Sunday, October 30, 2005

I've been asked to flesh out (heh heh) a few more details of the graveyard at Bellemaison. Actually, this time of year, there are two. We have the one, our really special place, The Pet Cemetery. It sits at the bottom of the big rock and near the Angel That Beckons. Here rests the best members of our family: Damon, Junior, JC, Diego, Stanley the Jewish Teddy Bear Hamster and that archangel of seraphic proportion, The Puss. The Pet Cemetery is a visit to our youth, our age of innocence, our time of thinking that Everything was simple. The lions that guard Pope Leo's tomb guard our beloved here, too, courtesy of The Museum Store and we are always comforted knowing that we valued these relationships beyond everything except each other. A walk in the garden is never a real walk without pausing at The Pet Cemetery with a prayer of thanks and a promise to be better. Such small creatures, such powerful consolation.

Then there's the other graveyard that goes up just this time of year for a few brief days. It represents those spoken unspoken words and feelings, those of our evil twin brothers and sisters. Yes, the expressions of idle time and fervant ambitions toward the last word spring to life (oh, I am cracking myself up here) close to Halloween each year.

Take for instance, this one that adorns the dollar sign:
"Joseph of XXXXX
His need was greed
Too late he see'd
The error of his ways"

Then there in the simple one that says much: "I.H. a female dog" I believe that was a soccer competitor from a rival high school that inspired our sweet little girl to such generosity.

But you can also see who is loved and admired in this family. This to a former coach of that same little girl, who still fiercely loves a good soccer game:
"Sir Eddy Birrer
We All Die?
We Shall All Die
All Die Shall We
Die All We Shall
He was fond of play of all kind
Soccer, word, keen of mind
Alas! he succumbed! Oh why!
The poor bloke choked on a fry"

Another coach merited this:

"I passed I kicked I shot I scored
I was not soft I tackled hard
But the whistle blew the crowd roared
Death issued a Red Card
Brian Meier

It was a few trips to the UK that inspired the boys and girl that used to live here to reenact their fascination with Celtic gravestones to Halloween immortality at Bellemaison and even the parents got their shot in on year, a comment on life in the new millenium:

The 'Kan EWA
Spicy Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce

2 cups cooked, skinned, diced chicken
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
sea salt and lemon pepper
15 ounces pumpkin puree
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 jalapeno chile, quartered (remove ribs and seeds for less heat)
1 teaspoon chili powder
8 corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar
Preheat over to 425 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine chicken and sweet onions. Season generously with salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a blender, puree pumpkin, garlic, jalapeno, chili powder 2 1/2 cups waters, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until smooth--keeping an eye on the blender top as the blender will be quite full). Pour 1 cup of sauce inthe bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish.
Flash fly tortillas in the scantest of oil and lay flat on work surface. Mound chicken mixture on half of each tortilla, dividing evenly. Roll up tortillas and place, seam side down, in baking dish.
Pour remaining sauce on top; sprinkle with cheese. Place dish on baking sheet and bake until cheese is golden and sauce is bubbling, half hour or so. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.
I throw in tiny pieces of spice to the pumpkin--used allspice, nutmeg and some cinnamon last night--not so much as to overpower the flavor of the chicken/garlic/thyme but to compliment the pumpkin, creating a nice contrast between the pumpkin/chicken thing. Worked well.
The 'Kan EWA

Well, the holiday festivities are coming along nicely. The cemetery is up; the pumpkins are carved. My friend Jeanine brought over her Brian and his Bobbie and batted clean up on the pumpkin carving. They created an awesome, fearsome lot. We only did 40 this year but it looks pretty frightening nonetheless. The draw back is that while it's cold it's not too wet so there have been lots of cars at the end of the road here, slowing down to gawk, THEN realizing turning around is going to be problematic as this is the end of the road and THEN making really badly executed u-turns. If I didn't have Mike the Bike Stud's Halloweenie 50 to tend to, I would get a chair, sit down at the curb with the Chow Nation at my side and glare as they tried to sneak back by. It occurs to me, not too gently, that much of what we do here at Bellemaison is for us, not for the viewing public. When we get to the point where we want to entertain the folks that live around here and their friends, we'll put up a booth and charge 'em. They can look around all they want then. Until that time comes, I remain more than a little self-conscious that there would be things to look at here that people would actually drive over for and a little bit cranky that they are foolish enough to do so. But it would be the first time that I was cranky with entertaining gig pending. *eyes rolling*

Went with deep navy blue taffeta for the dining room table. Had a silver jack o'lantern that I picked up in Noo York Citty when I was there in September that I put a navy blue candle in and then flanked with those purpley, magentaey, green hydrangeas that are still in the garden. Then created a cloud or mists around the whole thing with that really, fine meshy fabric, they call it tulle apparently, that makes it all like being outside on Halloween evening. It's got sparkles in it and last night, you couldn't see the fabric at all, just the twinkles and the depth of the folds and swirls of the fabric. Should work out just fine. It's a trick: they should think, am I in, or am I out?

My friend Rebecca came and cooked up a storm in the kitchen. I think that's her real calling. She is a goal-oriented, action plan girl. And she loved all that cheese I bought at Costco, already shredded.

The Chows think every bit of this is overrated. They think that Ball is still the only decent pursuit a good weekend should hold and that Halloween, come to think of it, is much too frightful to be roaming the streets. They said they are going to go to bed early and wait for all the fools in the air to dry up. Apparently there's a lot of crankiness going around Bellemaison right now.

The 'Kan EWA

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

People have been calling and writing and saying "JBelle! JBelle! What ARE ya going to have to eat at the Howloweenie 50?" Well, folks, I'll tell ya. Silvie and I finalized the menu just tonight and if Dorothy and Cleo can get to the store and back with all the stuff, here's what we're gonna do:

Howloweenie 50

Cheese Smokies
Honey Wings with Horseradish Whipped Cream
Hot Wings with Buttermilk Dressing
Chicken Empanadas with Salsa and Sour Cream
Chicken-Pecan Bites with Curry Dipping Sauce
Jeanine's Hot Sausage Balls with Chutney

Jack o'Lantern Cheese Ball with Severed Fingers
Queso Blanco with Ghost Dippers
Hot Onion Dip with corn chips
Pesto Sun-Dried Tomato Torte with assorted crackers

Savory Shortbread

Magnolia Chocolate Cupcakes White Chocolate Frosting
Magnolia White Cupcakes Dark Chocolate Frosting
Memphis Spice Cupcakes Caramel Frosting

Hot Mulled Wine
Bloody Marys

The 'Kan EWA
Dick's Phreaking Phenomenal Phairchild Bloody Marys
1 Can V-8 juice
2 lemons
4 drops tabasco
2 dozen shakes celery salt
1/3 cup worchestershire sauce

Pour into half - gallon bottle and fill to top with vodka. Shake well and refrigerate.

Cleo is not having such good luck with his Eldridge Cleaver costume. I said, "Geez, Cle, it's a 60's thing. Like so much else, you hadda be there."

The 'Kan EWA

Got a call on the land line about who gets print in Notes from The 'Kan EWA and how. Seems some of my friends in Noo York Citty are questioning exactly how the Chows get this whole thing together and put it out here. hmmmph. Be the first time that New Yorkers offered advice on how things should be and how folks should act, wouldn't it?

I think Cleo calls a lot of the shots and Silvie does alot of the work. She likes to get her agenda right up front, you know. Even though they are a stellar group, fact is, my friends from Noo York may not have paid the attention to The Chow Nation that they need to grab headlines and print inches. Or whatever the hell they call it, there in Noo York Citty, the publishing capital of the world. Nevertheless, goes without saying that I loves 'em, those pals of mine in NYC. They are my folks and they best be studying hard. 'Cause I'm coming back to town soon and then, the partying starts....

~for the Archangel Gabriel xxoo

The "Kan EWA

The garden is preparing for the new year. I wish I was as good at change as my garden is. Effortlessly, the shrubs and plants begin to turn yellow and gold and as I let hips form, all seems so well with the world in Bellemaison. The bright, clear, still light turns the remaining leaves and petals translucent and the birds gangrush the euchinea, dogwood, and magnolia for one last unfettered feed before it's time to go. Soon the roses will sport high dirt collars, then with the snow, will be entombed until after St. Patrick's Day, snowy mounds holding the secrets of next summer. The daylillies have already lost their long mangy yellow manes to the Felcos and now sport the good sense layers of pine needles. They hydrangeas wave in the wind magenta and green, at a loss for leaves. The lavendar has been buzzed, with the gathered up remains earmarked for little Christmas gift-projects that will unfold around the kitchen table when the winter winds howl and swirl through the memories, ambitions, plans and consolation that is Bellemaison. The Chows' coat is thick and lush at their skin and my bike comes in under the porch for additional protection. It's now here again, that change that begins the moment you get that very first tooth.

The 'Kan EWA

Monday, October 24, 2005

Gosh, there' s just so much to do! Club Chow is awash with all the Halloween goings on and preparations. The Chows have been pouring over Martha Stewart, Williams Sonoma, and Emeril both in print and online for the latest in chic Halloweenings and now that they've cornered the market on resources, they're down to arguing over exactly how it's all going to play out at Bellemaison. But they have figured out their costumes. It's all set: Pete is going to be a pirate, Silvie a mermaid, Dorothy a red devil and Cleo, well, Cle has decided to go as Eldrige Cleaver. He's a got a real challenge as Eldrige had curly hair but Cle says he can pull it off. I have decided to pretty much stay in character so I will be a witch. Don't I just wish I had black hair. Thank god I do have the warts.

The 'Kan EWA

I rise earlier and earlier in these years. I don't know why. Age, sadness, a willingness to epiphany. Something is opening in me, some new eye. I talk aless and listen more. Stories wash over me all day like tides. I walk through the bright wet streets and every moment a story comes to me, people hold them out to me like sweet children, and I hold them squirmimg and holy in my arms, and they enter my heart for awhile, and season and salt and sweeten that old engine and teach me humility and mercy, the only lessons that matter, the language I most wish to learn; a tongue best spoken wordlessly, with your hands clasped in prayer and your heart as naked as a baby.

--Brian Doyle
Spring 2005

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Turns out The Big Halloweenie Hisself, Mike the Bike Stud, turns 50 on Halloween Night. We're going to have the party here at Bellemaison which means I have to get the beer cans and apple cores out of the front room.

The "Kan EWA

There was a mighty ruckus and commotion out at Club Chow this morning; grabbed my camera and walked out there just in time to hear Pete giving some guy a piece of his mind. Pete was righteously cheesed. Turns out the guy was hired by the neighbors next door to decorate the house and shrubs with Christmas lights. On October 19? Now the folks who have the place next door, nice people, WSU graduates, Presbyterians, hardly ever irritate me at all. But here's my question this morning: can ya really claim to be a Christian person if yer hanging lights on yer place 67 days before Christmas??

The "Kan EWA

To Autumn
by John Keats

Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run.

To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowes for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless ona granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with fumes of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

The 'Kan EWA

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

My friend Tisa stopped by today with a little help with those pesky details of life that nobody wants to think about. T always was the most organized among us and I appreciate her catching up with me. Good to know somebody's got my back.

New Living Will Form

I, __________________________, being of sound mind and body, do not wish to be kept alive indefinitely by artificial means. Under no circumstances should my fate be put in the hands of pinhead politicians who couldn't pass ninth-grade biology if their lives depended on it.If a reasonable amount of time passes and I fail to ask for:(please initial all that apply)

_________a Bloody Mary,
_________a margarita,
_________a beer,
_________a steak,
_________ lobster or crab legs,
________ the remote control,
________ a bowl of ice cream,
________ a plate of enchiladas,
_______ a martini,
_______ some bar-b-q,

it should be presumed that I won't ever get better. When such a determination is reached, I hereby instruct my appointed personal and attending physicians to pull the plug, reel in the tubes and call it a day.Under no circumstances shall the members of the Legislature enact a special law to keep me on life-support machinery. It is my wish that these boneheads mind their own damn business, and pay attention instead to the future of the millions of Americans who aren't in a permanent coma.

Date: ___________________________
Witness: __________________________e.

Although she claims to be from Virginia, I really think T is from North Idaho.

The 'Kan EWA

Monday, October 17, 2005


Talking to the children's absence, you imagine them
canoeing or sitting before a fire, sparks

arcing like imitation stars. There's so much to say,
even in the unrelenting heat, the sun

balanced overhead while you collect facts for them
as if they can hear you: how the barracuda's jaw

can spread so wide then thrash and rip into anything,
how bees can't find their hive if it's moved

more than a few inches, how your own house settles
fraction by fraction into clay and river stone,

and dust is alive though you sweep it into piles
meaning the desert is a guest in the corner

of your room, meaning your feet keep stirring clouds
of creatures and you pass over animal and plant

and never feel the burden, or do feel the burden and bend
like a sapling, like a heavy flower brushing

the ground. This is what separation trains you for.
You as an envelope releasing them, you ripping

the cord, you with your stains on them, the ones
you need ten hundred mirrors

to see. The old goddess of tether and straw, the one
who makes you to lie down, to be crushed

till you come out oil of fish, oil of granite, come out
ash and live in the fine grit under their feet,

who licked you alive and left the taste in your own mouth,
your own love: sand, ground tooth, spider,

sawdust, hair, and adoration turned to powder,
and absence teaching its teaching and all

you cannot say, you'll never say, swallowed, a coating
inside lungs and all passageways, all orifices being

the openings of absence, and what you want to say turns
to air, but you try your prayer once more: old goddess

of rain, wash us with your silent tongue as if
we were always being born, just born, slick

and stunned, with our legs kicking

Anne Marie Macari
Alice James Books

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Top 10 Things About Living in The 'Kan EWA

10. (Tie)Wapato Tomatoes and Dutch Oven cooking on the St. Joe
9. Biking in North Idaho
8. Huckleberry Peach Pie
7. Seeing 9 area lakes from the top of Mt. Spokane
6. Foster Avenue in Coeur 'd Alene Idaho
5. Apples!
4. Waking up to sweet air
3. Manito Boulevard in October
The big new fountain at Riverfront Park
1. All this and soooo much more

The 'Kan EWA

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Went over to Bre's place (To Bre Or Not To Bre) and took the food quiz. Turns out I'm French food.

"Snobby yet ubiquitous. People act like they understand you more than they actually do."

Son of a gun! First time anybody's ever said that 'bout me! :)

The 'Kan EWA

The Chows are really getting sick of the doorbell. They say all this fuss and attention about the Portland Marathon has really screwed up their nap schedule big time. Pete says we do not need any more anythings sent here as support and congratulations; Do' says that you can never be too thin, too rich, or have too many friends. Sylvie says presents are just fine, as long as they are for her. Cleo says, Grandma, you are very lucky.

As usual, Cleo is right on. I am rich, rich, rich.

The 'Kan EWA

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

As Jimmy Buffet said about tattoos, "Hell yes, it hurts!" The Portland Marathon is now in the books and those ugly rumors about me wanting to quit FOUR blocks before the finish line are completely scandalous. Also the ones about me yelling to the belly dancers, "Shake it girls! I didn't come all the way up here to have to wave your veil at me!" Yeah and then there's the one about me yelling my blood pressure to the resident standing outside the hospital, followed by a "You know it, Mister!". And when we were smoking by other women my age on our way to the finish line by saying, "That's my daughter ahead of me; she's University of Portland All American." I had just hoped to get out of town before this information became public.

So many people have said, "JBelle! JBelle! yer old as dirt! yer huge! ya have no sense! how did YOU finish the Portland Marathon???" Well, folks, I'll tell ya, it's simple.

With hard work and your guardian angel, dreams do come true. And yes, I did cry at the finish line.

~for God's special angel, Peedy McCarthy

The Kan 'EWA

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Heard from my friend Jenny Rose today. She's moving in on the Powers That Be to get herself into nursing school. Chows were particularly excited about this as they know she will be a compassionate, principled health care professional. They prefer to handle most of the thorny issues in their life by sleeping on them as they believe a nap is good for everything but on this matter, the Chows dug up a copy of the Prayer to St. Anthony, who is the patron saint of the poor, and want to dedicate it to The Jen, their kind friend with the sweet touch. They say they are fixed financially, but sometimes they are in need as great as any street dog.

The Chow Nation's Prayer to St. Anthony

O Saint Anthony, Saint of Miracles, Saint of Help. We also have need of your assistance; we have need of this special favor: our friend Jennifer wants to work with really sick kids, healing them, consoling them, helping them. She has been a good friend of ours and speaks for the little ones who have no voice.
Therefore, console us in our present necessity and grant us the help that, with full confidence, we hope for. You won't be sorry, St. Anthony.
We, The Chow Nation, will help you with a miracle for someone else.
~for Jennifer
The 'Kan EWA

Monday, October 03, 2005

Lotta folks have been checking in and saying jBelle, jBelle, where's yer picture? My response to that has always been, I am mainly a figment of your imagination.

okay, okay, I give. Here's a shot with the Christ Child, taken about two weeks ago, guess where?

The 'Kan EWA

As it happened, we ventured over the pass and made it to Missoula to watch The Griz play Homecoming football this weekend. Always an honor to be in The Holy Land. The people there are ranchers, loggers, proud and gentle, quietly thrilled to be educating their children. I trekked up to the M early Saturday morning and reviewed the lay of the land. So much has changed, so much the same. The trees were the same, beautiful in golds, oranges and reds. And of course, the big sky is still magnificent and big. But the new bridges, masonry buildings and housing developments made me wonder what lies beyond--just how far is Montana from Los Angeles these days or Noo York Citty for that matter? Will the people of Montana always show a subborn preference for doing the right thing, for giving the parking garage back, or will they too settle in with Growth and Development, with Going along and Getting along? I was reading some of the maps on the wall at the Shack Cafe, drawn in the early 1800's and loved their glaring omissions and faulty assumptions. Like no Lake Coeur d'Alene. Just what was the source of the clearly marked Spokane River? The imperfections delighted, touched me, as reminders that these United States of ours are works in progress, still, and that there are many drawings left to come. Being far, far removed from my original Jewish ancestry, I find I have a New Year's wish nonetheless: I hope that we never lose our imperfections and that the pride of having a big sky and colorful trees never leads us to the place where that pride overcomes the gentleness in us that craves to learn new and more things, and to educate ourselves in a manner that makes us all want to come back to Homecoming, at least for New Year's.

The Kan 'EWA