Breakfast Treat

This recipe is unique in today's world.  Somehow it got lost back in the l930's.

This recipe is unique in today’s world. Somehow it got lost back in the l930’s.

Mother would make this light, fluffy cake after Dad left for work.  The neighbor ladies were stay-at-home moms so they could come over to enjoy the coffee cake when it came out of the oven.

Somehow the recipe seemed the perfect thing to serve guests this week.  I had included it in the first of my three little recipe books.  Mable, who is a member of a blue grass band and who loves to quilt and who has an orchard in Libby, Montana, with 400 fruit trees, asked for more!  As we discussed unique recipes she said she’d send me her recipe for BAKED OATMEAL.  Now that’s one I really want to try.


Sift 1 1/2 cups flour and 3 tsp. baking powder with 1/2 tsp. salt and 3/4 cup of sugar.

Cut in 1/4 cup shortening (I used butter).

Blend in an egg that has been beaten with 1/2 cup milk.   Then, add 1/2 tsp. vanilla.


Mix the following together in a small bowl and sprinkle on top:

1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 tsp. flour, 2 tsp. cinnamon, 2 Tbsp. melted butter and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts.

Pour dough into a greased pan about 6 x l0 and spread with this filling.  Then, spread with dough again and top with filling.

(Dough is difficult to spread, but can easily be done with your fingers.)

BAKE 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Are You As Adventuresome?

This man loves the toughest and most austere ancient lands for his research.

This man loves the toughest and most austere ancient lands for his research.

If there were a contest for the best authentic Indiana Jones alive today, this guy would be on top of the pile of candidates.  As we traveled the sites of the ancient Pueblos in the Southwest, I asked a couple archeologists if they knew him.  One archeologist who was restoring a wall at the Aztec site, said that he’d run across Craig Childs during his the ten years work in the Canyon of the Ancients preserving the past before the dam was in place.

I’m glad Craig is real.  I was fortunate to pick his book, House of Rain,  in the Chaco Culture Center gift shop.  It was a great adventure for me just to follow his description of how he made his way through impossible territories we were viewing.

Here’s one example from his book:

“It was a route I had used off and on over the past ten years, a thin outcrop of rock over a free-fall drop, the only way through. it is the checkpoint through which all travelers must pass when moving from one region of Canyonlands into the next.

“Dangling off this rock shelf, I would have to cross it, then jump down to another ledge below.  I took off my pack–no room to climb down with it on my back–and as I turned to make my jump, I noticed above me pieces of a ruin I hadn’t seen before, simple stones neatly placed, the grin of a low wall in an overhead cliff.

“I scrambled up to see if a human hand had really made this place.  Teetering on the tips of my boots, trying not to leave footprints in the dust, I found a chamber filled with rubble, many of its stones having fallen away.  It was Anasazi.  Right above this pinch, they had built a guardhouse from which they could see anyone coming, a natural bottleneck controlling the entire region.

“Among the archaeological sites I have seen in Canyonlands, many are positioned in a way that makes me think the Anasizi were constantly checking their backs, keeping an eye on movement in these canyons.  Pressed by the thrust of war and overcrowding in the thirteenth century, they vanished into this hard, convoluted desert to escape the burning pith of their civilization.

“If you wanted to hide somewhere, guaranteeing no one would follow, this would be the place to go.

“I turned around and shot down from the ruin, jumping over the edge of the pinch.  I reached back with the full extent of my fingertips to grab my pack, then disappeared down the deep, stone rabbit hole below.”

Craig roams in the worst of weather, rain, sleet, snow, extreme heat, often setting caches of water along a proposed route.  Not only does he do what seems impossible, he puts a reader right beside him.  As an added bonus, he adds his knowledge of the area, the people and their lifestyles.

Exciting stuff in a world with so few heroes.


Canyons of the Ancients windswept mesas and ruins hold secrets from the past.

(Look closely at this photo and you’ll see the Hovenweep campground with wind breaks placed behind each picnic table within each camp site.)

Unforgettable, that’s what you are.” You can almost hear Nat King Cole signing as you drive across the vast mesas where once lived thousands of Pueblo People, more commonly known as the Anasizi, to drive the many miles it takes to reach it.

When the traveler finally reaches the campground and continues by foot to the canyon rim, the sites below or across the canyons beckon. The faint of heart, however, view the massive cave dwellings from above and watch hikers make their way below into the canyons.

The wind here is such a constant that wind breaks are needed for campers. A Mormon first reported these impressive sites in southeastern Utah when he was leading an expedition in 1854.

Photographer, William Henry Jackson, in l874 first used the name: Hovenweep, which is the Ute/Paiute for ‘deserted valley.’.

Say the name, Hovenweep, out loud. If you do, it may stay with you. The tall towers, outlines of multi-room pueblos, shaped stones, small cliff dwellings, rock art lie scattered across the landscape and leave little doubt that a huge population once lived in this high desert.

Despite the marginal growing conditions (and the wind, of course, which never seems to stop), the ancient ones raised corn, beans, squash and other crops in small fields and terraces and built little dams for irrigation. Their wisdom of astronomy helped calculate growing seasons.

Like the wind, severe drought came They fled to the Mollogon rim with its forests and better water. Some historians believe that aggressive people arrived. The terrible climate change brought them from the north here to wage war and disaster.

Many Pueblo ancestors believe this is sacred land and that one day they may return to live here again.

Things Go Missing

Twin Rocks Cafe Bluff Utah

Objects disappear when traveling.  On our recent trip to the Southwest in the Pleasure Way van pictured above, the biggest loss was a hundred dollar bill. You can’t lose one of those without a little concern.

I had the bill in my hand and was making my way to the front of the van when traffic was stopped in Farmington by students who were taking a collection from passersby.  It was as if I were a magician instead of someone who had been asked to take it into a store to make a purchase to change a large bill.

The Skipper of the rig pointed to one of the eight small cupboards and said, “Where did you put the computer cords?  I always keep them right here.”

“You’re right,  They aren’t there,” I fretted, running my hand among the items in the ledge over the door.  It was where I put them for you last night.”

How do things go missing on a trip?  The cords vanished just like a box of oatmeal that Skipper had taken from the large box behind the van and put, he thought, in the entrance.

None of those things ever showed up.  Any more than the campfires and warm weather I had envisioned for the ruins of Chaco Canyon, the Arches, Mesa Verde.  Upon arrival, it was either too late at night, too windy or cold.  The Four Corners region can feel unfriendly when it comes to weather.

At one campground, we met a retired pediatrician who was a good organizer.  “My wife and I worked things out our first days on the road.  She has her places and I have mine.”  The couple had rented their home in the East and were touring to find a place to relocate.  “Does this mean that you are full timers?”  He frowned at the thought.

For a review of the Twin Rocks Café pictured above, check out my next blog.

Cafe Has a Special Twist

Twin Rocks Cafe Bluff Utah

A Utah park ranger mentioned this café in his line up of the Anasazi ruins we should see.  “President Clinton gave the people of this area a dam and in exchange received miles and miles of mesas with ruins.  He gave archeologists ten years to study the ruins which would be covered by water.  The artifacts they uncovered are here at this museum.  In Bluff, you might like the Twin Rocks Café.  I go there all the time.”

Skipper, the driver of the little Pleasure Way van in which we were traveling, said, “Why do you want to go thirty miles each way out of our way to go to a café?”

“With so few restaurants in this remote area, it might be as big a tourist attraction as any ruins.  The Anasazi sited their villages in twin fashion, from entrances to their religious kivas to the places they chose.  I’ll bet this café is similar site worth seeing.”

I chose pancakes with fruit topping and sausage.  Skipper delighted in a breakfast burrito called a “Supper Burrito.”   The food was creatively served and hot off the griddle.  It was delicious.

An exquisite gift shop attached to the café had the most expensive jewelry I’d seen in one place.  My favorites were a six thousand dollar very light blue, almost white, bracelet of turquoise blue.  Other designers displayed thin bracelets of silver with little gold raised figures of horses.  Oh, my, if I had dollars to spare, this would have been the place.

I left happy with a turquoise top with a silver horse design and a memory of meal never to be forgotten.

Their Sandals Left Messages in the Sand and Dust

They came here by the thousands to build the massive cities and kivas and left their tracks in the sand and dust.

They came here by the thousands to build the massive cities and kivas and left their tracks in the sand and dust.

They were walking people, these ancient ones who lived on the Colorado Plateau in the early centuries.

I saw several of their sandals in two fine museums, Anasazi and Edge of Cedars.  I marveled at the delicate and woven patterns raised slightly along both soles.  I thought, “They are leaving a message through the  zigzags and square-edged spirals in the sand and dust.  Wherever their feet went, they  said where they were going, or why they were going.”

A National Park ranger at Mesa Verde told us she saw a turkey feather blanket at Edge of Cedars.  “I could picture a woman with such cape over her shoulders as she was on her way to a kiva to a ceremony,” she said.  “They raised turkeys for feathers and food.”  When I saw this blanket, I could, too.  The weaving of such a lovely and practical garment took someone very accomplished.

Even more astounding was reportedly the only one of its kind in the world — a sash woven of feathers of tropical red parrots.  Who today can weave such lasting wonders?  The feathers remain intact.  They are almost as bright and vivid today as they were centuries ago.  How did they get and raise parrots?  Did their wide roadways of stone and mud curbs, still visible through the mesa and hand-holes over mountains, connect their sites with the people of pyramids in Mexico?

More in my next blog about ceremonial kivas and the amazing reconstructed beautiful one at Aztec, New Mexico, a special site with peace and tranquility, unlike so many others with stranger tales to tell.

Turkey Feather Blanket

Adventuring in Chaco Canyon

Between 800 A.D. and 1300 A.D., the people of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico built great cities and houses of 700 rooms.  Wide roadways led to other civilizations.

Between 800 A.D. and 1300 A.D., the people of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico built great cities and houses of 700 rooms. Wide roadways led to other civilizations.

Next week at this time, I should be here among these great cities.  Once I marched up the pyramids in Chicken Itza, the Mayan ruins in Mexico.

That visit in Mexico led to an even bigger adventure when I wrote and produced the fifteen chapter Public Radio drama, The Curse of the Red Jaguar.  A writer never knows when a person, place or thing will inspire them.  Maybe it will be the Anasazi people.

Chaco, a National Park, is located in a very remote area of northern New Mexico near what is called “Four Corners.”  A rough dirt road leads into this immense area in efforts to keep people from illegally digging for artifacts.  The sole campground offers dry camping, no water or electric available.

There appears to be a spiritual quietness here, a special place where earth and sky touch.  Like Mayans they tracked celestial events like the moon’s l8.6 year orbit and the sun’s winter and summer solstices.

There are many who have written stories of about this place:

Stephen Allen Brown, 2006, Shadows of Chaco Canyon, gives his version of this heritage site.

Kathleen and Michael Greer, People of the Silence, 1996.  A girl flees her village after a dying Anasazi chief orders she be found and killed. The Greers, who are archaeologists, have written many others.  The Visitant, l999, blends the past and present as archeologists uncover a mass grave, while a killer stalks victims in both times.

Others, too, like Barbara Wood and Daughter of the sun, is a tale of an Anasazi woman captured by Toltec raiders and gives a possible answer to why the Anasazi abandoned Chaco Canyon.  Ardith Mayhor, tells a story of a young Anasazi man.  Judith Redmann Robbins, Coyote Woman, a coming of age story of an Anasazi girl.  Linda Lay Shuler, She Who Remembers, is about a woman of the Anasazi.

I promise to take pictures.  Will you be waiting?

Laughter, The Great Medicine

When you laugh, you feel alive with joy.  Add more to your life.

When you laugh, you feel alive with joy. Add more to your life.

I intend to laugh more. Be more playful. To never to be too busy to play. To be more awake to seeing more ways to take laughter as a medicine.

This is a challenge for those of us who are Scandinavian. I visited Sweden and was told by a Swedish newspaper publisher, “We like to laugh. But, we do it inside ourselves. I have to hire humor writers from other countries.”

I am finding that I’m laughing at the antics of the genetics professor in the Australian novel of The Rosie Project. His charming exploits unfold in a WIFE PROJECT. He is looking for the perfect one who fits his rigid specs, because that’s how he lives his life: scheduling the same meal on the same day of the week, looking at life the one no one else sees it, while at the same time is a brilliant guy trying to learn how to have sex with a skeleton (the same one he used to teach himself dance steps).

Rosie doesn’t fit his criteria but through her he learns to see life differently.

By the way, don’t you just love spending time with people who bring out the “kid” in you?
Simsion, the author of Rosie, has created a great companion with for you to expand your laughter. The best of all is Nelson DeMille in his novel, Plum Creek.

Guests Love This Kind of Party

Nothing could be more fun or easier for a host than giving this kind of party.  Read on.

Nothing could be more fun or easier for a host than giving this kind of party. Read on.

It’s a rare thing to put on a party and know it going to be full of surprises. Even if you have a teeny-tiny place, this one is so easy you’ll want to start thinking now about having a . . .

FORTUNE BOWL PARTY. First Step: Choose any two bowls that are handy.
Second Step: See how Barbara Thisted of Spokane, WA. did one with
glamour and ease.

Now Barbara lives in a very small condo. She was inviting thirteen guests. The menu was a meat casserole and all the trimmings. Desert was the only purchased part of the deal. She loves a good cherry pie and knows where to get them. Everything else was prepared in her little kitchen.

Third Step: When guests arrived, she invited them in and got them
talking together. Then, she passed around the first of

It was filled with a job for each of the guests. One job was to be bartender, regardless of experience. And that’s what really made it fun. Each guest had THEIR special way for their drink.  Barbara had a small end table nearby which held glasses, an ice-bucket (for the guest to fill at the refrigerator) and beverages.

Another person passed a tray of hors d’hoeurves (a list of ingredients was in the refrigerator for them to assemble piled on a tray).

After than hour or so passed, others had their jobs to do and went into action. Two pulled two tables into the living room, opened them and brought chairs from wherever they could find them.

A tray of napkins and silverware had been prepared ahead by Barbara for the person who got the job of putting on tablecloths and setting the tables.  She stored this in the bedroom.

Others worked in the kitchen to do the final preps of the food.

One person passed the food family style after everyone was seated.

SECOND FORTUNE BOWL: After dinner the party went into reverse and within what seemed to be minutes the dishes were taken to the kitchen and washed, the tables and chairs returned to their original places, and guests were enjoying an after dinner drinks prepared by a guest who pulled that job description.

Everyone got involved. They laughed and delighted in all the roles that they had played.
“This was one of the best parties I’ve ever attended,” was the common consensus.

Heartbeaking Honesty

The power of words is shown by this young lady who likes to write and to speak.  She has a beautiful future/

The power of words is shown by this young lady
who likes to write and to speak. She has a beautiful future/

A few days before her 17th birthday, Kelsi Budinger’s sermon, in her Seattle area youth groups service for a Unitarian Church, brought tears and applause from the congregation.

This is an abbreviated version: “At my school when you’re a sophomore, you’re required to take Health in order to graduate. In that class, we do something super cool, called panels, where students from the school come in and talk about their experiences with whatever the topic might happen to be. I did the panel for suicide and depression this year and I’m about to do it again this semester.

“One thing I talked about is how to tell when someone is depressed. My answer is ‘you can’t.’ Some of the happiest people around actually may be the ones who are hurting the most. Sometimes they let their sadness show. and when people ask what’s wrong, they just say, “I’m really tired.

“Brave faces have been my life since middle school and possibly earlier. My biological mother left when I was two, and that shook me up. I’ve had residual pain and anger about it ever since, and, though it may be irrational, I wonder if it was because it was I wasn’t good enough for her. I know that’s not the case, but the thought has crossed my mind many times growing up. but I’ve learned to hide it. I learned not to cry about it every time I thought about her. I learned to smile and laugh. But my version of laughter is always the real thing. This isn’t to say that I never feel happiness, or that I never smile for real. I’m saying I know how to hide my pain now.

“When someone hurts me, I don’t let them see it very much, because I’m too proud, or I’m trying to protect them. I know I can turn to my parents or other friends to talk, but sometimes I feel like a burden, or I feel like they’ll think my problems and feelings are invalid.

“This is what people struggle with every day because of the culture we live in, because of the things people say and do. Many people tell those with problems that their problems are stupid, that they just need to get over themselves. It hurts to be that person whose feelings have been invalidated. The brave faces are put on to protect ourselves from further hurt.

“What needs to happen is that people need to let others talk things through. People need to be supportive of their friends and family. So go out and support them. Be that rock, or, if you’re the one struggling, insist that someone be there for you.

“Stand up for yourself. Because you deserve it, and society doesn’t understand that yet.”