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When I was younger, I looked on in wild wonder at a certain breed of older ladies.  While they looked normal – well groomed, no nervous tics to speak of –  they had habits that set them apart from the crowd – kooky habits.  Despite saying, “I will never ever be one of them,”  I’ve somehow, over the past couple of years, turned into one and am now likely the focus of some other young person’s mocking.  Though there are many facets to my kookiness, here is the most glaring example of my transformation:  I feed animals.

To be fair, Gregory started it! Oh, listen to me, blaming it on him.  Seriously, he did though.  We were at the coast a few years ago and he saw some hummingbirds darting around a feeder.  I was so tickled at his excitement, “Buddy, did you see that one?  How about that one?  They’re so neat!”, that I bought him a feeder.  Placed just outside our kitchen window, we’ve had many a tiny visitor.

Then there were the Bushtits, literally the cutest birds, and aside from the hummingbird, the smallest in North America.  They twitter around in flocks, and despite their rather drab color, they bring so much cheer, bobbing and darting through the trees.  Anyway, I kept seeing them in our yard, and then I saw them en masse at a suet feeder at my neighbor’s house and, well, you can see the giant snowball forming, can’t you?

So, we started with one suet feeder outside the bedroom window, and got lots of traffic from the Bushtits, as well as Warblers, Flickers, Jays, Starlings, Chickadees, and Juncos.  As you can imagine, I got excited about all these birds, and thought, well, wouldn’t it be neat if we could watch them in the dining room, too?  Feeder count: three.

Then I noticed all the house finches on the wire and wondered why they weren’t gobbling up the goodies at the suet feeders.  As I later learned, at the Backyard Bird Shop, they’re not big on suet, but boy do they love sunflower seeds.  Feeder count: four.  Additional birds: House Finches, Purple Finches, Song Sparrows, Pine Siskins, Golden Crowned Sparrows, Gold Finches, and Lesser Gold Finches.

At this point, I could see the kooky transformation happening in a big way, yet, rather than stop right there, I asked Laura (yeah, I’m on a first name basis with the bird shop manager) what kind of birds eat at the flat feeders they have in the shop.  Well, gentle readers, a whole new crop that wasn’t visiting before, and since I had already crossed the threshold there was no going back.  Feeder count: five.  Additional birds: Black Headed Gros Beak and Evening Grosbeak, plus a Hawk (not sure what kind) that came to munch on these fellas (he missed – this time).

But, you may remember, I said animals.  I feed animals.  Well, as those in my situation already know, feeders don’t just attract birds, but squirrels, too.  They are tenacious, I might add.  So, as the package of squirrel food says, “Don’t fight ’em, feed ’em!”  Feeder count: six.  Kooky lady transformation: done and done!


Perhaps it is the fact that I had three siblings growing up.  Perhaps it is just my nature, but I love to share.  I love baking up a big batch of cookies or a Bundt cake and delivering plates of their yummy goodness to the neighbors.  It’s fun, and it feels good.  I like giving of myself in that way.  If I’ve got extra of anything, I really want someone else to have it.

So, not surprisingly, these tomatoes and cucumbers are  for sharing.  Later this morning, they will be heading to our favorite local bakery and cafe, Sweetness.  Since I’ve been doing my cleanse, I can’t actually eat anything there (or the tomatoes, sigh), but I can share the bounty in our garden.

Since I am sharing, let me share with you the deliciousness that is Sweetness.  First, the name.  It’s not just for the baked goods.  It’s a tribute to Walter Peyton of “da Bears.”  The equally sweet mother and daughter team, Gretchen and Kay, are big Chicago fans (check the bathroom out if you don’t believe me).  They’ve also got some very lovely ladies working for them, as well: Alana, Kathleen, and Jenny.

It is a rather homey place – bright and cheery, with a good music selection, and goodies galore.  Gretchen arrives early every morning to bake everything.  There are many, many delectable sweets, of course, savories, sandwiches, omelets, and different brunch menu every weekend.  The coffee drinks are nothing to sneeze at either.

My favorites, however, are the FoPo Sandwich (salami, capers, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, cheese, all on a challah roll that was made by Gretchen), and the All Day Breakfast Sandwich (a yummy mixture of cream cheese and eggs, cheddar, topped with bacon on that yummy roll again).  I top mine with a little hot sauce and am in heaven.

Now for the sweets.  Every cookie they make is delicious – big, the perfect balance of chewy and crisp, great flavors: snickerdoodle, ginger, chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and the cowboy (nuts, chocolate chips, and oatmeal).  The coffee cakes are divine, the muffins, always dense and delicious, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

They’ve got a lot to choose from, and it is all so good!  If you’re in the neighborhood – give them a try, you won’t leave disappointed!  At least we never do.










Despite the fact that I’ve never actually wanted children of my own, I am a sucker for them.

Take these cookies.  I bought the dough from the cute neighbor boys in support of their little league baseball team.

Next time, I think I’ll just make a donation – straight up, no purchasing of wrapping paper, junk food, chocolates, or cookie dough.  It will save me the agony of having all these things that I don’t really need, like Slim Jims and three pounds (yes, pounds!) of peanut butter dough taunting me every time I open the refrigerator.

“You know you want to eat me.  I am rather tasty by the spoonful, or you could stud me with chocolate chips (the way Gregory likes), so I get that mutant cookie look, and then bake me up.  How great would I be with a glass of milk on a perfect Portland day?”

Well, darn it all if the dough wasn’t right!  Now if Monday’s weather would return…

I am touched by the kindness of whomever left this delightful surprise on my door.  Thank you!

I love this beautiful planet of ours, and I do my very best to be a good steward of the land I occupy, always striving to make one more change for that seventh generation.  I’m hoping you are too.

But, as I am never satisfied, I’m wanting us all to do more.  Would you look at the list below and find one item that you aren’t already doing and give it a try for Mother Earth?  I’d appreciate it, and so would she. 

  • Rethink your purchases – Do you really need it? How far did it travel to get to you?  Is it made from sustainable materials?
  • Buy a clothes line or drying rack.  Dry one load a week this way (or more if you can).
  • Use cloth napkins at home.
  • Skip the paper towels and use cloth.
  • Eat at least one vegetarian meal a week.
  • Compost your fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and tea bags. 
  • Turn your thermostat to 58 degrees when you sleep.  Throw on an extra blanket.
  • Buy locally and organic.
  • Replace one incandescent light bulb (that’s not on a dimmer) with a flourescent bulb.
  • When you leave a room, turn off the light.
  • Unplug appliances when not in use.
  • Check your home’s insulation levels, add more if possible/necessary.
  • Done it all?  Yeah!  Or just want more ideas?  Click here.

Here’s what our household pledges to do:

  • Rethink our purchases.
  • Insulate our home (we’ve got pretty much zero!).
  • Buy organic cotton t-shirts.  Research other affordable organic clothing.  I’m not keen on paying $200 for a pair of jeans or a blouse.


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