Wine Emoji

Facebook finally released new emoticons … 7 of them.  No one asked for these.  All the general populace wanted was a “Dislike” button.  But, no.  Sorry.  Tough toenails.

In the meantime, we can apply the new and supposedly improved choices to our favorite subject … WINE!




You May Kiss Our …


“What a piece of work is a man! … And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?”
~Hamlet, Act II, scene ii.

After the past week of cleaning up “the quintessence of dust” of one of the longest lines of my husband’s ancestry, I’ve decided to pull out my “Complete Works of Wm. Shakespeare” and reread The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.  Why?  Because of this guy pictured here … Vladimir I, Grand Duke of Kiev.  Not a bad looking guy on the most part.  He’s rich; he’s brave; he’s a king; … and he’s not nice.  In today’s society he would be called a bad-assed muther*ker.  He killed his brothers; raped his wife and killed her parents because she said “no” to marrying him (he eventually had 5 known wives and 800 concubines); and he tortured those he disliked … and he’s my husband’s direct 29th great-grandfather.  If anything, that side of the family is anything but boring, and the story of Hamlet is very similar to good ol’ Vladimir.

Back in 1990 when my mother-in-law Mary Louise (Koenig) Schoelles passed away, I asked my father-in-law who was distraught and depressed how much he really knew about Mary’s family.  He knew that most of her family were from the Reading area (Berks County, Alsace Township) of Pennsylvania, but little did he know her lines would stretch back to the Dwights who were the founders of Yale University, and across the Atlantic to the kings of England, France, Germany, Rus (Ukraine), and Sweden and many other countries.  Although there are side branches from our buddy “Vlad” here, he is one of the more well known and his family’s history is very well documented.

Here is a summary of what Vladimir I accomplished:

Following Vladimir’s father Svyatoslav’s death in 972 A.D., a war broke out between Vladimir and his 1/2 brothers, Oleg and Yaropolk … all of whom were potential successors. At that time, Vladimir was Prince of Novgorod (a city in the northern part of ancient Russia). The eldest son, Yaropolk, was Prince of Kiev who was a very overbearing man and who wanted to rule all of Russia. He expelled Vladimir from Novgorod, who then fled to Scandinavia. There, he began to muster an army to retake the throne from Yaropolk.   Just prior to this, Yaropolk killed his brother Oleg in 977 A.D. leaving only Vladimir and Yaropolk as successors to the throne.  Vladimir returned to Russia in 979 A.D. and declared war on Yaropolk. On his way to Kiev, Vladimir also seized the town of Polotsk, where he married Yaropolk’s fiancée Rogneda against her will. In 980 A.D., Vladimir besieged Kiev. He lured Yaropolk out, supposedly for negotiations, and then killed him. Yaropolk’s wife, a Greek nun, eventually became a concubine in Vladimir’s harem. Vladimir then became the independent sovereign of the entire Kievan Rus.

The new Prince of Kiev took steps to move the country towards paganism. Vladimir’s grandmother Olga was the first of Russian royalty to convert to Christianity, but her son (Vladimir’s father) Svyatolslav adamantly remained pagan.  Additionally, Vladimir’s shift towards paganism is assumed to have been a response to his rival brother Yaropolk, who was known to favor Christianity. Vladimir erected a temple in the capital displaying idols of six major Slavic pagan gods. He also introduced the practice of human sacrifice; and he was infamous as a vindictive and bloodthirsty warrior.

Vladimir was an expert commander. During his reign, Russia’s borders were well-protected. The Prince of Kiev managed to subdue hostile neighboring tribes. He also undertook a successful campaign against the Poles, Latvians and Bulgars. As a result of these campaigns, the Kievan Rus made significant territorial gains.

But Russia’s main struggle in the second half of the 10th century was the adoption of a single, monotheistic religion. The move was intended to unite the people of the country, and strengthen the international renown of the Kievan Rus as no longer a wild, barbaric country.  According to legend, Vladimir had to choose between three religions: Christianity, Islam and Judaism. It was also important to decide what kind of Christianity was better for Russia: The so-called Latin Orthodox (aka Catholicism) or the Eastern Orthodox.

Vladimir began a military campaign in Byzantine in 988 A.D. The Prince captured Korsun (Chersonese in the modern Crimea), and demanded to marry Anna, a sister of the Byzantine Emperors Basil II and Constantine VIII, or else he would attack Constantinople. The Emperors agreed, but demanded the baptism of the Prince in return, because their sister was only to marry a man of the same religion. Vladimir agreed to the conditions. The Byzantines sent Anna to Korsun with priests. There, Vladimir and his warriors were baptized by the Bishop of Korsun. Vladimir and Anna then married according to Christian tradition.  Upon his marriage to Anna, Vladimir divorced all of his wives and dismissed his harem.

When Vladimir returned to Kiev, he ordered the destruction of the temple’s pagan idols. On September 1, 988 A.D., Vladimir gathered the citizens of Kiev on the banks of the Dnieper River. They were all solemnly baptized. This baptism was accompanied by the establishment of the church hierarchy … Russia became a metropolis of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

In Kiev, the baptisms passed peacefully. But in Novgorod, the second greatest city in Russia after Kiev, the people rebelled. This uprising was suppressed with troops, but the old pagan cult would continue to be practiced in Russia for centuries.

In the last years of his life, Vladimir likely intended to name his beloved son Boris as successor. His two oldest sons, Sviatopolk Turovsky and Yaroslav of Novgorod, revolted against their father in 1014. Vladimir imprisoned his elder son Svyatopolk, and was readying for war with Yaroslav when he suddenly fell ill and died on July 15, 1015.  Yaroslav I, the Grand Duke of Kiev would marry Ingegerd Olofsdotter and their daughters would eventually become queens of Norway, France, Hungary and (arguably) England.

The direct line (which needs clean up in some parts admittedly) looks like this:
Runik and unknown wife
Igor I, Prince of Rus married Olga (later made Saint Olga of the Russian Eastern Orthodox Church)
Svyatoslav I, Duke of Kiev married Malusha
Vladimir I, Grand Duke of Kiev married Rogneda, Princess of Polotsk
Yaroslav I, Grand Duke of Kiev married Ingegerd Olofsdotter
Anne Yaraslavna of Kiev married Henry I of France (his grandfather was Hugh Capet of France)
Hugh Prince of France married Adela deVermandois
Isabel deVermandois married Robert deBeaumont
Robert, Second Earl of Leicester married Amicia Waer deMontfort
Robert, Third Earl of Leicester married Petronella deGrantmesnil
Margaret deBeaumont married Saier deQuincy IV
Rober deQuincy married Helen of Galloway
Elizabeth deQuincy married Alexander Comyn
Elisabeth Comyn married Gilbert deUmfreville
Robert deUmfreville married Eleanor Lumley
Sir Thomas deUmfreville married Joan deRoddam
Joan deUmfreville married Sir Thomas W. Lambert
William Lambert married unknown
Henry Lambert married unknown
Elizabeth Lambert married Thomas Lyman
Henry Lyman married Alicia Hyde
John Lyman married Margaret Gerard
Henry Lyman married Elizabeth Rande
Richard Lyman married Sarah Osbourne
John Lyman married Dorcas Plum
John Lyman married Mindwell Sheldon
Mary Lyman married Captain Samuel Dwight
Seth Dwight married Joanna Kellogg
Seth Dwight II married Abigail Eastman
Jonathon Dwight married Anna Josephine Eichorn
Francis George Dwight married Ida Elizabeth Hoeckley
Mary Cecilia Dwight married William Matthew Koenig
Frederick Dwight Koenig married Lottie Edna Fies
Mary Louise Koenig married George Andrew Schoelles

Now Then

The city of Moreno Valley, California is “gun shy” with respect to those who want to run for political office, and we have every right to be.

The city has developed a reputation … and it’s not necessarily a good one.  We’re called Murder Valley, More-than-a-Valley, The Armpit of Riverside County, Iddoville, Bribe Burgs, The Wanna-be-something-or-other (like “Wanna-be Logistics Campus of the Nation”), Whorehouse Whoville, Warehouse Ward, etc.  Some of those descriptions are valid.  Ok … truthfully?  most of them are.

Sadly, the problems out in our neck of the woods didn’t start when the city decided to be a city in 1984 (which was a battle and a half in its own right) … the corruption and back room deals have been a part of who we are since the 1890’s.  Hell, our founder Frank Brown and his Bear Valley Irrigation Company was sued for millions back in the 1920’s for failed promises.  More recently, 3 of our first 5 city council members (including the mayor) were recalled 2 years after taking office.  They were found guilty of corruption and had to pay a hefty 1/4 million fine … heck of a “good ole’ boys club” membership fee there … so why change things now?  In addition to those 3 wonderfully moral and ethical people, our populace has been blessed with a school board member who was indicted and found guilty of pimping and pandering, a city council member who took a $2.36 million cash bribe and was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison, the illegal assignment of someone to take his place by two other city council members who were subsequently recalled, and at least $1 million paid by the largest land owner and developer in the city to support his chosen candidates.  History repeats itself.  Sadly.

With that said, there has been a battle between those who want development at any cost and those who are tired of the elected representatives who are bought and paid for to promote self-interest.  In any given election year, the voters here are left to sort out and figure out who is on who’s side, so to speak.  That has opened up a can of worms … how to choose who is truly running to fight the backstabbing and wheel-dealing, and who has drunk the Kool Aid of “future development” promises?  Are we unique as far as cities go?  Absolutely not.  San Fernando, San Bernardino, Bell, San Jacinto and many others in our wonderful state have their share of issue.  On the up side, California is second to Texas with respect to corruption.  Lucky us!

We’re now at the point where ALL candidates are Bantha fodder and anything goes on the most part.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing … voters SHOULD do their homework.  At the same time, however, we have become cynical and look for anything and everything “wrong” … we see things between the lines that aren’t there.  But, we still do have and keep a sense of humor when possible.  Example:  A recent potential MoVal city council candidate announced her interest in holding office.  Her surname is Then.  $1 to Mel Brooks (and an apology) for this meme with respect to that …


Channeling Grandma Eva

When I was a kid, our family (my dad’s side) would go to my grandmother’s house on Christmas Eve.  Grandma not only decorated every single square inch of her property and won county contests for doing so, but she was one of the few (if not the only person) who I knew that grew her own food.  I never realized what that entailed until later when I was researching our family history.

Eva Irene (Robertson) Langner Avant White Nielsen (yeah … she was married 4 times … 5 if you include her marriage to Avant twice) was a powerhouse as was her mother Louisa (Knoles) Robertson.  Grandma Eva owned a chicken farm at the corner of Philadelphia and Vineyard in current day Ontario in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.  She and her family came from deep south farming stock via Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky.  Great-grandma Louisa’s family were sharecroppers and homesteaders on the most part, and they grew what they needed to be self-reliant.

When we built our house in 2001 to 2003, we decided to plant fruit and other trees.  That led to my dabbling in canning and preserving.  From 2009 to 2014, California was faced with extreme drought, and we decided that using drip irrigation and killing off the grass in favor of growing our own crops would be not only a good cost saving idea but it would also help take us back to our farming family’s roots.


Ta da!   A plan was born in February 2014, but nothing would come of it until a year later not because of lack of want but because we were blessed with the birth of our grand daughter and were a bit busy that year in that respect.  In February 2015, we started with a vengeance moving irrigation and sprinkler lines and heads, building raised box beds, and researching what grows in our area.  I set aside 1 to 2 hours per day in the morning to cut sod and dig holes, and the first thing we did was the center “herb” planters.


Yea us!  We put in basil, oregano, chives, thyme and sage … and we learned that the basil is an invasive SOB but it is great for attracting bees.

Next up was starting the southeast quadrant.  The bricks below are where the posts for the raised boxes would be located.


The corners of the boxes are 4×4 by 24″ treated lumber placed at 14″ below ground level.  The sides are 5″ cedar fencing and the post caps are painted white 4×4 pine scrap.  We started by building the boxes “upside down” on the concrete but later found it was easier to do them in ground.  The sides of the 4×4 posts are routed and the fence boards are then slotted and stapled in place.


The hardest part of all this was re-doing the irrigation lines and figuring out what type of irrigation heads to use (drip, small line, large line) and how many gallons per minute for how many minutes per type of crop.  As of January 2016, we’ve completed 1/2 of the plan, have placed weed mat and pea gravel between the boxes, and are working on the northwest quadrant.  When we finish the planting boxes, we will then complete the planting table “V” as shown in the plan above.  That will hopefully be about June or earlier.


More later on how well this has worked … our successes and failures, reduction in water use, and just overall enjoyment knowing that I’m following in Grandma Eva’s footsteps.

Week 5: Chili – Turkey and Pumpkin

Reddit does a 52 week Cooking Challenge wherein each week “we will challenge ourselves to cook with a new ingredient or theme and share pictures of the results.”

Week 5 (last week of January) was Chili, and I decided to make the Trader Joe’s Fall Pumpkin Chili that my daughter and son-in-law introduced me to about 18 months ago when I lived with them in WA. It’s definitely “different” as far as chili goes. The spousal unit seemed to enjoy it since he finished off the leftovers.


Here’s my modified version of the recipe:

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 White Onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic, diced
2 pkg (2+ lbs) Ground Turkey
1 can Diced & No Salt Added Tomatoes
2 cans Pumpkin
1 can Kidney Beans, drained
1 can Whole Kernel Corn, drained
1 Bell Pepper (Orange or Red)
2 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper (or more, to taste)

In a large skillet, sauté onions and bell peppers in olive oil until onions are translucent and fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and stir for about 30 seconds. Add in ground turkey and continue sautéing until turkey is browned. Drain excess oil, then transfer mixture to a large (4 quart or more) sauce pan. Stir in tomatoes, pumpkin, beans, corn and spices. Bring to a boil, stirring regularly. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve with sour cream, cheese, and cilantro as garnish; and corn bread.


First Mother’s Day

I really despise these “fake” holidays, but since my daughter became a mom, I decided I’d send her something to commemorate the occasion.


Isnt’ that pretty!  and chocolates!  oooooooooo … yes!  they come with a 6 pack of Godiva chocolates!!!

May 9, 2015
“Your FTD.COM order has been canceled and a full refund has been issued to your payment method”

I swear I am an idiot magnet for failed deliveries (reference the JoAnn’s incident last November/December 2014). I ordered the flowers on Sunday, May 3, 2015 from to be delivered today May 9.  I even had to pay extra for the “short notice” and “holiday order.” (Newsflash: Mother’s Day is NOT a “holiday”). I got the confirmation of shipping via email yesterday, May 8, with a FedEx tracking number. I logged on today to see if there was an ETA on delivery time. And ….

5/8 12:00 a.m. Picked up from TROUTDALE, OR
5/8 01:53 a.m. Shipment information sent to FedEx
5/8 03:22 p.m. Arrived at FedEx location PHOENIX, AZ
5/9 10:36 a.m. Departed FedEx location PHOENIX, AZ
5/13 Estimated delivery SILVERDALE, WA

What the hell! They are cut flowers in a glass vase of water with a box of chocolates! They couldn’t fly them from Portland to Seattle? They couldn’t give the order to one of the local Silverdale florists in their network? Portland to Phoenix to who knows where to Seattle to Silverdale!? Sweet Jesus, Mary and Joseph! Does someone at FTD need a world atlas for Christmas?

Hubby called FTD and was placed on hold 5 times. He was offered a 15% off coupon for use on our next order. Ummm … no, assholes … there will be no “next time” unless hell freezes over. Thank you anyway. After 1/2 hr. of phone hold hell, they finally did the refund. No explanation … no answer to the questions as to which MORON decided flying something that can die and/or melt and/or break over 2,400 miles in a 6 day period of time was a good idea.

I hope whoever in Phoenix or wherever in between that gets the flowers and chocolates enjoys them, and I hope they are a mom. If that is the case, Happy Mother’s Day from us to you.

NOW … off to find a florist locally in Washington who can do an emergency delivery in the next 24 hours.

May 13, 2015
Flower Saga: The Sequel (This is actually better than the first episode!)

So … after 10 days, numerous phone calls, reorder from a different place, and a refund, the flowers (and assume chocolates) ordered from FTD have finished their West Coast U.S. tour:

5/03/2015 – Sunday
Ordered arrangement from FTD to deliver on or before 5/09/2015
Paid extra for “fast delivery” and upgraded order to “premium” flowers plus 4 pack of Godiva chocolates. Delivery instructions state: If no response at door, deliver to office.

5/07/2015 – Thursday
Order sent from FTD to florist in TROUTDALE, OR

5/08/2015 – Friday
12:00 am Picked up TROUTDALE, OR
1:53 am Shipment information sent to FedEx
3:22 pm Arrived at FedEx location PHOENIX, AZ

5/09/2015 – Saturday
10:36 am Departed FedEx location PHOENIX, AZ
9:42 pm In transit GUSTINE, CA

5/12/2015 – Tuesday
4:25 pm Arrived at FedEx location TROUTDALE, OR
6:52 pm Departed FedEx location TROUTDALE, OR

5/13 11:42 am Delivered Silverdale, WA
4:34 am At local FedEx facility DUPONT, WA
4:49 am On FedEx vehicle for delivery DUPONT, WA
Left at front door. Signature Service not requested.

Let’s break this down:
In today’s electronic ordering and shipping retail networks there is absolutely ZERO excuse for this.  FOUR DAYS?!  Good Lord!

PICKED UP from TROUTDALE, OR 5/8 (12:00 am)
Where the hell is Troutdale, OR and how is that even close to Seattle, WA?  It’s a different state FFS!!
IN TRANSIT to PHOENIX, AZ 5/8 (arrived 3:22 pm)
OMFG!  The flowers are on a truck going the WRONG WAY?

DEPARTED FedEx PHOENIX, AX 5/9 (10:36 am)
IN TRANSIT from GUSTINE, CA 5/9 (9:42 pm)
ARRIVED FedEx TROUTDALE, OR 5/12 (4:25 pm)
OK … At this point the flowers have taken 4 days to go from BF-TROUTDALE, OR to PHOENIX, AZ and back via California.  The damned flowers have seen more states than I have in my lifetime.  SOMEONE should have said, “Hang on.  These are perishable and 3 days past the due date.  Let’s check to see if we should hold off on delivery.”  Oh … but excuse me for expecting logical thinking.  Instead, the box was thrown onto the next available truck.

DEPARTED FedEx TROUTDALE, OR 5/12 (6:52 pm)
ARRIVED FedEx DUPONT, WA 5/13 (4:34 am)
DELIVERED to front door, no signature SILVERDALE, WA 5/13 (11:42 am)
That’s 6 hours to drive 52 miles … I realize rush hour is a bitch people but come on!

And the instructions specifically stated “Deliver to office if no one home.”  Guess I was dumb enough to think that FedEx would actually READ what I asked for.

FYI … here’s what was delivered …


By the way, the vase delivered was the one pictured.  Thanks at the least  to the florist for that small favor.

And thanks FTD for making my daughter’s first Mother’s Day so memorable.