27 April, 2011

Jury Duty

We finished up our fifth day as jurors with a verdict.

I thought to describe my stint as a juror (in my county). Because the process was fascinating even as we wallowed in tedium.
This was my third call-up in four years and I had a feeling that I would be picked this time.

In our county, we call the jury hotline the night prior to see if our juror number is to report for duty the next day.
I started calling  Friday evening prior to the Monday jury date. My number was fairly low but was not called.
On Monday night, I repeated the process and  Wednesday yielded my number.

You cannot bring anything weapon-ish into the courthouse so you are pretty much restricted to a book to pass the time. Before the magic 'orientation', your time at this point does not count. However, If you get to the 'orientation' point, you cannot be called up for another 24 months.

Our jury pool was several hundred and the docket had quite a few cases. I made the first list and we had to line up in the hallway in numerical order. We were then marched outside, around the block, to the courthouse, where we divested ourselves of phones, belts, our jury button & anything else metal. We could carry opened water bottles inside but we had to sip out of the water (to prove it was safe). The metal detectors ran us through one at a time and as soon as we were all through, we lined up again in numerical order and we were sent upstairs to our courtroom.
Jury selection:
In the jury box were 12 possible jurors and another 21 were in the witness/spectator area. The judge talked to us about the case (sex abuse) and that he expected it to last five days. He then took care of anybody who felt they should be excused. The number one excuse was difficulty in finding child care. The next batch were people who thought they would have difficulty with the subject matter. This did not automatically excuse you; the judge listened to each person and then said you could stay or you could go.
Both lawyers were then  given a chance to ask questions  so they could select the 14 jurors. 12 plus two alternates.
We then filed back out to the Holman building to wait upon the lawyers decision. My number was called and I was on the jury.

We started the trial that afternoon after lunch and went through three long days of testimony and evidence. Both the defense and the prosecuting attorneys repeated points multiple times. We were allowed to take notes but as we didn't know the attorneys' motives in bringing up, for the fifth time, having a witness say the same thing, sometimes you didn't know that particular notation would be important. We also didn't know who would testify nor how many witnesses would be called. Attention lapsed, pictures and doodles were drawn. Arguments on paper to fill the time. Multiple recesses as the judge and attorneys discussed a legal matter.
We could not ask for clarification which proved difficult. We also could NOT discuss the case with our fellow jurors. Not until we arrived at the deliberation portion of the trial. As a juror, you are not allowed to talk about the case with family, friends or co-workers either. Nor are you to utilize the internet to get background on the trial.

In our windowless juror room, we could talk of our jobs and bosses, our interests and hobbies (yarnbombing!), our kids and where we lived. I cannot imagine how much more chatting you could do with your fellow jurors on a longer trial - like the gentleman sitting behind me on the bus Friday night who was on his second week in a six week trial.
We finished the trial late in the day Tuesday. We were given instructions by the judge as to what 'beyond a reasonable doubt' meant and that 'any witness whose testimony we believed was sufficient'. This is a  particularly difficult concept. You do not need to be 100% absolutely positively sure of guilty/not guilty. You need to have a moral certainty but the reasonable doubt could be 98% sure. We also needed to have ten out of twelve jurors for the verdict.
If we could not agree or get to 10/12, this is called a hung jury. In this case, they may redo the trial or let it go.
We started the deliberations late in the day and quickly established we were 8 for guilty and 4 had reasonable doubt.

I can tell you about the case now as we have reached a verdict.
This case involved a 9 year old girl, accusing her great-uncle of sexually abusing her.  Touching in a  sexual manner with or without clothes on is a first degree offense under Oregon law when it involves a minor under 14 years of age.
The case basically amounted to a she said vs. his not guilty plea.

We, as jurors, are directed to only consider testimony and evidence as we deliberate. We cannot speculate as to why certain witnesses are not called, or use in our deliberations our personal biases.
This was why certain possible jurors were excused based on their previous personal experience with pedophiles.

The 9 year old disclosed this event as having happened a couple of years in the past. Much was made of by the attorneys about her extended family, who I swear, were all cousins. Everyone involved was related (doubly-related). Her bio-mom used meth. Her dad, who she lived with, used marijuana often. The girl was hospitalized a week or so after her disclosure as being toxic with marijuana. The prosecuting attorney had her step-mom and dad offer the barest of answers and they relied heavily on "I don't know" answers. The key component  of the trial was the 9 year old's testimony and her taped interview with the Children's center in Oregon City.
(As an aside, putting my 9 year old on the stand would NEVER happen. Several of us were appalled at how unprotected this little girl was).
Her testimony was compelling and most of us believed her. The minority thought she had  possibly been coached.

For the defense, the attorney called witnesses but not the defendant. NO character witnesses were brought forth to defend the defendant. Witnesses were called but their testimony gave us a lot of confusion as to the time lines. The little girl has lived in multiple places, as well as with grandma (twice) where the uncle also lived. The girl has had multiple moms over the course of her nine years.
The defendant lived with his sister (the girl's grandma), and was unmarried. He worked in the family business on a swing shift. Typically he left for work at 2pm and came home sometime after midnight. He then would stay up until 7am, drinking alcohol and utilizing the jacuzzi. He was known to wear just a robe around the house. He looked grand-fatherly. Speculation was rampant at how well he fit a pedophile profile. The early hours of the morning don't lend themselves to fine-upstanding citizen behavior. So ---we could not use anything but what the police officer disclosed from his interview with the defendant.
Certain people important in the life of this girl were not called as witnesses.

This left us with a 9 year old pointing the finger at this man. Had she been coached? Was it another person? We mostly all agreed that this girl had gone through a sexual trauma based on the evidence.

What was left to deliberate was the identity of the perpetrator. Was it the defendant?

We watched the children's center video again. This made 6 of the eight guilty votes more sure of the defendants' guilt and the veracity of the child. The four not guiltys were not convinced (beyond a reasonable doubt) and were mired in speculation.

This morning we got to the point of 8 guilty and four not guilty and could not budge. We called for the judge who then set up the courtroom with the attorneys and both parties (& families). He told us to break for lunch (The county paid for lunch to be delivered to our jury deliberation room on this day) and get some fresh air and reconvene at 2pm. Most of us are getting frustrated ( a little) about work commitments, families, etc. but it doesn't appear the judge will accept our hung jury.

When we came back, one of the guilty's asked that we be allowed the flat screen and children's center video. This time we watched and paused and discussed.
And finally, we got to a part where the girl did a little mumble that up to this point, we had ignored as unintelligible.
With the ability to control volume and replay, we discovered a chilling part of a sentence we don't think the prosecutor found. When we heard it, it was an immediate 100% sure Guilty as hell.

All of us had been vacillating to some degree as to whether it was the defendant or not. Those of us who were wanting to render the verdict as guilty were mostly going on this guideline: "The testimony of any witness you believe is sufficient".
But that little mumble turned everyone to a absolute 100% verdict of Guilty.

Our two alternates were with us until deliberation. They were then sent home.
Stitch was a great magazine to bring today.
Especially when we were deadlocked at 8 to 4.
To see more of Stitch, go here.

My job pays me while I am on jury duty. Many of the jurors get paid the county per diem of $10 a day for the first two days and $25 for any days thereafter. Plus a whopping $0.20/ mile for traveling expenses.

Lunch and parking are on you, the juror.

I realize I got off lucky on my first time as a juror. I was on a short trial of five days. It did not offer graphic blood and gore. I would do it again. The process is quite fascinating. Why the defense attorney objects, why  it is sustained or overruled. Why the prosecutor keeps his witnesses on a tight leash. Why important people who are mentioned in the trial are not called as witnesses. And finally, the deliberation process. Realizing that nearly every  juror was at or near the same page of the verdict and discussing the case without acrimony. Reaching that chilling 100% guilty verdict was interesting in the reactions.
 I went from a 98 % reasonable doubt, believing in the testimony of the girl, to being extremely angry at this pedophile grooming her.
Finding that little tidbit on the taped interview: when we deciphered it, several jurors commented on being chilled.
Being a judge is not easy. Knowingly sending someone to spend time in jail without being 100% sure is beyond difficult. That little 'unintelligible' tidbit helped.

24 April, 2011

Jury Duty and Yarnbombing

My third call-up in four years and I hit the jackpot. Yes - I'm on a jury trial as a trial juror.
When I tell people where I am, they regale me with stories of how they got out of jury duty.
But I've always wanted to serve.
And it is everything I thought it would be.

Totally fascinating.
The process is worth watching.
It is totally tedious.
And every chair that started out comfortable becomes uncomfortable after two hours.

I believe everyone should do jury duty at least once.
My trial does not involve blood and gore for which I am eternally grateful.
It's also time off from work (I still get paid).

My other jurors are interesting and since we are all trying like mad NOT TO DISCUSS THE CASE before deliberations, we are getting along well.

It helped Friday to bring my library copy of Yarnbombing.
I brought it out when juror # 667 (we are all known by our numbers) couldn't restrain herself from almost talking about the case. The book served as a total distraction and got our minds off what was going on in the post courtroom.

Most people know about graffiti and have a decided opinion about it. Yarnbombing can best be described as an urban graffiti that really flirts with being an artform.
Yarnbombing is international and growing.
Yarnbombing involves knitting and crocheting to make something ordinary look extraordinary.

It really begs the question, "Who has all this free time?"
My creative friend is the first person I thought would naturally be a part of this group.
When I showed her the book, I could literally see her wheels turning.
***"You have to admit, that your tree in front of the shop would look stunning if it got yarnbombed."

And I leave you with this treasure of The Royal Wedding:

23 April, 2011

Gluten-Free German Chocolate Cake

My grandma made a German Chocolate Cake from scratch for nearly every Sunday dinner we had at her house. She also made jello with perfect floating bananas and marshmallows.
You cannot replicate everything.

My creative friend was telling me about this recipe and I immediately was interested.The recipe is from Delectably Free. The cake is gluten, dairy and egg free. She writes about her food allergies on her blog and is amazing in her manipulations of ingredients.

Now, my auto-immune is a bit past gluten-free. And I have come up with a problem with my family. They want to feed me, or make things I can eat. We have always been a baking/cooking family. They seem angry that their efforts aren't appreciated by me. It's difficult -for anybody -to understand how limited my diet is. But if I want to maintain some semblance of enjoying life, and the ability to get projects done,  I can't do it when my stomach is all gassed up or a migraine is threatening because of too many immune responses. Or the bumpy lesions on my skin are so itchy I can't think.  The food I eat needs to be extremely simple. I have learned to say no.
Well - I may be projecting but anger/frustration is what I feel they are feeling. Lord knows I am frustrated.

My solution is to make some allergy-free recipes that show off some of these 'new' allergy-free ingredients - even if I will probably have an immune response to the recipe. I mostly eat raw foods and it gets pretty basic. I don't eat recipes. Some of the foods I eat are pretty weird. Like seaweed.

Once in a while, you get cravings for a particular food or a memory. For my family, I know everyone loved the German Chocolate Cake Grandma Vera made.

My creative friend made the recipe and said it was pretty close to the original but she and I both caution you - this is a spendy recipe to make.  Fortunately, you will have enough ingredients to make two. My friend tested it and declared it wonderful. I spent the last two weeks assembling the ingredients.
I especially liked the flavor from toasting the coconut and pecans.

Look at that tall layer.

I still need to add the third layer as I only own two 8" cake pans and I have to wait for the third layer to cool before I can add it to the cake.

It also has money in the cake. Cleaned coins are inserted after the cake has cooled. Old family custom in which the kids find pocket change.


Plus, it's my daughters birthday. This very tall cake will look spectacular with birthday candles and as I am writing this, do I even own birthday candles anymore??? Oh boy. In the big clean-out of clutter so we could put the wood floors in, I think I threw them out.

The recipe is here.

My changes: I used butter instead of Earth Balance soy-free spread. I don't plan on eating the entire cake, I prefer butter for taste, I don't react much to butter, and Earth Balance (Soy-free) is more than double what butter costs.

The cake consists of  the cake, the cream frosting and the toasted pecan/coconut mixture. I would suggest doubling the frosting recipe. Part of what I remember is the gooey coconut/pecan frosting. More is better.

Most of my ingredients were found here at my local grocery store where they have bent over backwards to stock allergy-free ingredients.
The owner of King's Cupboard in Woodburn kindly sold me 2 oz of Xantham Gum from an 8 oz package. 8 Oz. - for me - would have lasted longer than I want it on my pantry shelf. Not to mention, add to the cost of this cake.

Buying all of the ingredients for this cake is expensive. But the cake looks gorgeous and stunning. Even better, it tastes amazing. This is a show-stopper dessert.

20 April, 2011

Growing Easter Eggs

I pulled down my Easter paraphernalia and found some hollow eggs dyed - from last year. Obviously, someone was thinking ahead. It was a surprise, nonetheless.

I am so impressed.
Last Sunday, I planted four eggs each of lettuce, basil and nasturtium seeds.
Guess which one is up first.
They are only four days old.

Silly Peeps.

The moisture from the soil has leached some of the color off the pink and blue eggs.
The windowsill where the egg planters have sat to sprout has seen sunshine.
Our last frost , here in Canbyland,was April 19th.
But, at least this week, with the cold nights and a full moon, we have received sunshine during the day.  Our Willamette Valley has been saturated with rain this season and it has been a bit dreary, even for an Oregon winter.

18 April, 2011

Tornados & Planes

Photo courtesy of Photographs by Jon Bliss,
Director of Marketing, CubCrafters
Yakima, WA

"A tornado tore through Lakeland-Linder Regional Airport in central Florida last Thursday, flipping over planes and tents filled with revelers attending the annual Sun n’ Fun Fly-in and Expo."

Sun n'Fun is held every year in early April to showcase general aviation. This year, a tornado ripped through and flipped several aircraft over, around, and generally reminded pilots of Mother Nature.

Photo courtesy of Photographs by Jon Bliss,
Director of Marketing, CubCrafters
Yakima, WA
More photos here:

Video from AOPA:

17 April, 2011

Spring Sewing

I am playing with my serger today. I bought some interlock knit at Joann's a couple of weeks ago. Why is it so difficult to find knit fabrics - in stores in Oregon? I'm not up to ordering it on-line as I am still an old-school fabric buyer. I have to touch it, feel it, think about it.
Anyhow, I bought a yard of this knit at Joann's to make something for my great-niece Phea.  It shrank quite a bit in the pre-washing phase but that was okay - I didn't know what I was making for  Phea - yet.
I found Simplicity 7800 in my stash. I apparently made a size 4 for my daughter way back when but I have no memory of what I made or what it looked like. This time I am making size 3 for my size 2 niece. This pattern is for leggings in two lengths and a baby doll top with or w/o sleeves. I  have just over 3/4 yard after shrinkage but at least it is 60 inches wide. I managed to cut out the short leggings and the top without sleeves.

I love sewing for Phea. The seams are short and it doesn't take a lot of yardage. The leggings were quite easy to sew up. I am waiting for a measurement before I do the elastic waistband. Basically there are four seams: inner leg, crotch seam, hem and waistband seam.
I move on to the top and it comes together very nicely. 

When I bought the serger last fall, the instructor showed us how to gather fabric - like for a ruffle. Or, you could use the gathering foot and it would gather the skirt to the bodice - as shown on my pattern. Well - it worked well on my sample piece but the reality? There are seams and a placket on the bodice that don't want to feed through the gathering foot. This made for a terrible uneven gathering.
In all probability, the dress is too long for my size 2 niece, so I simply cut off the 'mistake' and tried a different way to gather the skirt to the top. This knit stretches a lot so I actually am waiting for it to come out of the washer/dryer before I take photos in hopes that whereas I stretched out the top to meet the gathered skirt, it will magically retract into looking better.
(If not, we'll cut it off again and attach this gathered skirt the old-fashioned way with my regular sewing machine and a basting stitch).
Did I mention the seams are short?

not quite dry- pardon the wrinkles.
Missy Sophea can wear this as a set or mix and match. I think I made these more to play with my serger and figure out the possibilities. I think if I tried the gathering foot again, I would attach the skirt to the bodice before I sewed the side seams.

I found another food I tolerate quite well and I am surprised to be eating it. It's Seaweed.
My local store is amazing in the array of allergy-free foods they keep getting in. I spotted two brands of seaweed a couple of months ago and so far, no reactions. Of course, this comes from Korea, so we'll see if a little radiation gets through in the next few months?
( here's hoping this is a humorous comment . . .)

 I have been using the seaweed sheets to pick up my eggs on Sunday mornings. Eggs show up on both my food allergy panels but I have never reacted to eggs. I've challenged them numerous times over the last four years.
I remember going to an ethiopian restaurant where they didn't use utensils but instead used a thin bread to pick up the food.  I like to have eggs on Sundays to break up my protein cycle and seaweed is high in Vitamin A which adds up nutritionally to a good start to my week.

 The seaweed sheets are quite delicate, very thin and very flavorful. They are inexpensive (for allergy-free food) and very tasty.

And finally, I leave you with some of my tulips. 

11 April, 2011

Three Men Go To Scotland

Another random foray into the oddities of the internet? No.
I was actually perusing who sources my blog and where do people pop in from? A link to Loch Lomond Seaplanes popped up and from there -a link to this show about three men who go off to Scotland. Apparently, they've been to Ireland as well.

I must warn you - there is an airplane in the video.

03 April, 2011

My Weeds

For twenty years, I had a 350' long perennial bed under the fir trees. You could always work out there any time of the year as the fir boughs kept the soil from turning into a pig wallow from our Oregon rains.
Until two of the trees uprooted last year and started leaning towards the neighbor's house. . . . .

Do you see that sneaky berry vine hiding to the left of the dandelion?

We took out 18 of the 40 year old Christmas Trees and inundated 200' of the bed with sunny bright light. Rather promptly, 2000 blackberry vines raged forward. Three varieties of thistles competed with the berry vines for space and an army of artillery weeds holds forth this Spring. All of the dormant seeds from the last thousand years have sprouted, thanks to the improved lighting.
***Hint: to grow things, you need light.

Mint Invasion

So - my tentative plan is to rip out the perennials and replant with a vague Japanese feel with tall shrubs and trees. I don't believe I will ever get totally pruned into the Japanese manner - let's just say I will attempt a loose Japanese interpretation.

Do you know how difficult it is to rip out beloved flowers?

You have to get into a ruthless frame of mind, but it didn't happen today.
Today, between sunbreaks and light hail, I did another round of pulling 'weeds'.

Obviously distracted by the enormity of the job, I went back inside to get the camera to document my progress  (really needed to stretch out the back again).

The pinkish flower is from my Christmas Cheer Rhody. Clockwise from there, artillery weed is the tiny white flowers that will take aim at your eyes in just a few days. The other round leaf that is shaped on the outside is Columbine. Maybe a million Nora Barlow seedlings have burst forth.
Under the fir trees, they behaved themselves respectfully. This spring? they are reproducing themselves into a nuisance weed. Yes, they are weeds. They'll have to go.

Clockwise: Dandelion variety top left, a ziillion foxgloves, aforementioned million columbines. They are all popping up crazylike.
I borrowed those first foxgloves from the local woods. Mostly purple, a few were white. I'm used to moving these as each year they would reach for the sun at the edge of the fir boughs and drop their seeds near the front of the bed. I would take my small shovel and pop out the seedlings and plunk them back into the back of the bed where it was shady.
I have to repeat this photo as Dandelions have certainly repeated themselves. My mom was always trying to hide dandelion leaves in our salads. We've always had dogs and us kids - who had to pick up the dog poo, couldn't quite bring ourselves to embrace the dandelion leaf as food.
This morning, I read an article on the health benefits of Dandelion Greens, They contain Oligofructose which is great for your gut. I've got super gut problems so it was interesting,  . . . somewhat ( I still have dogs).
The article I was reading is this months issue of First Magazine. Here's another article on dandelions.

Another type of Iris that is a biennial. I bought the first one so long ago, I have forgotten the name. This plant blooms the second year with a 18" stalk with butter yellow tiny flowers held tight to the stalk. It might not even be in the iris family or else fallen out of favor as I can't source it right now. Anyway, the yearlings are also everywhere. Easy to pull and not as emotionally charged as the columbines who are so much prettier.
Underneath this iris, see more columbine and at the bottom middle - slightly to the left is a fireweed.
OH wait, tucked under the right side of the iris is another foxglove.

Here's a much prettier purple iris who just needs last years brown leaves stripped away.
This is when I went back inside to get the camera. The before picture was hidden under 50 artillery weeds.
In the foreground, I've forgotten this flower's name but it spreads underground with glossy long  round leaves and a white flower. The Iris's are mostly staying but I'm not at all sure if I will take out this low-growing white flower.

We are down to just the Iris's and the columbines in this photo.
The columbines will have to go or have a major transplant moment - -but not today.

And here we have an exploded version of the old herb bed.
Where the differing Mints have gone forth and become one mint.
The mints needs to be dug up and thrown on the burn pile. Mostly peppermint and spearmint.
Do you need some?  Maybe two square feet as a starter plant? All ya gotta do is throw the mat of roots down and presto! -- you have a mint bed.
Clockwise, we see some dandelion variety standing tall, bottom left is yearling biennial Iris's, remaining tall snowdrops, a boxwood, and a nectarine fruit tree. This location is approximately where I would love to create a small water feature, so in all probability, these will get moved on as well.

Taken at the Portland Japanese Gardens

This particular spot is opposite my patio where I could block the pathway the neighbor's kids and mine took years ago. It wouldn't take much to run a water line out (40') and hook up a bamboo water pipe. Maybe one that bangs when it gets full so as to scare away the neighborhood kitties? haha

01 April, 2011


Random wandering of the internet again.

Have you ever heard of yarn bombing? Neither had I until I wandered across this site.
Where there is a BOOK!

And it is available in the Clackamas County Library system.
I should have it in my hot little hands within a day or two.

Yarnbombing is, well, the Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti. It says so right on the book cover.

There is an entire website devoted to YarnBombing EVENTS.


 Yarnbombing Potholes (in Paris).

 Every town needs one of these.

Makes it more comfy.

Amazing.(click me)

There is even a VIDEO.