Source: River dreaming in February
The dog days hit in August; they are the long, hot, tired summer days when thoughts of a return to routine and cooler temperatures becomes appealing. The river is low, the hills are dry, and lately, there has been a smoky haze that blankets the Missoula Valley. These are the days, when I fantasize about coming home from work to frosty lemonade, a fresh New Yorker, and laying on the hammock under the shade of our pear tree. Instead, I pour a glass of wine, go to the bedroom, where the wall-mounted air conditioning unit has blowing cool air since lunch, and veg in front of the TV for last 15 minutes of Ellen.
I get these similar dull feelings during the muddy brown, cool winter days in February and March. Despite the greening grass and the waxy, bold tips of spring bulbs, true spring is still weeks, or really months away. The streets are banked by old snow and piles of sand, yards are matted and cars are caked with grime. How is there no term for these dismal days? I feebly suggest “the groundhog sucks days” or “the more mud days.”
At my house, brown February days (and all the slow days until April 15) are also tax season days. When Clem comes home I ask how his day was, and well, he did taxes. At night, he is doing VITA taxes. He starts his morning reviewing tax stuff. His weekends are spent doing tax stuff. When I was in full on Mom mode, there were plenty of things to do. I don’t think I have fully adjusted though to being an empty nester, especially when it comes to these short days and long nights. What to do? There is always yoga, going to the gym, and going for walks. But the days are still short. This year, it is so warm, that I don’t need to wear hats and gloves when I get my 10,000 steps. And, this year, I am working on my mom’s campaign for the state legislature. This project is fun…. Vote for Marilyn Ryan!
I love skiing, but it’s hard to think about hitting the slopes when the robins have returned to Western Montana. I have been on the road for the last five out of six weekends. I usually travel for work once a month, but I have no travel in February. At the office, I’m preparing for Expo West, the biggest trade show Kamut International does in Anaheim. Thoughts of warm, sunny California weather distract me from being in the present.
This afternoon, with these restless, dingy thoughts, augmented by hints of green and warmth, and knowing I will be on a beach in three weeks, I wandered into the Strongwater Mountain Surf Co. to order my Stand Up Paddle board (SUP) courtesy of a generous Christmas present from husband Clem and brother Paul. Since I tried SUP last summer on the Clark Fork River, I’ve been thinking thoughts of SUP on rivers, SUP on Georgetown Lake, yoga SUP… whatever. I want to be standing on a broad, floating board, instead of wandering Missoula streets in boots and tights! It is a most Zen, energizing and relaxing way to enjoy the best of western Montana. Luke Rieker, owner of Strongwater was very helpful and despite a few distractions, was able to come up with a great Riviera inflatable SUP package for me. Given that I’ll order my board and that warm-enough days are still a way off, I am completely satisfied to spend these middling days waiting for my SUP and dreaming of sunny, on-the-water days.
Happy Valentines Day! Clem went to Bitterroot Floral yesterday after spending hours doing taxes at the University and came home with a gorgeous bouquet, a touching and honest card, and some Posh Chocolate. He obviously did very well and gets a Cupid patch for the year.
We went to church this first Lenten Sunday and heard about going into the desert and the temptations that we will encounter on our way to Easter. You can’t help but think that Valentine’s Day is riddled with temptations, not just chocolate, Champaign, and other romantic indulgences, but more especially the expectations that we have for others. I tend to expect too much, because I have been so spoiled by amazing people around me. My parents and my aunt sent cards and brought gifts. I made my parents brownies (and left a couple for home). I love to get flowers, I love to get spoiled, but really, I should be more concerned with loving others, not just my family, but my neighbors, coworkers, and the people I encounter every day. I did send out a few cards, and I had a sushi lunch with my friend, Annie. But, really I should stretch although it might be a little weird to give a heart-covered card to Cory next door, certainly a plate of cookies, a potted plant, or a smile are welcomed by everyone. Per usual, I fail. (sigh).
I got my 10,000 steps this afternoon courtesy of a long walk with Kipper up the hill. On the calendar, spring is still 5 weeks away, but my experience this fine day was that it is here. We haven’t fallen below freezing for a couple nights, grass is greening rapidly, the snow is nearly off Mount Sentinel, I saw some mourning doves, heard some robins, and the buds on the trees are swelling. My eyes are seeking the yellow burst of buttercups on the side hills. Having lived in Montana all my life, I know that a snow storm can blow through any day, but my gut is telling me it won’t last.
I am making Clem and I a heart-shaped meatloaf, baked potatoes, and fresh green beans. Nothing says love like meatloaf! And, not bragging, but my meatloaf is pretty good, and even better it is straight forward and easy to make. So, please find below my meatloaf recipe, accompanied by my wishes for a warm and gentle Valentine’s Day. There is also a bonus brownie recipe –!
My mom always used oatmeal for meatloaf. I’m not sure how I thought out of the box enough to come up with this recipe. Elliot needed an entry for a third grade class project putting together a cookbook and he asked specifically for this one, so I finally had to write it down. It is simple and a safe choice for dinner… unless they’re vegetarian! It’s an old school recipe, but it is satisfying and makes great leftovers.
Glass loaf pan, prepared with cooking spray oil
Cookie sheet, lined with foil
1 Cup oatmeal
1 ½ lb. hamburger
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce, reserve 1/3
1 medium onion, half chopped, half sliced
1 -2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste (approximately 1 teaspoon of each)
In a large mixing bowl add oatmeal, hamburger, 2/3 can of tomato sauce, chopped onion, Worcestershire, egg, and seasoning. Mix well.
Place meatloaf in prepared glass loaf pan, shape so that meatloaf is raised in center and slopes down to edges of pan.
Pour remaining tomato sauce over meatloaf and top with separated onion slices.
Place prepared loaf pan on cookie sheet and bake for 1 – 1 ¼ hours. Let sit for about ten minutes before slicing to serve.
Serve with baked potatoes (bake along with meatloaf). I like green beans with this dinner, but I am thinking you may prefer something else.
Best Brownie’s (Better Homes and Gardens)
1 Cup butter
2 Cups Sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 Cup sifted all-purpose organic white flour
1 Cup chopped walnuts
Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla; beat in eggs. Blend in chocolate. Stir in flour and nuts. Bake in greased 13 x 9 x 2 –inch pan at 325° 30 – 35 minutes. Cool. Cut into squares.
The pearly gray octopus clung to the clear glass with all the might its suckers could muster as the restaurant attendant pried the creature from the bowl. She placed it in a simmering pot of broth in front of me, and I watched it quiver and become part of the soup. Five Seoul businessmen treated me to this delicacy as part of a traditional Korean lunch after a morning-long meeting. We left our shoes outside a screened room, and it seemed like a situation Doris Day might find herself in as I maneuvered carefully in my skirt to swing my legs under the low table. We spent hours enjoying tea, raw beef, sushi, ginger and honey, exotic fruits I am unable to identify, traditional red wine, and getting to know more about our mutual business interests and our unique cultural ways.
Last month, I was honored to join Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, Montana Department of Commerce Director Meg O’Leary, members of their staffs, and Montana business and education leaders on a trade mission to Taiwan and South Korea. The trip allowed participants to meet with governmental officials, non-governmental organization and trade promotion representatives in addition to existing and potential customers and investors. We received extremely warm welcomes wherever we went and, despite a packed schedule of official events and privately arranged business meetings, we were able to find time to enjoy a bit of local culture too.
The combined Taiwan and China market ranks as the third largest buyer of Montana export products, while South Korea holds the position as Montana’s second largest trading partner, just behind Canada. Montana’s total export market is $1.5 billion. Canada makes up nearly 30 percent of the total, while Korea makes up about 14 percent, and the combined Taiwan and China sales represents just over 10 percent of the total. While Canada has seen a decline of 5.5 percent over the last year, Korea has increased imports of Montana products by nearly 22 percent, and Taiwan has increased its imports of Montana products by more than 25 percent. These two markets represent the opportunity of tremendous growth for Montana exports. Last year, Gov. Bullock led a similar trade mission to Beijing.
Along with me, there were seven business delegates representing Montana’s leading export industries, including agriculture, manufacturing and technology. Additionally, the delegation included representatives from higher education and the tourism industry, whose mutual goals are to draw more foreign students, interest and visitors to Montana. Many Montanans viewed news coverage of the trip provided by KRTV/KXLH’s Tim McGonigal, who was also part of the delegation.
Prior to the trip, Gov. Bullock shared his vision of a mission that would build relationships between people interested in conducting business across the Pacific. Dr. Abraham Kim, director of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center at the University of Montana and also part of the delegation, provided a cultural overview of doing business in Asia. Participants received briefs from entities such as the Montana World Trade Center about resources available to Montanans seeking to export to foreign markets
The costs of the trip, which were paid for by the business participants on their own, represent an investment in experiences, introductions and cultural connections that would be more challenging to accomplish without the leadership of Gov. Bullock and the expertise of his advisors and staff. The tight six-day schedule included receptions and events with the American Taiwan Institute, Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the American Chamber of Commerce, the Korean Importer’s Association and the U.S. Korean Embassy. Among the more formal highlights were introductions to Taiwan’s president, Ma Ying-jeou, and Memorandum of Understanding signings to promote trade with the Taiwan External Trade Development Council and the Korean Importer’s Association.
My goal for this trip was to learn more about the Taiwan and South Korean markets for Montana-grown organic products. As the North American regional director with Kamut International, a Montana-owned and operated company that manages the trademark for KAMUT® Brand khorasan wheat, I have received about one inquiry a week from South Korea since March of this year from potential customers wanting to purchase the grain for the Korean market. The governor’s trade mission offered an opportunity to learn first-hand about the interest coming from Korea. Previously, Kamut International had a small marketing project in Taiwan with what was formerly the Montana-Asia Pacific Trade Office in the Taipei World Trade Center, staffed by Mei Mei Wang. This trade office, opened in 1988, served to promote Montana trade with Taiwan. In 2012, then-Gov. Brian Schweitzer closed the office in an abrupt and controversial manner. The delegation was able to honor Ms. Wang, now a senior commercial specialist with the U.S. Commercial Services, for her years of service to Montana.
In addition to meeting with governmental officials, I was also able to meet with principals at a milling facility in Taiwan and with Kamut International’s exclusive partner in Korea. I was able to see the prominence of KAMUT® wheat on the shelves in a Seoul department store. My message was that Montana grows some of the best conventional and organic agricultural products in the world. Both Taiwan and Korea import grain with the U.S. being the first source for that grain. Both countries indicated that they desire premium, high quality, high-protein, hard red spring wheat for milling and food production. My message was well received. Representatives from both countries were especially interested in premium, organic agricultural products from Montana. Montana’s clean water and air lend Montana products an even higher level of perceived purity. Montana, we need more organic farm acres, the demand exists.
Each of my business colleagues set up meetings on their own or with assistance from U.S. Commercial Services. These meetings were with existing customers or potential customers. Each of us met with success, not just solidifying relationships by securing trust and developing understanding but developing new projects. For example, Brad Reid with Diversified Plastics of Missoula learned that there is tremendous potential for DP’s industrial plastics in the wastewater treatment facilities in both countries. Adam Stern with Resonon out of Livingston secured at least two new distributors for his high-resolution spectral imaging equipment.
The delegation learned about more than just doing business on the trade mission. We also learned about the cultures of both countries. I do not think any of us will casually pass around business cards without thinking of the formal and careful way in which business cards are exchanged in Asia. It is customary to thoughtfully accept a business card using both hands and to look at the card, mindfully noting the name and position of the person presenting it. We enjoyed delicious food: dumplings, Korean barbeque, noodles, and coconut-tapioca soup. We visited shrines, monuments, and night markets, enjoyed pockets of green in the bustling cities, sang some Karaoke, and made new friendships
I would like to thank Gov. Bullock for the opportunity to learn more about two significant markets for Montana exports. The entire delegation demonstrated focused professionalism that will lead to new economic opportunities for Montanans.
The Montana Trade Mission delegation got off to a slow start from San Francisco after a “fuel gauge” issue at the gate that ended up extending from a few minutes to three hours. Thus, the thirteen and a half hour trip to Taipei ended up being more than sixteen hours. I took an Ambien about three hours into the trip and actually slept pretty well waking only during some turbulence over the Bering Sea.
The delegation made our way to the Grand Hyatt by way of a two bus motorcade with police escort. We arrived at the hotel to greeters, notes, food, and flowers. I found that I have a great view of Taipei 101, the iconic World Trade Center building that was the world’s tallest until 2010. It is now the tallest certified L.E.E.D (green) building. I got settled and took a quick walk down the street to get a little air and exercise before hitting the hay.
On Monday, the first event after breakfast was a briefing at the American Taiwan Institute, the US government office that provides an embassy-like presence in Taiwan. We were briefed on culture, trade statistics, and domestic politics. Taiwan has an aging population with a very low birth rate of 8.54 – compare worldwide rates here. While Taiwan is the #10 trading partner for the US, it is the #2 market for Taiwan. A new president will be elected in January 2016 – there has been some chaos with the party that is currently in office. It is expected that a woman, Tsai Ing-wen will be elected. http://thediplomat.com/2015/10/taiwans-ruling-party-ousts-its-presidential-candidate/
After the briefing, some of us moved on to other meetings, while others of us visited a peace park and the Chaing Kai-Shek Memorial. We regathered for a reception and lunch at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Minister and Governor Bullock made brief speeches and red-wine toasts and introduced their guests (the Montana business delegates and staff, and Taiwanese business people and Ministry staff). The lunch consisted of multiple courses of meat, soup, vegetables, coffee/tea, and a coconut-tapioca soup-like dessert. The Taiwanese people we met were very kind and thoughtful and made for easy conversation. I learned that there is a great interest in organic Montana products.
After the lunch, Lindsey Owens, trade delegate from Big Sky Resort, and I made our way by cab to the National Palace Museum to view jade, and ceramics, and bronzes, and calligraphy and books, and some beautiful Buddhas. While we anticipated busy traffic, it was not bad at all.
After freshening up and checking my Sunday emails, I rejoined the regathered group along with staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for an excursion to the 86th floor of Taipei 101. We then had world famous dumplings at Din Tai Fung, which the New York Times named one of the top 10 restaurants in the world in 1993 and currently ranks as 1 in the 101 Best Restaurants in Asia by the Daily Meal. It holds 1 Michelin Star and is very casual. The food was very good and there was a lot of it.
By the end of the meal, I was full, and tired and ready for a good rest. Xie xie! (Thank you!).
The temperatures in Taipei for the next few days are expected to be highs in the 80’s, lows in the 70’s. Temperatures in Seoul are supposed to be more similar to home with highs in the 60’s and lows in the 40’s.
It has been a challenge to pack for this trip!
Several events including receptions with the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, an introduction to Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, a South Korean business briefing, and others, require “business formal.” Other events are casual, including a visit to Taipei’s night markets. I will visit some milling facilities where wearing a skirt and heels will be impractical. My usual Missoula attire is much more casual, tights, boots, knit skirts and dresses that in Montana is appropriate for nearly any occasion. To make matters a little more challenging, I have lost nearly 30 pounds since January; so, I have had to purchase more “business formal” clothing that includes jackets, skirts, and slacks. I’ve also packed beautiful dress that my mom bought me from my favorite Missoula store, Sotto Voce, for the Baltic Sea cruise I went on last summer. I’ve packed heels, flats, booties, and sneakers. I’ve decided to ditch boots because they aren’t practical in Taipei with it’s Florida-like weather.
I’ve packed, repacked, reconsidered, and finally have put together a wardrobe that will work for the varied temperatures and more formal nature of the trip. No (406) t-shirts, but I am bringing my Montana “Home” necklace, some agate jewelry from Sidney, Montana, and my Montana Yogo sapphire necklace.
And, I bring all my friends and family in my heart!