Monthly Archives: February, 2012

MAKING COOKIES… Another Milestone in Life…

Yesterday, I made cookies.  Big deal, right?  Well in a way it was, because I had never made cookies before.  I guess that is technically not true, because I remember baking cookies once, a long time ago with my daughters… the chocolate chip kind you brought in a tube, and sliced up, and put on a baking sheet, and put in the oven, and baked.  But I’m not really counting that as cookie making, since I didn’t have anything to do with the ingredients… much like heating up a TV Dinner would qualify as cooking.   So, I made Oatmeal Date Pecan Cookies… from scratch.  From Scratch… now that is a term I dislike, and now I have used it.  Having worked in restaurants, the wording on menus is always interesting to me.  One of my pet peeves, is the use of terms like ‘our own’ and ‘from scratch’ in describing salad dressing and other items coming out of the kitchen.  But that’s just me, and now I have used ‘from scratch’… I guess that makes my cookies all the more special.  So, what’s the big deal about making cookies?  Well, nothing really, except it is another ‘notch in the belt’ of my trying new experiences.

Why Cookies?

About two or three weeks ago, I went by Ann’s house, and she had made cookies.  I was astonished.  Ann does not bake except at Thanksgiving, when she supplies pies for the feast.  So, I was surprised when she said she had made Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies… and they were really good.  Ann is very accomplished at making Authentic Indian Cuisine, and is a pretty good pie maker, but, she is not a cookie baking grandmother type.  So I figured if she could do it, I could also.  I had long had a yen for an oatmeal cookie with dates.  I once did some work for a woman who paid me in Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.  They were fantastic, and when I suggested she use dates instead of raisins the next time she made them, she said “oh, they are too expensive”.  I got some cookies at the market, but while they were tasty, they were not all that great.  So, I have had a longing for a good date cookie for some time now.

When I got serious about making the cookies, I realized I didn’t have any cookie making paraphernalia.   So I consulted a Cookie Expert, and who better than a yearly Blue Ribbon Winner at the San Juan County Fair… my daughter Ashley.  Both of my daughters are excellent bakers.   Krista is the Queen of Cakes and Ashley is the Cookie Monster.   So I was in good company when she advised me on what kind of cookie sheet to buy, and lent me her mixer along with a few tips.

I decided to start simple, and use the cookie recipe under the lid of the Quaker Oats box, that Ann had showed me… I figured that if she hadn’t screwed it up, I was safe to try it too.  I had to buy a lot things like flour, baking soda and sugars, and got some eggs from Krista’s chickens.  Ashley suggested pecans would be a nice compliment with the dates, so I added pecans to the recipe, along with the dates.

So, while watching the first NASCAR race of the season, I made Oatmeal Date Pecan Cookies… they were fantastic.  They were so good, I had to pause the race to go to the market to buy some vanilla ice cream.   The race was a good one, and one my  favorite drivers won… while I was eating some fantastic cookies.

Tuesday February 14, 2012

Valentine’s Day. Watching Bill and Kaci, she resplendent in a red dress, on Q13 Morning News. The usual Roving Reporter reports at florists and candy shops… pretty interesting, seeing the staging for the deliveries of flowers. And then a Doctor of Periodontics warning about catching gum disease from kissing. That was romantic… great, another STD to worry about. Listening now, to some gal blather on about how to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Apparently, she runs a Dating Company called In all fairness, she did have a few ‘Fun Ideas For Valentine’s Day’. A lot was just common sense and good manners, but then I guess there is a shortage of that these days. But she did get me reminiscing about some ways I celebrated Valentine’s Day in the past, and the fun we had. I am a romantic when it comes to taking care of ‘my woman’ on Valentine’s Day… just not always in life, hence my current single status… but, that’s how I like it these days, so no Valentine for me this year. But at one time I did plan some pretty spectacular Valentine’s Day Fun.

Maybe the luckiest one was my second wife. At that time, I was running the family jewelry store with my sister, Marja. Paula, a close friend, owned an upscale dress store. Another woman I went to high school with, had opened a lingerie store with her mother. This was before Victoria’s Secret… and she had some sexy things. All three women liked jewelry and we had a nice arrangement worked out… my girlfriend and future wife being the beneficiary. When we were dating, I found her in tears one night. She was in despair… she had not been able to find jeans that fit. We were going to a ‘fancy casual dress’ affair at KVIE 6, and she wanted me to be proud to have her by my side. She was quite petite, but just not shopping in the right store… so I took her to see Paula, who was the same size and had plenty of size 0 jeans. I spent a bunch of money that night, and Paula and I dried those tears. Shortly after that I made my deal with Paula and later with Diane to do a little trading.

My Mom and I always exchanged Valentine cards, but those days are gone now. I still have some of those cards.  Last year, I had a Valentine’s Dinner at Paragary’s Bar and Oven in Sacramento, where I once worked… that was great.

So, this year my Valentines are my daughters and their daughters. I won’t be seeing them today though, the 10 year old is scuba diving in Thailand and the 16 year old is… well 16 years old, and very busy. So, no flowers, candy, and certainly no sexy lingerie… but Thursday I will be going to the Lynnwood Mall, on the mainland, with Ashley and Isabel… so I will be buying some Valentine Soccer Cleats. I don’t know what Ashley will get, but I’m buying myself a Valentine’s gift at the Apple store.




I got an e-mail from one of my cousin’s daughters recently. She is researching her genealogy and going to make a family tree. The only problem… she knew nothing about her maternal grandmother’s family… the Strutz side. It seems someone had filled her head with erroneous information and now it was my job to set her straight. She had come to the right place.I went to one of my filing systems, the attic, and found a box of old Strutz Family photos that my father got from his father when he died, and I got from my father when he died, and one my daughters will end up with someday. My dad had big plans to go through those photos and put them in order when he retired… the only thing is: he never retired. When he got too old to go down to the jewelry store everyday, I think he was around 91, he was not up to the task of tackling the photos. I don’t want to really give the wrong impression here, he didn’t really work all that much, mostly just annoyed the hell out of my sister Marja, who dutifully ran the store… and he could have worked on the photos there… I don’t think he really wanted to do it.But now, this treasure chest of memories has been passed on to me, or I was the one who took the box. Unlike him, though, I do have plans to share the photos. When we would look at them, I would say “Why don’t you give the photos to my cousins? The ones of their parents.” He would say “some day.” But that ‘some day’ only came when he died and I got my hands on the box. I’ve mailed some off, and have scanned and posted some to my cousins… I’m sure some they have never seen before. It’s easier for me than my dad, because he was a little too late to the ‘scanner/computer party’… and I maybe feel a little more responsibility to share.I realize I have a ready source for future stories… and this is the first:

My father’s parents Theodore Edward Strutz and Dessa Averill, left Watertown, South Dakota in 1914, and headed to Alberta, Canada. My grandfather had graduated from the Stone School of Watchmaking in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1912, and Canada was giving away free land to attract settlers to help expand their country. They settled in Hanna, about 30 miles east of Calgary. He would be an Inspector for the Canadian National Railway and open a jewelry store. On Christmas Eve of that year, they were married.

Today, I was processing new books at my library for circulation… I laminate the covers of the paperback books to protect them, plus, a lot of stamping, etc.  The first book I picked up was… MASTERING ONLINE GENEALOGY by W. Daniel Quillen.  I thought “Hey, that’s a good blog topic!”.



This edition of  TedBook has a guest author.

 Ashley Strutz is a member of the wait staff in McMillan’s Dinning Room, at Roche Harbor Resort on San Juan Island.  This is a memoir she wrote last year to honor her friend Lori.

Restaurant people are a strange tribe, and the members of Roche Harbor are no different. The cooks are the hardened generals, and the wait staff are the privates and sergeants, doing battle on the culinary front-lines. We are comrades, soldiers, grunts. Constantly under the enemy fire of complaints and ten percent tips, we grow close, even when we annoy each other.

Last summer we watched as the life bled out of Lori, our friend, comrade, and fellow soldier, from stage four pancreatic cancer. We would cry in the back, standing at the Micros computer screen. We would put in food orders, wipe tears on the sleeves of our white button downs, and go back on the floor with fake smiles plastered to our faces.

At the same time there was a feeling of excitement and expectancy at Roche Harbor last summer. This was due to World Cup soccer, and the summer staff that came from all over the globe to work our short, but insane season.

South America dominated the kitchen. We had Marci and Thiago from Brazil. Hector and Caesar from Chili. Andrea and Santi from Peru. And of course the crazy Argentinians, Carla, Walter, and Alejandra. For the wait staff we had BooBoo representing England. She is a long time islander, and one of my closest friends. She hails from London, as I once overheard her say to a table she was waiting on. There were a few Aussie’s, some Eastern Blocker’s from downstairs, and the rest of us were rooting for the U.S. Despite cultural and language differences, we all bonded last year like never before.

The World Cup became a balm against all of the chaos, pain, grief, fatigue, and stress. It was something to talk about, other than the thing that was constantly preying on our minds. A distraction, with its own kaleidoscope of emotional triumph and adversity. My family and I would record games during the day, and watch them late at night after work.

We wanted the U.S., and England by default since Ireland didn’t make it, and that is where my husband is from. We cheered for every African country, because talk about overcoming adversity. We loved the young, earnest Japanese team with new-wave haircuts. We loved Argentina for Diego Maradona. We hated the arrogant French, and the German’s for being a well-oiled, efficient team with no personality. We hated Portugal for being prima donnas, and poor sports. It was the most time I had spent with my husband and two teenagers in a while. It became our summer nightly ritual to wait until we were all together, so we could eat popcorn and watch hours of World Cup soccer until two in the morning. I relied on those moments like a crutch, because for a brief period I would forget I was trying not to grieve for someone who was still alive.

For an insufferable week before the Germany vs. England game, BooBoo was running around work chanting, “Two World Wars and One World Cup, Doo Da, Doo Da.” It got to the point where it was constantly looping through my brain. It even floated into my sleep, a soundtrack to my restaurant anxiety dreams. I couldn’t wait for that goddamn match to be over with, so I wouldn’t have to hear that inane chant again. It was ironic that as much as BooBoo and I talked about the World Cup that summer, it was the only game we watched together.

We were all taking turns staying with Lori as she was progressively getting sicker. Losing her fight to a bastard of a disease. BooBoo and I stayed with her after her first round of chemo. Lori was pretty out of it, and watching her suffer from the chemo crapshoot was a horrible thing to witness.

I felt like a doctor dispensing all of her medications every couple of hours, while BooBoo entertained and distracted us with trashy magazines and funny stories. She was keyed up about the big match that was on at six thirty in the morning. I knew she wanted to watch it live, but staying with her sick friend was more important. We talked in hushed whispers while Lori dozed on and off in an oxycontin stupor. Somehow, as sick as she was, Lori still managed to insist we watch the match live in the morning. She was like that.

I woke up in the dawn light, gave Lori another round of meds, made strong black tea, and woke BooBoo up at six fifteen to watch the match. We were hopeful, and BooBoo cried as the English players were led onto the field holding the hands of children. It was surreal watching this intense, emotional game while our friend was dying in front of our eyes. In my slightly delusional state from two hours of sleep, I projected this hope that if England won, Lori would miraculously be okay. But England didn’t win. BooBoo cried again when they lost, and I cried with her, but it wasn’t really England we were crying for.

Lori passed away shortly afterwards.  In the photo above she is surrounded by her friends… BooBoo must have been taking the photo, because she is absent.  Here is a photo of BooBoo and Ashley in happier times.

Gandalf’s Gallery: Alfred Sisley – Flood at Port-Marly [1872]

Gandalf’s Gallery: Alfred Sisley – Flood at Port-Marly [1872]: Alfred Sisley – Flood at Port-Marly [1872] , a photo by Gandalf’s Gallery on Flickr. Flooding early in the spring of 1872 drew Sisley …

An excellent blog for those who like art.

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