Thursday, January 31, 2008

Last night my ancient, edging-towards-dementia cat
decided to venture down to the family room
for the first time and sit beside me on the couch.
All was peaceful until Sally, the resident cat,
decided to sit in front of aging-Alice and stare
at her. (Not growl, not hiss: simply stare.)
Alice would have none of this. She decided to leap
up quickly into a defensive position and in the process
hooked two claws in my sweater, on my arm.
In her panic, she couldn't release her claws,
and began literally to scream, all the while
flailing like a marlin on the end of a fishing line.
I knew that if I tried to undo her claws she'd
go tooth-and-nail into me, and I didn't want
to risk a nasty cat bite. What to do?!!!!
In my own rising panic I decided to strip off my sweater,
which left Alice swaddled in black cotton,
yet did nothing to assuage her agitated state.
But I was free! And puncture free!
She eventually settled down, hunkered behind the TV.
And why is it I have cats?

My Ideal House.... a silver glass tree ornament
of a six-sided house, covered in white glitter.
I've wanted to live in it for many years.
Not sure if P. and I would fit. It's very small.
(Zero bedrooms. Zero bathrooms.)
All this time and it has not broken.
It lives most of the year in the back
of my closet, and for two weeks in December
it inhabits an uppermost branch of an evergreen
in my living room. The ideal house, the perfect house,
the house of one's dreams doesn't exist.
(Or if by chance it does exist it's really
a Christmas ornament and there's no way in hell
anyone can live within its fragile veneer.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The cats hiss and stalk each other. No snow.
A glass of red Bordeaux. Winter dark.
Some Portugese cheese from Spanish Table, Casa de Mednevil ,
crackers in a white porcelain ramekin.
Shelby Lynne singing on a Dusty Springfield
tribute album. This quiet moment.
This peace.
I told my 14-year-old nephew Travis last night
that I benched 55#'s, and he was amused, in that
young-teen kind of way. He'd just played a
basketball game where he scored 18 points,
so he was feeling mighty pumped. We sat together
at his older brother Kevin's basketball game.
Kevin is a senior and a damn fine player, but
at 5'10", a bit too short to go anywhere with it.
He did, though, shoot a beautiful 3-pointer
which pretty much guaranteed their win.
(And he pretty much carries the team.)
But getting back to Travis: he took it upon
himself to explain to his weight-lifting aunt
all the nuances of basketball play. I came
out of that game last night realizing just
how little of the sport I truly understand!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I bench-pressed a whopping 55 pounds yesterday.
Whoo-hoo!!! Two sets of 15 reps. I'm ready
to bump it up a notch. (Not bad considering
it's only the second time I've bench-pressed,
ever. Last week (the first time) I just lifted
the bar...45 pounds. At the bakery I regularly
heaved 50# bags of flour and sugar. Guess I
haven't lost it.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Pancake Review No. 2

Candied Ginger & Lemon Oatcakes at Pomegranate Bistro
in Redmond....I was a little bit hesitant, as candied ginger,
when used with a heavy hand, can overwhelm other flavors,
but I thought, what the heck. I was not disappointed!
For $11 (a bit pricey) I received a stack of six 3-inch
pancakes, topped with slivers of candied ginger, honey butter,
a side of whipped cream, and a pitcher of real maple syrup.
(I think the authenticity of the maple syrup accounts for
the slightly steep price.) The oatcakes were tender but with
a slight chewiness, thanks to the oats. Not a lot of lemon flavor,
(which wasn't really missed) and the candied ginger was only used
as a garnish, so I was able to season as desired.

Pomegranate Bistro, the on-site catering location
and restaurant home of Lisa Dupar,
is located in a non-descript business park on the
Redmond-Fall City Road, across from Whole Foods.
Noisy, kid-friendly, with richly-toned wood tables
(some are large family-sized), high ceilings and
ambient lighting, it's inviting and comfortable,
and the wait-staff is always knowledgeable and congenial.
There are tall windows on one side which look out onto
the massive catering kitchen. (I've not yet been lucky
enough to sit close to the show) The menu boasts a selection
of signature drinks, as well as beer and wine.
For after dinner, there is a lovely selection
of Ports and single-malt Scotch. But wait!
I was writing about pancakes! Breakfast!
Dinner is just as good -- we held our rehearsal
dinner here. It's worth the journey over the
river and through the -- I mean, across Lake Washington.
If you happen to get there for breakfast (Saturdays
and Sundays only, beginning at 9am) don't hesitate
to order the pancakes.
I vote for an evolutionary-speeding-up
in Etiquette (with apologies to Emily Post)
so that it is proper to send a thank-you note
via e'mail. Don't get me wrong -- I'm all in favor
of mail via paper and stamps, especially
hand-written cards. But. Who among us enjoys
writing thank-you notes in bulk? Have you
ever heard anyone say, "Man, I just can't wait
to get home and write twenty thank-you notes!
Hoo ha! Great fun! Break out the confetti
and noise makers!"
I'm just sayin'.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I took all of Paul's spices from his cupboard
and alphabetized them on the counter. Many multiples:
seven cinnamons, five cumins, four black peppers,
four chili peppers, three oreganos, three nutmegs,
two turmerics (lifetime supply!) and
several herb & spice artifacts, including a jar of
Kary's Louisiana Cajun Roux, from Ville Platte, LA.
Then I put them back (condensed)
in roughly alphabetical order, as much
as one can on lazy susans. I'm 51, and
this is the first time I've alphabetized
anything in my kitchen.
What does this mean?!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Winter is about the kitchen.
That daily ritual of chopping, mincing, crushing.
Last night it was red peppers and yellow squash
(I am thankful for the brilliance of their colors
which spark light into this darkness) and chicken tikka
(crisp from the broiler )and basmati rice spiked with saffron.
Remembering how important the colors on the plate
were to my mother. How dismayed she would be
if it happened to be, say, an all-yellow dinner.
I think she disappointed herself, seeing that she
was the cook. I am more forgiving, try to find
the humor in an all-yellow meal! (Baked chicken,
yukon gold potatoes, corn, yellow squash.)

Thursday, January 24, 2008


My footsteps startle a hundred coots
from water's edge; their wakes reflect
waning sun. The moon rises
and one white feather ruffles up
from pebbles and sand. No eagles
harassed by crows, no milky-blue herons
scooping minnows from shallows.
Only a scratching of red-twigged
dogwood, and ruined grasses.
Nothing before, and nothing after.

(Started this three years ago; dug it up
and pruned it. I need to prune my roses
and grapes too. Need to work on the metaphor
of the grapes, on rose-diction.
Need to put all the roses in tidy four-line stanzas.)
Popover weather. Scone and gingerbread weather.
Honey-whole-wheat weather, slathered with butter.
(I am being stalked by carbs.)

I Imagine Us as a Holy Family Engaging
in the Great Work of Increasing Light

--Cappy Thompson, exhibited in the Library
of the Evergreen State College, Olympia

Yesterday at work, the glass artist Cappy Thompson
stopped by to borrow Melinda's sandblaster....
Genevieve graciously blasted a few pieces
for her. Today she rewarded us (all!) by bringing
snacks from Hi Ho Pho -- sushi, several noodle dishes,
and something with green beans and surimi whose name
escapes me. We sat outside bundled in the crisp
cold sunny afternoon and had ourselves a picnic.
Chopsticks, pickled ginger, and something red and spicy
in the world's tiniest container (about the size
of my deformed thumb). (Squished in a car door
when I was six.) Twenty minutes of heaven!
And then: hi ho, hi pho, it's back to work we go....
My friend Genevieve(the fabulous glass artist)
has come up with a campaign slogan for Hillary:


The visual could be a pink circle with a line through it.
I love this!
These are glorious late-January days,
sunny and cold. The full moon rising
in a violet and indigo sky, the light
from the setting sun glowing on the
cloudless horizon. Gloom on hold.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I love popovers.I love that the name
of this food item (noun: a name of a
person, place or thing) is actually
a verb and an adverb. Go figure.
Made these for dinner tonight:

2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 T. melted butter
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt

Butter muffin cups. Mix eggs, milk, butter
flour and salt just until blended.
Half-fill prepared pan, and set in a cold
oven. Turn heat to 450 and bake for 15 min.,
then reduce heat to 350 and bake for
another 15 minutes, until puffed and golden.
Serve immediately.

from The Fannie Farmer Baking Book

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

This is a rant. About Open Floor Plan Kitchens.
Nearly every house/town-house/condo for sale
adheres to this plan, or has been remodeled,
"opened-up," so that the kitchen/dining/living-room
is one big 'ol grand space. I want an old-fashioned
kitchen, a self-contained kitchen, preferably
with space for a small table and chairs.
And a door. TO CLOSE.
(No need for any land masses. [Island, peninsula.]
They exist just fine on the earth's crust
and have no need to be confined indoors.)
I desire a kitchen cocoon. Closed off from TV,
noisy guests, the world at large. I want
my little CD player/radio and I want to cook
(and I love to cook) in my own universe.
This is not a performance! (But the food is art.)
And when I'm ready, I'll open the door
and present you -- yes YOU! -- with some
damn fine food. I am the queen and absolute ruler
of my kitchen and don't want anyone in my way
unless they are willing to take orders
and stay out of my way. And at some point
in the dinner (if it's a party) I want to
disappear behind the door and scrape plates.
That's right! Scrape plates and wash knives
and Put Stuff Away. In private.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Alice is fifteen and feline and has resided
on Brandon Street, where she was born, all of
her fifteen (and a half) years. Yesterday
she made the first move of her short furred life:
to Redmond. My sons were nearly teary when I
took her (but they still have two cats, "the boys.")
I kept her closed in the bedroom/bathroom all night,
and about 2am, she began to scratch at the door,
wanting more. When I opened the door, we were greeted
with a hiss and growl from Sally, the resident doyenne
at this address. Whoops! Back into the bedroom for Miss A.
Now this morning, (Alice let loose to roam and explore),
they've hissed and growled alternately, Alice more fierce
than I've seen in years, including growling while lying down.
(Not an especially fierce stance.) Quiet now. This house
is big enough for many cats. (But, I think two is plenty.)
Alice, the runt, plucked a freezing October Sunday afternoon
from an aluminum pie pan outside at old Mr. Nelson's house.
(No, she had not been baked into a pie.) She nestled in
my hand, and on my kitchen scale, weighed eight ounces.
Her favorite place to sleep was on the back of my neck
under my pony tail, and then in a tiny box on the
dining room table, which I had to continually switch out
for a larger box as she grew to her current very slight
size of about four pounds. O new beginnings!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Damn. Those are some monumental marshmallows
pictured below. And I'm too lazy to size down
the photo. I guess we'll all just have to suffer
through them. Splurged yesterday on some Fran's
Premium Hot Chocolate Richer Darker Blend
100% Venezuelan Chocolate. OOHHHHHH.
P. suggested that we snip off a corner
of Drew's birthday marshmallows to float
in the steamy concoction and, OMG, few things
as sublime have passed my lips....the ideal
remedy for a mid-winter rain-slogged afternoon.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Marshmallows. Today I am making a batch
for my friend Drew's birthday. They are simple
to concoct if you can handle a candy thermometer
and follow basic cooking instructions. Sugar,
gelatin, corn syrup, water, vanilla.
Bring them to a party; people will love you.

Friday, January 18, 2008

It's a sad day when the one and only e'mail
received is spam. Remember when we called
unwanted mail junk mail? (I suppose we still do,
when it's of the paper variety.)
If there was still a truck
going door-to-door collecting junk
(as in the junk man) would we be required
to rename him Spam Man?

Here are two odd definitions of junk:

hard salt beef for consumption on board a ship


old cable or cordage used when untwisted
for making gaskets, swabs, oakum, etc.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

In case you wondered What Would Bacon Do?
(Courtesy of Archie McPhee)
The ghost-boat rocks more slowly today.
Could this be a metaphor for my life
of the past four years? That I'm only
just now noticing the rocking because
I'm no longer on that vessel plunging
headlong over the falls? That I've become
so accustomed to thirty-foot swells
continually battering my hull?
I've reached the shore, at last.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mal de Barquement. The continual rocking sensation,
sometimes for months, and even years, upon
disembarking from a ship. Most common
in women between the ages of 40 and 50,
possibly hormone related.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Outside Paul's house is a massive Japanese maple,
and this morning the sun shone through all its
iced branches, making a prism of every melting
snowdrop. One could only guess that a tree
much like this was the inspiration for the
first crystal chandelier. (Crystal chandeliers
date back to the 18th century.) I stood beneath
and was gently tick-tick-ticked by falling ice.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Ah....grey skies. I do love them!
And my sons once more have not burned
the house down in my absence. And they can't wait
for me to officially move out, so they can
move their stuff into any space they desire.
So odd, this mom-moving-out thing.
Feels like I'm looking the wrong way
into a mirror....

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Seattle: Home!

I'm walking like a lousy drunk,
atilt and akimbo, still feeling the lilt
of each wave beneath each step....
It is a surreal experience, traveling
to a tropical landscape in the middle of winter.
(Never having done this. I know people
do it all the time.) To walk outside
and feel warm -- no, hot -- air!
To actually put on a swimsuit
and then go out in a public environment
wearing said suit. The shock of flesh!
The sun's reflection on flesh! Blinding!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Jost Van Dyke, pop. 180

The end of laziness. Or, at least,
it's laziness' last day. We may just stay
on board today, too much work to strap on
the life vests, clamber into the Zodiac,
splash ashore. But there is caviar and champagne
on the beach. (Not into caviar, and champagne
in the noon sun turns me into jelly.) (Or Jell-o.)
But that sand and warm water beckons.
Looking forward to returning to Seattle weather,
where, as Reilly said on the phone yesterday,
"it's cold as fuck." (I really am looking forward
to it!)


We did end up drinking champagne on the beach,
although I had to wade out into chest-deep water
to retrieve our full glasses -- they were floating
on a surf board. Really! Most of the ship's 102 passengers
were on the beach for this, and there were some middle-aged
women in bikinis who perhaps should've considered
alternate bathing costumes. Lots of breast flesh
and belly flesh just kind of slopping about.
Paul and I watched the pelicans swoop and dive
for minnows for at least an hour, then we tramped
about on some back roads, oh-so-slow in the heat,
happy to feel the earth solid beneath us.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Virgin Gorda

Lounged beachside at The Bitter End Yacht Club
most of the morning, turquoise water, sandsandsand,
palms, tropical hills rolling up from the surf.
I didn't want to leave. The earth felt so welcoming,
so certain. Although this ship is quite amazing,
it's a bit like trying to manoeuver a gentle earthquake
when walking anywhere. Side to side, back and forth.
I've taken to crashing into posts (discreetly, though).
So pleasant to do mostly nothing except eat and read.
Discovered the most perfect, plain sweet roll
at the breakfast buffet this morning, a simple twist,
a hint of glaze, a perfect eggy dough. Unpretentious,
barely sweet. Glammed it up with some unsalted
butter. Ate two. Wanted so many more.
Didn't find Nina, but we sure tried.
Paul said to me at lunch, "what day is it?"
I wasn't sure. There are no days here.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Marigot, St. Martin, French West Indies

Trying to meet up with friend Nina today
who is working on a private yacht,
and is moored on the other side of the island.
A phone call from the French side to the
Dutch side of the island, a distance of
eight miles, is an international call!
I've been trying every combination of numbers
this morning from the ship's phone
to contact her but no luck yet. Crazy.
We're so used to instant communication.
Reminds me of thirty years ago in Paris,
when calling home I had to go to a phone center,
gave them my intended number, then waited
about 15 minutes for it to go through,
and I was then directed to one of many booths
to receive my call.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Evening on the bay

Was down below the surface today
in the bay off Gustavia in a semi-submersible
boat, gliding through schools of yellow
and black striped fish, angel fish,
manta rays, barracuda's, a single turtle.
Coral reefs: brain coral, candle coral.
And now, past dinner, out on the top deck
with the binoculars, scoping out Orion
and its nebula, so many galaxies beyond
what we experience, so much more
than the dinner conversation which veered
from baseball to Archie McPhee
to the question: how does one punctuate reality?
And then: should one punctuate reality?
And my question (which might've been
a bit much for our fellow diners:
What would Bacon do?
Bacon would sizzle, I can tell you that.
(Life is way too short not to sizzle.)
I'm going to sizzle, baby, all the way.....

Adrift Beside St. Barthe's.....

French is the prevailing language,
and it is so lovely and familiar
to these ears.....I get about half
of what is said. Enough, though. Everything here
is compacted onto the waterfront and
up the steep hillside. Givenchy,
Yves St. Laurent, a mini-Paris of shopping.
Paul and I have been shopping for linen
shirts, which line the shop walls
in abundance, in every color imaginable.
It's really the only fabric to wear
in this humidity. Hoping to rendez-vous
with my neighbor Nina tomorrow, who is
working on a private yacht. We'll try.
We'll see. Lobster last night for dinner.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Anchored in Cruz Bay

Gems on display: massive, gleaming,
multi-faceted emeralds, sapphires, rubies,
diamonds and diamonds aplenty. On nearly
every female hand aship, and on some men too.
I love my delicate, modest Edwardian-styled
white-gold ring, and my even more modest
(to the point of being nearly invisible) sapphire.
I'm in observation mode, the poet-spy,
constantly taking notes. So many fellow-passengers
are glazed, polished, pressed, tucked.
At times I feel unsewn, my selvages a bit raw.
Cut on the bias. Hem undone. Au naturel.
The Renton coming out in me. Alas.

Monday, January 7, 2008

On The Water

The ever-present hum of engines: I am thankful
for air-conditioning, although the breeze
while on deck is refreshing. Spent the morning
on the island of Culebrita, a nature preserve.
Didn't see any nesting turtles, but we did hike
a mile up to the abandoned lighthouse, through
brambly bushes, land crabs scuttling before us,
the criss-cross of lizards on the path, rustling
grasses as they disappeared, slick stripes glistening.
I walked out into lukewarm jade-colored water
up to my shoulders, and could have stayed
just like that all day. No need for movement:
so much to take in, all the senses alert.

The social dynamic of these cruise passengers
is infinitely fascinating to me. Just about everyone
feels the need to inform you of prior cruises,
prior Asiatic adventures (Europe is soooo passe....)
There is a continual fashion parade among the women,
and I keep mistaking swimsuit cover-ups for
negligee, among the twenty-somethings. Oops!
Forgot to get dressed. (Okay, I DO remember
being that young and lithe.)

So I realize that I need to put my natural sarcasm
in storage for a few days.....
This boat is incredibly comfortable, I love the
economy of space in our cabin. Service is tops,
the crew is uber-friendly, a bottle of suntan lotion
purchased from the boutique was $35. Ouch! That'll
teach us to remember it next time. But they've
got us hostage, and I wasn't going to forego
today's dip in the sea. I LOVE the constant availability
of drinks & snacks. Grazing is most pleasurable.
Upon boarding yesterday, we were greeted with
tall, cool glasses of champagne. Looped & looped!

There is a gold-digger couple (or two) aboard --
most fascinating, the younger(skinny)(dyed)(tanned)
(plucked)(pinched)wife with the doddering rich
(caned)(dehaired)(jowly)(7-Up drinking)geezer.

It's all very surreal; I've yet to really settle-in.
First I have to try everything, walk on every deck,
sit on every (type of) chair. I do love walking when
the boat is in motion, the slightly tipsy back-and-forth
tilt of every step.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Lying on a bed of roses....

Upon entering the room after dinner,
we followed a petal-strewn terra-cotta tile path
to the bed, where the blankets had been pulled back,
and gold-wrapped chocolate coins
were tossed among pale pink and yellow petals.
We're guessing the travel agent put the hotel
up to this honeymooner's scenario!
I giggled for at least fifteen minutes,
then draped myself in a languor
across the bed....

Friday, January 4, 2008

I finished Ann Patchett's Run on the plane ride
today....a deeply moving book about class, race, familial love
and responsibilty, mothers both absent and present.
Patchett's work reads like a good massage feels,
muscular yet silken, with a build-up to a big emotional release.
Her writing is flawless, liquid, tight and original. Towards the end
I was allowing myself only a few pages at a time. One of the best
books I've read in ages: highly recommended. (Thank you Mary,
for this gift!)

Two nights here in San Juan at a converted 17th century
convent: El Convento. (Converted to a hotel.)
Balconey with a water view, lovely walkways
overlooking a courtyard restaurant. (I imagine
the sisters at vespers, rosary beads clacking.)
In Old Town. Traffic, on a Friday night at 10pm,
was crazy, congested, lots of horns.
Anxious to explore: tomorrow.
Close to midnight here, and it's dark.
And it's warm.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Omg pix !!!
(And yes, this is evidence that it really happened.
Can you see the word "Proof" stamped across our faces?!)
Departing tomorrow, 6am flight, for the Caribbean.
Looking forward to doing mostly nothing except
having people wait on me, reading, beach time.
We'll be on a yacht-type boat (not a floating
shopping mall cruise ship) which can accomodate
110 guests, plus a staff of 95. I think I can
manage this! Both P. and I are still coming down
from December and its parade of celebrations.
(The ol' blog-voice seems to have left me
these past few days!)

P. is disassembling his Christmas tree
before my very eyes. He just removed
the top third, now he's folding all the branches
down, compacting them for the storage box.
No fuss, no muss, no trail of fir needles
from tree-stand to door. Nonetheless, I still
vote for a real tree. And I have an entire
year to convince him that it's the only way to go.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Wedding Feast

Cafe Juanita, Kirkland
December 29th, 2007

served family style

Salt Cod and Hearts of Palm Fritti
Fra'Mani Salame with Balsamico Panna Cotta


House Made Pappardelle with Goose Sugo and Parmigiano Reggiano
Taleggio Raviolini with Pinenuts, Pomegranate, and Marjoram


Winter Citrus Salad with Avocado, Rising C Citrus, and Pickled Shallots


Whole Roasted Branzino, fileted tableside,
with Taggia Olive Pepperoncini Vinaigrette

Oregon Saddle of Lamb with Sunchokes in Bagna Cauda
and Housemade Pepperoncini Fariciti Piccanti

Quail with Broccoli Rabe and Marsala Sauce


Rich Golden Cake with Raspberry Mousse Filling
and an Italian Buttercream, embellished
with Organic Candied Rosepetals

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Nuptial Math

Fifty-four people, forty-four bottles of wine/prosecco
consumed (or at least opened and billed!) at the wedding.
44 divided by 54 = .81/bottles/person.
Subtract the designated drivers and the non-drinkers,
and, well, it's more like one bottle per person. Yikes!

For more wedding stories, check out Paul's blog.


At a New Year's party last night at Ben and Pam's
I hit my socialibility wall pretty quickly --
went and sat outside alone by the fire.
It didn't take Paul long to find me, as he was
feeling quite the same. We made our quick exit,
went back to my house to crash, pre-midnight.
Awakened at the stroke of twelve by a neighbor
lighting loud, bright fireworks one after another.
Damn, I'm feeling old!