Monday, December 29, 2008

I tottered off to my First Anniversary dinner
in my impossibly-high-three-and-a-half-inch red
patent-vinyl pointy-toe heels and a red velvet coat and two
different earrings. My appetizer was a Beet Bombolino
which is a kind of savory donut filled with melty gorgonzola
atop roasted beets atop a lake of almond butter.
I'd been fantasizing about this menu item all day
and I just kind of melted into it. Slid into it,
jaws agape. Holy shit it was amazing.
And now all I want to do is sleep, for days unending.
Christmas: done. Snow: done. Family party: done.

On another note, I bench-pressed 95 pounds today.
There were more than 29 people; I lost count.
This is a big house, and there were at least five
parties going on simultaneously in different rooms:
1) boys/men & football
2) college students & beer/wine/champagne/vodka
3) sisters & talking
4) teen nieces and texting
5) everyone & food

Three chocolate cakes plus chocolate fudge.

-----

Happy first anniversary Paul!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Finally, finally able to travel by car.
The trick, I've learned, is to get your car wheels
in the grooves on the road, except my car, an 11-year-old
Mazda, rides a little low, and the undercarriage
scrapes the blizzard-buildup between the grooves.
An ungodly racket, as if the bowels of the car
were (are) being gouged out. And we live in a
temperate rain forest. Ha.

I'm enjoying a Kir: white wine, creme de cassis,
a lemon twist. The Fouilly Poussé (which I like to call
"fussy pussy") was a bit sour, thus the rescuing elements
of liqueur and rind.

We went to see Seven Pounds today -- it's okay,
emotionally manipulative, lethargically paced.
My favorite movie of the year is A Christmas Tale, reviewed here
by Citizen K. (I don't do movie reviews.)

Twenty-nine people here tomorrow for a party,
all related to me. Nieces and nephews and brothers-in-law
and great-nieces and great-nephews and a step-niece
and a step-nephew-in-law and two step-great-nephews,
and, oh yes, sisters, many sisters.

I received two books on the art of book-making
for Christmas. Is this a hint? I've already delved
into the elementary first steps of this fading art form,
and it's great fun. The goal is to combine
poetry/collage/line-drawings. We'll see. I'm optimistic.

Thursday, December 25, 2008




Before and after Merry Christmas cookies!

***

Be sure to check out Peter Pereira's poem on The Writer's Almanac....
Peter and I have been in the same writing group
since 1991. (And please, after you read his poem
buy his books!)
Ah, snow, snow, again, again.
Waiting for large grown children
to awaken, boys all. Blueberry pancakes await.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Oh god help me it's snowing again.
What I would do for a drizzly rain.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

On the eve of the Eve

Always before Christmas the days lose shape,
lose the essence of Tuesday, Saturday.
Each waking becomes one less stretch of hours
taken up by ribbon, by tinsel.
And now, snowbound, the amorphous days
inhabit a limbo, a slushy lethargy
punctuated by tea, soup, bread.

As if we need more of this nonsense....
We spent an hour this morning not going anywhere,
and it involved a car, a snow shovel, hot water
and kitty litter. Now we're out of kitty litter
and we're still marooned on this hill. I decided
to take a walk to check out 520, and discovered
a snow-free highway and cars moving at normal speeds.
Well then. All this less than a half-mile from my
ice-locked car.

I have no presents for my husband, as they all require
the use of vehicles. I tentatively arranged some
pick-up action this morning when I was convinced
we were mobile, but, alas, I'm back to square one.
I'd really like to progress to square two or three.

Yesterday I made pumpkin bread and two loaves of basic
white bread. Friends came by (on foot!) and we spent
the afternoon playing board games, drinking tea,
eating popcorn and the homemade breads, while a fire crackled.
Later it was three-olive vodka martinis
and spinach dhal and cashew pulao.

****

gone away, is the shopping
here to stay, is the mopping
i'll curse right along
with this stupid old song
walkin' in a fuckin' wonderland

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Japanese maple, from my front porch

I crunched through the snow through the woods
this afternoon, saw a set of deer tracks. Felt
as if I didn't belong, as if the behemoth MicroS.
buildings looming above me up the hill didn't belong,
the apartment complex partially obscured by trees
didn't belong. Out of balance.(The world, not me.
But I'm not entirely certain of that. Some may disagree.)

But what peace, and how effortless it was to move my body
through that silenced landscape. Even the ducks -- walking
on top of their pond -- were oddly quiet. In our temperate
rainforest, all the ferns growing on the trunks of the big-leaf
maples were drooped with cold & ice. I recalled the blossoms
of the native blackberries lining my path last spring,
and how I missed their ripening mid-summer.What I would do
for a single bag of those tiny berries in my freezer,
pie-ready. It just makes sense to bake a blackberry pie
when we're snowed-in.
I waited all last night for the predicted Big Wind
but it remained gentle and fairly calm outside. I laid in bed
with the shades open and watched snow swirl past the window,
carried aloft in the benevolent 20mph gale.
And this morning, booted and swaddled in Irish wool,
I trekked down the driveway to fetch the Sunday paper
and every step sounded with a crisp crack as the crust
which formed overnight on the snow's surface shattered.
When I was fifteen I made a chocolate cake from my mom's
three-ring-binder Betty Crocker cookbook called
Black Midnight Cake and frosted it with seven-minute
icing. And because of some particular humidity
in the air, some fluctuation in the dew point,
the outer edges of this thick white swirly confection
crystalized: you bit through a delicate crunch before
losing yourself in the pillowy white; the dense black
of the underlying, now nearly irrelevant cake almost
an afterthought.
I've not yet been able to duplicate that incredibly
sensual experience. It was a gift to the tongue
and one of those surprises that occurs when one dabbles
in the science -- the chemistry -- of baking.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ah. Tomorrow winter officially begins at 4:04am PST,
but from the looks of it here, it seems we exist already
in the very depths of a frozen universe. We did manage to get
off our street and onto 520, which was pretty much clear
and dry. Hair cut, lunch out, and a visit to Sur La Table
in Kirkland, where at least 49 million people
were shopping for gadgets and there was a woman
directing the line for the cash register fa la la la la.
It took several stops on skating rink parking lots
to find a flashlight for sale, and then there were none
of the right size batteries left at any of the three stores
in the vicinity (according to another shopper).
So we ended up with tiny flashlights with microscopic batteries
so if we lose power in tonight's Storm of the Century
we'll only be able to read very tiny books.

The thing about snow is that it takes up so much room.

Friday, December 19, 2008

According to Those Who Know, Redmond (where I live)
received the brunt of the current storm: we officially
received 11" of snow! Damn. Last night we walked down
to our friend Sarah's house to celebrate her daughter
Emily's 20th birthday. Geez it was glorious stomping
through all that snow. In my bakery days I used to fantasize
about diving into the bins of flour -- so soft! so white!
Fine powder, glitter-dusted, white-mountain-seven-minute-frosting.
There was a semi-truck jack-knifed on Bel-Red Road, and four
cars had subsequently crashed into it. Glad to be on foot.

We really must venture out today over hill and dale
(and hill and hill and hill) for groceries:
supplies are dwindling. But: there are two bottles
of champagne in the refrigerator, so all is not lost!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Zippy

Breakfast just wouldn't be right without my daily dose
of Zippy, by Bill Griffith.(In case you're unfamiliar,
Zippy is a comic strip.) Today, in the space
of three tiny squares, Mr. Griffith displayed a spectacular vocabulary:
god, Holyland Theme Park, Orlando, handmaidens, Blu-Ray disc player,
Mel Gibson, "Th' Passion of Th' Christ", animism, wicca and,
last but not least, hell. Other than a nice strong cup
of coffee, what else could one possibly desire?!

Thankfully Zippy prevents me from sliding hopelessly
into complete sentimentality: we awoke today, finally, after
days of Breaking! News! Reports! Inclement! Weather!
to a good three inches of white fluff. (Oddly it's darker
in the house than usual because all the skylights
are snow-covered.) And before coffee, before the crackle
of pepper-crusted bacon, I lit two candles and sat
at the piano and improvised a little snowflake-descending tune:
tinkle tinkle tinkle

Soon I'll go outside with my jewelers loupe
and examine some crystal structure up-close.
I read once in a kids science project book
that if it's cold enough outside, you can blow a bubble
and it will freeze. The actual temperature required
in order for this to happen was not stated, and so far,
it's not been cold enough here to accomplish this.
(God knows I've tried. )

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Today was the day of the massive storm
that never happened. In fact, the sun came out.
Schools closed in anticipation.

I'm having a late-afternoon cup of coffee
and listening to Handel's Messiah.
We sang this every December in my high school
a cappella choir -- started practicing after Thanksgiving
and performed it right before the winter break
(which we used to call Christmas Vacation.)
Our choir director was a perpetually cheerful man
and I think probably every one of his girl students
(and come to think of it, probably a number
of his male students also) had a crush on him.
He was dashing and handsome and the best
music teacher I ever studied with. No one
left his class without being able to read music
and play basic scales on the piano.
And this was public school.
My singing voice is long gone but I still know
all the alto parts and most of the tenor parts
for quite a few pieces from The Messiah.
What a pleasure it was to sing!
I currently have about a 5-note tenor range.
Ugh.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008




Santa, circa 1963.
A Brownie Troop project.
Odd, indecipherable felt shapes were laid out
on a table, and we picked them up one at a time,
gluing each subsquent layer upon the previous,
until -- ta da! --
Mr. Claus appeared.

To cart out the Christmas ornaments
is to delve into my own personal Ancient History:
the annual catalog of joys and injuries, pleasures & miseries
all boxed up together, a jumble of past lives.
Tonight I left more than half in boxes,
as did Paul.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

As Paul said, we got a "damn fine tree."
It's a Frasier fir, very crisp needles.
Handel would roll over in his grave if he heard
his Messiah emanating from a display of blow-up
snow-people. On the other hand, he might be astonished
at how ubiquitous The Hallelujah Chorus has become.
A few snowflakes fell as we tree shopped.
(And by a few, I mean three or four.)
Pretty darn exciting.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Burnt

Bringing my piano to this house has brought up thoughts
of another piano, another residence, another life.
In 1987 my late husband and I were living in Eastlake --
a four-plex -- with our nearly-one-year-old-son R.
It was January, 25 degrees. Husband M. was out
with friends, and I'd put the baby to bed for the night.
As I left his room I thought I smelled smoke.
Did the downstairs neighbor burn her toast, again?
Our smoke alarm, which sounded when someone lit a match,
was unusually silent. I was on the way to bed myself,
but decided to step outside and get a breath of fresh air,
then walk into R.'s room again, to see if that burning odor
persisted. By the time I'd walked to the front door
and walked back to his room --what? Maybe ten seconds?
-- his room had filled with smoke, but I could
see no flames. I swooped in and plucked him from his crib,
called 911, then called M.: Something. Is. On. Fire.
I grabbed a blanket from the couch for the baby, propped
the door open for the cats, and fled outside
into the frozen night as sirens grew louder every second.
My downstairs neighbor was already outside,
visibly disturbed: a plastic garbage can too close
to a wall-heater had ignited in her bedroom,
directly below R.'s crib.

A night janitor in the office building behind us let me into
his warm building, where I watched flames consume the back
of our apartment, my son awake, oblivious. M. appeared
at some point during the chaos. I remember firefighters
(62 responded to the call) on the roof with axes.
I remember news cameras, sparks shooting into the night.
Didn't know where the cats (three of them) were.
We ended up that night at my in-law's house, and various
relatives showed up, offering support and sympathy.

The next day we returned to find an immense pile of burned
belongings and furniture piled on the parking strip in front.
Inside, everything that was in the rear three rooms (and not destroyed)
was stacked -- neatly! -- in the living room. Two cats hunkered
down beneath the dining room table, clearly hungry and very put out.
The third cat I found halfway up a cedar, paws wrapped tightly around
the trunk, claws embedded for who-knows-how-many hours.
My Waterford crystal champagne flutes were still upright
on my sideboard, filled with insulation from the axed-open ceiling,
albeit on the opposite side of the room.
And the piano. A century old, black, ornate. I sat down and played
Chopin's funeral march. It was so cold! The stench of burn
was pervasive; nearly impossible to take a clean breath.

We washed things for a week solid -- every single item we owned
had to be scrubbed, or thrown away. Everything. Every cup, every
article of clothing, every knick-knack: Everything. Lots of books
went to the dump. Melted baby toys. Singed teddy bears, my stuffed
toy monkey named "Vincent" -- All ruined. But because I had essentially
pulled my baby from a burning apartment, I was on an adrenalin high.
I walked around for weeks -- months -- with an incredible sense
of capability. It was kind of odd: I kept waiting to feel traumatized,
but it never happened. Yes, it was horrible and terrifying, but I walked
away from it, literally. All I lost was stuff.

Even now, all these years later, it feels funny to say I saved my baby.
Feels like I belong on the Hallmark Channel: heartwarming family drama
where a young mother saves her toddler from a devastating fire.
But I did. And because he was so young, R. remembers nothing about
his near-singeing. His crib was scorched. All the handmade quilts
I'd been given as gifts prior to his birth: burned.
All his toys: burned.
But I still had him -- perfect and alive.

That lovely old piano ended up with my friends S. and R.
Lord knows where it sits today. But can you hear
that funeral march -- steady, somber, intoning the death
of a certain life, sooty shadow on its century-old felt pads?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Periodically I look at the Help Wanted ads on Craigslist,
the food/bakery/etc. ads, and yesterday I came across this gem:

"egg experience very preferred."
There is a delicate line between having too much to do
and having not enough to do. I like to balance on that line,
or even a little bit on the Too Much side. Empty space
has the ability to call forth demons with many names.

This afternoon I was given the gift of five free hours,
and this morning I was given the gift of delivery
of my piano. I lost myself in music today, arrangements
of traditional Christmas Carols. The cats stalked each other
and hissed an accompaniment as the December light
eked away. Hot tea in a Lusterware pot. And now I'm
fairly played-out, the first time in many years. And it was
a high -- reading music again, making it all work together:
brain, fingers, keys, eyes. It's different now that so much
time has passed; it's easier. More focused. I'm more focused.
I'm getting my piano today! A year ago I tried to give it away
and wasn't successful. I'd lost interest in it, hadn't really played
it for five or six years. And now the urge to play is back,
and it's being moved from the Brandon Street house to Redmond.
Yay! My sister bought this piano thirty-something years ago,
and I gave her daughters lessons, but they weren't into it,
and twenty years ago, my sister gave it to me. Thirty years ago,
she purchased it used for, I think, $300. I'd be lucky to get
that much for it today, were I to try to sell it. The price of used
pianos has pretty much remained the same for a long time.
I suppose people buy electric keyboards -- portable and easy
to store. And they don't require a Big Truck and Big Men
with Big Tools in order to get from one house to another.
As far as pianos go, it's nothing special -- kind of beat up,
most of the keys are chipped. But it's sound, it's mine,
and I'm going to play again. Hee hee!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Last night Paul and I watched Christmas Ships on Lake Washington,
neatly tucked beside each other at the water's edge, a perfectly conical
bonfire shooting sparks thirty, forty feet into the night sky. A girl's choir
sang Carols, and no rain. Paul clutched his "red" martini glass; mine
(yes, plural, more than two) had already been tidily quoiffed
prior to our half-block trek to the beach. Pomegranate martinis:
tarte and vermillion. And then back to the party, where coffee
and lemon water replaced alcohol. And oh, we're getting on:
we left prior to 7:30, came home and fell asleep. Party. Animals.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I received in the mail today a Last Minute Shopping
catalog from Eddie Bauer. Have I missed something here?
Didn't I just notice that it's December? According to my
estimated calculations, as of right now, there are 24,883 minutes
until Christmas. That means that there are still 24,882 minutes
until The Last Minute.

I'm engaging in some very bad activity.
I'm ripping pages out of an old dictionary
and glueing them onto other pieces of paper.
This dictionary is mildewed and old.
I love dictionaries. I worship dictionaries. I wouldn't do this
if the dictionary was not mildewed. I desperately hope
that the Dictionary Police do not arrest me for Dictionary Abuse.

Friday, December 5, 2008

I'm typing using only 3 fingers on my left hand
because of slicing & dicing to my thumb & index finger
and wads of gauze taped to the tip of each. So.

Another spectacular sunset tonight, reflected in Lake Washington
on the drive home from work, the color of flesh & blood. Literally.
And Mt. Rainier. I will never cease to be amazed by its prominence
on the southern horizon. This is a dull entry. My apologies.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Cooking dinner tonight for two nieces, two sons
and one husband: Guinness beef stew, fresh greens
with Sweet Orrin apple, toasted walnuts, celery
and a blue-cheese vinaigrette; buttermilk biscuits,
and bread pudding for dessert. It's going to be lovely
having girls in the house!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I ate a very small nibble of chocolate this morning
before I had eaten anything else, and I was just about
knocked flat with the flavor. Amazing. I recommend this.

---

We have a new cat, here in our cozy home.
Her name is Marley, and she's a tortie, six years old,
sister to one of my sons' cats. Tiny, thin, beautiful.
A rumbling purr. Affectionate.
Thank-you Carol & Tom!

---

It just occurred to me that Christmas is this month.
In three weeks. Not next month, next year, but Very Soon.
There is the recurring dream where it's a day or two
before The Big Day and there is no tree, no fancy lights.
Or the tree is needleless, barren, most of the branches torn off.
Memory adrift.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Detail, Gravestone, Roslyn Cemetery


Sunday, we drove over Snoqualmie Pass just past noon,
ascended the west side through thinning fog. Traces of snow
on only the highest peaks. Mist hung upon Lake Keechelus:
torn white blankets tossed on the water, rag-edged.
We lunched at the Roslyn Cafe, then drove up the hill
to the Roslyn Cemetery, a collection of 25 adjacent cemeteries
spread out over 15 acres, most of them representing fraternal
lodges, dating back to the late 1800's. I was delighted
to find a very small section signed "Druid." Only ten graves,
all the names of Italian origin. Druids in Roslyn, a hundred
years ago?! In a town with a population of less than a thousand?
Alas, I've tried in vain to unearth more information on this subject
on the internet. Looks like we must take another jaunt
across Snoqualmie Pass! (Be sure to check out Citizen K.'s
fact-filled and beautifully-written entry on the Roslyn Cemetery.)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My niece is in town this week from Ottawa, where she is
starting work on her PhD in January in microbiology.
Haven't seen her since last December. She's more of a
sister/daughter/friend than just a niece, and if I could
choose a daughter, it would be her. Nicole.

---

Seriously attempting to rev up some inspiration
for a Christmas card design. (Didn't do one last year --
I sent out wedding invitations instead.)
The clock is ticking and I should at least have a rough draft
sketched out, but all I have is a blank piece of paper.
Maybe that's it: a whiteout. A blizzard of sentiment.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A sock to the gut: this past week both my sons
were laid off from their jobs. Both in the food
services industry. In fact, P. and I and my sister
and her husband were planning to eat dinner tonight
at the restaurant where R. was laid off this afternoon.
(A quick change of venue is in order.) Needless to
point out that this is very depressing. And I am
thankful for my half-time job!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Jell-O Disclaimer!

I certainly hope that there are no readers out there
who believe that I was serious for even a demi-second
about the Juicy Giblet Jell-O. It's a complete falsehood --
in fact, the recipe only exists on this blog. But if anyone
feels that he/she absolutely must give it a try, lets hope
that he/she keeps it to his/her-self.
I exist in the post-pie slug phase, the carb-hangover fog.
Cast adrift in the haze of dishes-still-to-wash,
the remnants of candles and crusts,
empty bottles of Louis Perdrier Brut Excellence.
(French Champagne for $8.99 at Whole Foods.)
(Yes, that's right: $8.99.)
Sigh.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I've done the requisite bird brining and I have to say,
wrestling that slippery fowl into a colossal ziploc bag
with salty-sweet water sloshing everywhere is quite a task.
And it's heavy.

Here's my favorite Thanksgiving recipe:

Juicy Giblet Jell-o

1 large package orange Jell-o
chicken bouillon cubes
cooked turkey giblets, chopped
1 small jar cocktail onions, drained
1 T. dehydrated parsley
1 cup Miracle Whip

Prepare Jell-o as indicated on box, adding bouillon cubes
to the hot water. Let jell slightly. Add giblets, cocktail onions
and parsley. Stir. Chill until set in decorative bowl.
Spread Miracle Whip over top.
Serve.

Gobble.

Monday, November 24, 2008

At my job today: we had popcorn with butter and truffle salt.
About as perfect as it gets (in the land of popcorn, I mean).

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Pumpkin-Infused Vodka Experiment

About three weeks ago, I started my Thanksgiving cocktail
base: I roasted a small sugar pumpkin, then cut it up,
put it into a large canning jar, and added a fifth of vodka
(Stoli), a cinnamon stick, a split vanilla bean, a handful
of cloves and a nutmeg (about 2/3 pod, partially grated.)
Tonight I strained it twice -- once through a mesh strainer
to get out the chunks, then another time through cheesecloth
to remove the sediment. I tested it on Paul and our neighbor Pete --
not bad at all! And even better with a splash of cream....yum.
I don't really want to make a sweet cocktail but the concoction
seems to be leaning towards sugar & cream. Alas. (It would be
great on a rich vanilla ice cream.) I might have to break down
and make a simple syrup to shake up with some ice and a shot
of my gourdish brew. But what to call it? The Soused Pilgrim?
Happy Jack? Suggestions?!
We need some big wind to rustle up the last of the leaves
on the thirty-year-old Japanese maple out front. Nearly
everything is bare save this one last holdout, which seems
to refuse to let those leaves go. It's the first thing I check
outside each morning, my grounding element, my anchor.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dessert last night....thirty-one-year-old port
and a flourless chocolate tarte. Sublime.
Sustenance for the gods (and goddesses).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cleaning-out-the-fridge-chopped-salad.
To go with delivered pizza.


Awoke this morning craving wind, the cedars outside
my bedroom window barely rustling. And now a gloom
has settled upon the landscape, as if we're retreating
backwards into night -- an unwillingness to progress
into day. Now the cedars toss and swish their emerald
skirts in a furied twist, and rain deliberately lashes.
Can true cold be far behind? Once again I can breathe.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Today, M.C., who is nearly 13, went digging in the yard at work
in an attempt to find a box he buried some time ago because
it contains pesos and he heard that pesos have grown in value.
Inside the house, the kitten clawed at my hair and we ate
Caesar salad. At some point in the day we actually did some
work. A lot of work, actually. Worked until the skin on my hands
felt it had begun to let loose from the bones, fingernails tearing.
M.C. did not locate the box.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The absence of inspiration: in writing, art, cooking.
Is it the November death-of-things? The waning year?
Something, something that hovers at the far edges
of imagination. A nice glass of Tempranillo
surely helps. As does a generous slice of cake.
I think cake is the perfect food.

Monday, November 17, 2008

"Sunny optimism & know-nothing anti-intellectualism
are the twin handmaidens of pathological behavior."
--Zippy, by Bill Griffith

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Man Thinks He’s a Tree
--headline from a tabloid


At first it was just itchy flakes
on his legs. Thickening. Rough.
Lotions useless. No remedy.
His toes began to curl earthward.
Each step hunkered him, sagged him.
When the tips of his fingers flared
into florescence, and his tousely haircrop
flitted in the breeze, and a starling, and then another
and suddenly ten and then seventy, eighty starlings
all chittering and squawking, plucking ants
from his scalp -- well, then he began:

I used to think I was the class clown, or an uncle.
Once I thought I was smart, when I figured
the radius of my father’s head.
I never thought I was so swell to look at.
Once I thought I was Elvis, knew
I was a fool. I thought I was right

And now this -- I can set down roots.
I can doze all winter like a tuber, no apologies.
Even stand outside all day. Who cares?
Some days my xylem aches.
Fear the wind, my mother told me.
I fear saws and decay, acid rain.

When I was human I thought a tree
could live a thousand years. Now I know
a thousand years is too long.
We watched The Wizard of Oz last night, on a big screen
in the dark. Glinda's giant bubble was bubble-gum pink.
I don't remember it being so vibrantly-pink, but Paul said
that's probably because I watched TWOZ so many times
in b&w as a child. I paid close attention to the costumes,
and they are truly stunning. I want a job in The Emerald City
so I can wear a nipped & tucked & bibbed green dress.
Some of the green dresses look like elaborate nun's habits:
winged & whooshy. The Immaculate Order of Oz.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

This is not one of my pictures -- I received it in an e'mail
from my brother-in-law. I think it's amazing.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Even more beautiful in their decline....


Sitting here with a glass of nero d'avola/syrah blend,
waiting for Old Fashioned Meat Loaf to be done.
God I love Old Fashioned Meat Loaf. Comfort Plus.
(Whoa. Lots of CAPITAL LETTERS.) And I take back
that blog I wrote last September when I sang the praises
of my daily commute across the Lacey V. Murrow Floating
Bridge. Since we fell back, in time, as it were, and the rains
began, traffic has been %*$##@&. And then some.
But there's a log on the fire (in the fire? Flaming?)
and dinner is nearly done. Rain is heaving itself
on the skylights. We exist in a cocoon of light
and warmth.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday Soup



A little homemade chicken stock, some canned tomatoes,
corn, leftover potatoes, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, avocado,
a squeeze of fresh lime: supper.
Paul: "This is good. You really worked hard on it."
Me: "I did?"
Paul: "Yeah, you started it last night, worked on it this morning,
then finished it when you got home from work."
Oh. I guess I did, but I don't really consider it work.
It's as if he said, "Wow, T., you really worked hard breathing today."
And breathing is just something I do.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday Night Truffles





From top to bottom:
Diablo Truffles
Espresso Truffles
Toasted Pecan Truffles

(Birthday present for a friend.)
(Kitchen therapy for me.)


We were lucky to happen upon a pair of herons yesterday
while walking along the Sammamish Slough. (Unfortunately,
it's name has been "prettified" to Sammamish River. No no no.
Slough = slow moving canal-like river. A slough's a slough.)
Anyway, the morning clouds parted for a few hours
and the late-afternoon sun set against that threat of rain
made for some brilliant contrasts in the light.



The herons were on the far bank of the slough, and as one prepared
to launch itself I started fumbling with my camera, and then
a dog darted down the bank in pursuit of the bird, and it
lifted off just as I untangled my fingers, and I managed to snap
the photo in my header.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Cafe Campagne


My new must-have food is Confit Duck Legs.
Had one last night at Cafe Campagne. (Not
Campagne, which is the more up-scale and $$$
restaurant upstairs from the cafe. I much prefer
the cafe -- it's more relaxed, and is a better value.)
In fact, when I was cruising restaurant menus online
looking for a place to go for my BD, I chose CC on the
basis of the duck on the menu. And, well, it's French.
No way to go wrong there.

So......these tasty little morsels are made by seasoning
the duck legs with lot of S & P, maybe some herbs,
then letting them sit for 24 hrs. in the refrigerator.
Then they are fried in duck fat. Oh god oh yum oh yeah.
At Cafe Campagne you get a duck leg & thigh, with thyme-
roasted potatoes. Not exactly ideal from a diet-perspective,
but for a BD treat they are Exactly Perfect.

But back to the restaurant:
on Post Alley & Pine in Seattle, the cafe has a bit of a cellar-
feel to it, but in the golden lamplight of a rainy November
night, it was snug and cozy. We sat next to the bar, not far
from the door, so there was a constant in-and-out bustle
of patrons and wait staff. There are corners to tuck into
if one desires a more intimate dining experience, but I'm
always pleased as punch when I feel like I'm in the middle
of the action. My meal started with a Pate de Campagne, which
was really a terrine -- a kind of rich French meatloaf --
a very generous serving on bed of dressed greens, with pickled
red onion, Nicoise olives, cornichons and two kinds of mustard
as garnish. Practically a meal in itself! This was followed
by a salad of roasted beets, bibb lettuce, roquefort and whole hazelnuts
with a simple vinaigrette. At this point, I probably should've
cancelled my entree -- I was stuffed! But being that it was the
duck, I just couldn't. No way! No how! And it was dee-vine.
The kind of deep-down, I-can-feel-this-in-my-bones and I-
want-to-fall-to-my-knees-and-weep kind of flavor.
Luckily there exist take-home containers, so today's succulent
lunch awaits me in the fridge. Besides, I had to save room
for dessert! I chose the sublime pumpkin creme brulee,
which should've been named Spiced Edible Velvet.

The wine selection here is equally pleasing, with 25 wines
offered by the glass, with additional aperitif and dessert wines
to choose from, plus a full bar. Our waitress suggested
a French Chenin Blanc to accompany my duck,
and the pairing was perfect: soft with understated fruits --
an ideal contrast to the dark, almost cinamonny richness
of the confit.

When Paul and I eat out, we love to listen-in to bits of conversation
from nearby tables. (Okay. We love to eavesdrop.) The young
couple on one side of us sat down, ordered, and ate
while the woman glared at her date. She didn't touch
her food. The only thing I heard him say was,"It's French."
They were in-and-out before we even had our entree.
No fun there! On the other side of us, a napkin in the
bread basket caught fire on the candle. Ooooh! Excitement!
Actually, it was immediately doused, but an acrid burning
smell permeated the air, which sent me into a sneezing fit.
And then, another diner stepped into the room we were in
from an adjoining room to answer his phone, which he had
put on speaker, which he repeatedly yelled into. Paul complained,
the bartender intervened, peace was restored.

The service was efficient and elegant. Named one of the best
restaurants in American by The Wine Spectator, Cafe Campagne
is worth your appetite, and your dollars. Again and again.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Wizard of Oz....

....illustrated by Graham Rawle: spooky, quirky, fabulous!


A gift from Paul. He wasn't sure if I'd like the artwork,
and I LOVE it. The L. Frank Baum Oz series is one of
my favorites works of fiction -- children's or otherwise.
When the boys were young (well, they're still young,
but you know what I mean) I read them all fifteen +
books. I didn't read these books as a child, so they were new
to all three of us. They are fantastical, political, witty,
entertaining, funny, touching. One Halloween I sewed
R. a scarecrow costume, and another year we built
a Jack Pumpkinhead and the boys brought it
to school for show-and-tell. (Many of their classmates
were a bit baffled by this life-sized wooden creature with
a paper-mache pumpkin-head making an appearance
in their classroom. ) One of my favorite scenes occurs in,
I believe, The Land of Oz, where Dorothy & Co. wander into
a village where everything is made out of bread products,
and Toto is hungry and eats a child. Ouch!

Thursday, November 6, 2008




Coming down, calming down.
But back to earth? Never.

First Thursday tonight on the arms of my two
beautiful young men, R. and N., pummeled by rain.
The main attraction for us was the Helen O'Toole show
at Linda Hodges Gallery. Check it out!

We popped into Davidson, then Grover Thurston,
before heading up the hill to Lark for a pre-birthday
dinner. (Well, "pre" by just a few hours.)
Lark is small plates: farro, yellowfin, endive, rillettes,
honeycomb, hazelnuts, delicata....this list could go on forever.
The best part was that R. treated. And of course,
post-election glee was still in the air, albeit somewhat worn out.
(As I am.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

At the Polls

Pen in hand, I paused for a moment
before darkening that tiny spot on the page
that said Obama-Biden. I took a moment
to just breathe in the moment, to be aware
of what I was doing, what 64,239,510 (CNN)
other people were also doing: taking back
our country.

Nearly every year of my life (well, not so much
lately), on Christmas morning I check the back yard
for a pony: a red bow tied on its halter, warm breath
steaming in the December chill. Well, last night
was better than a hundred Christmas mornings,
and I think I can finally give up that little equine
dream, because what happened yesterday
was probably the best gift I could ever hope for.

Thank-you, hallelujah, and amen.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!



We listened to this after Barack's acceptance speech --
loud and booming (some of us sang along)!
Patty Griffin singing Up to the Mountain:


Monday, November 3, 2008

Cooking dinner for, oh, maybe ten on Tuesday,
a little election night soiree, and the prep is well
underway. Paul suggested the menu be foods from
Kenya, Kansas and Kuaui, but the triple K's are just too scary!
I opted for Indian, and there is Chicken Tikka
marinating in the refrigerator. Some paneer
is cooling and draining on the counter, and an
apple-walnut cake is rising in the oven.
(I think that soon we're all going to rise up
and sing Hallelujah!)
Tomorrow I'll make Tarka Dhal, basmati rice
and a yogurt-cabbage slaw with cashews, honey & grapes.
(This comes after cardio at the gym, voting [lines?]
and a 5-hour shift at work.) (Sometimes it feels as if
I were any less busy I'd fall off an edge. Any edge.)
Check out this video on Peter's blog -- it made me chuckle
and helped soothe my E-Day-Minus-One election anxiety.

And for a startling and disturbing look inside an inner city
public health clinic click here.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

When SP (and jMc) lose the election, it's possible
that she'll turn to street drugs to alleviate the anguish.
Then she can have four more kids and name them
Crank, Meth, Weed and Smack.

Come to Jesus Sunday

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Are we all just waiting for the election?
Are we holding our breath, holding our water,
awaiting the diagnosis, our sentencing?
Will we rise up and dance in the streets
and kiss our neighbors and tipple champagne
and fermented cider and single-malt Scotch
and cry out in joy and redemption?
Yes. We will.

*****

We went to a wedding reception tonight
where there was a one-armed man (the groom)
and a one-eyed woman (not the bride).
At Januik Winery, in Woodinville.
I found myself critiquing and analyzing every morsel of food:
the roasted asparagus not roasted enough; ditto for the roasted
root vegetables. The risotto was fab, as was the bacon-wrapped pork.
(Imagine that: pork cooked in pork, with pork drippings. )
One of the starters was supposedly a pumpkin soup with a touch
of maple syrup, but it tasted suspiciously like Campbell's Cream of Celery
Soup. (No pumpkin. At all. Suspiciously green.)
The wine flowed and flowed: Sangiovese, Roussanne,
Syrah, Chardonnary (crisp, light on the oak).
A pair of Irish step dancers, an Irish piper.

So enough of this festive hoo ha. It's time for bed.
Fall Back

It’s returned, that hour lost last April,
slipped in at 2am while a half-moon gleamed
in the pine. Hovered while I slept,

unclaimed angel, tick-tock.
But I don’t desire to use it yet —
I want to be selfish, I want to hoard.

I want to tear it into ten-minute bits,
fold one into my wallet for the late appointment,
one in the vegetable bin when lolla rosa

need last until supper. Under my pillow
to extend the dream, in the oven to slow
Quick Yellow Cake. I’ll give one to my son

to get out of jail free. And one
I’ll bury in the garden in eternal plastic,
mark an X with apples. Maybe

I’ll forget it’s there. And just maybe,
in the next century someone will unearth
a ten-minute treasure, spend it lavishly.

Friday, October 31, 2008

My son showed up for dinner last night
with a bottle of Scotch and a box of Godiva chocolates
in hand. Glory be!

Heavy rain today, and I had wanted to stand on the banks
of a river this afternoon, in full sunlight.
This glorious extended autumn.
Instead we went to a movie, and on the way home
the late-breaking sun lit up every tree
blazing against the dark clouds of all day.
Not quite as good as a river, but consolation.
Kit Kat and Almond Joy in a basket by the door.
Dexter, Season Two, on the DVD player. Spooks!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Death makes us do things:
once, after a death, I threw away a great wad
of old white holey socks. Incredibly liberating.
Red beans'n'rice in the pot simmering all day,
and now applesauce bubbles and spatters on the burner.
Waiting for the election feels like waiting
for Christmas. What do you want in your stocking?
Mine will be overflowing with Democrats.
And I've been very good this year.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Nelson and I ate dinner tonight at Green Leaf in the
International District, then strolled for a bit,
looking in (mostly closed) store windows. Another
of my favorite Chinese variety stores is closing --
don't know where I'll go to get papercut butterflies.
We wandered into an open shop to check out some
interesting papers in the window, and we discovered
a young woman making dumplings -- beside the candy
counter (notice the "Charleston Chew" bars behind
the dumpling table):





This shop was all about crepes -- bet you can't tell
that the one on the bottom left is tunafish!




Great writing group tonight --
eight of us toasted to the hope of a new president,
laughed our asses off, and, as usual, gave insightful
and (mostly!) constructive criticism.
Here is a sampling of the words that flitted about:

jellyfish
Bosnia
triolet
Amazing Grapes
gouache
silo
giant
Portugese
smitten
Helga
5.7
mirrored dance-ball
dramamine
India
syzygy
haibun
souls
Egypt
savage/salvage
smitten

Monday, October 27, 2008

I lifted weights this morning at the gym with Paul.
And he made me do situps. I hate situps.
I did 100, each equally detested.
Then I lifted weights at work: boxes. Boxes.
And then there is my own plenteous mass, lifted & heaved
with every step. So it goes.

Sunday, October 26, 2008





I've been messing around with more still life photos.
(Still lifes? Lives?!) On one hand, it seems very cliche,
but on the other hand, it brings me a lot of pleasure,
and that is worth something. I wonder what the painter
Cezanne would have done with iPhoto, or Photoshop.
I just read an essay which talks about how his work
redefined how the viewer looked (looks) at art; essentially
he tapped into how the brain processes imagery --
a first for an artist.

Our internet is out for "36-72 hours", so we're camped down
at Tully's for an hour or so to get our daily fix. What an
addiction! (I'm not talking about coffee.)

One of the nice things about being "older" is that I don't
feel such a compulsion to get out and do things when the
weather is stellar, as it is today. It's enough to poke
around the yard, to study leaves, watch the Stellar's jays
hop through the underbrush of the hedge. (Stellar and Stellar's!)
No need to hop on a bike and charge up hills, or to scale
Tiger Mountain. (Not that I've done either recently.)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

R. returned from Germany last night, backpack (literally) bursting
at the seams. He voiced loud complaints about the Toronto airport,
much praise for the efficiency of German trains, and renewed inspiration
for all things culinary. When I asked him if he liked traveling alone,
he answered with a resounding "Yes!" He said one of the best things
about the event was the opportunity to network with chefs from
all over the world. Network? Was this truly my shy son speaking?!
At the risk of sounding cliche, I must say that one of the most
amazing things about being a parent is being able to watch your child --
at any age -- lift those wings a little higher.

This song is for Reilly:

Friday, October 24, 2008

The new picture: I took this at Doo Lough
in County Mayo, Ireland, last summer.
Shallow water, water everywhere, leaves afloat.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

You gotta love Rednecks4Obama.

Where I work, there is a revolving door, so-to-speak,
through which various individuals roam.
This week we've been visited by 16-year-old N., who
is attending a boarding school in Northern California
while his parents traverse the globe on their sailboat.
(He's on a mid-quarter break.)
He is a lively, bright young man with myriad interests.
Yesterday I listened to him talk about the protracted process
of cattle becoming certified organic -- fascinating -- apparently
it's about a five-year process. Today, when I walked into work,
he was holding the resident kitten, a feisty and gorgeous
long-haired Maine Coon named Tigger Lou.
When I walked up to him, without saying anything, he handed
me the kitten, who was purring up a storm, and promptly
cuddled around my neck. O joy! I got in a few moments
with this delightful kitten, then handed him back to N.
I tell you, a boy and a dog is nice, but it takes a special kind
of boy to show that kind of affection for a kitten.

photo manipulation, sunglasses & one joy of commuting

I've been spending way too much time the past week messing around
with photoshop (thanks, Melinda!), but there are limits to what this
non-techie can figure out, so last night Nelson came over and showed
me how to do a bunch of new stuff, and he doesn't even have photoshop.
Go figure. I still feel like I'm just scratching the surface, though it is a blast.


One of my greatest pleasures each day is my drive home to Redmond
from Seattle, over the Lacy V. Murrow Floating Bridge. In any weather,
when one emerges from the tunnel onto the two-mile stretch of highway
buoyed by massive pontoons, the lake spreads out on either side,
sometimes roiling, sometimes glassy, sometimes kicked up into
whitecaps, spurting spray. In the distance, the Cascades loom,
everpresent, often brooding in rain-leaden clouds. After the time
shifts this weekend, I'll soon enjoy the reflection of the setting sun
on their varied peaks. Traversing the bridge only takes about two
minutes, and then traffic descends once more into tunneled darkness.
I consider myself lucky if there's a backup, doubly lucky
if traffic is stopped. Which is where I'll leave you --
smack center of the (aka) Mercer Island Floating Bridge, 5:15pm,
middle of October, the setting sun illuminating clouds on the mountains,
a breeze disturbing the steel-blue surface of Lake Washington.
Look around, inhale, enjoy!

(The preceding Zen moment has been brought to you by T. Clear.)
(Hello, I'm T. Clear and I approve of this blog.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"And yes, it's real food."




I heard from Reilly in Germany this morning -- yay!
(Ever the mother hen, who frets and fusses when a chick
is far from the nest. And my boys will ALWAYS be chicks
no matter what their age, no matter how far they roam.)
His photo (above) is from the International Culinary Olympics
in Erfurt. His very brief e'mail just happened to mention
that he has consumed his fair share of German beer --
O the glories of youth! Nonetheless, this mother's heart
is lit up with joy on this dark, wet, October morning.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Blustery this morning. Time to bring the geraniums in
for the winter.

I was chatting with the checker at Target yesterday,
a twenty-something Pakistani woman. She said she's
been in this country for four years, but that the process
took fourteen years. Said that she doesn't miss her
home country, because her entire family now lives here.
I can't imagine what she has lived, can't imagine so desiring
to leave one's country to permanently take up residence
in another. Paul and I talk about moving to Ireland --
but with the luxury of mobility between countries
in the western world. Standing there yesterday while this
young woman rang up my purchases, surrounded
by the ridiculous excesses of this society, I suddenly felt
a bit like a spoiled child: I wanted new placemats, so I bought
new placemats. I wanted a white porcelain serving plate,
so I bought a white porcelain serving plate. Did I need them?
No. Were they necessary? Not at all. Could I leave them
and everything else I possess and start a new life on the other
side of the globe? (I'm not talking about moving to Ireland here.)
Thankfully, I don't have to make that decision.
And what about you?
Could you do what this Pakistani woman has done?

Saturday, October 18, 2008



A chicken in the pot with leeks, Italian parsley,
carrots, celery, thyme and peppercorns.
Balm for the ragged throat.

I binged on pears today at Whole Foods:
one comice, one bartlett, one d'Anjou, one bosc,
one red and four seckels, also known as "sugar pears."
I'll put the red in a salad of romaine, sliced celery,
toasted walnuts and a blue cheese vinagrette.
The rest will be honey on the tongue!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Excuses

It's too late.
It's too early.
I need to sleep.
It's raining.
Clothes need ironing.
I'm too old.
I'm not old enough.
The cat is outside.
Summer is over.
I haven't baked in weeks.
There is no pie.
I took a nap.
I'm not awake yet.
I had too much coffee.
I need more caffeine.
The cat is in.
This is not Ireland.
My sister named me.

And he's off!

Reilly took off this morning (by himself) for a week in Germany
to be a spectator at the International Culinary Olympics.
He has worked hard this summer and fall to save up the cash
for this, and I'm extremely proud of him. And I can't but recall
flying to London by myself at the same age where I booked
a flight across the channel to Paris to spend a summer
not getting a job, even though I had a work permit.
Ah.....the follies of youth!

(Needless to say, it was the best summer of my life.
Going broke and all. Lingering at sidewalk cafes
far past midnight. Strolling the halls of the Louvre.
Feasting on cheap wine, St. Paulin cheese and pain au levain.
I think it's time for [yet] another trip to Paris.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

So. Senator McInane wants to build 45 nuclear plants.
(Or is that nuke-you-ler?) To begin with, he has to find
45 communities that won't protest like hell over having
a reactor in their back yard. Second, each plant will
cost a minimum of 9 billion dollars, which, when multiplied
by 45, comes to a tidy 405 billion dollars. And no new taxes!
What a great plan. And that doesn't even begin to account
for waste storage. And what was with all those smarmy smiles?
I'm betting that his advisors told him that he had to smile
more. They (the smiles) came across as very rodent-like.
Hamsterish. Guinea-piggish. (Thanks to Genevieve for this
last reference.) I don't know about you, but whenever I'm
confronted with a leering rodent, I have an uncontrollable
urge to upchuck. November 4th can't come too soon.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Any day (hour, minute) this autumn crud inhabiting my body
can be on it's merry way. Au revoir. I slept for eleven hours
last night thanks to hydrocodone. And no coughing. For eleven
hours. Yippee!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tonight after dinner we'd decided to watch a DVD,
and it was all set to play, all one of us had to do
was pick up the remote and push the necessary buttons.

Paul said, "I guess that's my job."
And I answered, somewhat facetiously,
"Of course! It's a job for a man!"

And then, of course, I cringed, remembering my mother
and her mantra, in our all-female household:
when I was a teenager, during the height of the Women's Movement,
whenever my mom was confronted with any home-repair job
she didn't want to tackle, she whipped out
her all-purpose response: "Now that's a job for a MAN!"
Which infuriated my sixteen-year-old independent sensibility.
So, to prove her wrong,
to prove that any Job For A Man
could be Done By A Women, I proceeded to take on
various & sundry chores: most of the gardening in our half-acre yard
(including mowing, a job shared with two of my sisters),
scraping, caulking and painting a large portion of our red house,
and assisting my brother in tearing off and re-roofing
the entire house. I learned to change my own oil,
I learned how to change a tire. I carried anything
and everything heavy, moved furniture (including a piano,
which drove my mother crazy).
I became strong and capable.
Mom believed major injuries lay in wait for me.
I just got stronger.

Boy did I show her! Ha!
Yeah right. I hated every minute of that house-painting
and roofing and oil changing and tire changing.
I only did it to prove a point, and I'm not sure
if she even got it. Or cared.
But things did get done around our house,
often before the appropriate "man" arrived
with a hammer and man-sized muscles.
(Generally my older brother.)

But I'll say that I hope I never have to pick up a paintbrush again.
Or a roofing tool. Or a can of Penzoil. Let me reside
in the kitchen with the zester and the micro-planer,
the reamer and the mandoline -- tools enough for me.
But I say this to my husband:
"Honey, would you please, please, get that DVD to play!"

After all, it's a job for a man.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008

If you thought it couldn't get any worse,
check out The Poetry of Sarah Palin on Slate.
Oh there is nothing like a pie, nothing in the world!
(Sung to There is Nothing Like a Dame.)



Fresh Farmer's Cheese (incredibly easy to make)


I couldn't resist posting this (actually, I thought
it turned out better than the nude version):
Ahhhhh....homemade cheese, many martinis,
German chocolate pie and a hilarity of charades.
(As in the game, with participation required
or no pie for you, buddy.) I love the game
of charades and it's a rare evening when
adults are willing, and somehow my exhortations
(and pie-withholding threats) were successful.
We all wrote down the name of a movie, book
or song. The demon was in me, and I wrote
"The Dictionary" on my scrap of paper
and put it in the hat. Well....my son
happened to pluck that one when his turn came,
and he (somewhat discreetly) proceeded to act out
the first syllable of "dictionary."
Well. Ahem.
I've been coughing and hacking this past week,
and a good laugh sends me into spasms
of coughing/snorting/wheezing/shrieking.
And so when Nelson began his Dictionary Charade
I did all of the above, with plentiful tears
descending my cheeks.
There is nothing like a good rollicking laugh.
(Well, perhaps pie.)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Necessity/Mother/Invention

Party tomorrow, all my Brandon Street family
is coming to the Redmond house. I am not exactly
a Martha Stewart home-deco protegee, but I rather like
my candle-holder invention:


Went to Daniel Smith (art store) tonight with Nelson
and wandered about the blank canvases while N. lectured
me on the merits of linen, cotton, etc. Then I had to
walk through and touch all the Japanese papers, those
lovely swirling patterns reminiscent of the light
in certain dreams, intensely hued: don't wake me up!
I've always loved going to art supply stores --
the raw materials of infinite possibility.
And those endless tubes of paint: they know
so much more than I do.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

We had this soup for dinner tonight, and it
was dee-vine:


Creamy Southwestern Pumpkin Soup


* 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
* 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
* 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 5 cups chicken broth
* 1 large baking potato, peeled and chopped (about 2 cups)
* 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
* 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
* 2 cups milk
* 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
* Garnishes: sour cream, fresh cilantro sprig


Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion,
jalapeño pepper, and garlic; sauté 15 minutes.
Add chicken broth and next 4 ingredients, and cook,
stirring often, 30 minutes or until potato is tender.
Remove from heat, and let cool slightly (about 5 to 10 minutes).

Process potato mixture, pumpkin, and cilantro, in batches,
in a food processor or blender until smooth,
stopping to scrape down sides.

Return to Dutch oven; stir in milk, and simmer 10 minutes
or until thoroughly heated. Stir in lime juice.

Southern Living, OCTOBER 2003

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

"I'm deathly afraid of phobias."
--Paul

***

fog + funk = fug, e.g., "I am in a fug."

Monday, October 6, 2008

The rain has returned. That's all I seem to
be able to write here. No more lingering
sun, no last roses. None.

A plague has inhabited my throat and head
since I returned from New York. It does
odd things to the brain. This morning when I
woke up I went into the bathroom and stood
on the scale and couldn't see the numbers.
I wondered if I had suddenly lost some vision,
or perhaps I was still asleep. Disconcerting.
Or maybe I didn't want to see the numbers.
Or maybe I just hadn't turned on the light.
Yep. That was it.
I needed sudafed and coffee, and light,
and I got all three.
And vision returned, as did a tiny portion
of the brain. We are such simple creatures,
after all.

I've happened upon a great red wine from Sicily,
the grape is called Nero d'Avola. Last year
about this time I bought a bottle for ten bucks
at PCC and was blown away, so I went back
and bought a case. Then, post consumption,
forgot the name. (Well, I did have a lot going on
at the time. Like Getting Married.)
Last month, at The Grape Choice in Kirkland, I had
a conversation with Larry Springer, the owner,
(who is also a State Representative for the 45th District).
We were chatting about Italian wines, and he said he
was familiar with a particular Sicilian red but
couldn't remember what it was. As we were chatting,
we kind of moseyed about the store. Suddenly,
he reached down to a box on the floor, and said,
"is this it?"
Indeed, it was.
Not the same vintner, but the same grape.
So I've begun a search for Nero d'Avola throughout the city.
Tips welcome.
Finally! A cure-all!




Thanks to my friend Marie for this!
(Geez I wish I would stop using so many exclamation marks!)
(Periodically they get stuck in my head!)
(Like this!!!!!)
(Help!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I will not be using this cookbook anytime soon
(but I am considering changing my name to Miss Fluffy):




Suddenly it's fall -- time for soup!
Tonight it's beef, barley & mushroom.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


A cutting from my deep pink rosebud geranium
has blossomed with a white flower edged in pink!


And I couldn't resist one last shot
of this last blossom:

Friday, October 3, 2008

Check out The Exorcism on pwally.
You won't be disappointed!
Boo!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Nuclear

S.P. said Nuke-you-ler at least a dozen times
in tonight's debate. And what's with the winking?
I'm offended. It's time someone wrote a musical-parody
about her.
I know I'm preaching to the choir here,
but I just couldn't resist posting this:

We listened to music tonight at WAMU (will it be renamed
"J.P. Morgan Theatre"?) and I'm too tired to type the names
of who we listened to and how they sounded. (Great.)

Today at work we talked momentarily about boring blogs,
you know, the ones where the blogger says things like,
"I brushed my teeth."
So, just for you:
I brushed my teeth.  
And flossed! 
Hee haw!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

When did a muffin become a cupcake sans icing?
In 6th grade home-ec, Mrs. Lenci taught us the strict rules
of muffin-mixing: use a fork (and only a fork)
and stir exactly 46 times. (Or was it 43?!)
OMG, I can't remember! Anyway, a muffin is considered
a quick bread, while a cupcake is to be taken
much more seriously. A cupcake is cake.
And a cake is a serious thing. For example, a cake
by nature contains at least twice as much butter and sugar
as a muffin. It's dessert. It comes after the meal,
after the muffin, if you will. A muffin is an accompaniment.
I mean, I'm all for eating cake at and with every meal, but
let's be sensible. Coffee shops and delis these days are virtually 
overflowing with both uniced cupcakes (muffins) and those
with a week's-load of fat calories heaped on top. Adding the
word "carrot" to the muffin name seemingly adds to its
health value. Come on! It's just carrot cake that someone
forgot to frost! I propose a return to the Mrs. Lenci-type-
43 (or is it 46?) stroke muffin. Less sugar,
less fat. And please, please, use a fork.


At last the rain subsided, and we were greeted
with sun and a fresh breeze today as we left the hotel
on our way to Central Park. Quickly, though, the cool breezes
heated up, and we found ourselves scurrying from one
shady path to another. We sat a bit at Strawberry Fields,
with a view of the The Dakota, site of the John Lennon
shooting. The circular mosaic, with a simple Imagine
at the center, was circumscribed with pink-edged yellow
rose petals. Despite a steady stream of visitors,  a reverent silence 
ruled the balmy Monday afternoon. All ages, many languages.
Music is a powerful unifying force.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

In heavy rain we visited the World Trade Center site.
Despite all the tourists, it was stunningly quiet. Reminded
me of visiting Dachau when I was twenty.

Stumbled into a great shop called Evolution in Soho --
a single-aisle treasure trove of all things skeletal
and entomological. One of my favorite items was
a life-sized paper skeleton kit! The massive (moving van sized)
spiders set in resin made my entire body crawl....
P. bought me this stunning pendant:



It's a butterfly wing.

***

"In America, you can have a parrot
on a stick and get rich."
     --Lampkin Franklin, cabbie

Saturday, September 27, 2008

After a respite stretched across our hotel room bed
(G-rated!) we cabbed down to Greenwich Village 
and walked and walked. Much more my scene than the 
Upper East Side, I must say! (Even if the one-bedroom
apartment sells for a cool million.) Families with strollers,
funky hippie chicks, denim & boots and caffeine.
We supped at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill -- nouveau Mexican.
Bustling, crowded, humid, with impeccable service
and equally impeccable cuisine. My chopped salad
contained kidney beans, garbanzos, tomatoes, kalamata
olives, generous chunks of Jack cheese and neat tiny squares
of multi-colored crispy tortillas. Traditional with a twist!
Very satisfying. As usual, my friendly husband chatted it up
with our fellow diners, and we met a delightful young couple
from Puerto Rico, as well as some locals. Other than the fact
that we were visibly elder in this crowd, dinner was fantastic.
(When did we become not twenty-something? Or at least
thirty-something? Okay. I'm going to stop right here.)

Jack the Dripper



We spent a crowded morning at MOMA, which seemed
to be everyone else's bright idea also on how to spend
a rainy Saturday morning. The highlight for me was
the Jackson Pollack gallery -- which completely surprised me.
I believe that Pollack is one of those artists whose work 
you have to see in person to completely take in. 
Once faced head-on with those massive canvases 
and the frenzy of colors and paint, I felt like I got him. 
And it was nearly heartbreaking -- an alcoholic, Pollack 
died in an alcohol-related crash in 1956 when he was merely 44. 
Eschewing traditional painting tools & techniques, 
he used house paint, hardened brushes, sticks, syringes, 
indeed he used his entire body to paint. I can only imagine
what he carried in his head day-in and day-out that would
compel him to such epic expression.

***

Last night we saw South Pacific at the Lincoln Center:
talk about wonderful! These were the songs that my sisters
and I sang and played on the piano throughout our childhood.
A fantastic production! (I'm sure you'll be hearing more about
this from Citizen K.)


Friday, September 26, 2008

Live, from New York it's.....



Premium T.! 
A tropical storm is washing over us, and it's warm,
so the city feels like a sauna. Seems that the current fad
among women of any age here is whimsical knee-high rubber
boots, and it looks like they've been itching for a good
downpour so they could pull on their cutesy rubbers
and traipse about the city. I like to think of them as saunas
for the feet. No thanks. Glad I finally outgrew those, at about
age nine, thank-you.

In other news, we stopped for lunch at a French bistro
on Madison Avenue ("La Goulue"), where we sat outside
(dry) under an awning. Town Cars kept pulling up 
depositing pinched & plucked & coifed & buffed
older women who, by the looks of them, still believed they
were, oh, maybe twenty-five. After a while a small film crew
went inside. (I was enjoying my Salade Nicoise, which, with
eight distinct flavors, I could come up with myriad umami 
taste combinations: 8x7x6x5x4x3x2x1 equals A Big Number.)
When I went in to use la toilette, I saw what all the
hubbub was about: there was Bridgette Bardot, rather a shadow
of her former glory, very blond (ya think it's real?!), basking 
in the camera's glow while tucking into a lovely repas Francais. 
Oh, and she wasn't sporting rubber boots.

This is one damn big thrumming honking city.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Laid-over for 5 hours at JFK where there is no AC
and the stench of vomit hovers. Free wif-fi, though.
Can't complaint about that. I'm sitting in the
International Food Hall which is aglow in neon
and overuse. We are all transients.

This airport could use a park. 
Some cool breezes.
A mountain or two. 
And an ocean.

Next time I pass through here I'm going to bring
my own sod and a bench and trees. And a breeze.
Can't forget the breeze. 

Friday, September 19, 2008

I will possibly be off the grid for a few days
as we retreat to Friendship, Maine, to spend a few
days with P.'s dad. A quiet fishing village, slow-paced:
photo-ops! Then it's on to NYC for five frantically-packed
days: food, museums, shopping, food, food, food.

(I LOVE peeling hard boiled eggs.)

Au Revoir


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Be sure to check out the baby stilettos on Peter's blog!

Two are better than one.

Any minute now this could end.
Yesterday there was a single breath of coolness
to the air, and then a slight breeze, after days and days
of stillness. These last moments of summer
are hoarded gold, slipping from my fingers --

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dwindling Summer

On the driveway this morning
as I went out to get the paper --

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Here's something yummy to make while fresh peaches
are still in the markets:

Put one very large fresh peach in the blender.
(Of course, peel and slice it.)
Add some milk -- about a cup. Add some brown sugar
and a swoop of vanilla. Some ice cubes. Blend.

OH. SO. GOOD.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Feral

Last night at dusk I heard eagles, obscured
in the cedars above me, their keening
less than grand, almost gentle, unexpected
from a bird so exalted, so predatory.

And again this morning from my bed,
the windows flung open, the air a cool nectar.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


One tart. 
Apple tart.
Two apples, 
not Two Tartes.
(And not too tart.)

***

Used my new 6" tart pan.
Flour, butter, sugar, an egg yolk,
apples (two), cinnamon, walnuts.
A side of Greek yogurt sweetened with
brown sugar and a dash of vanilla.
Can you say "perfection?"

The Price of Fun


Fuzzy-headed all day yesterday, after that glorious evening
at The Corson Building. Worth every cent.

The single morning glory plant I have growing
continues to send forth bloom after bloom.
The leaves seem to be fading as more and more
buds unfurl, trumpeting what, lingering summer?

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Corson Building






Ahhh.....we had dinner last night in Paradise.
Er, well, in Georgetown. With planes roaring overhead,
nestled between two sets of railroad tracks, a view of a
soccer field out the kitchen windows and within spitting
distance of the ever-gritty Airport Way:
at The Corson Building, an offbeat, two-story
tile-roofed "house" built by an Italian stonemason
in 1906, which now houses Seattle's newest haven
for foodies. (It sits nearly under the Michigan Street
offramp, also.)

When I heard, almost a year ago, that Matt Dillon,
of Sitka & Spruce, and partner Wylie Bush were launching
this endeavor less than a block away from the former
love-of-my-life, Two Tartes (I mean, non-human love....),
I was skeptical. Especially when it would mean gutting the
existing structure and pushing out the back for a new kitchen.
(And I think this is a leased property, but I'm not sure.)
Would people shed dusty jeans and Carhartt jackets
for an evening of $ prix fixe dining? In Georgetown?!!
Well, the answer I got last night was a resounding Yes! --as we
sat down with 3o-or-so other guests at three large communal
tables. We had already enjoyed white wine/huckleberry-
infused aperitif and a watermelon & tuna amuse bouche
in the oasis-like garden, where caged doves and chickens
cooed and pecked beneath a laden Italian prune tree.
Inside, Paul and I scooted down a lengthy bench elbow-to-elbow
as dishes of pickled, spiced cherries and currants were passed.
Too tart! --but strikingly beautiful, they certainly woke up our palates.
What followed were seven additional courses served family style,
save for two plated entrees:
--tahini flatbread with yogurt
--roasted eggplant, peppers and onions with Interlaken-grape raisins
--two salads: dilled green beans & diced beets with crispy fried garbanzos
tossed with an assortment of nuts and seeds and coriander
--breaded squid and artichoke hearts (YUM!!)
--mackerel and heirloom tomatoes on sauteed raddichio
(I refuse to say "on a bed of....")
--black cod sauteed with chanterelles and fresh corn
--whole, butter-infused roasted chicken and quartered plums
--herbed toasts and flageolets
--honey-roasted nectarine slices with crisp pastry squares
and creme Anglaise.....

PLUS wine pairings. Are you full yet?
The wine (that I'm able to remember):
Pinot Blanc
Pinot Noir
Meursault
Muscat

Oh my.
I kept asking myself Where am I?
The only drawback is the din. It's a cavernous space
with lots of brick and concrete, and although Matt Dillon
apologized at the beginning of the meal for their unfortunate
ability to find suitably-aesthetic sound-absorption, I observed
a lot of blank wall-space clamoring (literally) for tapestries.
For the price one pays for dinner here, one should be able
to carry on a conversation comfortably.

And The Corson Building is not for the timid:
there is no menu.
You sit.
You eat.
You are happy.
Trust me.