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Portland, Oregon:  We did not celebrate Labor Day with a picnic, or a parade, or a cook-out, nor a march (ha, with a cane?). Like most Oregonians, we are hunkered-down indoors with the windows closed and the air conditioner on "high"... assuming one had an air conditioner. Most Oregonians do not, as it really isn't worth all the expense, plumbing and wiring for an appliance used only a few days a year. Yes, it is hot, but our windows are closed to keep the smoke and ash from entering our house and our lungs.

It. Is. So. Bad.

And, in Portland, it really isn't that bad. In Central Oregon, people are having to sweep the ash from their sidewalks. Portland has postponed school opening this week for the little squirts, and older students are only attending in the morning. Hardly any Portland schools have air conditioning, and it will be over 100 degrees tomorrow.

Science is real.

I left the mountain today and went out for my usual Monday provision run. I felt safe leaving My Driver for a bit and he was pretty excited that I buy some food as our cupboards were bare. So bare, we were wondering what we would do if Portland suffered a natural disaster? We have a lot of water, a camp stove/fuel, solar cell phone chargers and wind-up radios - but when "The Big One" (massive earthquake that hits our region every 250 years or so) hits us, the authorities are proclaiming it could be MONTHS before electricity, water, etc., are restored. People will be left to fend for themselves.

Years ago, I kept a large stock-pile of food and have stated that if there were a natural disaster, our kitchen would be a refuge. No longer. The way we live now - moving back and forth from house to motorhome to Indio to hotel - I keep just the bare necessities. We are rarely more than a few miles from a grocer. No need to hoard.

There was the thought we wouldn't need to worry too much if our house lay in a collapsed heap, as we have a self-contained motorhome. But, our self-contained motorhome is parked 25 miles from our house, behind an electronically-controlled security gate. What if we couldn't get there? What if every bridge in the state had collapsed and we couldn't escape the apocalypse? It is a lot to think about. While out today, I did pick-up a few extra tins of ready-to-eat food. Things that only require a (manual!) can opener and a spoon. I am going to slowly make a box of emergency provisions... and keep some in the RV as well.

I do not worry about flood. Our house is at over 600 feet elevation. If we are flooded, I plan to be rescued by Noah His-Own-Self.

Funny Story from the grocery parking lot: I loaded my purchases into the back of the Jeep next to a gorgeous young man who was loading his groceries into the hatch of a brand-new (dealer plates!) Porsche. The car was so shiny and sexy and NEW, though both our cars were covered with ash from the fires. We started talking about the creepy orange/pink hue to the sky due to all the forest fire smoke, and he said he had just returned from a road trip that included the Columbia River gorge, with forest fire flames shooting up fir trees along the side of the freeway. He said it was so frightening. I asked if he had used his new Porsche on the road trip and he said, "Yes, it is the ultimate road trip vehicle". I countered that my Jeep Cherokee was a better road trip vehicle. The young man looked at me like I was crazy. Really, lady, why? "Because it is towed behind a 45-foot luxury motorcoach". He laughed and conceded. 

Today started with a healthy breakfast/brunch/lunch:

Oranges, cantaloupe, blueberries with a little granola

Tonight's Vegan Masterpiece was something I make on and off, but usually use cheese.

Because nearly everything is better with cheese. The dish requires a bit of prep (vegetable grilling), but can be made earlier in the day and baked before serving while the chef is sipping on a vegan martini (my favorite type of meal).I used my grill pan to sear summer squash and zucchini slices. (I usually also used eggplant, but every eggplant in the market today was larger than my head. Too much.) I layered the grilled veggies into small gratin dishes with red sauce, fresh basil leaves, and a bit of spinach (frozen, thawed, squeezed dry).

Grilling the squashes brings out the flavor and cooks the flesh enough to release most of the liquid so the finished dish isn't soggy/watery.

Red sauce, summer squash, red sauce, basil, spinach, red sauce, zucchini, red sauce. Covered with foil and baked at 375 degrees for 20 minutes; and uncovered for an additional 15-20 minutes.

The gratin dish was plated with a sliced of kalamata olive bread, and dusted with Lisa's version of vegan parmesan (1/2 cup walnuts, 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast, and a pinch of salt), and fresh basil.

Yes, it is definitely better with shredded mozzarella - basically a low-carb noodle-free, gluten-free lasagna - but it was really good and we each finished our portions, along with a tossed salad.

Tomorrow - a Mexican dish in my regular rotation. We are jumping all over the world this week.

DT report: He is able to handle the pain with only Advil, and continues to ice, ice, baby. Tomorrow the bandages come off!

Until my next update, I remain, your ash-covered correspondent.