7 after spending six months in Salem. These six months were spent crafting policy meant to address the issues facing Oregonians and to improve our state. Of course, crafting policy is not always a simple equation of problem + Legislature = solution. 

For a bill to become law, it takes a great deal of communication and engagement with those that are knowledgeable, have an interest in creating a solution, and especially those who may be opposed. This is the way that I approach the legislative process and it has allowed me to develop working relationships with legislators from both sides of the aisle and across the state. 

These relationships are what helped me to accomplish some key priorities while working in the minority for my constituents. There are some key challenges facing Oregon that were not addressed in this session, but I will continue working to find solutions and develop sound policies. 

Below are some of the main pieces of legislation I championed this session:

SB 81: creates the Oregon Promise, a community college tuition waiver program for eligible high school graduates. Students will accept all grant money first and in many cases, federal grants will cover the entire cost of tuition. The state will pay the remaining cost of tuition, effectively removing the main barrier to post-secondary education. 

Currently, the state pays an average of $17,000 for those receiving state social services and 2/3 of all jobs today require some form of post-secondary training. 

SB 81 is an investment giving students the skills they need to enter the work force and supporting their long-term success, making it less likely they will need costly state support in the future.

Governor Kate Brown came to Hood River on July 17 to sign SB 81 into law. She signed the bill at the Columbia Gorge Community College and thanked myself along with Sen. Mark Hass and Rep. Tobias Read, co-sponsors of the bill, for our bi-partisan efforts in crafting this historic piece of legislation.

SB 418: allocates $7 million to build the capacity that is needed to help our students’ transition from high school to Community College. With this bill we are building a seamless pathway from high school to post-secondary education and career training for students who may not have previously considered it possible. This will help build a culture supporting students, especially those that previously thought college was out of reach due to the cost.

HB 3069 sets higher standards for teacher education programs to train candidates in reading instruction practices. The K-3 reading benchmark is one of the most critical for our children. Students that can read at benchmark are FOUR times more likely to graduate. 

This bill requires teacher-training programs to make sure that new elementary level teachers have demonstrated the skills needed to help all students read well. 

HB 3225 is a huge step to protect our communities from oil train/hazardous cargo accidents. HB 3225 establishes the Oregon State Fire Marshal as the lead coordinator to ensure first responders are trained and have the resources they need to respond where incidents may incur throughout the state. 

In partnership with the rail companies, the OSFM will create a response plan, identifying gaps in the current system and solutions to addressing them. 

SB 478 requires Oregon Health Authority to establish and maintain a list of designated high priority chemicals used in children’s products. With this legislation, manufacturers will be required to phase out the presence of known harmful chemicals in certain children’s products. Parents will be able to make informed decisions when choosing products for the children.

HB 2317 extends the statute of limitation from six to twelve years for prosecutions of rape. This is a common sense piece of legislation addressing some of the most serious crimes in our communities. Advocates brought awareness to the level of trauma experienced by victims as a result of these crimes, which can often lead to delayed reporting.

There are some serious challenges ahead for our communities. This Legislature did very little to help support small business growth and strengthen our private sector. We must do more to support job growth and creation in our state so that we will have the resources we want and need for schools and other important needs.  Our economic outlook in May was good, but the message was that we might be nearing the peak of our growth.
This combined with some very large budget holes looming in the next biennium makes me concerned for our future. 

Overall, I’m proud of what I accomplished during the legislative session. I’m looking forward to returning home and connecting with all of you in person, because that’s where I learn about how I can serve the district. Please continue to stay in touch with me and feel free to contact me with any questions or comments you may have. Email: rep.markjohnson@state.or.us  or Call: 503-986-1452.
The Big House by Sandra Palmer on 08/01/2015
Even if the beach is not on your agenda this summer, you can take a trip there in spirit by diving into 

“The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home” by George Howe Colt.

‘’The Big House’’ is a rambling, beloved and eccentric summer home perched high above the tides overlooking Cape Cod’s Buzzards Bay. This massive and unusual summer home was originally constructed by author George Howe Colt’s great-grandfather, Edward W. Atkinson, a wealthy member of the Boston elite. Over one hundred subsequent summers since its construction, the Big House witnessed weddings, divorces, deaths and numerous remarkable nervous breakdowns. Before the house was sold and remodeled, author Colt spent 42 summers vacationing at The Big House with his extended family, absorbing its personality and atmosphere before finally introducing his own children to this special summer holiday ritual.

In this extraordinary volume, the author shares a final poignant summer at the House while relating his family’s unusual history interspersed with his own personal memories of this much-loved place – afternoon tea on the “piazza,” early morning fishing in the bay with his grandmother, playing pool in the barn with his grandfather and extended family, listening to the wind play distinctive melodies through the eaves and windows, finding imaginative treasures washed in by the waves.

Chapter by chapter, page by page, the reader comes to understand and share the strange attachment felt by the author for his family’s traditional summer home and their desire to preserve its nostalgic – often completely outdated – traditions. The reader comes to appreciate the comfort in the family’s return to this spot, year after year, where the realities of the greater world can be completely left behind during their visit. The reader can finally appreciate why The Big House remained the center of life for so many generations and why the author wanted to memorialize it in a literary way.

In spite of its eventual sale to a new family as its original family grew beyond consensus in terms of its preservation, The Big House remains in the shared memories of the extended family for whom it provided such a resonant experience over the generations.  And on the pages of this beautifully written memoir.

(George Howe Colt is the bestselling author of “The Big House,” which was a National Book Award finalist and a New York Times notable book of the year, and “November of the Soul: The Enigma of Suicide.”  He lives in western Massachusetts with his wife, Anne Fadiman, and their two children.) 

Max Malone, Private Eye
Episode VIII - Doberman at the Gate by Max Malone, Private Eye on 08/01/2015
Yep. It was back to Reno for the kid.

And there was only one reason for suffering that town of bright lights and miserable souls: I had a mountain cabin score to settle with a chap who called himself Johnny Longo.

He owned two casinos in Las Vegas, one in Reno, but for a reason I didn’t yet know he preferred to hole up in Reno. Evidently he subscribed to the Big Fish in a Little Pond way of life. And Reno, even in its highest of tides, was still a little pond.

I took the long route, wheeling my Suburban through the forest communities of Burney Falls, Westwood and Susanville. 

I have a thing about the woods. 

Climbing out of Susanville I mounted the high desert environment that signaled Reno was on the way. Dust devils danced off the roadway. Cars sped in my direction toward Reno – the stuff of high hopes – while oncoming traffic traveled at a loser’s pace – the stuff of empty pockets.

Reno on the half shell. People power.

With the help of my long-suffering secretary Francoise, and having tapped the powers of Frank Strong in the attorney general’s office, I had divined that Valerie Suppine – the Meanest Little Woman in Thirteen Western States – had abandoned Reno. Doubtlessly, she was seducing (fleecing?) a pit boss on the Delta Queen as it churned the murky waters of the mighty Mississippi River.

Tasha, on the other hand, was still in Reno, doubtlessly lounging in her pink Hollywood-like mansion far removed from the tug of tourists, yet, despite her considerable abilities, still in Reno.

She had her fingers in the Max pie that went up in flames, overcooked, that had brought me to the boiling point.

After checking into a tired casino hotel, Tasha was my first stop. I parked at the iron gate and punched the intercom. An alert Doberman, ears at attention, ran down the driveway in my direction, then stopped abruptly ten feet from the gate. We stared at each other, both trained to never give an inch.

A gravely whisky voice crackled through the intercom. “Yeah. Whattya want?”

“I’m Max Malone. I’m here to see Tasha.”

“She know who you are?”

“Ask her.”

The intercom went silent. A whistle from the house summoned the Doberman. The lock on the gate clicked. I swung the gate open, climbed back in the Suburban, and drove up to the mansion.

Both Grimaldi brothers were standing at the door. I decided not to suppress the humor of the confrontation.

“You goons still got jobs, eh?” I chuckled, as the door opened revealing Tasha in silver pants that appeared painted on and a plunging neckline that would be the envy of an Olympic diver.

“Max, what a surprise,” Tasha sang. “Boys, step aside, let the private eye pass.”

I parted the Grimaldi brothers like an annoying red sea and entered the opulent – with a splash of sleazy – chambers of Tasha’s mansion.

She offered a quick kiss on the cheek, clutched my hand, and escorted me through the great room into the parlor. 

She strolled behind the bar and grabbed a bottle of Jamesons.
“Let me fix you a drink,” she said, as if we were old lovers finally getting back together, which we weren’t.

“When did you get into town?”

“This afternoon,” I said flatly, taking a sip of Irish nectar. “We have some business to get to.”

“Ohhh, so sudden?” she said, slipping into heroine tied to the railroad tracks mode.

“Johnny Longo,” I said. getting straight to the point.

After all, I am Max Malone, private eye. 

by Larry Berteau/MT

El Nino Warning: Hot and Dry by Herb Miller on 08/01/2015
As expected, June broke records kept since 1978. 

Brightwood recorded an average high temperature of 78.1 degrees (normal 68.3), an average low of 50.7 degrees (normal 48), and a precipitation total of .84 inches (normal 4.25). Not to be outdone, 

July started with an unprecedented string of six days in the 90s in Brightwood and continued the dry weather that started June 5. 

The year 2013 is the only year without measurable precipitation in Brightwood during July. 

The year 2003, which recorded an average high temperature of 85.5 degrees and eight days reaching the 90s or higher will likely retain the honors of being the hottest July on record – but the record was in jeopardy.

Temperatures moderated starting the third week but the hot weather returned during the last days of the month. 

The National Weather Service reports El Nino conditions continue in full force and expects they will even intensify during the coming months, extending at least through the winter. As expected, our area is forecast to be hotter and drier than average. 

During August, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 75 degrees, an average low of 51 and a precipitation average of 1.46 inches. During the last 10 years, high temperatures have reached the 80s only one year and all others had at least one day reach the 90s. Low temperatures fell into the low to mid 40s with the exception of one year that dipped to 39 degrees. 

During August, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 68 degrees, an average low of 46 and a precipitation average of 1.64 inches. During the past 10 years, high temperatures have reached into the 90s during three years, into the 80s during six years, and one year into the 70s. Lows had seven years that fell into the 30s, and the other three ended in the low 40s.
Trending Now by Taeler Butel on 07/01/2015
Cooking in season means lower prices on better tasting food. This season is peak for squash, tomatoes & berries.

Tomato Sauce
4 lbs ripe tomatoes any kind cut in half
1/4 cup olive oil
5 cloves peeled garlic
2 med size sweet onions sliced thin
2 stalks celery sliced
1 T dried oregano
1 t fresh thyme
1 t each kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
1/4 cup red wine (optional)

Heat oven to 375. Spread ingredients in an even layer on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle on seasonings and roast uncovered for about an hour turning ingredients every 20 mins or so. Allow to cool to room temperature. Blend ingredients about a cup at a time in a food processor or a blender and transfer the mixture to a large stock pot. Add wine, and reduce over a med heat. The sauce will have a fresh tomato flavor and it can be canned or frozen.

2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 t each kosher salt & fresh cracked pepper
1 T flour
2 eggs beaten
Oil for frying

Heat 1/2 inch oil over med heat in a cast iron skillet. Mix all other ingredients & scoop about 1/4
cup of the batter into pan, flatten slightly and cook frying about 4 at a time  for 4 mins on each side until golden brown. Transfer to  plate lined with paper towels. Fritters will soak up oil so you may need to add more to the pan, but heat the oil before frying. 
Keep fritters warm, as they make an excellent side dish.
More uses for zucchini
Use as lasagne noodles
Substitute for cucumbers in pickles
Shred & freeze to add to muffins & stir fry
Inside Salem by State Rep. Mark Johnson on 07/01/2015
As I write this update, the Legislature is fully preparing for Sine Die, which literally means “with no appointed date for resumption.” 

Constitutionally we must adjourn by July 11. I’m sure hoping it’s before that! The days down in Salem right now are quite unpredictable – spontaneous meetings, impromptu conversations, and various unscheduled events are the norm as we try to bring the session to a close.  

In the August issue of The Mountain Times, I will be happy to share my full post-session wrap up. For now, I can write about some of the positive legislation that I’ve been able to be a part of this session:

 HB 2317 – Providing Protection for Victims
HB 2317 extends the statute of limitation from six to twelve years for prosecutions of rape. This is a common sense piece of legislation meant to address some of the most serious crimes in our communities. Advocates on behalf of sexual assault victims brought awareness to the level of trauma experienced as a result of these crimes. The level of trauma suffered by the victim can often lead to delayed reporting. 

In my opinion, HB 2317 is in the best interest of the victims as law enforcement can work to locate the perpetrator when the victim is ready to speak. 

I do recognize that there is a long way to go in providing support and certainty for domestic violence. 
This bill is just one step in updating state law to help prevent and address these violent crimes and to provide needed support for victims.

HB 3069 – Improving 3rd Grade Literacy 
In the last year, I have spent a great deal of time working to improve our third grade reading standards. Students who read well at the end of third grade are FOUR times more likely to graduate – and those that can’t struggle with school and are less likely to go on to any kind of post-secondary education or career training. 

There are multiple aspects to improving third grade reading and one key component is ensuring our new teachers are prepared.

HB 3069, which I sponsored and carried on the House floor and is on its way to the Governor’s desk, will require teacher preparation programs in Oregon to provide training based on new reading standards adopted by the Oregon Department of Education. 

Basically, anyone who is studying to be an elementary level teacher will have to demonstrate their skills in reading instruction to ensure that they can not only teach students to read but also help provide early intervention for struggling students and be able to demonstrate how they would get students back on track.
As a member of the school board and as a Representative, many superintendents have shared their frustration that too many teacher candidates are graduating and are unprepared to meet the curriculum demands in our classrooms.
Oregon has now joined many other states with a specific plan to improve our outcomes on third grade reading!

Transportation Package?
As I write, there are still on-going discussions about a transportation package that could be completed and passed this session. 

This is a very complicated discussion that involves many factors. In order for a bipartisan agreement to be finalized and agreed to, the Low Carbon Fuel Standard that was passed earlier this session would need to be replaced with a better plan that will actually reduce emissions and not unnecessarily drive up fuel prices. 
It’s certainly a politically charged issue and we will know sometime soon whether there will be an agreement during this session or not. 

I know that Clackamas County and the Mountain area would certainly benefit from a transportation package that would provide money for much needed road maintenance.
Looking Ahead
I’m looking forward to getting back to House District 52 and to my home in Hood River. 

It has been great to share the success of HD 52 over the last six months with my colleagues and an honor to represent such a beautiful part of the state. 

Many of you have taken the time to contact me throughout session, but there is no better connection than the in-person connections I experience traveling throughout district. 

Summertime means attending the many events, parades, and interacting with all of you! No day in Salem can replace that!

Behind the Scenes of an American Tragedy by Sandra Palmer on 07/01/2015
I should have read “Columbine” last year but its massive size put me off. It was very much worth the wait. 

While hauntingly disturbing, it is also full of insights and behind-the-scenes research which reveals the truth of what happened that awful day at Columbine High when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold engaged in the worst act of school violence our country has ever seen.

Why? The media at the time proposed that the cause was bullying and tension within the school between jocks and Goths but it is clear from this well-researched book that the answer was not that simple. 

Dave Cullen takes us behind the scenes and into the journals, websites and videos left behind by the killers revealing their thoughts and motives.

It turns out that Eric Harris, a classic psychopath, was determined to pull off an act of domestic terrorism of enormous proportions – allowing him to go out in a blaze of glory. 

And if the many bombs the two boys placed in the school had gone off as planned, the death toll would have easily exceeded 500. 

And Dylan was depressed and suicidal. Committing suicide with his friend Eric was a good way for him to get it done.

Cullen follows the aftermath of the tragedy – traumatized students and parents, news media obsessions, community healing and law enforcement obfuscation. His research is impeccable as he traces the stages of grief and healing – and examples of determination and courage in the face of lifelong, life altering injuries. 

Cullen does not glorify the tragedy or sensationalize what happened that fateful day. The account of the actual shooting is not related until the end of the book – after the reader has perspective and understanding about the killers and their victims. 

It is a sad account and it will stay with you long after you finish reading but you will come away with understandings of the event that you never expected. 

As haunting as the real Columbine story is, I was surprised to realize after finishing the book that I was grieving not just for the innocent victims of the crime but also feeling intense sadness for the loss of these two young men whose demons led them down this very sad path. 

And I was also feeling real sadness for the families they left behind who truly had no idea of the plot that was brewing or the psychological profiles of these two friends that would bring it about.
I dare you to be haunted. This is an amazing book.

(Dave Cullen is a journalist and author who is considered the nation’s foremost authority on the Columbine killers. Cullen has won several writing awards, including a GLAAD Media Award, Society of Professional Journalism awards, and several Best of Salon citations.)
Episode VII: Lay Off the Skirts by Max Malone, Private Eye on 07/01/2015
I barged into my Portland office and went straight to my desk. Purposely, I created a dark cloud to keep Francoise, my secretary, at arm’s length. I had some thinking to do.

My mountain cabin is nothing more than charred remains. The torching was obviously a message, and more. I was under serious – well, as serious as the fire marshal could be – investigation for insurance fraud. It seems my foray into Reno to come to the rescue of Valerie Suppine – the meanest little woman in thirteen western states – and the subsequent run-in with Tasha the temptress and her two goons, the Grimaldi brothers, was all a ruse, orchestrated by a casino owner named Johnny Longo, who pulled the strings for Paul Greinke’s run for governor that went awry with a murder that was pinned on Hope, who was now doing time and oddly enjoying it.

Unable to afford another capital crime, the only recourse to get even for Longo was to have my cabin go up in flames and me get hosed by a fire marshal.

That’s all the quiet time I was allowed as Francoise marched into my office and plopped her loveliness down opposite me.

“I couldn’t tell them about the cash payment you brought back for your work in Reno,” she said flatly. “But that leaves us with a little problem. They believe you lost a wad on that trip and to make up for it you burned down your cabin to compensate through an insurance claim. And if I might add, I’m a bit perturbed that this is a problem for US, rather than just YOU.”

Francoise, normally a woman of constant good humor when it came to managing my affairs, was suddenly possessed by an alien presence, which was still one more problem that I was hoping I wouldn’t be forced to hire Richard Burton to perform an exorcism.

Where was Liz Taylor when I needed her.

I waded carefully into the murky waters of Francoise.

“I never intended to put you on the spot,” I offered, only succeeding in raising a Francoise eyebrow. “I wasn’t aware of the plot against me.”

“It’s not like you, Max,” she snapped. “Unless, of course, there are skirts involved, then, well, it’s exactly like you.”

I suffered the rebuke. I owed Francoise at least that much. I tried to calm her down with a soft wave of my hand, palm down, with about as much success as a freshman senator trying to thwart a congressional filibuster.

Nevertheless, I pressed on, despite the short “skirt” sitting in front of me.

“I’m afraid it’s a bit more complicated than that,” I said, bracing against another arched eyebrow. “There’s a so-called big shot casino owner who’s behind all of this.”

Francoise rolled her eyes and studied the ceiling fan.

“But I’ll get after it,” I said, glancing up to make sure the ceiling fan was not another obstacle. “Look, you just have to hold the fort down until I get back from Reno.”

“Great!” she said. “I’ll just keep running around the ramparts even though I’m surrounded by hostiles.”

We looked at each other for a significant period of time. Her face softened perceptively. I offered a narrow smile. She let out a final huff of indignation and raised from her chair.

“OK Max. You go to Reno and take care of this casino boss,” she said in a businesslike manner. “But lay off the skirts. I’m in no mood.”

I stood up and walked around the desk. Carefully, I pulled Francoise into an avuncular embrace, patting her on the back. “Just remember, dear, were it not for my afflictions, you wouldn’t have this exciting job,” I said. 
After all, I am Max Malone, private eye.

by Larry Berteau/MT
El Nino is Upon Us for Summer by Herb Miller on 07/01/2015
k, this June will set a record for the hottest high temperature average, not only for our area, but also a number of locations throughout the Pacific Northwest.

In addition, records will likely fall on low precipitation reports.

After the first four days of June, there has not been any measurable rainfall in Brightwood, and both Government Camp as well as Brightwood received less than 20 percent of the average precipitation.
It’s evident most of the western states are experiencing a severe drought and fire danger is critical.

The outlook for the next three months calls for temperatures to continue to be above average for the West Coast, so all of us should keep fire hazards to a minimum, and conserve water.

The National Weather Service reports El Nino conditions are in full force and expects these conditions will continue at least for the next few months, and possibly into the winter months. Their outlook for our area is a continuation of warmer than average temperatures, and precipitation near average.

During July, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 75 degrees, an average low of 51, and a precipitation average of 1.31 inches. During the past 10 years, high temperatures have reached the 100s during three years, and into the 90s four years. Chances are about five out of seven that July will have at least one day with a high of 90 or higher. Low temperatures fell into the low to mid 40s without fail.

During July, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 68 degrees, an average low of 46, and a precipitation average of 1.08 inches. During the past 10 years, high temperatures have reached into the 90s twice, and the remaining years reached into the 80s, except last year couldn’t get out of the 70s. Low temperatures fell into the 30s during all but one year and that one settled for 40 degrees. Latest freezing temperature was set July 8, 1981, and a trace of snowfall was reported, also in 1981.
It's in Your Genes by Victoria Larson on 06/01/2015
This month’s column is about the power in your genes. Not your blue jeans but the DNA that is yours alone.

The latest research tells us that genetic expression can fluctuate on a moment to moment basis. Ninety percent of your genes can exchange signals from your outer environment. Your family, your friends, strangers. Your feelings, your thoughts your spiritual practices. 

The choices you make affect your experiences and behaviors, and have a huge effect on your ability to regenerate and maintain your best health. We normally express about 1.5 percent of our DNA. The remaining 98 percent or so lies dormant, just waiting for further input. New studies in epigenetics tell us that signals from the environment, outside of our bodies have a profound ability to determine how our genes express themselves, whether healthy or struggling. (See last month’s column).

I cannot begin to tell you how many times a patient can pinpoint when their disease state began, even without the presence of overt symptoms. We do know. Genes are affected by everything. What you eat and what you drink. What you breathe and what you think. 

Is is any wonder that our society is in trouble. We know, at least internally, at the gut level, when we are out of balance, no longer in homeostasis. 

Stress affects genes more than anything else, be it physical (trauma), chemical (toxins), or mental emotional (emotions such as fear and worry). 
So it is true! Body, mind, and spirit are connected. This is why many people come to a Naturopathic Doctor, for we listen and treat the whole person.

Long term stress has been linked to everything from anxiety, depression, GI issues, colds, aging, allergies, and heart disease to fatigue, diabetes, cancer, and pain. All of the above are stress-states to your biological body and are a result of information exchanges in your genes. 

We are simply not built to withstand long term stress without addressing some sort of healing requirements.
The fight-or-flight response is now in constant “on” mode in our current frazzle-dazzle lifestyles. Our negative emotions are revved up. Anger, anxiety, aggression are often present. Fear, frustration, guilt show their ugly heads. To top it off, we often feel powerless to deal with our environment. Our bodies tighten up. Our cells stiffen. We don’t cope so well, inside or out.

Start with the basics. Eat well, feed less sugar to your kids. Sleep longer but without the crutch of alcohol or drugs. Take time out for meditation, play, prayer. Cultivate gratitude. Do something just for fun. Laugh more. “Keep calm and carry on” is cute but a little too simplistic.

Buy less stuff, give more away. Don’t burden yourself. Oxytocin, created by your body, is the “feel good” hormone. With receptor sites in your immune system, gut, heart and liver, you can have a major healing effect just by thinking good thoughts.

Our minds are about 5 percent conscious and 95 percent subconscious. Self talk to your subconscious mind can bring about a far greater sense of well being within. Focus on what you want to happen instead of worrying over the things you don’t want to happen. Remember there are only two kinds of problems in the world – the kind you can do something about (dietary choices, sleep) and the kind of problems you cannot do anything about (the weather, your age). 

Have hope in your lives, Your heart beats over 101,000 times a day. Your body makes 25 trillion new cells a minute. And you have more than 70 trillion cells to begin with. Those cells can perform up to six trillion functions a second. There is hope for all of us and our world. 

Enjoy the gift of life.
Ready, Set, Summer by Taeler Butel on 06/01/2015
Sports, beaches, road trips and adventures – you’ll want food. Just throw a little something homemade in your basket. Here’s a few.

Something munchie
Rocky Road Popcorn
You are gonna need lots of popcorn (10-12 cups)
(I cover the bottom of a heavy bottom saucepan with popcorn kernels and olive oil, then I add 1t salt and cover and let it pop on medium high)
Heat oven to 250.
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
¼ cup karo syrup (light)
1t kosher or sea salt
3 cups mini marshmallows
1 cup roasted salted almonds
1 cup chocolate chips
2T cocoa powder
1t vanilla

Stir popcorn, almonds and 2 cups marshmallows in a large bowl. Butter a large cookie sheet. In a medium heavy bottomed saucepan add in the brown sugar, cocoa, karo and butter. Bring to a boil stirring almost constantly until boiling - let it boil about 4 minutes stirring often. Pour mixture over popcorn mixture and stir, coating evenly. Pour out onto cookie sheet and bake about an hour mixing every 20 minutes. Let it cool completely and add remaining marshmallows and chocolate chips. Toss to mix.



1 lb zucchini cut into strips or ribbons
1 thick sliced red onion
1¼ cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
3 cloves garlic
2t coriander
3t salt
3t peppercorns

Place water, sugar, salt and vinegar into a saucepan and boil two to three minutes. Place zucchini and remaining ingredients in a large jar, pour hot vinegar mixture over the zucchini and let it cool. Refrigerate.
Inside Salem -- Final Committees by State Rep. Mark Johnson on 06/01/2015
Legislators are busily working through the final policy bills that are not in the Ways and Means, Revenue, or Rules committees. These committees do not have the same deadlines as the regular policy committees do and can stay active until the end of the Session to complete their remaining work. 

One of the most significant events in May was the release of the May Revenue forecast. Now that the forecast has been released, the three committees listed above typically become a contentious area of politicking as legislators compete for the limited funding that is available.

The May forecast is the last assessment of the strength of Oregon’s economy that is used by the Legislature to finalize budget work and finish the session by the end of June (or early July if extended).  Revenue is now projected to be at least $463 million higher than expected for the combined 13-15 and 15-17 bienniums. This is great news for school districts and post-secondary institutions who had been hoping for a positive forecast that could mean additional money for their budgets. 

You may recall that when the Legislature passed the inadequate K-12 budget in April,  they were promised to receive 40 percent of any new General Fund Revenue that would be contained in the May forecast. That 40 percent will equal an additional $105 million for K-12. 

Certainly this is good news for Oregon Trail School Districts but it still leaves our schools short of the $7.5 billion that is viewed as necessary to maintain current service levels and avoid cuts that can lead to larger class sizes or lost instructional time.

The economists said that while Oregon’s economy is currently doing well, we are likely at the peak of its strong performance. Although job growth is strong, it is primarily in lower paying positions that won’t provide long-term growth for our economy. 

It now is certain that the “kicker” will kick in Oregon. 

This refers to the Constitutional requirement that anytime general fund revenues exceed budget projects by more than 2 percent, the excess must be returned to tax payers. 

Currently the kicker is expected to be at least 470 million dollars. 

The economists said this revenue distribution could help provide a boost to the economy as tax payers have more disposable income. The kicker is now returned to taxpayers in the form of a tax credit when they file their next tax returns. 

This will help to make April 15th a bit less painful next year!

Yesterday’s good news is tempered by the long-term budget concerns that exist. With the Supreme Court overturning most of the PERS reforms that were passed in the “Grand Bargain” two years ago, public employer costs will once again begin to rise across the state. 

Additionally, the federal money that has been used to expand the Medicaid population in Oregon will begin to be scaled back. 

These two issues together could create a general fund budget hole in the BILLIONS two years from now. 
So even though the economic news was very positive we must keep an eye to the future and budget responsibly. 

I’m hopeful that the last month of the session will be characterized by bipartisan collaboration to meet the needs of Oregonians in the short-term and also involve responsible, long-term planning. 

We also need to be sure that we don’t get in the way of hard-working Oregonians and small businesses who must be successful if our state is to have future prosperity. 

I will work hard over the last month of the Session to make sure the vital interests of the Mountain community are represented and heard in Salem.
Time to Revisit Grisham's 'A Time to Kill' by Sandra Palmer on 06/01/2015
I originally read this novel shortly after its original publication date in 1989 but after reading Grisham’s excellent sequel “Sycamore Road” a few months ago, I decided to revisit this outstanding book. While it was “The Firm” – his second book – that truly rocketed Grisham to fame, making him a true Rock Star of book publishing, his first novel “A Time to Kill” remains one of his very best works. 

And it sets that stage for all that follows in his successful literary

The story is set in the small town of Clanton, in Ford County, Mississippi where an innocent 10-year-old black girl is savagely raped, beaten and left for dead by two white racists. Tonya survives but will carry scars for a lifetime and her distraught father takes matters into his own hands, shooting both perpetrators dead in front of scores of witnesses in the county courthouse after their arraignment. Soon the entire community is in an uproar of the murder and Tonya’s father, Carl Lee Hailey, is on trial for murder with his fate to be determined by an all-white jury in the middle of a true media frenzy.

Carl Lee’s defense attorney is young Jake Brigance who successfully defended Carl’s brother in a high-profile trial years earlier but who now becomes a high-profile target for a resurgent KKK and suffers assassination attempts, threats and violence as the trial moves forward. 

Jake loves the spotlight but is committed to justice for his client who was out of his mind with rage at the time of the crime. Jack hopes to give the jury reason to free Carl Lee due to temporary insanity with the help of several colorful southern lawyers who are also friends – a disbarred wealthy legal  mentor, a hedonistic local divorce specialist and a spunky female legal aid – who all believe in
the cause.

Grisham provides colorful portrayals of all the players in this riveting drama, many tinged with humor and southern sensibilities, making the novel dramatic and rich in both large concepts and everyday human insights. The novel’s legal action and human drama keep the pages turning as the case moves through the legal process and many elements come into play. Black political figures, the Klu Klux Klan, flocks of journalists, worried local residents and the National Guard all gather around the courthouse awaiting the outcome and trying to influence the jury’s decision.

If you have not yet enjoyed “Sycamore Road”, I recommend that you find a copy of “A Time to Kill’ and read it first to set the stage for that novel’s events. We’ve come to take John Grisham for granted but he is a truly gifted author as his first published work demonstrates.

John Grisham is an American lawyer, politician, and author, best known for his popular legal thrillers. His books have been translated into 42 languages. He graduated from Mississippi State University before attending the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1981. He practiced criminal law for about a decade and served in the House of Representatives in Mississippi from January 1984 to September 1990. He began writing his first novel, A Time to Kill, in 1984; it was published in June 1989.

Max Malone, Private Eye
A 'Longo' Shadow by Max Malone, Private Eye on 06/01/2015
Watching Hope from across the metal table, her decked out in her prison orange outfit, me sporting my fill-in fedora, I was supposed to feel smug, bordering on French insouciance, but instead found myself wiggling in my chair and experiencing a rare moment of shaky confidence.

Hope had her gushing ways, and a prison term didn’t seem to stem the tide.

“Did you enjoy your little tryst in Reno,” she asked, keeping with the current.

I almost said “How did you know about that. After all you’re in prison,” but swallowed the sentence like a steelhead gulping down a struggling worm.

But instead, I was hooked. She saw the hesitation and started reeling me in.

“You think you’re always on top of things, Max,” she gurgled. “But you miss the big picture. You’ve been played.”

I didn’t have a comeback. I waited through an uncomfortable pause, enough, hopefully, to allow me to get at the reason for my visit.

“It certainly looks like you’ve been played plenty as well,” I said, wading in the shallow end, glancing down at her ill-fitting orange prison shirt that was somehow still unable to hide her ample pulchritude. “I prefer my position, thank you.”

Her knowing smile continued to blanket the room like a total eclipse. I was surprised the nearby prison guard didn’t scramble for the safety of the nearest chicken coop.

“Well, I’d consider your statement if it wasn’t for the fact that your cabin was torched, you are wearing a new fedora, not by choice, and you’re visiting me here in this forsaken place,” Hope said, as matter-of-factly as a college vice-president addressing an auditorium of incoming  freshmen.

Gathering scraps of composure, unfortunately more like a homeless bum unwrapping half a tossed taco than a suave private eye interrogating an incarcerated criminal, I pressed on.

“I’m not here because I missed you, lady,” I said, able to avoid clearing my throat. “I’m here to find out about the whereabouts of Paul Greinke. I know that charlatan has been to see you. I checked the visitor’s log.”

“Ohh, he’s been to see me, all right,” she responded, flicking the words out through a smile like a scorpion who just hitched a ride across the pond on the back of an unsuspecting frog. “Several times. He asked about you as well. He wondered if you’d recovered from your Reno trip. More to the point, if you’d recovered from Tasha and Valerie.”

I stood, pushing my way away from the table, my blood beginning to bubble.

Hope was unmoved, except her eyes followed my rise from the chair, hooded by eyelids that would be the envy of a colony of timber rattlers. “I take it our little visit is over, Max. Too bad. I was just beginning to get a warm fuzzy feeling. Like old times.”

In the parking lot I shot a phone call to Frank Strong, the former Feral Strong of porno film fame, who was now firmly ensconced in a real job as researcher for the state’s attorney general. Go figure.

“Greinke’s in the shadows these days,” Frank said. “Your investigation ruined his bid for governor, as I’m sure you know. He’s probably crawled back into his handler’s cave.”

“His handler?”

“Yeah. You probably didn’t know about him. He’s Johnny Longo. Owns a casino in Reno, two more in Las Vegas. He’s a king maker, not a king, and he financed Greinke’s campaign for governor. He has plenty of politicians in his pocket but needed Greinke to pave the way for a casino in Portland.”

Johnny Longo. I already didn’t like the dude. After all, I am Max Malone, private eye.

by Larry Berteau/MT
Warmer June Headed Our Way by Herb Miller on 06/01/2015
May started off with mild temperatures that were soon followed by a brief cool down, then a few more mild days that ended a 10-day period with scant rainfall. The next 10 days followed with cool, showery weather. The last week ended with warm, dry days.

But rainfall was much below normal, following the pattern that has been set every month this year. The first four months, Brightwood has received just 71 percent of its average precipitation, and coupled with the almost nonexistent snow cover in the Cascades of both Washington and Oregon, explains the low stream and lake levels. 

One comforting fact is the better snow pack in British Columbia that will melt into the Columbia River and should help irrigation in the Columbia basin.

The National Weather Service forecasts our area will again have above average temperatures and near normal precipitation for the upcoming month of June.

During June, Brightwood has an average high temperature of 68 degrees, an average low of 48, and a precipitation average of 4.35 inches. During the last 10 years, high temperatures have reached into the 100s during two years, into the 90s one year, into the 80s during six years, and one year failed to get above the 70s. Chances are about four out of five that June will have at least one day with a high of 90 or higher. Low temperatures had seven years in the 40s, with three years dropping into the 30s. Latest freezing temperature is May 20.

During June, Government Camp has an average high temperature of 59 degrees, an average low of 41, and a precipitation average of 3.88 inches, which includes an average .72 inches of snow. During the past 10 years, high temperatures have reached into the 80s three years, into the 70s six years, and one year settled for the 60s. Low temperatures fell into the 30s during all but one year that hit the upper 20s. Five of those last 10 years had lows falling to the freezing mark. The record snowfall for June was 11 inches measured in 1995 and the record 24-hour snowfall also was set in 1995 on June 5. Latest freezing temperature was set July 8, 1981.
Mexican Fare at New Rhododendron Restaurant by on 06/01/2015
If you’ve got a hankering for a Tostadas de Ceviche, a plate of super nachos with all the trimmings, a giant burrito or other Mexican fare, head for some south of the border cuisine at Fiesta Jalisco, the recently opened Mexican Restaurant at 73330 Hwy. 26 in Rhododendron.

Restaurants run in the family with Fiesta Jalisco’s owner, Alberto Garcia. Garcia professes that his grandmother, who still runs a restaurant in Cuautla Jalisco, a small Mexican town where he grew up, “makes the best molé in town.”

Garcia moved to Seattle at the age of 16 and entered the restaurant business with his family. Now, as the owner of Fiesto Jalisco, he does a bit of everything -- cooking, waiting tables and bartending. Another family owned business, long-established Dos Margaritas, is still located in Vancouver, Wash. and is considered Fiesta Jalisco’s “sister restaurant.”

Since the opening of Fiesta Jalisco in April, when his sons cut the ribbon, Garcia described it as a “very happy day” and he is pleased with the progress of his new restaurant.

“It has been very good, and the customers all like it,” Garcia said. “I like it here, I found that this is a good place for it.”

Everything on the Fiesta Jalisco menu is handmade on the premises using only the freshest ingredients. The salsa is a Garcia family recipe which has been in the family for many years. An extensive menu features authentic Mexican food with all the favorites along with a daily special. Breakfast will also be served in the future, with a choice of Mexican or American breakfasts.

 If it has been years since a trip to Mexico and you have a craving for Huevos Rancheros for breakfast, this is sure to satisfy your palate. 

A large selection of Tequilas are available with brands including Don Julio 1942, Cuervo, Patron Silver and Sauza Commemorativo. Margaritas are served in a wide choice of flavors, from fruits and berries to happy fun-filled beach vacation sounding names such as “Sunset Margarita” and “Moonlite Margarita.” 
Happy Hour runs from 3 - 6 pm with $3 well drinks and $2 for local beers. 

“A fiesta is to enjoy your food, and I enjoy what I do,” Garcia said.

Business hours 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. with breakfast to be served in the future at 8 a.m. Telephone 503-564-9801.

by Frances Berteau/MT
May is for Momma by Taeler Butel on 05/01/2015
Pssst … Make crepes.
Mom’s love crepes. 

Maybe because I am French or because of my fondness of Nutella but I think crepes may be the most perfect food. All will not make it, so please just sacrifice the first one.  A perfect first crepe just isn’t gonna happen. 
Here are some sweet and savory stuffins’ to try.

You will need a non stick 8” frying pan or crepe pan plus a blender.

Basic Crepes: 
1 Cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 Cup  milk (or ½ & ½) 
¼  t salt 
2 T butter, melted plus more for cooking.

Whisk together flour and eggs. Gradually add in milk and water, stirring to combine. Add salt and butter and blend until smooth. For best results, refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight. Heat a lightly buttered nonstick pan over medium-high heat. (For dessert crepes, add 2 tsp sugar to the mix.) When pan is hot ladle about ¼  cup of batter swirling the batter to cover the entire pan. Let cook for 1 minute until top looks dry then gently flip with a spatula to the other side and cook another 30 seconds. Place onto a plate. Repeat until all of the batter is used. 
You can do a crepe bar for a mommies-only brunch … just sayin.
Spread nutella and sliced bananas and/or strawberries then fold & eat.
Cheese blintzes
Ricotta filling 
1 cup low fat ricotta cheese
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese
 ¼ cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 t vanilla
Pinch of salt
Mix all of ingredients (mixture will be lumpy). Spoon about 3 tablespoons into each crepe. Roll or fold burrito style and top with fresh strawberries, jam, blueberry sauce or just a dusting of powdered sugar.

Savory suggestions
Shred 2 chicken breasts, mix with 1½ cups Monterey jack cheese, 2 T salsa & 6 oz cream cheese. Grill like a quesadilla.
Roasted veggies & herb cream cheese.
Spinach and ricotta cheese. 
Steak & mushrooms. 

Taeler Butel writes exclusively for The Mountain Times
Inside Salem by State Rep. Mark Johnson on 05/01/2015
Halfway through our time in Salem and some major session deadlines have passed. April 21 was the last day a bill can be passed out of its originating chamber. This deadline means that bills that did not pass out of their originating chamber cannot become law this session. With that, I’ll provide you with some information on the bills that are still alive and the bills that died. 

Protecting Our 
Recreation Industry
There are a few pieces of legislation that died but had great relevance to House District 52. The first of these is SB 849 which would protect the recreation industry in our district. SB 849 was introduced to help protect the skiing industry in Oregon after a lawsuit was filed against Mount Bachelor. The risk of litigation is not limited to the ski industry – all recreation activities could be open to lawsuits including mountain biking and basically any scenario in which a liability waiver is signed. Unfortunately, SB 849 died in the Senate Judiciary Committee and the issue will not be dealt with this session. However, I do plan on continuing to engage with stakeholders to work on finding a solution. 

Creating Low-Cost 
Degree Pathways
Last February I introduced legislation instructing colleges to create at least two bachelor’s degree pathways costing significantly less than their current amount. This was modeled off the $10,000 BA pathway that exists in multiple other states and helps to address the issue of student debt. This session, my colleague Representative Whisnant and I worked to pass HB 2973 establishing the Affordable Baccalaureate Degree Act. HB 2973 includes text from my original bill and incorporates developments from the Higher Education system since first introducing the concept. I’m excited about the prospects that this bill will provide to post-secondary students and their ability to afford higher education. 

Improving Financial 
HB 2847 instructs ASPIRE programs to provide information regarding financial aid to high school students. This information includes the types of financial aid available, the different loans and their impacts, and the long-term contracts students sign into when taking out financial aid. The unfortunate reality is that more students need to take out loans to finance their post-secondary education. HB 2847 will help students make more informed decisions when addressing their post-secondary financing. Additionaly, this bill will require information to be provided regarding the types of apprenticeship and career technical pathways available. It is important to share these options with students as they are a viable alternative to attending a higher education institution. It was exciting to share this bill on the House floor and see it pass 60-0! 

K-12 Education 
The fight continues on the K-12 education budget. HB 5017 setting the budget at $7.255 was signed by the Governor. I drafted HB 3538 to require all new money from the May revenue forecast go to the K-12 budget. It is unfortunate that this budget has become a partisan issue in both the House and Senate because the negative impact of these budget cuts affects all Oregon kids and communities. HB 3538 will require the prioritization of our school system in order to add days back to the school year, reduce class sizes, and provide the needed supports to educators. The bill was referred to the House Revenue Committee but has yet to be scheduled for a public hearing. I hope my colleagues can come together to support this common sense legislation in order to bring the budget up to the $7.5 million amount agreed would prevent cuts by the Oregon education community. 

Attending The Bite 
I had a great time attending the Bite at the Mountain! Melodi and I always enjoy spending time with constituents in the Villages area and visiting the Resort at the Mountain. Kudos to all for their efforts in putting together this always successful event!

As always, please continue to contact me with any questions you may have regarding these bills or any other issues. Thank you for the opportunity to serve House District 52.
Be Prepared for an Odd Book by Sandra Palmer on 05/01/2015
Kazuo Ishiguro is a remarkably skilled novelist. His work is all of consistently high quality and the language therein is beautifully, carefully executed. 

However, even more remarkably, Ishiguro never writes the same type of novel twice. “The Buried Giant,” his latest book, is a fantasy tale set in post-Arthurian Great Britain in a land still populated by sprites, ogres, knights, monsters, mystical spells and dragons.

Be prepared – this is an odd, sad book. 

The setting is hard to grasp, especially in the early chapters as much of British populace in those days barely survived under conditions that were hardly tolerable, in cave-like hovels dug out of hillsides, cowering together in the dark cold near scarce fires and rare candles. And the land is covered by an inexplicable mist that seems to confuse everyone and take away memory of the past. Is it a spell cast by the dragon Querig from her lair in the nearby mountains?

Much of the story follows an elderly couple who determine to break free of their meager, hard-scratch existence to find the son from whom they were separated during the preceding years of war and pestilence. And they seek to find answers to the unnatural forgetfulness that has even taken away memories of their loving years together. Will they love each other as closely after finding these answers? Or will the elusive truth – if they find it – cause them to question each other?

Along the way, Axl and Beatrice meet a warrior with mysterious powers in battle, an abandoned child who seems destined to complete a strange mission and monks living in a castle fortress. And finally they encounter an aging knight from King Arthur’s roundtable who has spent years seeking to overcome the wily dragon whose spiritual powers threaten the powerless people and a boatman who selectively ferries carefully selected individuals to a secret island of unending tranquility, an escape from the terrors and hardships of life.

Is loss of memory at times a gift? Or do we lose something essential of ourselves when memories fade? Can our lives sometimes be happier when painful memories fade beyond our ability to retrieve them?

Ishiguro finally surprises us by gradually parting the mists to reveal the truths about the characters in his narrative in the closing chapters. And as the clouds of muddled memories are finally parted, the reader is left with questions that linger long after the book cover is closed. 

KAZUO ISHIGURO, one of the most honored of contemporary authors, was born in Nagasaki, Japan, and moved to Britain at the age of 5. He is the author of six novels most notably:  The Remains of the Day (1989, winner of the Booker Prize); The Unconsoled (1995, winner of the Cheltenham Prize); When We Were Orphans (2000, shortlisted for the Booker Prize); and Never Let Me Go (2005, Corine Internationaler Buchpreis, Serono Literary Prize, Casino de Santiago European Novel Award, shortlisted for the Booker Prize).

by Sandra Palmer/MT  

Max Malone
Episode V: Pretty In Orange by Max Malone, Private Eye on 05/01/2015
A few days have passed. The side show – that is, the destruction of my cabin – has passed as well. 

I’ve been staying with my good neighbor Sam, trying to sort things out, which does not include figuring out the out-of-sortness of Sam’s cabin.

Sam is a good friend. Sam is everyone’s good friend. A big reason he’s such a good friend to everyone is they haven’t spent three days living with him. Sam believes with all his heart and soul that cowboys still drive cattle to Abilene, the county sheriff has a mustache that droops beyond his chin, and bar maids are delightful vixens whose sole desires are to please crusty cowpokes with a silver dollar in their pockets.

Actually, I’ll have to re-think that last one.

And his cabin is messy – and I have a very high threshold for messy.

Consequently, I’ve spent a lot of time walking through the cold ash which was once my cabin. There’s evidence there were three explosions. Interior broken glass has melted tow