Joy to the World

To the few people who read what I sometimes write, greetings. I have not written in awhile.

I moved recently and that took up most of my time and every bit of available energy.

I no longer have a washer and dryer in my home/apartment.

After living without running water in the log cabin at almost 9,000 feet elevation for over 6 years, (1978- 1984) I vowed to try to have a washer and dryer at my disposal. My sweet Aunt Bootsie bought a washer and dryer when I moved out of the log cabin and into the first house I ever bought. It was a matching set from Montgomery Ward and the combo cost $400 back then. They chugged away for 20 years. Loved them! Loved her.

For the next 40 years, I’ve had the convienience of amazing applainaces at hand in the various places my wandering lifestyle has taken me.

And now, I live in an apartment that is more like a dorm. There is a handy laundormat in each building. I am totally OK with it.

As I age, I am trying to pracitce for the next phase of my life, aging in place. I am trying out this place. I think of this as a Senior Dorm.

I have used the laundomat here one time before today and I had enough quarters to get the job done.

Back when I did not have running water, once a month we would trek to the Laundromat in Boulder and spend hours getting the laundry done and then we’d go to the Rec Center to get out bodies deep cleaned too. Fun times. Great memories.

So now in the time of apps, I downloaded the app and scanned it and vioala, the washing machine started without quarters.

I did not use Joy detergent, but the I am calling this Joy to the World because I have learned something new. Learning new things brings joy.

And making yourself learn new things, helps brains stay healthy. Having clean laundry helps me feel joy. So go listen to Three Dog Night singing Joy to World and have some joy in your day. ( My app just informed me that my laundry is done. LOL)



I have to share this story with my dedicated readers. It has nothing to do with stars, but it does have to do with the Atmosphere.

I will write about stars again in the near future, the Dan Fogelberg and the Beach Boys stories still deserve their turn.

I am living in the Pacific Northwest, and we are in the midst of what is called an Atmospheric River. Other terms for this weather event range from tropical connection to water vapor surge to my favorite one, the Pineapple Express.

A few years ago, Dec of 2019 to be exact, I was visiting my middle kid and her family in Seattle when they had a similar weather event. Em had dropped me off at the Amtrak station for my return to Portland. I have been using the Amtrak for years to make the trip from the Oregon kids to the Seattle ones.

After waiting in my seat for about 25 minutes for the trip to start, the conductor announced that the train would not be going to Portland for at least a week. The train tracks had washed away due to a mudslide. Mudslides that flow from a volcano are called lahars. This was technically not a lahar, but it was a violent mudslide that caused destruction to anything in its way. It was laharish.

I called Em and she very carefully navigated her back through the very flooded streets to pick me up. The highways and the airport were also heavily impacted by the wettest day in Seattle in the past 10 years and the most rain recorded for December 20 since record-keeping began at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in 1945. The airport was closed. Highways were shut down.

Bonus – I got to stay a few extra days and ended up flying back to Portland.

So today in Oregon, we are experiencing an Atmospheric weather event. The wind was strong enough to knock out power to parts of Portland. (I have power so I can still try to post this piece.)

The downpour has lessened so I quickly went outside onto my front porch to collect some things that had not been secured enough and were blowing around.

As I approached my door to head back inside, I saw something odd on the glass portion of the door. There were of few of these odd-looking things. I carefully picked one up and looked closely at it.

They were worms. Small earthworms. It has rained so much while the wind was blowing so hard, is it possible it blew the worms up 5 feet onto the glass part of my door?

I have heard of frog rain. It is another meteorological expression. Poor innocent frogs get swept up in a storm and get blown miles away and fall from the sky when the clouds release their moisture.

Well, either this is a new version of that, with worms falling from the sky or was it that I just had some very smart worms trying to come inside to wait out this Atmospheric River with me. Or maybe they recognized a safe place to escape.

I have new respect for worms.

Breakfast in America

I was asked by a loyal reader for another Caribou story, so here goes.

Supertramp recorded at Caribou. They are an English band and, in the seventies, and much of the eighties, their bass player was Dougie Thompson. His brother Ali Thompson recorded at Caribou too. (Take a Little Rhythm in 1980). Take A Little Rhythm opens with that soulful yet upbeat sax riff. The Thompsons are Scottish.

Honestly, I don’t recall which one of the brothers or band members asked but I remember a morning request to make a traditional English Breakfast. This included cooking tomatoes on the grill. I was good at most things cooked on the grill but having never eaten tomatoes prepared this way, I failed miserably.

The sunny side up eggs were beautiful. The bacon, sausage and toast were perfect. But the tomatoes were an ugly, inedible blob of red mush. We belly laughed at my failure. My effort was admired.

It was probably Ali or one of his band members. They were all incredibly friendly and truly nice; they gave me a beautiful handmade Scottish wool, roll-neck jumper, aka; sweater. (They called sweaters jumpers.)

In 1977, Supertramp recorded Even in the Quietest Moments (Give a Little Bit) at Caribou.

The cover of this album is the one with a piano covered in snow. A gutted grand piano was very carefully hauled up one of the slopes at Eldora Ski Area. Caribou and Eldora are not that far away; maybe 8 miles. It was left there overnight to get the perfect look of freshly fallen snow. The sheet music shown in the photo is actually The Star-Spangled Banner, but the title reads Fools Overture. Fools Overture opens with a beautiful piano solo. (Side note: I eventually cooked at Eldora too.)

Even in the Quietest Moments sold more than 500,000 copies within few months of its release making it Supertramp’s first Gold Album. They eventually had 6 of their albums go Gold or Platinum.

In 1979 they released Breakfast in America. (Goodbye Stranger, Take the Long Way Home.) Supertramp’s Breakfast in America was nominated for a Grammy Award for Album of the Year. That one was a Quadruple Platinum winner. (Platinum status indicates sales of 1,000,000).

My Traditional English breakfast with the terrible tomatoes would never be an award winner but I successfully prepared many ordinary “no tomato” breakfasts in America for some extraordinarily successful musicians.

“Gone to Hawaii”

I have been writing about some of the stars I encountered while working at Caribou Ranch in Nederland, Colorado. For my loyal readers, here is another one.

I just got off the phone with a good friend. She and I are going to meet in Hawaii in early January for a reunion. We’ve not seen one another for a few years. She lived in Hawaii for several years and I had the incredible fortune of getting to visit her there many times. I love Hawaii!

But back to Caribou; one morning I was assigned the breakfast shift. The morning routine always started with making pots of coffee in the Bunn O-Matic. Next step, fire up the 8-burner Wolf grill.

A note was taped to the hood of the grill. The note simply said “Gone to Hawaii. Will be back in one week.” (I won’t divulge any names here.)

Apparently, one of the servers from the dinner shift had flown off to Hawaii with a member of the band that was at the Ranch. That band was America.

We’d all been humming some of America’s songs in anticipation of their visit. I Need You, Ventura Highway, A Horse with No Name, Sister Golder Hair. There were so many songs that we all loved. They were easy to hum and some of the lyrics really resonated. I am a big fan of bands that can harmonize.

I don’t remember which album they were there to record when this escapade happened.

In 1977, America released Harbor, Silent Letter in 1979, and in 1982, View from the Ground (You Can Do Magic). It could have been any of those. And, in June of 1978, they played at Red Rocks. Many stars came to stay at the Ranch when they were playing at Red Rocks.

The band was easy to for me to work with; they didn’t have any unusual food requirements or requests.

I think it was while they were there that another one of the kitchen staff accidentally used a wooden spoon to scrape down the contents of the blender (while the blender was fully operating) for that night’s dessert. The chocolate mousse had an extra “woody” taste that night. (The very first day I worked the kitchen shift, I flooded the floor with doing something wrong with the commercial coffee machine. Mistakes happened.)

Every dinner included the standards, a soup, a salad, the mains and a dessert. Of course, a very good wine was an essential part of every meal. Dessert was served with the after-dinner Courvoisier in ceremonial cognac snifters.

Maybe it was just the abundant cognac or maybe it was the extra special mousse but not every dinner ended up with one of the staff flying off to Hawaii. But that on one night, magic really, truly happened.

And in January, I myself will be magically “Gone to Hawaii.”

Another one

I recently posted about John Denver and the 50th anniversary of “Rocky Mountain High.” It seems just as important to honor this sad date too, the day John Denver died. This was 25 years ago.

Backstory- Around 1977, I met Rickie Furay at Caribou Ranch when he was there with Souther and Hillman recording their 2nd album. Richie asked me to go to a church in Boulder that was affiliated with what had once been called the Boulder Colorado Sanitarium and Hospital. After their services, they had a potluck. Richie was avoiding meat and he wanted me to learn to prepare some of the nut loafs and other things that a plant-based diet included.

Richie Furay had played with Stephen Stills and Neil Young in 1966 (Buffalo Springfield) and then with Poco, who included Randy Meisner (who later played with the Eagles) and Jim Messina of Loggins and Messina. (The second concert I ever went to featured Loggins and Messina, but back to my story.)

Richie Furay sang with John Denver and with scores of other musicians that created many of the songs and melodies that are still very popular today. I did learn more about vegetarian cooking after I went to the potluck.

Full disclosure- my nut loaf was a not very good, but Richie Furay was another one of the good guys.

Rocky Mountain High

It is the 50th anniversary of the release of “Rocky Mountain High.” I love the Rocky Mountains.

I met John Deutschendorf Jr. (John Denver) in Huntsville, Texas in the early 1970’s. I was a college student at Sam Houston State University, and he hired my neighbor Claudia to make a shirt for him.

Go look at some of John Denver’s old album covers. You will see the shirts I am talking about.

Claudia had moved into the house next to mine with a husband and two little kids. I would see the kids outside playing all the time but never saw any grown-ups. The kids were friendly, and I so was I, so we talked whenever I was coming or going to and from class or work. I wondered where the parents were.

Claudia was watching all this from the bedroom. She was confined to bed because she had broken her back in a car accident. She’d been watching and listening to all the conversations I was having with her kids. She knew I was good hearted. We became good friends.

When she recovered and was well enough to work, she got a job in the fabric section of the local five and dime. It was at this store that she met John Denver and he hired her to create a special shirt for him.

He liked the shirt so much he ordered several more. When she needed to deliver them to him, she asked me to drive her out to the remote ranch where he was staying. That is when I met him. We spent the day out at the ranch with him. We rode horses, had lunch, he played some music. Good times. He was very kind to both of us. He was the first star I ever met. Little did I know that I would meet many more.

After I graduated from college, I ended up moving to Nederland Colorado and working at Caribou Ranch Recording Studio. I worked there on and off beginning in 1977. You can look up Caribou Ranch and see all the stars that recorded there. John Denver is on the list. (So is John Lennon and Elton John but I did not meet these two Johns.) 150 artists recorded there.

Caribou Ranch was an amazing place to work. 45 top ten albums, 18 Grammy awards and 20 number one Billboard hits were recorded there at the beautiful beyond words recording studio.

While I was working there, I was asked to drive Willie Nelson around.

Willie had been up at the Ranch to hang out with Kris Kristofferson. Kris was there to record an album. At his request, I made TexMex Chicken Enchiladas for him. My aunt had gone to school with Kris in Brownsville, Texas. He asked if I could make TexMex and so I did. He was pleased.

Willie and Kris played at Rock Rocks in a concert while Willie was there. I got to drive Willie to Red Rocks.

The concert was one of many I got to drive stars to. If you have a chance, go to a concert at Red Rocks.

It truly is a Rocky Mountain High.

Plant Something

My daughter called me early this morning. She had just gotten sad news. Her friend’s little child had died. There is probably nothing harder in life than the death of your child. There are no words for this kind of loss.

I listened to my daughter and asked how I could help her. I offered to cook dinner tonight to take that responsibility off of her plate. I suggested that she buy some teas and some fruit and just leave a gift basket with a card on the front porch of her friend’s home.

I had to try and do something myself to process the grief. I knew this little human too. She was precious.

We all have people in our lives that die. We all have to process all the emotions that flood us when we encounter loss.

The way I dealt with it this morning was to plant some bulbs. They will bloom in the Spring. They will remind me of the beauty that the little child who died today brought to each one of us who had the fortune to get to know her.

When you don’t know what else to do, just plant something.

Hung up

I ‘d  been stalling. I made up one excuse after another. Finally, my hand was forced after eight years. An appraiser was coming to the house. I had to deal with this.

My friend Eric had hung himself in the bedroom of my apartment over the garage. My brother found him for me; after I begged, explaining that Eric was very uncharacteristically not answering my phone calls. (Eric and I were very close.)

My brother was really mad at me over having to find Eric’s dead body and he stayed mad for years until Robin Williams (my brother’s all-time favorite ) hung himself.

My brother finally peaced-out.

Together, just last week, we climbed up the stairs and went into the room. The coroner had done the initial dirty work but I needed to empty out the room and get rid of all of Eric’s old things. We loved to cook together and he had some of my old cookbooks mixed in with his.

Going through his things was like visiting with him. I saw his hand-writing on a piece of paper and for a terrifying nanosecond wondered if it was a note for me. It wasn’t.

But this was painful in a way that I cannot explain. It hurt in a place that I didn’t know could ache. Now, finally, after eight long years, I have finally said goodbye.

I am no longer hung up.

NOTE: I originally posted this in 2014. I dreamt about Eric last night. My heart still aches. This tragedy was in Sept of 2006. It felt like visiting with him while I read this again. I guess I am still trying to say goodbye. Maybe I am still hung up.

Bread Pudding

I just walked to the store with Mary. She wanted to buy raisins to make bread pudding. Her granddaughter had made her something to eat with rice and mushrooms (risotto). She wanted to return the container with a treat inside.

Mary fell in love with Bread Pudding while she was boarding during her school years. The family she lived with also housed some of the employees of the Canadian Pacific Railroad. The lady of the house was a great cook. Prior to cooking at her home for the boarders, she had cooked for the Railroad. The man of the house worked for the railroad too. He was an engineer.

Every Sunday, there was something for dessert. Mary enjoyed eating the bread pudding but what she really loved was the way it smelled when it was cooking.

Her own mother was a good baker and made great pies, but she did not make Bread Pudding. Bread Pudding makes sense as a Sunday dessert. It’s the end of the week and there’s probably stale bread.

The Railroad workers were always hungry. It was labor intensive, hard work. Bread pudding is filling.

The history highlight of our conversation had to do with royalty. In 1939 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth toured Canada. This was the first time the monarchs had come to Canada. They traveled by train from Quebec City 2,236 miles cross the county to Vancouver.

She told me that her friend did not cook for the King and Queen. None of the railroad employees cooked for the King and Queen. They traveled with their own chefs.

They went to Vancouver to try to catch a glimpse of King and Queen. She said the streets along the railways were packed with curious, excited onlookers. She still has the little flag that she waved as they train passed by.

She also fell in love with Railroads. She has ridden trains, including steam driven trains all over Canada and the US. I told her I had been on a few of them in Colorado, the Durango to Silverton run and the Cumbres and Toltec run, which is the longest narrow-gauge steam railroad in the United States. 

She has ridden on both of these routes.

She said the Amtrak run from Portland to Vancouver has just opened back up.

I regularly travel by Amtrak to Seattle. I will take it up to Vancouver as soon as I can.

I think I can smell Bread Pudding.



For those who are following my blog, I have been writing about my 93 year old neighbor Mary. I saw her walking to the store this morning. She was going to get some peaches. Here in the Pacific North West, its prime peach season.

When I was in college, in Huntsville Texas, I had an elderly neighbor too. His name was Mr. Neighbor. Really, that was his name. He was in his 80’s. His wife had died recently. This was his second wife. His first wife and all their children had been tragically killed in a fire.  I checked in on him periodically and quickly, we became friends. He made great iced tea.

He was lonely. He always asked me about my classes. I was getting my degree in Agriculture. (I really wanted a degree in Horticulture but had to settle on that as a minor.)  When I told him that I was taking a summer class on canning, he told me his wife had left him a freezer full of peaches. He asked if I could make him some peach jam. With the confidence of youth, I smiled at him and said sure.

I went to the local Piggly Wiggly and bought all the jars and lids and supplies that I would need. (For those who do not know, this is a grocery store chain with this silly name.) I heard that it is still there.

I methodically sterilized everything the way I had been taught in my class. It was my first attempt outside of the lab. I was a bit nervous. I did not want to make the big mistake and give him botulism.

Mr. Neighbor gave me the bags of frozen peaches. I carefully thawed them out.

It wasn’t long before I realized they were not peaches. They were chicken livers and gizzards.

I was way too familiar with chicken livers and gizzards because I worked the dinner shift at Tinsley’s Southern Fried Chicken and that was the most popular item on the dinner menu.

You could get a box of them with a large yeast roll and a jalapeño for one dollar. Yes, $1.oo. It was our best seller.

So I fried up all the chicken parts and had a bunch of friends over. (We were all poor and hungry students.)

I went back to the Piggly Wiggly and bought peaches and made Mr. Neighbor some peach jam.

Just now, I cut up some of the peaches Mary bought and shared with me. I am going to freeze some to use later when there will not be fresh peaches to eat with my daily granola and yogurt.

I will be sure to label the bags: Peaches.