Sunday, November 30, 2008 

The First Cookie

of the First Family...and apparently the rest of the country. Sales of the "Obama" cookie are booming at Baby Boomer Cafe.
Want an example of the change Barack Obama is bringing to the country?

Check out cookie sales at Baby Boomers Cafe in Des Moines.

Ever since word got out of the President-elect and his family's fondness for Baby Boomers' chocolate chunk cookies, the small downtown restaurant can't get them out of the oven fast enough.

...Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the Obama campaign, said the Obamas and the campaign staff loved the cookies, and they're fond of Maxfield, too.

"He knew most of us by name, and he cared about how everyone was doing," Vietor said.

Michele Obama would hold meetings in the cafe, and Barack Obama even called Maxfield the day after the caucuses to thank him for helping feed the staff and his family.

"It's just insane. I mean they are the coolest people," said Maxfield. - Chicago Tribune

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Saturday, November 29, 2008 

Tis Better to Give Local

When you go out shopping this season, why not make your own gifts or let your greenbacks do good locally. Some suggestions....

The Grapeseed Company offers organic skin care items and their offshoot, Dirty Dog Organics offers organic pet care items.

Santa Barbara Pistachios sells their fabulous pistachios at our local farmers markets...but you can also order gift packages online.

How about making a hand made gift certificate for a special sunday breakfast at Cold Spring Tavern...or a communal BYOB Wine & Dine dinner event at SpiritLand or a romantic dinner at Bouchon.

A gift certificate to a local spa....some of my favorites.... Avia, Cielo and Le Reve.

Buy their favorite new book at Chaucer's or one of their favorite oldie but goodie at The Book Den.

Anthony Lombardi at Liquidpixphotography has some amazing photos of dolphins, whales and other sea creatures, i.e. surfers.

Then of course, there are the local wineries....or pick up a wine related item at The Winehound.

Stay tuned for more...and do you have any suggestions?

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COPIA shuts down...lock, stock and wine barrel

Guess the Goddess of Wealth and Plenty (Abundence) wasn't the minor God this "museum" should have been named after.
The American Center for Wine, Food & Art closed its doors tight and “temporarily,” according to notices taped to their glass doors, although the sudden demise seems to be permanent.

The late Robert Mondavi’s dream apparently has come to an end, with a financial ka-thud. - Sonoma Valley Sun

Copia Banners
Originally uploaded by jdryzga.

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Friday, November 28, 2008 

Mark Your Calendars - Friday, December 5

Repeal Day - (Or "Cinco de Drinko" as some may call it.)
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the ratification of the 21st Amendment, which repealed Prohibition.

So..get your drink on and party like it's 1933!

San Ysidro Ranch Blood Orange Margarita
Originally uploaded by santa barbarian.


1 cup fresh-squeezed blood orange juice
3 tablespoon granulated sugar
8 ounces premium tequila
7 ounces triple sec
1 Blood orange, sliced for garnish.

Make a blood orange simple syrup by combining the sugar and blood orange juice in a small sauce pan; simmer over low heat until thick and syrupy. Allow to cool.

Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher. To prepare a drink, pour 6 ounces into a shaker filled with ice. Pour into margarita glass, garnish with a blood orange slice.

Serving glass: Margarita glass

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I'm thankful for....

Gold on the Vines
Originally uploaded by santa barbarian.

living near Wine Country

and the many Farmer's Markets we have available

Beans stringing along
Originally uploaded by santa barbarian.

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I'm thankful for....

Originally uploaded by NEWSMAN91.


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I'm thankful for....

folks who work hard to put food on our tables.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008 

I'm thankful for humour

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

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Whole Foods Santa Barbara opening in 2009!

We know that Circuit City is out...will Whole Foods finally be coming in? Well.. That's what Whole Foods is saying on their website. Wonder if it will be one with an instore spa. Can you say "neck message on aisle 6!"

Santa Barbara
Whole Foods Market
State St. & Hitchcock
Santa Barbara, CA
Opens: 2009

Seasons Greetings
Originally uploaded by Whole Foods Market.

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Dream Thanksgiving Meal

Zuni-esque Brined Turkey
1 (12- to 16-pound) turkey
Kosher salt

1. Wash the turkey inside and out, pat it dry and weigh it. Measure 1 tablespoon of salt into a bowl for every 5 pounds the turkey weighs (for a 15-pound turkey, you'd have 3 tablespoons).

2. Sprinkle the inside of the turkey lightly with salt. Place the turkey on its back and salt the breasts, concentrating the salt in the center, where the meat is thickest. You'll probably use a little more than a tablespoon. It should look liberally seasoned, but not oversalted.

3. Turn the turkey on one side and sprinkle the entire side with salt, concentrating on the thigh. You should use a little less than a tablespoon. Flip the turkey over and do the same with the opposite side.

4. Place the turkey in a 2 1/2 -gallon sealable plastic bag, press out the air and seal tightly. Place the turkey breast-side up in the refrigerator. Chill for 3 days, leaving it in the bag, but turning it and massaging the salt into the skin every day.

5. Remove the turkey from the bag. There should be no salt visible on the surface and the skin should be moist but not wet. Wipe the turkey dry with a paper towel, place it breast-side up on a plate and refrigerate uncovered for at least 8 hours.

6. On the day it is to be cooked, remove the turkey from the refrigerator and leave it at room temperature at least 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

7. Place the turkey breast-side down on a roasting rack in a roasting pan; put it in the oven. After 30 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and carefully turn the turkey over so the breast is facing up. (It's easiest to do this by hand, using kitchen towels or oven mitts.).

8. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees, return the turkey to the oven and roast until a thermometer inserted in the deepest part of the thigh, but not touching the bone, reads 165 degrees, about 2 3/4 hours total roasting.

9. Remove the turkey from the oven, transfer it to a warm platter or carving board; tent loosely with foil. Let stand at least 30 minutes to let the juices redistribute through the meat. Carve and serve.

Artichoke Parmesan Sourdough Stuffing
* 1 pound mushrooms, rinsed, ends trimmed, and sliced
* 1 tablespoon butter
* 2 onions (3/4 lb. total), chopped
* 1 cup chopped celery
* 2 tablespoons minced garlic
* About 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
* 1 loaf (1 lb.) sourdough bread, cut into 1/2-in. cubes
* 2 jars (6 oz. each) marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
* 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
* 1 1/2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
* 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves or 3/4 tsp. crumbled dried rosemary
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1 large egg

1. In a 12-in. frying pan over high heat, cook mushrooms, butter, onions, celery, and garlic, stirring often, until vegetables are lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Pour into a large bowl. Add a bit of broth to pan and stir to scrape up browned bits. Add to bowl.

2. Pour 2 cups broth into bowl and add bread, artichoke hearts, parmesan, poultry seasoning, and rosemary; mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Make a well in stuffing. Add egg and beat with a fork to blend; mix egg with stuffing.

3. Preheat oven to 325° to 350° (use temperature turkey requires). Spoon stuffing into a shallow 3-qt. (9- by 13-in.) casserole. For moist stuffing, cover with foil; for crusty stuffing, do not cover. Bake until hot (at least 150° in center) or lightly browned, about 50 minutes.

Make ahead: Up to 1 day ahead, make stuffing, put in casserole, cover, and chill. Allow about 1 hour to bake.

Note: For turkeys 10-13 lbs., oven/bbq temperature should be 350°; for turkeys 14 lbs. and over, oven/bbq temperature should be 325°.

Candied Sweet Potatoes
* 3 pound large sweet potatoes, peeled and halved crosswise
* 1 cup packed light brown sugar
* 1/2 stick unsalted butter
* 1/4 cup water
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 to 1/3 cup bourbon

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cut each potato half lengthwise into fourths. Steam potatoes on a steamer rack set over boiling water, covered, until just tender, 10 to 15 minutes, then cool, uncovered. Transfer to a buttered 3-quart shallow baking dish.

Simmer brown sugar, butter, water, and salt, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and syrup is thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in bourbon to taste. Drizzle syrup over potatoes and bake in middle of oven, basting occasionally, until syrup is thickened, about 1 1/4 hours.

Mashed Potatoes with Celery Root and Mascarpone

* 3 1/4 pounds Yukon Gold or russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces
* 1 1/2 pounds celery root (celeriac), peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
* 3 whole peeled garlic cloves plus 1 tablespoon minced garlic
* 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

Place potatoes, celery root and whole garlic cloves in large pot. Add enough cold water to cover vegetables. Salt the water and bring to boil. Cover partially and boil until vegetables are very tender, about 40 minutes. Drain.

Transfer vegetables to large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat mixture until almost smooth. Add minced garlic, mascarpone and butter; beat until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 3 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm over medium-low heat, stirring frequently.)

Farmer John's Pumpkin Soup
6-8 Cups cooked Pumpkin* from:
2 Sugar Pie Pumpkins or 1 Sugar Pie and 1 Green/Jade, or
1 Cinderella and 1 Red Kobacha
4 Tbsp. Butter
2 Leek, cleaned and chopped
5 lg. Onion, chopped
4 Carrots, peeled and sliced coarsely
2 Stalks Celery, cleaned & coarsely cut
1 clove Garlic, smashed1
6 Cups Chicken Stock
1" fresh ginger (put in tea strainer)
2 Green Apples, peeled and cored
1 Tbsp. Sage
1 Cup Apple Cider
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 pinch Allspice

Salt and Pepper to taste
Garnish with:
2 Tbsp. Fresh Chopped Parsley
Lemon Crème Frache or Sour Cream with Lemon zest

*Pumpkin Prep: Cut pumpkins in half, clean out, and bake with 1" water in covered pan at 350¾ for approx. 1 hour (until tender to fork), or wash, peel and seed the pumpkins and roast in the oven for about an hour at 350¾. Each method will impart a different flavor and slightly different texture.

Slightly saute chopped leek, onion, garlic, carrots, and celery in butter, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add chicken broth and bring to boil. Turn to simmer, then add pumpkin, ginger, apples and sage. Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring when needed.

Then add the cider, cinnamon and allspice along with the salt and pepper. Taste before adding the salt, as some chicken stocks are saltier than others. Let all the ingredients meld. Adjust seasonings to your taste.

Purée all except the ginger. Serve in heated soup bowls. Once served, put a dollop of either lemon crème frache or sour cream mixed with some fresh lemon zest

Frontera's Chocolate Pecan Pie

For the crust:

1 1/2 cups (6 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour (measured by scooping and leveling)
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch bits

3 tablespoons vegetable shortening or rich-tasting lard, chilled, and cut into 1/2-inch bits

3/4 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg yolk, beaten slightly

2 cups (about 6 ounces) pecan halves (make sure they're fresh and richly flavorful)

6 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3/4 cup (6 ounces) room temperature, unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

5 large eggs, room temperature

3/4 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup molasses

1 1/2 tablespoons Kahlúa or brandy

2 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

About 2 cups Sweetened Whipped Cream flavored with Kahluá, for serving

1. The dough. Measure the flour, butter and shortening (or lard) into a bowl or a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Quickly work the fats into the flour with a pastry blender or by pulsing the food processor until the flour looks a little damp (rather than powdery) but tiny bits of fat are still visible. If using the food processor transfer the mixture to a bowl.

Mix together the sugar, salt and 3 tablespoons of ice water. Using a fork, little by little work the ice-water mixture into the flour mixture. The dough will be in rough, rather stiff clumps; if there is unincorporated flour in the bottom of the bowl, sprinkle in a little more ice water and use the fork to work it together. Press the dough together into a flat disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 12-inch circle. Transfer to a deep 10-inch glass pie pan (I find it easiest to roll the dough onto the rolling pin, then unroll it onto the pie pan). Decoratively crimp the edge and trim off the excess dough. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Prebaking the crust. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a 15-inch piece of foil and lay it, oiled-side down, into the crust (heavy duty foil is too stiff to work here); press down to line the crust snugly. Fill with beans or pie weights and bake about 15 minutes, until beginning to brown around the edges. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Carefully remove the beans (or weights) and foil, return the crust to the oven and bake 8 to 10 minutes, until it no longer looks moist. (If it bubbles at this point, gently press it down with the back of a spoon.) Brush the beaten egg yolk over the crust, then let cool completely.

3. The nuts and chocolate. While the crust is cooling, spread the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet and lightly toast in the oven until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Cool, then break into small pieces and transfer to a large bowl. Chop the chocolate into rough, 1/2-inch pieces and add to the bowl, along with the flour. Stir until everything is well coated.

4. The filling. In a food processor (or in the large bowl of an electric mixer), cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes in the food processor, 5 minutes in the mixer. With the machine still running, add the eggs one at a time, letting each be completely incorporated before adding the next. Beat in the corn syrup, molasses, Kahlúa or brandy, vanilla and salt.

5. Baking. Pour the filling over the chocolate and pecans and stir well to combine. Pour the mixture into the prebaked pie shell, set onto the lower shelf of the oven and bake until a knife inserted into the center is withdrawn clean, about 1 hour.

Cool completely on a wire rack. Serve slices of the pie at room temperature or slightly warm, topped with a dollop of Kahlúa-spiked, sweetened whipped cream.

The Bakeshop's Sugar Pumpkin Pie

* 1 Sugar Pie pumpkin (about 3 lb.)
* 4 large eggs
* 2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
* 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1 1/4 cups dark corn syrup
* 1 3/4 cups half-and-half (light cream) or whipping cream
* 2 baked 9-inch pie crusts

1. Cut pumpkin in half crosswise and set cut side down in a 10- by 15-inch pan. Bake in a 350° oven until very soft when pressed, about 1 hour.

2. When cool enough to touch, scoop out and discard pumpkin seeds. Scoop pumpkin flesh from rind and discard rind. Smoothly purée flesh in a blender; you need 2 cups. Seal any extra purée in plastic freezer bags and freeze up to 6 months.

3. In a bowl, beat to blend the 2 cups pumpkin purée, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and cloves. Stir in corn syrup and cream.

4. Set pie crusts in pans on a foil-lined baking sheet. Set baking sheet on the bottom rack of a 350° oven. Pour half the pumpkin mixture into each crust.

5. Bake until pie centers barely jiggle when gently shaken, 50 to 55 minutes. If crust rims start to get too dark, drape affected areas with foil.

6. Cool pies on racks. Serve warm or cool. If making ahead, cover and chill up to 1 day.

Galatoire's Sweet Potato Cheesecake
Preparation Time: 1 1/2 hours, plus chilling
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
For the cheesecake filling:
3 packages (3 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 3/4 cups mashed sweet potatoes
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
For the topping:
2 cups sour cream, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter until combined. Press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake until set but not brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from oven, and cool.
Beat cream cheese with electric mixer until smooth. Add sugar and brown sugar, beating until smooth. Add sweet potatoes, eggs, evaporated milk, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg, beating until well combined. Pour into crust. Bake until edge is set, 55 to 60 minutes.

Whisk sour cream, sugar and vanilla to combine. Spread over warm cheesecake. Return to oven, and bake until just set, 5 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Remove side of pan, and chill for a few hours or overnight. Makes about 12 servings.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008 

One of "my tribe" is on Top Chef

so I have to cheer him on. Go Stefan! But, is just too cute. He lives just down Highway 101 from Santa Barbara....can you say "road trip!"

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008 

Fantasy Football for Foodies

Who will be the "Top Chef" at the White House. Will Cristeta Comerford stay or will she be told to pack her knives and go? Will Chicago cuisine reign supreme? Insiders say it's too early to say...but it's never to early to speculate.
..Outside speculation has focused on the personal chef of Denver Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony, Daniel Young, who cooked for Obama during the Democratic national convention in Denver...- the Denver Channel
I'm kinda liking the long shot Chicago Rising Star Chef "Kendal Duque" Obamafoodorama has some thoughts, too.

We already know that the President elect enjoys chili, pie, hot sauce and arugula...
but not beets.

A first family of foodies. Their decision on the White House chef may cause some indigestion...but we'll just have to see. We'll have to wait for the playing of hail to the chief...i mean chef.

(Wonder if Obama would ever call the Butterball hotline? 1-800-BUTTERBALL)

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A Cranberry Staple...Thank you Ina Garten!

Can the canned jiggly stuff. This is the cranberry I crave all year! The Barefoot Contessa's Cranberry Fruit Conserve. Ina may live back East, but the ingredients are sooooo California. (Well...except maybe the cranberries....)

The Barefoot Contessa's Cranberry Fruit Conserve

1 (12-ounce) bag of fresh cranberries, cleaned
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 orange, zest grated and juiced
1 lemon, zest grated and juiced
3/4 cup raisins

3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Cook the cranberries, sugar, and 1 cup of water in a saucepan over low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the skins pop open. Add the apple, zests, and juices and cook for 15 more minutes. Remove from the heat and add the raisins and nuts. Let cool, and serve chilled.

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Looking for a little gift

for yourself perhaps? Zingerman's is having a 20% off sale November 27th and 28th. (The secret password is "stuffing.") They have some great foodie finds and this little sale is a great way to discover what the fine folks in Ann Arbor have known for years....Zingerman's puts some ZING in your life!

Some samples of their foodie items...

John Cope's Dried Sweet Corn
John Cope’s corn couldn’t be more of a culinary secret to everyone outside of Rheems, Pennsylvania, if we’d made a national policy to hide it. Martin Cope made his first batch in 1900, and despite a conspicuous lack of notoriety the company is still doing it now as they were then.

Pasolivo Olive Oil
"One of the Top 10 olive oils in the World
(and the only American one!)"
Der Feinschmeker German food journal, which conducts the largest international olive oil tasting in the world

Carolina Gold Rice from Anson Mills
This amazing rice comes to us from Glenn Roberts and the crew at Anson Mills grits. Not only is Glenn adamant that organic growing has a huge positive impact on the flavor of the rice, he’s also making sure the rice is fully ripened in the field, which allows the flavor to develop before harvest. They use a specially designed mill that emulates the 19th century method of hand-pounding the rice.

This product is certified organic.

Guido Gobino Gianduja Cream
Stay away before you get hooked. If you’re a glutton for punishment, or just a good old-fashioned glutton, you could get yourself in serious financial straits minding this addiction in waiting. Guido Gobino gives freshly harvested Piemontese hazelnuts a generous, slow toasting, then grinds them as smooth as velvet. They're mixed with fine milk chocolate in proportions that favor nut lovers. You've been warned.

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Monday, November 24, 2008 

This one's for Curtis...the IT guy

and CheezIt afficionado.

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

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Sunday, November 23, 2008 

If it's pumpkin time...

It's Half Moon Bay season....

Every autumn, thousands of Bay Area residents visit the coastside to pick pumpkins from the picturesque fields along Highways 1 and 92. More than 3,000 tons of pumpkins are grown each year by 15 or so commercial growers in the Half Moon Bay area. They ship pumpkins all over the United States and sell to many of the large retailers in the Bay Area. As always, this year there's a bumper crop.

The pumpkin boom can be traced back to growers in the area who began to plant pumpkins in the 1930's. In the early 30’s, teenager John Arata and his brother Clarence began planting pumpkin seeds to feed the family’s hogs. One day, they were hauling some of their pumpkins along Highway One back to the farm when a passing motorist stopped and asked if he could buy a few. The Arata’s sold the pumpkins for a quarter and a booming pumpkin-picking business and tourist attraction was born. - Half Moon Bay Pumpkin & Art Festival

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The Fickle Nature of Fire

Tea Fire Day 4 - 065
Originally uploaded by fishgoat23.

What remains of Mount Calvary Monastery and Retreat House.

Sunday, November 16, 2008 

Mt. Calvary Montestary and Retreat

It's beauty, now just in our memories.
Historic beauty destroyed by arson.



something so sad

Originally uploaded by Laphoto1.

about a melted car


We often forget to be thankful for what we have

until we come close to losing it all.

My friend Victoria's house came through fine, although she and her family have to boil water if they want to drink. (I think they are taking The Red Cross up on their offer for bottled water) However, an aquaintence and his wife lost everything...everything except what they were wearing and their car.

The town still smells like a big barbeque pit and, to put a really positive spin to this disaster, the sunrises and sunsets have been spectacularly colorful. And, quite frankly, it could have been much worse if the winds had kept up at hurricane force winds up here.

If you are looking for a charity to give to for an annual donation, please consider The Red Cross. They were amazing in their efforts for evacuees and the care packages they gave out to those forced to flee their homes were jam packed with really useful items. Watching Victoria and her family open them up was like an early Christmas, albeit a really bizarre, nightmarish sort of one.

Also consider any charity that your local firefighters support. And, next time you see a firefighter...say "thanks." I know I will.

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Friday, November 14, 2008 

They may call it the "Tea Fire":

but believe's no high "tea" time here...except for the adreneline. Winds gusting up to 70 miles per hour. Ash falling everywhere like humungous snow flakes. Little fire tornadoes peaking over the ridge. We're not supposed to use any water as there is failing water pressure for the fire fighters. The fire bomber is back dropping tons of red fire stopping stuff. Huge helicopters buzz houses near a small resevoir filling up buckets to drop.

It feels like a war zone..but smells of a big barbeque.

I've been evacuated. My friend and her family as well. 5 people. 4 cats. 1 dog and a couple of hermit crabs on the lam sleeping on the hard wood floors of an abandoned house.

Puts life in a little perspective.

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