We’re big fans of Cory Pellegrini and are very happy for him as he takes his music career to the next level and on the road to New York City. He will be auditioning for the television series The Voice and we wish him well. He will be singing a Blake Shelton song and Cory’s hoping Blake will prefer his version over the original.

Cory Pellegrini - A Teresa Hawkins Photo

Cory Pellegrini – A Teresa Hawkins Photo

By: James Gutschmidt

 Peering into the looking glass, there is no future, there is no past. The present tense is mere non-sense. This bit of wisdom shall cost you only fifty cents.

Fifty cents.image1

Alas, and such an instant in time is as that mirror’s reflected face. Mysterious, yet it is, untouchable in its haste to be in the place where time’s fate gives flight.

Time’s Fate gives flight.

Or, maybe, is it God’s split second view from such an awesome height that is such an intoxicating sight? Come with. Let’s go walking on the clouds.

Walking on the clouds.


To snatch that place where time’s fate has its moment, its own life’s pace with unexpected grace.

Unexpected grace.



Time breathlessly awaits its fate in a hideaway, there, to possess the splendor, modestly, expectantly, grasped at, and then hastily spent.

Splendor hastily spent.

It laughingly knows that anticipation is all that is, and is greater, by far, in its beauty, than the expected event.

Just ask Gracie. (Our dog.)


We may not be rich, but my God, what a view! Whew!


A place where time stands still, With Gracie, in the winter. In the Winter.

 Curiously, the future is unknown until it’s gone. The only way to predict the future is by examining the past, and that is truly an uncertainty.   It’s somewhat like looking into the rear view mirror, while driving the car. By divine intervention we don’t drive off of the cliff. Sounds a lot like life? I guess so.

If you think about it, there really is no present tense. Time moves from the future to the past without pause. There is a transition, but never an identifiable “moment in time.” I guess the only possible way to attempt to capture the moment is by photography.

Or, come to a place where time stands still.

Time’s Fate? Walking on the Clouds.

Text and photographs are provided by James Gutschmidt from location in the Extreme Okanogan Highlands, 4,000 foot elevation, walking on the clouds, with Gracie, in the winter.

All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. Except, for this special release to North Okanogan – An Online Magazine. April 25, 2016.

James Gutschmidt, 2 Kipling Pl., Oroville, WA 98844


Morning Ambrosia

by Dennis Peterson

Coffee – just seeing the word elicits symptoms of Pavlov’s dog. The aroma teases. Releasing the beans or grounds from their air-tight container assaults the senses, grinding the beans if that is on your preparation path fills the room with aerosol dust that lingers in the air. You move with practiced quickness wasting no time nor effort to start the brew. An eternity later the steady drip in the pot falls to a trickle and you can wait no longer. Pulling the pot from the brewer releases a few hissing drops onto the warmer but you give it little heed. Steam rises from your cup and you quickly add what you take with your coffee and you draw in a noisy slurping swallow as you return to your breakfast table. Now you are ready for the day. Oh what you miss, K-Cup users!

But most of us miss even more. Ever wonder where coffee comes from, or how it’s grown and processed before you fill your bag at the market? Let’s find out. Coffee, according to some experts, originated in Ethiopia and quickly spread around the world. Coffee is a seed found in a pulpy fruit that grows on rather drab looking trees. The farmed trees have long slender branches that burgeon all along their length with white blossoms sometimes multiple times per year. The trees like shade and a warm climate. Well drained soil and adequate water, and long sunny days complete the need. In Hawaii coffee is grown on the slopes of the mountains at an elevation between 800′ and 1200′ above sea level. It is hardy enough to survive and produce elsewhere but that seems to be the sweet spot.

When I lived in Puget Sound I found I could raise coffee trees in my yard provided I brought them inside in the fall, returning them outdoors in late spring. I had eight trees, all brought home from Kona, Hawaii. They don’t produce until age 6 years or so, and when they do they produce two crops per year. The fruit grows in sets called cherries, green at first and later they become red and ready to pick.

Green Coffee Cherries

Green Coffee Cherries

It will be 8 weeks before they’re ready to pick. They don’t all ripen at the same time as seen in the next two images.

Cherries ripening at the end of summer

Cherries ripening at the end of summer

The very reddest are ready to harvest while green cherries are still weeks away.

Cherry clusters ready to harvest

Cherry clusters ready to harvest

Fresh picked coffee cherries

Fresh picked coffee cherries

This is what the cherries look like right after picking. The pulp is moist and sticky and they need to be sorted for quality. Sorting amounts to washing them in clean water and throwing out those that float. If they don’t sink toss them out.

Removing the pulp can be a messy process. You can let them soak until the pulp comes away easily, or use any method you think of to remove the pulp and mucus that surrounds the bean pair. I often use paper towels to remove the mucus because they’re very slippery and will pop out of your hands without something to grip them. After the pulp and mucus is removed the bean pairs split.

Commercially they are dried in the pulp and machine processed to remove the beans from the dried outer layers.

Coffee beans with pulp and mucus removed.

Coffee beans with pulp and mucus removed.

You’d think they were ready but the beans are still encased in the parchment layer. This needs to be removed, too. I let them dry overnight before pealing off the parchment. What is left is the raw green bean. In most cherries there are two beans, but sometimes there will be only one. These are called peaberries and they are expensive and worth it. There is a peaberry in this image on the right side – it has no flat side and is shaped like an American football.

Beans in parchment

Beans in parchment

As the parchment dries it splits, making it easier to remove. Much of this is very automated in commercial farms, but this hands-on method is enjoyable probably in the same way many craft hobbies are.

The raw beans after parchment removal

The raw beans after parchment removal

Once the parchment is removed the raw beans are further air dried and then sealed in jars. At this point they’re ready for roasting. It took 6 years to raise enough beans for a single cup of coffee, but it was delicious! Many more followed over the years. When we moved to Oroville we had no place indoors to keep the trees and had to leave them on our unheated south-facing porch. Sadly, the 4º F temperature of last winter froze them and they all burst from root to top, but not before a final flourish of cherries were harvested in late fall.

Roasting raw coffee beans can be done in several ways. I use a hot air popcorn popper because it is fast, efficient, and reliable. It is also a smokey process best done outside away from smoke alarms. It is also a bit messy as the beans expand and shed a final thin skin called chaff that floats out of the popper. I direct these to a steel colander and toss them into the sink where they are wetted for collecting and disposing. They are feather light and will waft in the slightest breeze. The immediate area becomes saturated with the delicious aroma of roasted beans so if you do this in your kitchen be advised the fragrance will linger for hours. Win win!

You can also roast the beans in an iron skillet, but it is important to keep the beans moving so they roast evenly. Managing the chaff is also problematic. Some people are so taken with home roasting they buy commercial roasters that can range in price from $99 to over $500. All methods raise the air temperature to nearly 500ºF so be very careful when handling the beans after a roast. Beans crack at 380º and the second crack happens above 400º. Be aware too that as the beans roast they crack which means they expand and split causing a cracking sound. A couple minutes later a second crack happens which causes small hot pieces of beans to fly off and these can escape the popper or frying pan causing an annoying stinging as they burn a tiny bit. Do not look into the popper or other roaster without eye protection.

I mention all this because while shopping on Amazon last week I found a source of Tanzania peaberry raw coffee beans for a very good price and I’ve just roasted up a batch for use in the morning. First batch in over a year and we’re really looking forward to brewing them.

Here is a Youtube video from Sweet Maria – a raw bean coffee seller.

Tree Lighting Caroling - Photo by Joanie Jones

Tree Lighting Caroling – Photo by Joanie Jones

Festivities begin at 5:00pm but come out early and visit with friends and shop!

The Okanagon International Chorus will be performing at the Oroville Christmas Tree Lighting at Centennial Park. The Tree Lighting is a beautiful event that drives away the Grinch, lifts the spirit, and spreads the joy of music. Please come out and celebrate this special holiday event. And sing your heart out!!

We get a lot of questions from outside the area about housing, quality of life, outdoors activities and such so we thought we’d start with housing. Here is a not uncommon example home that a retiring couple might consider. Move-in ready, beautiful surroundings with lake view, features for him and her, and in our opinion, an affordability index that does not exist in the East King County commute zone. The information shown below is a current page from Zillow and truly speaks for itself.

We keep saying our Okanogan is the most beautiful place you’ve never heard of and it is, so if you’d like a piece of it here’s an example of what your next home can offer.

Zillow listings

Disclaimer: We have no monetary relationship with Zillow or the sellers. Our objective is to promote this beautiful area.