Friday, December 16, 2011

Love is the reason for the season

12/14/11 Chatterbox        
Betty Kaiser

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in.” Matthew 25:35

Shortly after we moved to Oregon I began hearing about the Eugene Mission. This organization practices what the above scripture preaches—the Mission is love in action.  A small donation one year at Thanksgiving put me on their monthly newsletter list and I quickly gained respect for a place that really does respect, feed, clothe and shelter homeless men and women (and now their children).

This May, several ladies in my Bible Study Group (mostly from C.G. Presbyterian Church) were welcomed on a tour of the Mission. I am happy to report that none of us were disappointed with the quality of the ministry that we witnessed. In fact, I don’t know what I was expecting but I’ll tell you this—the reality of their loving care far exceeded my expectations.

On any given night the Mission has about 400 guests sleeping on the premises in warm comfort. About 200 use the day services that are available. All of this started over 50 years ago by a band of men who just wanted to love their neighbors as themselves—specifically the homeless population. They had faith but only $5 in the bank and no property or buildings. That changed.

Longtime director Ernie Unger and his praying board saw the ministry grow exponentially over the decades. This May he handed over an established work with a dozen buildings, nearly 7 acres of land, a staff of 20 and a bank account based on contributions and other income to Executive director Jack Tripp.

My notes from that visit fill me with awe. It’s like a small city—busy and bustling with hope. It’s a place where people come as a last resort. They’re out of money, they have no place to go and they certainly have nothing to eat or anywhere to sleep. But they’re in the right place. Food, Bed, Gospel and Restoration has been the mission’s mantra for over 50 years.

So on this cold December day, I’d like to share with you a few snippets of things that I saw and learned that warmed my heart.

All of the homeless guests that come into the Mission are hurting in some way. Some lost their jobs and homes in the economic turndown; some are newly divorced or their spouse has died; others suffer from lack of direction and addictions. All need hope and love.

Some of the Mission employees have lived on the streets and they know the dynamics of homelessness. They can relate to the need. Or, as our guide Lloyd said, “Basically, we just love them.” He also said that most guests come by word of mouth: “I’ve been down there. They’re good people. They will help.”

One of the Mission’s largest sources of revenue is picking up and recycling newspapers from collection boxes. The original 1954 Chevy pickup that started this project is proudly on display. Today seven large trucks pick up 3,000 to 4,000 tons of paper per month. Men participating in a rehab program tie them in bundles along with recycled mail, books and magazines and they are sent to Portland in a 40-foot semi-truck.

After three nights, a bed ticket for men costs $2 or they can work in lieu of payment. Lloyd stressed that most men don’t want a free ride. They want to help and do something. Individuals will be barred from the mission for repeated drinking or drugs. They are asked to leave for seven days to get their act together and then return.

The men’s Day Room was very impressive. The guests can read a book, play a game, receive mail, get a haircut, do laundry, take a shower or come and go as they please until evening. It was a nice place. But the expression of fear and hopelessness on faces was palpable. I wanted to give them a hug and say, “It’s going to be alright” but I didn’t know that.

Single women and women with children are the fastest growing numbers in the homeless population. At the Mission, these populations are separate from the men’s area. The women’s center is a 100-bed facility and has welcomed ladies up to 86 years of age.

Denise guided us through the women and children’s area. When the mission started welcoming children they soon learned the depth of hurt that children suffered with loss of home, pets, school and dad. Each child is assigned their very own set of pajamas, quilt/blanket and stuffed toy to take to bed with them and when they move on.

Residency at the Mission is 60 days. The first three nights are free or after that (for the women) a five minute chore around the building. The rooms are warm and homey. Not sterile and institutional. While they are there, Social Services tries to get them into housing and moms are encouraged to get their GED at Lane Community College.

And if you’re a quilter you’ll be happy to know that fresh, hand-made quilts adorn every bed—men’s, women’s and children.

The kitchen was an impressive place. Seventeen men on the Rehabilitation Program prep meals and clean up. The chef presides over four ovens, two grills, two French fryers and a 60-gallon soup pot. The day we were there he was serving lunch to about 150 transient men—vegetarian soup, rolls and ice cream (all donated).

There are rules: can’t leave the property after 5 p.m.; bedtime is 9 p.m. And the Mission openly shares the love of Jesus Christ in nightly services put on by local churches. The Mission newsletters are full of the good news that turning to God has changed lives.

The “Mission News” writes that this Christmas their guests will enjoy “a delicious homemade dinner, a hot shower, a change of clothing, a warm dry bed, a special gift package and the Love of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And that, my friends, is love—the reason for the season.

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart 
and is published in the Cottage Grove Sentinel.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Old-fashioned Thanksgiving Poems

11/23/11 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

I have always loved the traditional songs and stories of Thanksgiving.  As a child, I remember being fascinated with the Pilgrims who crossed the stormy seas seeking religious tolerance. They landed at Plymouth Rock in December 1620 and would not have survived that first year without help from the Native Americans who taught them necessary survival skills: how to plant Indian corn and wheat; how to use fish as manure to grow crops plus hunting and fishing skills.

The following year, the first American Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621, after a harsh winter. Governor William Bradford, in gratitude for the harvest reaped by the Plymouth Colony, proclaimed a day of thanksgiving. In turn, the colonists invited the Wampanoag Indians who, it is believed, brought the majority of the food for the feast.

It’s been nearly 400 years since that first Thanksgiving but we are still gathering together and giving thanks for the harvest and the privilege to live in freedom. This quintessential American holiday is embodied in song, poetry and prose that speaks to our hearts and reminds us of our many blessings.

Today I’m sharing two poems in the Thanksgiving spirit. The first is by Indiana’s famous poet, James Whitcomb Riley. Riley (in a Hoosier dialect) liked to praise what he called the “olden, golden glory of the days gone by.” His poem and “The Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving” by the prolific poet Edgar-Albert Guest would make good reading for all ages at tomorrow’s dinner table.

Happy Thanksgiving—to one and all!

James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916)

WHEN the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin' turkey-cock,
And the clackin' of the guineys, and the cluckin' of the hens,
and the rooster's hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it's then's the times a feller is a-feelin' at his best,
 With the risin' sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.
They's something kindo' harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here--
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and buzzin' of the bees;
But the air's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur' that no painter has the colorin' to mock--
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.
The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin' of the tangled leaves, as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries--kindo' lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin' sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below--the clover over-head!--
O, it sets my hart a-clickin' like the tickin' of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock!
Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the celler-floor in red and yeller heaps;
And your cider-makin' 's over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With their mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and saussage, too! ...
I don't know how to tell it--but ef sich a thing could be
As the Angels wantin' boardin', and they'd call around on me--
I'd want to 'commodate 'em--all the whole-indurin' flock--
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock!

Edgar Albert Guest, (1881-1959)

It may be I am getting old and like too much to dwell
Upon the days of bygone years, the days I loved so well;
But thinking of them now I wish somehow that I could know
A simple old Thanksgiving Day, like those of long ago,
When all the family gathered round a table richly spread,
With little Jamie at the foot and grandpa at the head,
The youngest of us all to greet the oldest with a smile,
With mother running in and out and laughing all the while.

It may be I'm old-fashioned, but it seems to me to-day
We're too much bent on having fun to take the time to pray;
Each little family grows up with fashions of its own;
It lives within a world itself and wants to be alone.
It has its special pleasures, its circle, too, of friends;
There are no get-together days; each one his journey wends,
Pursuing what he likes the best in his particular way,
Letting the others do the same upon Thanksgiving Day.

I like the olden way the best, when relatives were glad
To meet the way they used to do when I was but a lad;
The old home was a rendezvous for all our kith and kin,
And whether living far or near they all came trooping in
With shouts of "Hello, daddy!" as they fairly stormed the place
And made a rush for mother, who would stop to wipe her face
Upon her gingham apron before she kissed them all,
Hugging them proudly to her breast, the grownups and the small.

Then laughter rang throughout the home…
All afternoon we chatted, telling what we hoped to do,
The struggles we were making and the hardships we'd gone through;
We gathered round the fireside. How fast the hours would fly—
It seemed before we'd settled down 'twas time to say good-bye.
Those were the glad Thanksgivings, the old-time families knew
When relatives could still be friends and every heart was true.

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Honoring our Veterans

Lt. Col. Kirsten Palmer and family
11/9/11 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

As Veteran’s Day 2011 approaches, it is once again an honor and a privilege to thank all those who are serving and have served our country in the United States Armed Forces. If you’re reading this and are currently serving in the military here in the states or deployed overseas, here’s a special shout-out—Thank you!

Congratulations are also in order to a local girl, Kirsten M. Palmer, who was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force on Sept. 30, 2011 at the tender age of 38 years. She is the daughter of Ron and Linda Palmer of Cottage Grove and a 1991 graduate of Cottage Grove High School. She earned her commission in 1995 from the US Air Force Academy and also holds a Master’s Degree.

Lt. Col. Palmer is stationed in Washington, D.C. with her husband Major Roger Lang and their daughter Addyson Lang. Her title is Chief, Nuclear Logistics Integration and she works in the Nuclear Weapons, Missiles and Munitions Division at the Pentagon.

Palmer is a poster child for military recruitment. She exudes competence, enthusiasm for the Air Force, her job and love of country. Evidently her superiors noted the same qualities. At her recent promotion ceremony, the performance reports described her as dynamic, a first-class officer; a superb, inspirational leader; exceptionally skilled; and an innovative powerhouse.

Wow. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Palmer is one of thousands of veterans whom we yearly salute with pride. And here’s a little tidbit: Did you know that there are almost two million women veterans? Women have served in every conflict from the American Revolution to Iraq. During WWII almost 500,00 participated in some way; in the Korea era 120,000 women were in uniform and 7,000 were actively deployed during Vietnam.

The celebration of Veterans Day has changed over the years creating confusion for those of us who remember when it was a day set aside to honor those who died in battle or as a result of combat wounds. Memorial Day, is now the official day set aside to honor our war dead.

Our official Veteran’s Day now emphasizes on thanking the ‘living’ for their service to our country. We still remember those who have served but are encouraged to express our appreciation for those currently serving at home and around the world on our behalf.

On a national level, Veteran’s day will begin precisely at 11:00 a.m. with a wreath laying ceremony by President Obama at the Tomb of the Unknowns. It continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans’ organizations and remarks from dignitaries. There is no outside parade in Washington D.C.

Later, wreathes are laid at different monuments and memorials including the World War II Memorial; the Vietnam Veterans and Vietnam Women’s Memorial; the Air Force Memorial; the Naval Memorial at the Lone Sailor Statue; at VA National Cemeteries; and a ceremonial sword cake cutting at the National Marine Corps Museum.

These are moving tributes—but how about you and me? How do we show honor and respect to those wearing the uniform and serving? Should we distinguish between veterans and combat veterans? What if we don’t know anyone in a war zone or even in uniform? There are so many questions.

I guess the place to begin is at the beginning: Respect the flag. Our men and women in the military are serving the USA and everything good that our flag represents. Most veterans hate to see it abused or neglected. As the flag passes in a parade, stand at attention and give the proper salute. Also stand for the National Anthem.

Make the most of your life. Don’t waste your time. Fighting men and women have sacrificed and provided us with freedom and opportunities that are unprecedented in other countries. Use and cherish those gifts they have given us.

Personally validate the person in uniform: Smile, say ‘thanks;’ tap your heart as you walk by; or engage them in conversation. It will be mutually benficial.

For those in war zones, take a moment to form a mental picture of their circumstances: blistering desert heat; cold, snowy nights; loneliness and uncertainty. Send small gifts to make their life bearable. Something you might enjoy. Check out an for ideas. And pray for them—often!

Do something to make a bedridden veteran happy. There are many hospitalized or homebound veterans. Send notes or cards or best of all, visit a veteran in a local veterans home. But this is a little easier said than done. In fact, my idea bombed. I called both the VA Roseburg Healthcare System and the Portland VA Medical Center and got no response to my questions about visitors. If you do, please let me know.

And finally, as a confirmed dog lover, let me express my gratitude to The Dogs of War. This is something that we don’t often think about. Dogs are used by the military in war zones more than we realize. Check out: They are heroes too.

In Guam, there is a memorial that says, “25 Marine War Dogs gave their lives liberating Guam in 1944. They served as sentries, messengers and scouts. They explored caves, detected mines and booby traps.” For them I send up prayers of gratitude and safety just as I do for their human handlers.

So, here’s to our comrades in arms—whether you march to the beat of ‘Aim High,’ ‘Above All,’ ‘Accelerate your life,’ ‘Be all you can be’ or ‘Semper Fi’ — Thank you! And may you soon live in peace.

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

10/19/11 Colorful New England

Apple Barn, Vermont
Cape Elizabeth, Maine
North Conway, New Hampshire
10/19/11 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

Inspiration from colorful New England towns

I was born with a yen-to-travel gene and I’m always updating a list of places I want to go. When I’m really bored, I don’t even mind getting lost in a strange city. I call it “a Kaiser adventure” and an opportunity to discover what’s around the next corner.

We had a few of those adventures on our recent trip to New England. Although we had been to some of the Northeast, we had not been to Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont or Connecticut. So we planned a trip that included those states along with Massachusetts and Rhode Island where we had visited a couple of times.

Our goal was to visit as many small towns as possible and see if they were as charming as their pictures. We were not disappointed.

My inspiration was that I mentioned in a previous column. The site features appealing small towns with populations of 10,000 or less. Based on a variety of criteria, towns are either approved or disapproved as the best small town destination points for travelers.

We visited one of those ‘approved’ towns on our trip through the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire. Every year, thousands of leaf peepers (such as ourselves) drive the Kancamagus Highway and view the brilliant fall foliage. This year (thanks to Hurricane Irene) the colors were rather muted but still beautiful. Colored leaves, however, weren’t our primary focus.

We were there to ride the world’s first mountain climbing cog railway up to the tallest peak in the East —Mt. Washington (6,288 ft.). The ride up was fascinating, loud and bumpy. At the summit, a sign said, “Welcome to Mt. Washington, home of the world’s worst weather.” And they weren’t kidding. A gale force wind was blowing rain sideways as we lurched into the visitor’s center. The hoped for view of four states, Quebec and the Atlantic Ocean was covered with layers of clouds. Darn.

North Conway, one of the desirable small towns on the Gems website changed our perspective. This little village with a population of less than 3,000 sits lower in the beautiful White Mountain region. The family oriented town features two covered bridges, ski resorts and Settler’s Green Village (New England’s largest Outlet mall) and a Covered Bridge Gift Shoppe, located in ... a covered bridge!

As you drive into town, however, it quickly becomes clear that their impressive Victorian train station is the town’s claim to fame. Wow. The elaborately painted turrets and gingerbread mark the building as special before you even walk in the station door. The Conway Scenic Railroad offers a variety of runs including fall foliage routes to Crawford Notch. Just being there made my heart happy.

A large green area separates the station from downtown Main Street where a Victorian theme has been maintained. Smack in the middle of the old town shopping center sits a bright white church with a copper steeple. The stone paved sidewalk running past the buildings has contrasting stones donated by residents. My favorite was a Scotty dog with the inscription, “Always loved.”

First impressions of towns and people are important. No. Conway and most of New England make great impressions. The streets are wide and clean; the buildings are painted clear, crisp and historically bright colors. Even the North Conway 5 and 10 cent Store is located in an historic building. Buntings and flags were on display everywhere. The town was quaint and inviting.

Now if there’s one way to get into trouble in a small town such as ours, it’s to compare us with another town. Or to suggest that perhaps our town could use sprucing up. So, here comes trouble: Our town can use some sprucing up. There, I’ve said it. And if you had traveled with me through dozens of small New England villages that are neat as a pin and hundreds of years old, I think you would agree.

Sure, our town has ‘good bones’ and an interesting history but we’re not ancient. And yes, we have nice people who do good things but aesthetically, we need some help. And that’s not just my opinion. I hear it from other residents all the time. In fact, the Gems website disqualified Cottage Grove from their recommended list.

Their review reads: “The downtown area of Cottage Grove has several large, interesting murals. But unfortunately, these are romantic depictions of the past, not the present. Other than the murals, I find nothing attractive about this town.” Ouch!

Now that was pretty harsh. Seems to me that most murals are depictions of the past. That’s what makes them interesting. And it didn’t even mention our downtown covered bridge or the soon to be departed Dr. Pierce Barn.

So I walked around downtown and then checked out Dr. P’s barn with a visitor’s eye. True, our wonderful barn has needed some serious attention for a long time and still does. In addition to paint and shoring up, some simple weed-whacking is needed to clean up the perimeter.

But frankly, I think our downtown is visually confusing. We have some wonderful murals that tell the Grove’s history. Our buildings tell another story and I’m not sure what that story is. Our history was in mining and logging. What should our buildings and businesses be saying now? Whatever it is, they need to say it together.

The City and many committees work on ideas for the Grove’s future. But what do you think? Is our town visually attractive? Or do we need some help? If so, where should we start? Drop me a note or give me a call and if there’s enough response, I’ll publish a list of ideas for consideration. I promise to be discreet.

In the meantime, I’ll be planning the next trip for Chuck and I to check out a different area of small town gems—maybe the Deep South.

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart. Contact her at 942-1317 or via e-mail —

Monday, October 17, 2011

Grading the Grove

10/5/11 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

Grading the Grove

As I write this, it is late Sept. and a groundswell of activity to save the Dr. Pierce Barn from destruction has begun again. An informal group has been busy getting the word out that the campaign to save the barn is still very much alive. This enthusiastic group of volunteers has accepted the challenge to do whatever it takes to get financial support for the Grove’s gem of a barn.

Cathy Bellavita describes the effort to save the barn as “simply people who love the Dr. Pierce Barn doing what they can to save it. By spreading the word we just may find the person who wants to love it for just what it is: an in-town mini farm with an irreplaceable historic barn and all the ingredients needed to become a successful commercial enterprise and tourist attraction for Cottage Grove.”

This on-going effort to save this old barn has caused people from all walks of life (such as myself) to dig down deep and ask themselves why the barn is so important. Frankly, to some people it’s not important at all. They could live the rest of their lives without seeing the fading barn façade again.

Others, like myself, believe it is very important to save prominent landmarks. Reminders of the past bring joy and perspective to the present. Just thinking about all the animals, changes and decades that old barn has survived is good for the soul.

All across the country, people are recognizing that small town gems like Dr. Pierce’s barn are priceless.

By pure happenstance, I found a website featuring towns that appreciate Americana. The site is and the pictures took my breath away the first time I clicked the link. The site is not affiliated with any person or organization promoting their municipality. They are like the Consumer Reports of small towns.

The site attempts to be an unbiased source of information about places to visit with populations of 10,000 or less. They define why people like me enjoy strolling the streets of old towns and soaking up the ambiance of yesterday. I decided to see how or if Cottage Grove measures up to their standards.

First, “Small Town Gems” reminded me of what I already know — a desirable small town and its architectural gems will touch your heart and make you want to stay awhile. Cottage Grove definitely passed the following emotional tests:
1. Does this town remind you of a Currier and Ives print?
2. Do you think to yourself “I can’t wait to tell my friends about this place?”
3. Do you wonder if your camera has enough capacity?
4. Is this place similar to the town where your grandmother was raised?
5. Could this be the great retirement location you’ve been searching for?
6. Would this be a safe, wholesome place to raise children?

‘Gems’ uses lots of adjectives to describe what appeals to such tourists: “historic, small, quaint, charming and romantic.” Places such as “historic districts, attractive store fronts on Main Street, antique shops, art stores, boutiques, Victorian homes and bed and breakfast lodging.” Towns are described with phrases such as ‘A step back in time,’ a ‘picture postcard’ or ‘small town Americana at its best.’”

The ‘gems’ website outlines 34 of the criteria that earn their approval. A few of those are: Distinctive architecture, numerous buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, bike or walking path, lampposts, fountains, luxurious tree and flower landscaping, art galleries, antique stores, specialty boutiques, nearby college or university, gourmet coffee shops and bakery, ice cream parlor, free summertime park concerts, proximate to a lake, clean, easily accessible public restrooms, wooden picket or wrought iron fences, unusual scenery, a vintage train station with antique locomotive offering excursion rides and iron or covered bridges.

Towns that don’t merit their approval are clearly defined. Back in the day, we used to say, “they know how to call a spade, a spade.” ‘Gems’ comes right out and says that not all old small towns are considered special. And it’s good to remember that the word ‘old’ does not necessarily mean historic. Sometimes ‘old’ is just that—old:

“Thousands of small towns in this country advertise their downtown areas as ‘historic.’ The difference between historic and historic district can be as severe as the difference between rap and rhapsody. The term historic should be used to designate structures of historical significance. Unfortunately, in many towns, historic simply means old. And all too often, historic is used to describe buildings in such a chronic state of disrepair that they should be bulldozed from terminal neglect…and unless a municipality displays an official federal or state historic district emblem, ignore the historic baloney.”

If a picture is worth a thousand words, you really need to check out the website The photos of their chosen towns are inspiring. Check out the murals at Barnesville, GA; the windmill in Pella, Iowa; the boat docks at Stillwater, Minnesota; the water tower shaped and hand- painted like a fancy coffee pot in Stanton, Iowa. There are 46,185 photos to keep you busy on this site.

FYI: This month, my husband and I are going to be checking out one of these landmarks and I’ll report back on how it meets the criteria.

But what do you think? Does Cottage Grove measure up to ‘Gem’ standards? Personally, I think we have many first-rate stones. They just need to be polished and appreciated. Once everyone is aware of their worth, there will never be a question of whether or not we want to keep an advertising barn icon of 1912 or spend the money on an hand carved, old-fashioned 1920s carousel. We will keep and upkeep our precious heirlooms here at home and in the family.

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.

Efforts to save Dr. Pierce's Barn collapse

Photo by Cathy Bellavita

9/21/11 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

The news was sad but inevitable. The press release stated, “On Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011, the Historical Society Board of Directors elected not to pursue saving the Dr. Pierce Barn from demolition at this time.”

I was dismayed at the news but not surprised at the collapse of negotiations between the Save the Dr. Pierce Barn Committee and Doug Stout, the barn’s owner. In my opinion, Mr. Stout held the barn hostage for two years, hoping to reap a profit from Cottage Grove’s beloved asset that he purchased for a bargain price in 2009.

This year Stout dangled the prospect of demolishing the barn over the Historical Society’s head if they didn’t come up with a sum of money to purchase it. His position was absolute—the barn had to go. If they didn’t buy it he might even sell it on eBay!

A committee was formed in early summer and diligently compiled information on their options. i.e. should they purchase the entire property; the property that the barn sits on; or dismantle and move the barn elsewhere. Experts were called in to assist in appraisal, real estate options, grant writing and other legalities. The Historic Preservation League of Oregon even sent down a consultant.

But it was too late. Like so many other things in life, this battle was all about the money. No matter how many angles the committee pursued, the real problem was not about maintaining the building or how many horses and cattle that could be kept on the land. The real problem was that the seller wanted more money than the land was worth. Monetary solutions were not available for this situation.

Actually, it was a lost cause from the beginning. The law was always on Stout’s side. The barn may be a public asset but it sits on private property—and the person paying the property taxes owns the barn! He can do what he wants with it. Chew on that for a minute. Why would anyone knowingly buy a public asset that they didn’t want to pay the taxes on? It makes no sense to me.

Having said that, I commend the committee on a difficult but prudent decision. Theirs was a thankless job and I’m not going to beat a dead horse over this issue. It’s done. Unless someone comes up with an extra $350,000 they want to use to purchase the property and renovate the barn—Mr. Stout has won. He held the barn hostage and no one could afford to pay the ransom. He won and we lost.

So now, instead of an historical landmark greeting visitors to our small town, we’re going to have another sterile new building of some kind to define the entrance to CG. Isn’t that special? No. Not at all.

Cottage Grove’s location in the middle of western Oregon means that we attract people from north and south out for a day trip as well as other tourists. We are known as the Covered Bridge Capital of Oregon and the home of the Dr. Pierce Barn. A place of peace.

I hear from people all the time who tell me that they come to Cottage Grove for the old fashioned ambiance. They come to the Grove to visit the barn and the covered bridges built at the turn of the 20th century. They swim and fish in our lakes and run or ride the Row River trail. They spend the night, eat in our restaurants, shop in our stores and slow down.

People care about the past. That’s why we don’t tear down our covered bridges. Right now, the Chambers Railroad Bridge is under restoration and soon to be completed. Mosby Creek Covered Bridge is a favorite photo spot for tourists and weddings. We maintain connections with these bridges because of the magical days of horse and buggy transportation. They are monuments to the past.

We paint murals on our buildings that reflect other eras. If they weren’t important, we would paint the walls basic beige and be done with it. Instead, tourists and residents alike whip out their cameras and record Opal Whitely and Buster Keaton. At one time, the entire Hot Spot Café at Main & Hwy 99 was a mural. The creative painting by artists Cheryl Chapman and Cindy Wolford is now gone.

Losing the Dr. Pierce barn reminds me of another asset that we lost because of a lack of money. Judy and Greg Cash offered the city a historic carousel. This was a genuine, vintage 1920 Allan Herschell unit composed of horses, pigs, rabbits, zebras and a brass ring. Local folks were restoring the animals and excitement was rampant.

But as I said in a column in 2006, carousels don’t make money. They attract money. Parents will drive 100 miles to pay $1.25 to put their kids on a horse and then see what else the community has to offer. They’ll eat lunch, shop the stores and generally spend money.

People responded to the column by the dozens ready and willing to help. But the carousel—like the barn—came with a catch. It needed a home. And again, there was no money to be found for land and upkeep. And the carousel? Last I heard it was languishing in a barn.

Many of you will remember the Blue Goose steam-powered passenger train that chugged out of town and up to Culp Creek on a 31-mile round-trip through the woods. Visitors loved it but the railroad line and train were sold. Thanks to the effort of the Save the Blue Goose Committee in Siskiyou County, the Goose is still chugging along in Yreka. Lucky them.

Do you see a pattern here? Piece by piece, we’re losing parts of our heritage and we’ll never be able to bring them back. Next column I’ll share with you some of the secrets of success that have raised some towns from just ‘old’ to the historically significant level.

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.

Remembering 9/11 — 10 years later

9/7/11 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

“Americans don’t live in fear. We live in freedom!” Tom Ridge, former governor and Director of Home Security.

It’s hard to believe that 10 years have come and gone since the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on American soil. It seems like just yesterday that the airwaves were filled with the stunning news that would turn the world upside-down. A militant jihad forever generated anger, fear and uncertainty in the hearts of all those who call this land home.

Ten years ago, on that fateful morning, I awoke like many of you, to news of the bombings. Through the haze of sleep I watched a surreal scene unfold on television. In a matter of a few hours, 19 men and four hijacked passenger jets brought down the symbols of our country’s military and financial might, destroying lives and making daily life a nightmare for those who survived.

Two planes crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York ultimately claiming 2,753 victims; a third plane crashed into the Pentagon killing 184 people—many of them children; and a fourth plane crashed into a field near Shanksville, PA, killing all those aboard. The total loss of life numbered nearly 3,000 and included nationals from over 70-plus countries.

Those who escaped the Twin Towers carnage ran from the scene clothed in dust and ashes, looking like mummies from a horror movie. But this was no movie. It was the real deal. Unable to breathe through the blowing debris, those on the ground didn’t think it could get any worse but it did. The towers imploded and hundreds of rescuers were trapped and died with the other victims.

As the scene played out before our eyes, priorities changed. In the attack zones, survival was the paramount concern. Searchers immediately began staring down the face of Hell as they descended into the rubble and wreckage looking for survivors.

Ground Zero was smoldering hot and superheated. It melted boots and hearts as rescuers searched for survivors. Cottage Grove Pastor Jim Jenkins was part of a team of chaplains who ministered at Ground Zero. His goal was not to cast blame. He said, “I was there to show the love of God in practical ways in the midst of chaos.”

Pat Gartman and Uno (her German Shepherd therapy dog) traveled to NYC with the Red Cross. Their days began at 7 a.m. with a trip through security and time at the Veterinary MASH unit where Uno was fitted with booties to protect him from the heat, tons of debris and broken glass. Daily they walked the pit where Uno was eagerly greeted as he comforted the workers. The grounds of a nearby cemetery were open to help restore him when he got depressed and needed space and a green grass respite.

Around the country, citizens from all walks of life dug deep to generously give money to the rescue effort. Trips abroad were cancelled as we chose to stay home near loved ones. Prayers were offered for the victims, their families, the rescue effort and wisdom for our leaders.

Patriotism swung into high gear. We truly became a nation of “one for all and all for one!” A battle line had been drawn and we Americans were gearing up for a fight. We just didn’t know exactly who we were fighting or why. We would soon learn that this enemy was slippery as an eel, deadly as a rattlesnake and elusive as a ghost.

Our enemy was and is Al-Qaeda, a global Sunni Islamist militant group founded by Osama Bin Laden. As early as 1997 he told CNN, “We declared jihad against the US government …” In 2001 he carried out his plan of destruction. And thus began a decade of epic warfare between the West and the Arab-Muslim world.

The hunt for bin Laden and The War on Terrorism began shortly after the bombings with an invasion of Afghanistan dubbed Operation Enduring Freedom. It took 10 years to hunt him down. He was found in Pakistan and killed at 54 years of age.

Operation Iraqi Freedom began in 2003 “to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, end Saddam Hussein’s alleged support for terrorism and free the Iraqi people.” No weapons were found but Saddam was executed and no longer poses a threat to us.

So far, tens of thousands of people have been killed. War is an ugly business. This one doesn’t seem to have a stop mechanism.

Looking back, I remember 9/11 as a time of almost unbearable grief.

I remember 9/11 as a time of horror, anger and seeking vengeance. It seemed appropriate to seek retribution and insurance that it wouldn’t happen again.

I also remember 9/11 as a time when Americans were kind and courteous to one another; reserving their anger for more important things such as the perpetrator of a heinous crime.

I remember 9/11 as that time when we were neither Democrat nor Republican. We were Americans standing tall to secure our country against those who wanted to destroy us.

Life is always uncertain but it is even more uncertain since 9/11.
We have learned that it is good to hope for and work toward peace but we must also live realistically.

We have learned that there is no such thing as absolute security. Between bomb attacks at the London underground, shoe bombs and shampoo searches at the airport, each incident makes us even more fearful, goading us into believing that the worst is yet to come.

America will always have enemies but that doesn’t mean that we must live in fear. If we do, the terrorists win. Instead, we must be brave, hopeful, fearlessly vigilant and always follow our dreams.

The tenth anniversary of 9/11 will be commemorated with special events including the dedication of the World Trade Center Memorial in NYC and The Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, PA.

Shalom, everyone. Shalom.

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

There's no place like home in beautiful Oregon

8/24/11 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

We’ve been gone for several weeks this summer and it is good to be home. It is especially good to be home in beautiful Cottage Grove during the months when the blue sky and puffy white clouds are plentiful; the lakes are full and the weather warm enough to grow a vegetable garden. I can’t think of a place that I would rather be.

Others have a different idea of where they’d like to be. The television program, “Good Morning America,” recently asked viewers to submit the names of places that they considered to be the most beautiful in America. People responded with thousands of photos and descriptions of their favorite haunts from sea-to-shining-sea.

In alphabetical order, the top ten winners were: Asheville, N.C., Aspen, Colo., Cape Cod, Mass., Destin, Fla., Grand Tetons, Jackson Hole, Wyo., Lanikai, Beach, Oahu, Hawaii, Newport, R.I., Point Reyes, Calif., Sedona, Ariz., and Sleeping Bear Dunes, Mich.

The winning entries used phrases like ‘breathtaking views, natural beauty and jaw-dropping landscape.’ Sounds great, doesn’t it? In fact, many of the places and activities are suspiciously like what we can find in our own Oregon backyard. Sadly, they either didn’t make the GMA cut or weren’t nominated by Oregonians.

So, I made up my own list of some (but not all!) of the most beautiful or interesting places I’ve visited in Oregon. In no particular order, I submit to you places to go and things to see that your family and guests will enjoy and that you won’t have to buy an airline ticket to get there!

1. The Oregon Coast. The spectacular shoreline of the Oregon coast stretches nearly 400 miles from Brookings in the south to Astoria in the north. The vistas along our coast are as breathtaking and varied as those you will find anywhere. Beaches, sand dunes, lighthouses, state parks and wayside walks will enchant you at every turn.

2. The Columbia River Gorge scenery literally defies description. It was formed by an ancient river of lava and encompasses a variety of awesome scenery. Crown Pointe will give you a great overview. Our state’s most magnificent river is home to barges, windsurfing, boating and Native Americans fishing off platforms near the dam at The Dalles. Kids and grown-ups alike can go inside and marvel at the salmon traversing the Bonneville Dam fish ladders. And if you’re not going to England this year, take the short trip across the river to the Washington side of the Colombia where you can observe the 1918 Stonehenge concrete replica of the 4,000 year old original. You can also tour the nearby Maryhill Museum of Art and picnic afterwards.

3. Mt. Hood’s multi-forested areas have something for everyone. Check out Timberline Lodge’s skilled woodwork and spend the night at a nearby campground. At 11,239 ft. it is breath-taking to ride the ski lift without snow on the ground.

4. Portland. This big, multi-cultural city offers more than a magnificent skyline and amazing bridges. During the summer, visitors can roam the fabulous Oregon Zoo and then board a train for a 4-mile ride through wooded hillsides to the International Rose Test gardens, the restful Japanese Gardens and teahouse. Later you can board a train to go back to the zoo. The fabulous Pittock Mansion is a must see.

5. Silver Falls State Park. If you love waterfalls, this is a great place to go. My husband and I hiked the 7 miles through the park near Salem, to see the 10 waterfalls in the canyon. Billed as a “moderate” hike, we were happily exhausted at the end of the day. Other waterfalls closer to the road: Multnomah Falls, Sahalie Falls and Wildwood Falls.

6. Crater Lake. This awesome lake with its intense blue color and Native American legends is a must see. A ranger told us my favorite wilderness bear story here that I’ll save for another column.

7. The Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. Located in Baker City, this trip takes some planning. The Center uses exhibits, sound effects, video and live presentations of a 2,000-mile trek on the Oregon Trail. Believe me, you will never complain about your hardships again after you have seen life through the eyes and feet of our pioneers.

8. Boating. If you enjoy calm river cruises check out Columbia River Cruise options. And if you want something a little more exciting I can highly recommend the Rogue River Hellgate Jet boat Excursions.

9. Cottage Grove. We have it all. A historic downtown, a gold mining district (and museum), lakes, covered bridges, trails, friendly people, a charming resort, interesting murals, an airport, and lots of quirky stuff. There’s something for everyone to love here! We should have been on GMA’s list!

10. And finally, my favorite place in Oregon is my own back yard. I enjoy sitting with a glass of ice tea, listening to the boats on the lake, the chirping birds and watching the wildflowers grow. I love the wildlife: mama turkey training her chicks; the deer tiptoeing around the rose garden; the osprey warning the eagles to keep their distance; the Stellar Jays bickering in the trees.

I submit that some of the most beautiful places in the USA are right here in Oregon.

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart. 

Traveling the Canadian Rockies

Visitors to lovely Lake Louise
8/10/11 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

July is usually a travel month for the Kaisers. This year we decided to chart an RV trip to the Canadian Rockies. We began in Lynden, Washington near the border crossing. We often cross there because it’s convenient, we can shop for antiques and eat at the Dutch Mother’s Restaurant.

We had made reservations in both Jasper and Banff National Parks but were pretty much winging other stops and Lynden is a great place to get organized. Happily we were well fortified and had no trouble finding available campgrounds or restaurants along the way.

The road to Jasper was steep and wide with magnificent views of rivers and mountains. Suddenly we were in God’s country and it was obvious that our planned 3-day stay in that area would not be long enough to see everything.

Jasper is a turn of the century railroad town and resort area that still welcomes thousands of visitors on the VIA and Rocky Mountaineer trains that chug into the old-fashioned train stop. It lies along the Athabasca River within sight of four magnificent mountain ranges and many lakes. It is both picturesque and quaint.

Our campsite was quiet and rustic and teeming with wildlife. The Canadian Parks mantra is that people are visitors. This is the home of the grizzly, elk, moose, coyote and cougar. Visitors are cautioned to give animals a wide berth and all of the trash containers are bear proof. One afternoon a small herd of elk grazed our area completely ignored by our Canadian neighbors. Now that’s privacy.

Due to time constraints we opted to book a Maligne Canyon Tour of lakes, gorges, wildlife and waterfalls. It was a good choice. Early on tour day we joined our fellow passengers from Australia, Switzerland and the U.K. That would be the pattern for all of our tours. Usually we were the only ones from the USA. This time a father and son joined us from Richmond, VA.

Our guide was a trained geologist and we learned more than we needed to know about how the Maligne River carves a gorge through the solid limestone of the Rockies. Along the picturesque road there are six different footbridges and a teahouse. We spent time hiking down trails and marveling at the scenery as we were sprayed with the cold water of magnificent waterfalls.

Medicine Lake was another stop. One of the largest so-called ‘sinking’ lakes in the Western hemisphere, it is actually an area in which the Maligne River (flowing from its lake) backs up and suddenly disappears underground. During the winter months it is a meandering frozen river. Interesting stuff!

After lunch we boarded a boat to tour the pristine Maligne Lake that surrounds the world famous Spirit Island. Even with all the boats coming and going it was a peaceful spot. Another memorable scene was a mama bear and her two cubs playing in a ravine. Wonderful!

Too soon it was time to leave Jasper and head for the Columbia Icefields, Lake Louise and Banff. At every bend in the road, the scenery is simply spectacular. A stop at Athabasca Falls is mandatory. The falls are a thundering sight with a bridge and platforms at different vantage points that gave us goose bumps.

The closer we got to the Columbia Icefield and Athabasca Glacier the more glaciers came into view. At the centre we paid our money and boarded a shuttle to the rim of the ice fields. Then we transferred to the Ice Explorer — a space-like vehicle with huge tires — it slowly bumped down a steep incline and moved onto and across the surface of the glacier as digital cameras flashed.

It is almost an out-of-body experience to walk on a centuries old glacier. I wanted to shush people so I could be engulfed in silence and truly enjoy the moment. It was absolutely the highlight of our trip.

Our visit to Lake Louise was shrouded in mountain mist, rendering the color of the lake less brilliant than hoped for. Nevertheless, literally thousands of people were there to gaze at the glacier peaks framing the lake, rent canoes, walk the shoreline path or hike up to the teahouse and beyond.

In the chilly morning air, Chuck and I headed into the massive, cream-colored Chateau for coffee and a delicious, melt-in-your mouth croissant. Later, after walking the trail, we had lobster and shrimp croissants in the dining room overlooking the lake. For us, it’s always about the food!

Still heading south, we were fascinated by the 40 wildlife crossings over the highways constructed to insure safety for the variety of animals that would otherwise be killed on busy roads. They look like mountain trails. Sadly, one day, a young female Grizzly Bear was able to get around the fences where she was hit and killed.

As we entered Banff I really gave kudos to Canadian campers and parks. The people and the quiet, well maintained 2,400 sites and 13 campgrounds were impressive. Plus, they have a great shuttle system to get you almost any place you want to go right from the campground. It runs in 40 minute intervals.

Once again we wanted to get an overview with a narrative of the area so we booked another tour. Our group included visitors from Amsterdam, Australia, Burma, England and of course, Oregon. Over the course of a week we saw and did all the touristy stuff and loved it.

First, of course, we stopped at the Banff Springs Hotel and gawked like the tourists we were at the opulence surrounded by wilderness. We rode around the Minnewanka Loop to Cascade Ponds, Johnson Lake, Bankhead (fascinating former coal mine) and of course, magnificent, historical Lake Minnewanka. Then we headed out the Bow Valley Parkway to Muleshoe and Johnston Canyon.

Too soon it was time to bid farewell to our Canadian neighbors and head home but we’ll be back!

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Paraprosdokians and other fun stuff

7/27/11 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

Frivolous reading for a summer day

I’m always learning things from reader emails. But my email buddy in Newport, Oregon, really had me stumped with a missive title "Paraprosdokian." That was a new word to me. So I looked it up and my compiled sources define it as follows:

"Paraprosdokians are a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected. It’s basically, wordplay where the second part of the statement changes the entire meaning of the sentence in a humorous way.”

"Where there's a will, I want to be in it," is a type of paraprosdokian. Reading through these really tickled my fancy and I hope they will yours too. After all, it’s summer! So sit back and enjoy a moment of mindless humor and fun:

Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on my list.

Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.

We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.

War does not determine who is right — only who is left.

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

Evening news is where they begin with 'Good Evening,' and then proceed to tell you why it isn't.

To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.

I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted paychecks.

Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says, 'In case of emergency, notify …' I put 'DOCTOR.'

I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.

A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.

I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn't work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.

You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

Money can't buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.
I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not so sure.

You're never too old to learn something stupid.

To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

She got her good looks from her father; he’s a plastic surgeon.

Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

If I could just say a few words, I’d be a better public speaker. (Attributed to Homer Simpson)

Hospitality is making your guests feel at home even when you wish they were.

I always take life with a grain of salt. Plus a slice of lemon, and a shot of tequila.

When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.

Now, if these “paraprosdokians” aren’t to your liking, readers have also been sending me “dumb criminal” anecdotes. Check out the following scenarios. I double dog dare you not to at least smirk!

1. As a female shopper exited a New York convenience store, a man grabbed her purse and ran. The clerk called 911 immediately, and the woman was able to give them a detailed description of the snatcher. Within minutes, the police apprehended the snatcher. They put him in the car and drove back to the store. The thief was then taken out of the car and told to stand there for a positive ID. To which he replied, "Yes, officer, that's her. That's the lady I stole the purse from.

2. The Ann Arbor News crime column reported that a man walked into a Burger King in Ypsilanti, Michigan at 5 am, flashed a gun, and demanded cash. The clerk turned him down because he said he couldn't open the cash register without a food order. When the man ordered onion rings, the clerk said they weren't available for breakfast. The man, frustrated, walked away.

3. When a man attempted to siphon gasoline from a motor home parked on a Seattle street by sucking on a hose, he got much more than he bargained for. Police arrived at the scene to find a very sick man curled up next to a motor home near spilled sewage. A police spokesman said that the man admitted to trying to steal gasoline, but he plugged his siphon hose into the motor home's sewage tank by mistake. The owner of the vehicle declined to press charges saying that it was the best laugh he'd ever had.

And finally, if you’re feeling discouraged today, another reader sent me this the following morsel of encouragement. Check out how little Jamie Scott responded to tryouts for the school play.

Jamie was trying out for a part in the school play. His mother knew that he had his set his heart on being in it but she was afraid that he wouldn’t be chosen.

On the day the parts were awarded, mom went to pick him up from school, dreading what she was going to hear. But Jamie rushed up to her, beaming with pride and excitement. “Guess what, Mom,” he shouted, “I've been chosen to clap and cheer!'

A wise teacher said, “and a little child will lead them.” I think Jamie’s a leader we ought to follow.

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.

A plethora of pasta salads

7/20/11 Cook’s Corner
Betty Kaiser

Pasta salads are a perennial summertime favorite in most households. But gone are the days of the same old macaroni salad dressed with the same old mayonnaise dressing. Today, the sky’s the limit when it comes to combining pastas with fruits, vegetables, meats and a variety of dressings.

We’ll start off today’s recipe assortment with a basic corkscrew pasta salad that can be served as a side salad or fortified with some chicken, tuna or shrimp as a main dish. This is my go-to summer salad that I can prepare in advance for dinner the next day. It’s very versatile. You can add and subtract ingredients according to what you have on hand or your family’s likes and dislikes.

Recently, in a search for a light luncheon salad for guests, I came across an elegant and unusual shrimp, fruit and pasta combination. The creative cooks at Southern Living added a juicy nectarine, ripe red raspberries and cool cucumber chunks to this salad. They bind it together with a zippy lemon dressing that has just a hint of spice from crushed red pepper flakes. Prepare this salad just before serving.

One thing to remember about pasta salads: they soak up dressing. If you’re serving the salad immediately, it’s not a problem. But if you’re serving it the next day, it’s a problem! I have gotten into the habit of marinating my ingredients overnight in just a small amount of dressing. The next day I stir and taste and add extra dressing and whatever else is needed. Enjoy!

Corkscrew Pasta Salad

16 ounces corkscrew pasta
1/2 cup red onion, minced
2-3 stalks celery, sliced in ‘moons’
1 bell pepper, diced
1 cucumber, sliced in half lengthwise and diced
1 small zucchini, sliced as above
1-2 carrots, cleaned, shredded, rinsed and squeezed dry
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1-2 jars artichoke hearts, drained and reserved
1 can black or Kalamata olives, drained and reserved
1 cup cheddar cheese cubes
Vinaigrette style dressing recipe follows

The day before serving, cook the corkscrew pasta in boiling water, drain and rinse with cold water until cool. Cover and refrigerate the artichoke hearts, olives and cheese cubes

 Place all of the vegetables in a large bowl and add the cooled pasta. Mix with a large spoonful of dressing until barely coated. Cover and marinate overnight. At serving time, add the reserved items and stir. Add more dressing as needed. Serve on a lettuce leaf and garnish with whatever’s handy.

All-purpose Vinaigrette

1/2 cup Canola oil
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon dill weed
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Shrimp, fruit and Pasta Salad

Southern Living, August 2009

8 ounces uncooked medium-size shell pasta
1 pound peeled, medium-size cooked shrimp (31/40 count)
1 large nectarine, cut into thin wedges
1 cup chopped seedless cucumber
Dressing recipe follows
Garnishes: fresh raspberries, arugula

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process; drain and place in a large bowl.
Add 1/2 cup dressing, tossing to coat. Stir in shrimp, nectarine, and cucumber. Serve with remaining 1/4 cup dressing. Garnish, if desired.

Lemon-Herb Dressing

1/3 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon honey mustard
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Whisk together all ingredients until blended.

Chicken Tortellini Salad

1 (19-oz.) package frozen cheese tortellini
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1/4 cup sliced green olives
1/4 cup sliced black olives
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
2 tablespoons chopped sweet onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence/Italian seasoning
1/4 cup canola oil
Salt to taste
Garnish: fresh parsley sprigs

Cook tortellini according to package directions; drain. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process; drain and place in large bowl. Stir in chicken and next 5 ingredients.

Whisk together mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, and herbes de Provence. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until smooth. Pour over tortellini mixture, tossing to coat. Stir in salt to taste. Cover and chill at least 25 minutes. Garnish, if desired.

Note I: The recipe calls for frozen tortellini. I see no reason why you can’t use boxed or bagged pasta.
Note II: For Tuna Tortellini, substitute 1 (12-oz.) can albacore tuna, rinsed and drained well. Prepare recipe as above.

Confetti Pasta Salad

Southern Living, October 2005

8 ounces uncooked small shell pasta
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Fresh Lemon Vinaigrette (any dressing recipe above)
1 (4-ounce) package crumbled feta cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Toss pasta with tomatoes and remaining ingredients. Serve immediately, or cover and chill up to 8 hours.

Peppery Chicken Pasta Salad

Cooking Light, June 2004

3 cups uncooked farfalle (about 8 ounces bow tie pasta) 
2 cups (1-inch) cut green beans (about 1/2 pound)
 2 cups chopped cooked, skinless, boneless chicken breast
2/3 cup (1/8-inch-thick) diagonally cut celery
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon Italian Herbs

Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. Add green beans during final 5 min. of cooking. Drain and rinse pasta and beans under cold water. Place all ingredients in a large bowl. Toss gently to combine. Drizzle dressing (recipe follows) over pasta mixture to just coat.

2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons commercial pesto
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Whisk all ingredients together and refrigerate until needed.

Keep it simple and keep it seasonal! 
Betty Kaiser’s Cook’s Corner is dedicated to sharing a variety of recipes 
that are delicious, family oriented and easy to prepare.