Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Posadas de las Monjas

Posadas de las Monjas

Behind the heavy wooden doors of Posadas de las Monjas we found true sanctuary. David and I have been here for 6 days and can't seem to find a compelling reason to leave. The word posada means a place to rest and rest we have found. The original buildings served as a monastery and the complex is a maze of walkways and small staircases that open into courtyards and lead up to numerous rooftop terraces. The walls are built of mortared stone with small chips of rock set into the joints for decoration. Each building is slightly different; one has arched stone moldings around the windows and others are topped by castle-like turrets. Many of the walls were left with the raw stone standing jagged at the top which adds to the medieval character. Several of the balconies are covered in white and pink plaster and edged in colorful tile.

Flowers and plants everywhere! Huge geraniums spill out of the terra cotta pots lining every wall and walkway. Small pink roses emit an intoxicating perfume, blending with the jasmine and honeysuckle growing in adjacent courtyards. Fledgling doves test their wings on decorative iron railings, chirping swallows swoop down from their perches atop the tile chimneys while tiny hummingbirds dart among the flowers.

This morning, David and I chose an umbrella shaded table on one of the many terraces as our workspace. From this spot the view is dominated by the dome of the Cathedral of the Monks. Rooftop gardens fill the scene as far as the eye can see. At first glance, the amount of color is overwhelming. This city was constructed in layers with several small dwellings built on the rooftops of others - a city above the city if you will - each having its own color scheme; so one building may be a number of colors. Even with the brilliant paint colors, the flowers and plants dominate the palette that is San Miguel. Look one direction and a pale yellow wall surrounds large fruit trees, scarlet bougainvillea and mimosa. On the next rooftop, there is a deep orange wall lined with brilliant yellow sheltering cactus of every imaginable shape and size. Further down, a pale orange wall, outlined in cobalt blue, hosts a hammock and dining set surrounded by flowerpots of every conceivable hue. Pale pink and lavender reside next to mustard yellow and mint green to create a range of colors almost overwhelming to the eye. All of these color combinations may at first sound garish, but they blend together like some Technicolor impressionist painting with a depth impossible to capture with words or photographs.

In contrast, our room is small with a stone exterior and simple white plaster walls. The trappings are not lavish, but its comfortable bed and scarred dark wood furnishings are all that we need. Our windows are screens covered in dark wood shutters with wavy old glass panes. The overhang keeps the rain out, so we kept them open in the middle of a heavy downpour - which lulled us straight to sleep. The heating and air conditioning system consists of heavy blankets for the cool nights and a battered pedestal fan for the warm afternoons. The bathroom is decorated with hand-painted Talavera tile with a dark slate floor. A drain in the floor and a curtain serve as a shower. After the Hiltons and Marriotts of recent weeks this might seem Spartan but the simplicity is refreshing.

The people here are very nice, quick with bright smiles and patient with our hesitant Spanish. There is a steady hum of work from early morning until late afternoon as they sweep, clean and tend the plants. We hear a lot of joking and laughing, whistling and singing - there is work to be done, but also a little time for play.

That is the spirit that we have adopted as well.

Every morning we walk a few blocks up the hill up to the main square called El Jardin for fantastic coffee, hard rolls with jam and local butter, and a hearty breakfast at Rincon de Don Tomas. There is free WiFi from a shop on the corner so we browse the news, check email and chat with other patrons. Afterwards, we return to Posada de los Monjas for a few hours of work, then a late lunch and a short siesta. A few more hours of work and then we are free to explore the town. The sun sets about 7:30 these days and the local dinner hour is quite late, so there is a lot of time to see the area, walking for miles and taking hundreds of photographs. Later, we dine at one of the numerous excellent restaurants and sit in El Jardin for some people watching. Wandering back to the hotel around 11 for a last check of email and complete a few last little chores, we wrap up the day. The bars on the street below close down about midnight and after that the city quiets down considerably. However, it really doesn't matter because with all of the walking we've been doing we're out as soon as we hit the pillow - sleeping deeply at Posadas de las Monjas, dreaming in the bright colors of Mexico.

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Where have you been??

One of my friends emailed me the other day and asked why I haven’t been blogging lately. It’s been an interesting six months or so for David and me. He has a new job with Telelogic that involves onsite consulting and teaching classes with some telecommuting weeks in between. It’s almost a full time travel situation and we never know where we’ll end up. It seemed like an odd time to make this kind of change with the house remodel exactly half done and the possibility of a ‘safe bet’ job closer to home. But we decided it was too good an opportunity to pass up, to indulge our wanderlust with someone else footing most of the bill, and so far so good. David does all the work and I go along for the ride but I keep pretty busy managing the scheduling, researching upcoming locations and wrangling receipts. Kind of the personal assistant I guess. I’m also working on an article about telecommuting that I hope to wrap up after we hit a few more interesting locations.

You would think with our recent adventures I’d have plenty to say but really I just haven’t had the mental down time to put our experiences into words. I’m going to try to do better with that – if nothing else just a quick journal to act as a time line. We’ve been on the road for four months now with only one weekend back home and have had a fantastic adventure so far. We’ve seen and done so many things in such a short time that the experiences pile up on top of each other. I’ll have to go back over some of the highlights in detail in future posts – San Miguel de Allende Mexico, Manhattan, Kansas City, New Jersey, Vermont, Maine, Raleigh, Memphis…. It’s been a wild ride.

Most recently we’ve been coming to Massachusetts between trips and hanging out in an RV park with my father on the beach in Brant Rock (Marshfield). It’s a great place to just be. David has been telecommuting, a task which sometimes requires a lot of ingenuity here on the hairy edge of the cell phone signal world. He has been diligent in keeping up with work and I’ll have to admit I’ve been a lazy slug – laying in the sun and drinking iced tea in the afternoons. I actually have a real bathing suit tan for the first time in years. The weather has been entirely too perfect but it seems to be that way whenever David is around – beautiful sunny days and nice rainy nights. He will never believe the weather in New England is rarely good for this long.

This has been a great time to reconnect with, and really introduce David to my family. From a distance family can be anything you want them to be but up close and personal they are the nuts that you love to hate or hate to love. Actually they are the people you love even though they make you nuts!

We’ll be heading back to Bisbee this Thursday. It’s monsoon in full swing now so that should be wonderful. As much as I love the ocean it’s always good to get back to the wide open spaces of the desert.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Guest room Remodel

Guest room Remodel 4
Originally uploaded by rainvalley.

I'll have to dig out some pictures of the 'before' but this is the after... not bad! We still need to put some artwork on the walls but I think the end result is pretty fantastic!

Details:The rocker was my grandmother's

The bed came from our friend Roxane's yardsale

Bedding from Ross and Marshalls

Rug from a thrift store in Georgia ($10!)

Flooring from Lumberliquidators

Drapes and hardware from Walmart

Lamps from Alco

Total cost - about $600 including the bed.... not bad!

Remodeling Madness

It all started with a four poster bed.....
I've always liked 4 posters - they just seem special. Like a charming bed and breakfast or a welcoming guest room. When our friend Roxane mentioned she had one for sale I knew I wanted it. At the time we bought the bed the guest room was by far the worst room in the house. From it's yellow striped ceiling down it's tan faux wallpapered walls to it's shitty brown carpet it was just NASTY! Our original plan was to just rip up the carpet, remove the ugly sliding closet doors, paint the floors and leave it at that. But the paint just didn't quite want to dry on the floor (it was actually HUMID in Arizona this summer) and days went by before we could assemble the bed. After looking at it for a few days we decided that we wanted to try our hand at laminate wood flooring. But if we were going to do that why not fix the ceiling...... and if we were going to do THAT why not texture the walls.......... So we began.....
That first room was an interesting journey for David and I. We realized we work together very well and only have a minor skirmish here and there while in the middle of texture spattered insanity. We have also found out that we can do this rather well! What we had been dreading and afraid to start has turned into a neat adventure. Now like our other adventures not all parts have been pleasurable but overall we've enjoyed most of it very much. We're on the dining area right now - room number 3 in our remodel with the kitchen, master bedroom and 2 bathrooms yet to go. It's been a long time coming but we are slowly but surely turning our sow's ear into a silk purse.

Catching up

Sometimes you look up and months have gone by! Where did they go? Summer is past and by the frost on the car this morning we're well into fall. We had a wonderful summer with a good monsoon season. For anyone who thinks Arizona is just tan - think again! It was a carpet of a million shades of green this year with grass waist high anywhere you didn't mow (and mow and mow........!)
Some highlights include a trip to Utah's Zion and Bryce canyons and a spin through the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. WOW this country is amazingly beautiful! We made hundreds of pictures but none managed to capture the grandeur of the real thing.
Life in Bisbee has been good. We've renewed friendships and woven ourselves back into the community. However a possible job shift may have us on the road again soon - to Albuquerque this time. If we go we will miss this odd little town.......and hopefully it will miss us. But new adventures await through the tunnel so maybe going will be a good thing.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Eve of 41

It's the eve of my 41st birthday and we're listening to a pounding monsoonal rain. Thunder rolls between the Mule Mountains and San Jose (in Mexico) and the lightning has knocked down our power a few times. For those of us who live in the desert no matter how wild the storm gets we will welcome and revel in it.
Dinner tonight was sort of Spanish/Tuscan Italian I guess........ Gazpacho, crusty garlic and black pepper bread (from Safeway surprise surprise!), green beans tossed with olive oil and lemon juice, good parmesan cheese from Trader Joe's, smokey Fontina (again from Safeway), and red bell peppers and sweet onions tossed with balsamic vinegar/olive oil & fresh basil and thinly sliced turkey breast leftover from last night. Sitting in candlelight and dining with my best friend... my husband, I could not possibly ask for a better birthday.
40 started out a bit difficult but now, on the eve of 41, I can say that 40 turned out pretty darn good. I am very grateful for a good year........ the best part was marrying my wonderful husband but there were so many other fantastic moments it's hard to believe they were all packed into just one year. It's nice to focus on looking forward with hope instead of looking back with regret. That is the best gift David gives me..... and he does that everyday not just on my birthday.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Baby Fox Two

Baby Fox Two
Originally uploaded by Bisbohemian.
One of the most thrilling sights I've ever had in my entire life.....

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Right Spot

The Right Spot
Originally uploaded by rainvalley.
David slogging back through the marsh after going to the edge to get just the right angle on Bodie Island Light.... it was worth it!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Copper Light

Copper Light
Originally uploaded by rainvalley.
Bodie Island Light - Hatteras NC National Seashore.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Wrong Side of the Door Mr Snake

Georgia the cat invited one of her friends in to play......

Affordable Luxury

I saw these gorgeous tangerine spray roses at the Fresh Market and just had to have them.... and only $5.99 - a bargain!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Ya Gonna Make Me?

Ya Gonna Make Me?
Originally uploaded by rainvalley.

Friday, April 14, 2006

David's Favorite Hummus

David said tonight's hummus was his favorite of any I've I'm going to TRY to remember how I made it. When one cooks 'off the cuff' like I do it's hard to duplicate anything exactly. But I think I can come close....

1 can garbanzo beans drained
2 large garlic cloves
4 TBS Yogurt
2 TBS Tahini
Juice from 1 lemon & lemon zest
Large handful Cilantro - leaves and tender stems only
About 2 TBS good Olive Oil
A few cranks of Sea Salt & Black Pepper

Process garbanzos, garlic & cilantro in the food processor until coursely chopped, then add all the rest and process until smooth. Add some additional olive oil on top if desired.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


This cartoon sums up some of the hysteria behind immigration all too well! I particularly like the fence since I have such a lovely example of one to look at from our house in AZ.....

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Pre-owned babies....

I couldn't have said it better myself.... so I'll let the original blogger do it instead

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Sweet and Patient

Click on the picture to view it in a larger format.

Sweet and Patient
Originally uploaded by rainvalley.
Another visit to our tiny friends in Warrenton Ga. They live in little horse paradise - about 80 acres of tree lined rolling grass pasture where they live an essentially wild existance. There are about 30 of them and they live in distinct herds - mares babies and stallions all coexisting. I made several pictures but most weren't that good - for once they were in close....too close and it was hard to get a good shot at them through the fence. Aren't they beautiful?

Friday, March 31, 2006


Our house in AZ is 3 miles from the Mexican border and I have to say it really irritates me when those who live 3000 miles away think they have a good grasp of the border situation and how to handle it.

Safety-wise I don't worry about illegals coming across nearly as much as I worry about the punk kids coming out from Tucson. Being run over by a 22 year old hot-rodding Border Patrol agent is more of a danger than being assaulted by an illegal alien in my neighborhood. Don't even get me started on their 5 AM helicopter patrols buzzing low and hovering. The black metal fence is lighted as brightly as a mall parking lot at night with a glow that obscures the stars and wastes an amazing amount of energy.

I have lived on the border for over 20 years. I have known illegal aliens personally - and years ago my Mom helped one young man get his papers so he could work legally. I guess my Mom was a criminal and I have to say I am proud of her for it. She fronted him $500 (he'd already managed to save almost $1000) and drove him around to the miriad of places he needed to go so that he could attain legal work status. It was amazingly difficult and confusing even for someone who spoke English. If we make this process easier MOST people would be happy to work legally. For those who say "But my ancestors came here legally!" keep in mind that most who went through Ellis Island had only to be free from disease and physically able to work to gain entrance in most cases. In their day the Irish, Italian, Polish, Chinese.... etc... were all looked at scornfully by many of those who had come before. Maybe this too is the American way.

I agree that we need immigration reform but locking down our borders with more ugly fences and armed military and making illegals criminals is not going to fix this problem. It will just make the border into a police state. Weren't we the ones who inspired Germany to tear down her walls? Now we are building our own...

This is a complex problem but I have some ideas about how we could start resolving it.

First: Start a program similar to the WPA that makes Americans work for their housing and food. This country needs all the help it can get to rebuild our infrastructure. Jobs mean skills...... skills mean better jobs. This would also fill some of the jobs that illegals are currently taking and reduce the need for their labors. I'd go a step further and say that if someone is on assistance they should also beon birth control. Sorry but you shouldn't breed them if you can't feed them. I worry a lot more about homegrown poor swelling in population than those who come in looking for a job.

Second: Get a guest worker program started like that of the Brazeros program of the 40's and 50's that will allow migrant workers to work legally. You might be surprised to know that most of them would far prefer this - and would gladly pay the taxes that go with it. Do I advocate throwing open our borders to just anyone? No. But if you give the bulk of what is currently illegal traffic a simple legal way to enter this country the traffic that remains would be MUCH easier to handle. Also keep in mind that those who blew up the Twin Towers were here comletely legally. Using the banner of KEEPING YOU SAFE in the immigration debate is just stupid.

Third: Target the employers who make money using illegal aliens. NOT people who give them aid (like water stations) but those who hire them LIKE WALMART. If some little old lady is caught giving an illegal a ride out of the desert heat she'll have her car confiscated ...but if a company gets caught with 50 illegals working in their warehouse they get a slap on the wrist. This is totally unbalanced. Typical of the GOP to be talking out of both sides of their mouths. I suggest that when big companies get busted with a warehouse full of illegals seize the warehouse and contents...

It is very easy to file illegal aliens under the heading of THEY and make them seem evil but THEY are just people trying for a better life for their families. This is the same thing that drove many of our ancestors to these shores - back in the days when immigration was a heck of a lot more straight forward. Modern legal immigrants from developed nations have a place to live and money in the bank while waiting for Visa or green card. Most that come through our borders to the south do not. We are a nation of immigrants and to say "we've got ours now screw the rest of you" is a sentiment that I hear too often these days.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Today Is The Day

Today Is The Day
Originally uploaded by rainvalley.
David and I have been going to Beaufort and Hunting Island now and again for a year. Sometimes we camp the weekend at Hunting Island and sometimes we just drive down for the day. Each time we go we think about climbing the lighthouse. It started out as a joke....the first time we went neither of us had any cash and they don't take plastic for the we couldn't climb it. From then on it was a question of if we would climb the lighthouse TODAY...and something else would come up. We'd get captivated by our fishing, linger over breakfast or decide we were just too darn lazy to make the climb. We didn't realize until after we got home and started downloading the camera's that the dates coincided with our first ever trip to Hunting Island...exactly one year to the day. It was worth the wait!

David - Workin' for the man.....

David - on his way to work the other day. He just looks so handsome!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Chris Bliss

This guy is amazing! His juggling is phenomenal and if you want a guaranteed smile the video will supply one! Click on The Grand Finale and just sit back and marvel. What I enjoyed most was the look of delight on his face when he'd competed some of the more difficult parts... Good stuff for your spirit!

When you are done looking at that check out some of his writing. Good stuff for your head!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Sunrise Hunting Island State Park

It really doesn't get any better than this! Sunrise at Hunting Island - Beaufort SC, one of our favorite places.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Dad & I at the Dam - Augusta GA

David took this of Dad & I while he was here in GA a couple of months ago. I love it!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

David in blue

David in blue
Originally uploaded by rainvalley.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Peanut Sauce

Yes I do mean THE Peanut Sauce.
I've been hunting around in my cookbooks for this incredible sauce. I've made it several times but could not remember which book it was in......but now I've found it in one of my all time favorite cookbooks The Savory Way by Deborah Madison.

Makes approximately 2 cups.

6 Large garlic cloves
1 large bunch cilantro (leaves & upper stems only)
1 1/2 oz fresh ginger peeled & roughly chopped (about 2 tbs)
1 Tbs peanut oil
1 Tbs dark sesame oil
1 Tbs hot chili oil
1/2 c peanut butter or sesame-peanut butter. She recommends unsweetened but I've used either - if you use regular sweetened lower the sugar to about 1 tbs.
1/2 to 2/3 cup soy sauce
3 Tbs sugar
3 Tbs rice wine vinegar or to taste
hot water if necessary

Put the garlic, cilantro & ginger in the food processor and work until finely chopped. Add the oils, peanut butter, 1/2 c soy sauce, and sugar. Process again until well combined. Stop & scrape down the sides a couple of times. Add the vinegar and season to taste with additional soy sauce if necessary. If the sauce is thicker than you'd like thin it with hot water if using immediately. If you are using later wait on adding water until that time. Store sauce in airtight jar and keep refridgerated. This sauce will keep for months.

She has it over cold noodles and it is great for that but I also love it as a sauce for chicken or turkey. Also wonderful as a dipping sauce for spring rolls or any other goody. Warning - this stuff is addictive!

Introducing....Georgia the cat

When we got home the other night we had a surprise waiting for us. This tiny little cat sitting alone under a tree in the darkness. Someone had dumped her off down by the tracks and she'd made her way to our door. She was tired, hungry and scared but her wavery little meow became a purr of appreciation once she was fed and sheltered.
She's a good little cat - not demanding, just affectionate. It's obvious that she's happy to be safe.
This is her new favorite spot.....

Muhjadarra - Lentils Rice and Onion

I found this recipe on the web on and finally got around to trying it the other night. Boy am I glad I did! I can see all kinds of variations of this coming up in the future.

6 TBS olive oil
1 large yellow onion, sliced thin
1 1/4 cup green French Lentils
1 cup long grain rice
Pinch of salt & lots of freshly ground pepper.

Heat all the oil in a frying pan. Add onion, and cook over a medium heat to a very dark brown. This takes a while and you don't want your heat high enough to burn - just carmelize.
Put the lentils in a large pot with a quart of water, and some salt. Bring to a boil, and simmer 15 minutes. Add the rice and quite a bit of freshly ground pepper. If the water is not enough to barely cover, add a bit more. Cover and cook on low until the rice is done, 15-20 minutes. Stir in half the onions with a fork. Turn off heat, cover, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Adjust salt and add a bunch of freshly grated black pepper. Spoon into a serving bowl, and top with the rest of the onions and oil. I garnished with some chopped parsley as well.

I served this on the first go-round with beef and veggie kabobs, hummus and an antipasto salad. It was good stuff!

Some thoughts on this - use a BIG onion - even though this sounds like a lot it doesn't taste oniony - just sweet and nutty. Use a good quality olive oil and don't skimp. It makes quite a bit but don't worry - the leftovers are even better. Last night I poured Gumbo over it and I have to say it was delicious!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Back in the groove........

I haven't been posting much lately because at the times I've felt like writing I really haven't had much nice to say and didn't want to drag this down to being just another whiney bitch blog. I'll give a brief summary of what has been making me mad.... It's not that I'm mad all the time - it just seems that the things that motivate me to want to write are all fairly negative. So we are muddling on here in Georgia. Trying to get back to Arizona but being stonewalled by David's company. That is really making me angry which is probably why the other little things are bothering me so much. Between the stupidity run amuk in our government, the local religious fanatics, and the morons at Ingles grocery store pissing me off I've just been kinda cranky!

I'll let David continue with his reflections on the government - when a fairly conservative Republican jumps ship you gotta know something has just REALLY gone wrong.

The local religious freaks are gaining ground daily and that is a scary thought. If we think what goes on in the middle east couldn't happen here just remember that they've had 1000 years to steep their bitterness. We have the same problems - we just lack the experience.

I witnessed one of the saddest sights I've ever seen the other day in Wrens. A huge fantastic old Victorian home was torn down presumably to make way for an expansion of the already excessive Baptist church on Highway 1. Nothing was salvaged - it was just bulldozed and hauled off to the landfill. The house had been filled with wide board flooring, bead board walls, fabulous original glass windows - all gone to make way for more preaching. If these people spent a little less time praying and a little more on preserving the few beautiful things left of their past this would be a much better place. The homely town of Wrens is now that much more so for the loss but I guess now more accurately reflects the ugliness within. They should be ashamed. I hope that nothing built there ever prospers.

Ingles.... well I guess it's kind of the balance of good and evil. The Fresh Market in Augusta is so wonderful Ingles must be the opposite. 'Nuff said.

So that is a few of my gripes.... I'll try and leave them behind.

Today it's finally sunny and clear. David and I hit the road early and did a quick loop on our bikes. Georgia has kind of 'grown' on us lately and we're both trying to shape up a bit. With our quest in mind I've been looking for some new recipe inspiration and will try to be better about posting some of the stuff I come up with.

It's daffodil season in Georgia and they pop up all over the place. The yard is full of them. I'm also happy to report that a single iris seems to have survived the maniac mower that our landlord hired to kill everything in sight. I'm not sure what color it is yet but it's getting ready to bloom.

The wildlife have been very active lately. The turkeys have all grouped together and I see the local flock of 20 or so birds quite often. The fox was a frequent visitor to the yard for a while but it seems she must be off having kits somewhere because she hasn't been out and about lately. There have been large flocks of male cardinals (redbirds in Georgian) here at the house - I drove in one afternoon to see a tree quite full of them. They flew off in all directions like a tossed handful of brilliant red rose petals. I noticed yesterday they are now separating out and staking territories. One was in the bush right outside the window in our "room with a view" - so close I could have reached out and touched him.

We went to Cedar Key last weekend. That enjoyable trip deserves a blog post all of it's own and I'll try to get to that soon. The highlight of the weekend was watching an otter work his way up and down a small estuary stream. He'd pop his head out of the water, swivel around to look at us and then duck back under in his hunt for a meal of fish. We were on the same quest but I hope he had more success!

As always we are enjoying the journey......

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I hate reading this kind of thing...
Because it just makes me mad. The responses it recieved shows me just how stupid we are as a nation and that really irritates me. It is pointless that I responded to it - I could never change the minds of people so short-sighted but I did anyway.

The question:
Our space program - do readers care?
Submitted by sblust on Tue, 2006-01-17 09:51.
It wasn't too many years ago that newspapers routinely put stories about the U.S. space program on the front page because we believed readers considered those stories important.
Now, stories such as NASA launching a spacecraft to Pluto or the possible discovery of a new planet often are relegated to play inside the paper, if they appear at all.
There is a fair amount of debate - including in The Gazette's newsroom - about the merits of these stories. What do you think? Are you still interested in reading about space exploration, or is this a topic whose day has passed?
Steve Blust, Executive Editor

My response:
Re: Space Program
Submitted by rainvalley on Wed, 2006-01-18 11:56.
If anything the space program should get a lot more coverage than it does!I am continually amazed by those people who say that money spent on the space program could be better spent at home. Where exactly do you think the money goes? Do you think it gets shot up into space and evaporates? You couldn't be more incorrect. I can tell you from personal experience where it goes.
!) Into research that produces so many of the things that we take for granted these days....all of our computers (and everything that runs with the aid of one), virtually all means of communication (radio and televison - for those of you who love cable it is a 100% product of the space race, cell phones...etc). Also most of the advances in medical technology is a direct or indirect result (the use of titanium, MRI,radiation treatments for cancer - the list is HUGE). On the home front frozen dinners (and the microwaves to cook them with)and even velcro for those of you who find shoelaces difficult.
2)Into the companies that produce all of the above.
3) Into the companies that sell all of the above.
4) Into the pockets of all of the employees that work for those companies. (one of whom was my Dad)
5) From the employees into the tax base..... which if I'm not mistaken funds all of the social programs...
Not to mention the fact that when we as a nation were very involved in the space program we actually had a direction and were bold in our discoveries. Now we go around in circles picking fights with our neighbors and wonder why we have no pride. We have become a country that would rather gold plate our gutters than reach for the stars.

Monday, January 16, 2006

An International Flavor-fest Weekend

We had a really nice, easy weekend and of course enjoyed more food at home... Saturday morning we had a good old southern breakfast. Biscuits, sausage, grits...the works. But I make my biscuits a little different - I cheat by using Bisquick but then I make up for it by adding about 1 TBS chopped fresh thyme and about 1/4 C finely grated Parmesan cheese - really really good! This time the grits were pretty hopeless...normally I do a pretty good job but I wasn't really accurate about how much salt I added and they were overwhelmingly salty. Oh well, win some loose some.
Saturday night was Sushi Extravaganza! David made his fabulous hand rolls (he's getting so good at those!) filled with combinations of cucumber, sweet red pepper, green onion, avocado, "fish tempura" aka Gorton's battered fish, and Crab. They look great and taste even better. We've also become edamame addicts - we polish off a bag of those in one sitting. I wrapped mine up with a Red Stripe (Jamacian beer) for a truely cross-cultural affair.
Sunday noonish - Brunch at The White Elephant Cafe - excellent of course! Sunday night I finished up cooking the turkey breast. For dinner that night I made a Turkey Chowder with Carrots, Celery, Onions, Bell Pepper, Green Beans, Garbanzo Beans and Eggplant (yeah I know...eggplant again!). I used some of the thyme and added some milk mixed with cornstartch at the end to thicken it. Worked great and gave it a nice creaminess. Finished off the last of the thyme biscuits with it for a wonderful Sunday supper. I also cooked the rest of the turkey breast at the same time - 1/3 went into a turkey and white bean chili. (Monday night's dinner).....can of white beans, 1 cup diced cooked turkey, can of Delmonte tomatoes with green chile, 1/2 a bottle of beer & a packet of taco seasoning....didn't have chili seasoning but the taco one worked just as well. Letting it sit in the fridge overnight really made it good! The last 1/3 of the turkey breast I just roasted in the oven to have as sandwiches or something later in the week.

When I think of all this I realize how much more interesting food has become with the accesibility of different cultural recipes and the spices and supplies to make them.

Friday, January 13, 2006

No More Road Food PLEASE!

We just returned from a whirlwhind trip to Dallas and back. We normally eat fairly healthy and the week's worth of road food has taken it's toll on both of us. When I asked David what he wanted for dinner last night he basically said "Anything homemade". I made a trip to the market and ended up with a huge turkey breast. I cringed at the $18 price tag but when I got to thinking about it that's almost 5 lbs of pure meat - no waste whatsoever. It's also keeping in line with our idea of losing some of the weight we've added during the holidays. So I guess we'll be having Turkey Extravaganza for the next few days.
Last night's incarnation was a curry spooned over long grain rice with turkey, red bell pepper, sweet red italian onion, eggplant (yes David there WAS eggplant in there!), carrots and celery. I use the Golden Curry paste - I generally don't like to use packaged food items but this is one I just can't beat with my own recipes! It is so incredibly good!! The only thing I usually do is add a shake or two of red pepper flakes to give it some extra kick. I topped mine with a spoonful of yogurt - something David says he "Just doesn't understand...". We had a salad on the side with a 'work in progress' salad dressing - I'm trying to duplicate the awesome garlicy brew from The White Elephant. Not there yet but not bad! All things considered it was a darn good meal.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

10 things I like about Augusta

ok so I can't come up with 10....
1. The houses – big white farmhouses with inviting front porches and rippled glass windows like the one we live in….

2. The wildlife – the deer, turkeys, eagles, foxes and other interesting creatures that we encounter on a daily basis.

3. The proximity to interesting places – 200 or so miles from a lot of great places from the Smokey Mountains to the coast including Beauford SC, Cedar Key FL.
4. The fishing – both local and coastal. We just can’t seem to get enough of it!

5. The flowers – almost all year round there are flowers in bloom and they are beautiful!

6. The Fresh Market – a good market makes life more enjoyable and these folks are top notch.

7. The abandoned buildings. Some are kind of sad but many offer a doorway to history that you just don’t find in most parts of the country.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Season's Greetings!

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Best of Augusta For Real!

Really! No kidding – the best meal we’ve had in Augusta! On Friday David and I made our way downtown to the White Elephant Café on Broad Street. Charson our favorite sushi chef from Matsu Sige had recommended it and knowing that he was also the chef at the Café we had really high hopes for a good meal. For once we were NOT disappointed! The White Elephant has all of the things we look for in a dining experience and at a great price too!

The service was right on the money. Nicole, our waitress had an engagingly quick wit and was equally speedy on the delivery of food and beverages. No lollygagging going on at the Elephant! We were also greeted by Jai the owner, and Charson and I was reminded that it is the personal touch that makes the real difference in how a restaurant is run. I noted that other customers were greeted warmly as well and it made no difference if they were old friends or newcomers. All were made to feel welcome.

The décor and ambiance is tasteful with a hint of humor and clean scrubbed to a shine just like we like it! The ladies room had some eyelevel framed wisdom to impart…Flush your troubles away…Words to live by!

I’m mentioning the food down the bottom again as I often do but in this case because it’s nice to save the best for last. The food was excellent! The starter of sweet potato fries had an incredibly good chipotle dipping sauce. The salads were slathered with a rich, garlic loaded potion that I could slurp by the vat. I had the Peach Filet en Croute – rare – and it was actually perfectly cooked! It was seared on the outside and juicy red on the inside, tender and flavorful topped with a not to sweet peach glaze and sliced peaches. David had the meatballs with couscous – savory meatballs on a bed of fluffy couscous with a fruity-spicy chutney on the side. Both meals vanished without a trace in record time! The only minor nick was the coffee that was not quite on par with the rest of the feast but next time we’ll try the espresso which I suspect will be excellent.

Unfortunately the ample portions left us too full for dessert so we’ll have to save that for our next trip….and there will be a next trip very soon I assure you! I’m giving The White Elephant a 9.5…the Best of Augusta on our list and a restaurant that would stand up favorably to good food anywhere!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

In another place...

I haven't been writing here much but have been contributing to the blog David has started about our Culinary Adventures (or more often misadventures) called Taste of America. You can read it by clicking HERE....

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Culinary Confessions

An idea from Cooking with Amy blog.... What are my Culinary Confessions?

I buy a lot of great food items at Big Lots...
I bought my beloved Le Creuset at a storge unit auction..
I have 3 pasta makers (one electric) and haven't used any of them in 3 years...
I can dirty 22 cooking utensils heating leftovers...
I hate keeping butter in the fridge...
I think the coffee press was a divine invention...
I can cook almost anything in a toaster oven (I don't have a stove)...
I often spend more time washing dishes than it took to produce the meal...
I'll drink coffee that is more than 10 hours old....
I won't order steak in a restaurant anymore because it's never better than mine...
I love bowls - little ones, big ones and especially odd ones...
None of my silverware or dishes match (though the dishes are all white)...
I've had 3 kitchen fires - croutons, steak and a rustic pear tart (blogged about here)
I know that grits and polenta are the same thing...
I am addicted to kitchen gadgets but rarely use them...
There is no such thing as margarine in my universe...
I make the strongest coffee of anyone I know...
oh yeah and I often swear profusely when cooking...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy. - HL Mencken

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


We've been so busy off doing things that I haven't had the time... or energy to say much about it here. But we've had a lovely summer and now that the chilly weather has come I imagine I'll have more time to write about the things we've seen and done. But for now I'll start with recent events...... Last night we decided to have a little Halloween fun of our own! Here in the Bible Belt it's not much of a holiday so instead of trying to find a party... in Augusta (?)... we decided to just have one at home. This was a last minute decision (as in 6 am Halloween morning...) so I had to do some scrounging but the results were pretty darn good if I do say so myself. The result... one Pirate King and one Spanish below.
Our fine time was only slightly marred by having to go to the much hated Wren's Ingles grocery store to get a sterno can for the fondue...while in costume. I sure wish those folks would remove the stick from up their collective fat asses....but we still had fun....and I'm quite sure they don't know too bad for them!! And whoohoo for us :)
For dinner we had Muffalatta sandwiches, Tomato Soup (recipe below... an inspiration that was SO good!) chocolate fondue for dessert finished out with good french press coffee..... We just had a grand time...! David does such a wonderful job of helping me remember how nice it is to just have fun....!

Quickest Tomato & Basil Soup ever!

1 jar Bertolli Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Sauce
1 can Vegetable Broth
Chopped fresh Basil

Easiest thing ever.... Mix the tomato sauce & broth.... heat until simmering. Pour into bowls & garnish with a bunch of fresh basil. YUMMY! It tastes like the expensive gourmet tomato & basil soups.... really I'm not kidding!


Originally uploaded by rainvalley.


Originally uploaded by rainvalley.


Originally uploaded by rainvalley.

Spanish Rider

Spanish Rider
Originally uploaded by rainvalley.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Drop a note....

Hey folks! You can view most of the photos in a larger format by double clicking on them and then resize them again by clicking on the box in the lower right corner. I've also posted a lot more photos on Flickr and you can find my photostream on the right.
Thank you to everyone who has left feedback. I enabled the comments so that even non-members can leave feedback on a photo or post if you'd like. Just click on the word comment below the note or photo. Enjoy! Diane

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Tumacacori National Historical Park 2
Posted by Picasa

Tumacacori National Historical Park
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My Dad Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 02, 2005

The Man in the Stetson Hat Posted by PicasaMy Dad - handsome as always!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Cactus Bloom black and white Posted by Picasa

Satin Posted by Picasa

Desert In Bloom Posted by Picasa

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Blushing Posted by Hello

Two Toned Posted by Hello

Blending In Posted by Hello

Sittin' Pretty Posted by Hello

Technicolor Posted by Hello
This is the actual color of these prickly pears. I haven't adjusted them other than to sharpen it a bit. Most people think the desert is a bland and colorless place but that just isn't true.

Love Bunnies Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Dove Silouette Posted by Hello

Arizona Mourning Posted by Hello

Can You See Me? Posted by Hello