Saturday, April 21, 2018

Pre-Earth-Day Tea

Cake service at the tea table. Despite having each filled and emptied our plates half a  dozen times, we managed to worry down healthy slices of cake too.
After far, far too long (and a bit of gentle nagging), we finally hosted a tea at our house again. The group is reduced from the olden days, but somehow that didn't stop me from making the same number of sandwiches--or possibly *more* sandwiches than normal as I realized late yesterday that I'd forgotten all about getting crumpets. That's just how out of practice I am. It was, I believe, a good time during which we all ate far too much, drank gallons of tea, interrupted each other's stories, and laughed about things like owls riding motorcycles. The wider world was largely ignored which, you know, is sometimes a good thing. The weather teased about being nice enough to set up outside earlier in the day, but by the time 2:00 rolled around, it was clear that we'd be staying inside. There were a few brief interludes during which we could take turns in the garden.

 The purpose of this post is to share photos, so that's what I'm going to do, pausing only long enough to note that tea with old friends should happen more often.

The consensus was that tulips that look like they are growing wild is a fine look.
I call this an homage to Old Dutch Masters. I'm sure they enjoyed a well-catered tea.

What can I say? I can never resist a shot of post-party dishes.
The amazing Earth Day cake Christine created. I like the way the umbrellas on the curtains look like they're part of the bouquet.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Spaghetti di San Giuseppe

Pasta di San Giuseppe chez Aurora
Let me just start by saying how amused I am to find that the best link I can find for the book from which I've swiped this recipe is, it seems, some sort of Scandinavian website. The book in question is one that I'm project managing for Fall 2018, Scraps, Peels, and Stems. It will be, as far as I know, only available in the original English-language edition and yet . . . Apparently Swedes can appreciate a good book when it becomes available via some sort of metadata upload. None of which is what I intended to write when I sat down here.

No, what I meant to write is that after talking about trying out this recipe for some weeks now, Scott and I finally set about making it tonight. After a few bites Scott declared, "This could be a company meal" which those who have come to dinner here might know is a happy thing because, well, we don't have all that many company meals in our repertoire. But what I love about this particular recipe (which maybe makes it seem less company appropriate) is that it calls for a couple of items that we end up throwing out more often than I'd like: fresh greens or veg and baguette. In tonight's version, we used some young broccoli that I couldn't resist at the Whistling Train Farm stand at the West Seattle Farmers Market close to ten days ago and the crumbed remains of a couple of baguettes I put into the freezer some weeks back. (Because, in addition to providing recipes, the book encourages you to do things like proactively create and freeze crumbs. Who knew you could freeze crumbs? Or that there was anything you would later want to do with them?) 

We opted for bow-ties rather than spaghetti because, as everyone knows, bow-ties are cool. Probably I should have been a little less free with the red pepper flakes and for a company dish it's a bit garlicky, but we're definitely going to make this again.
"Borrowed" recipe page and some red pepper flakes (because the MarketSpice shop at Pike Place is also cool)

This book is really supposed to be all about using up stuff you already have, rather than letting it go to waste, but if I'm to be completely honest, I have to admit that it has sent me to MarketSpice in the market more than once. I am not complaining because I love that shop. Seattle could lose Amazon (please!), the Seahawks, and Microsoft across the water and as long as it still had places like MarketSpice I'd be happy. It's tiny and it's cramped and it's crazy the week before Christmas. But you can buy just about every imaginable spice there in pretty tiny quantities, and the people who work there are knowledgeable and friendly even just before Christmas. (I will say it's a more pleasant place to visit the second week of March.)

I've also made the shakshuka recipe from Scraps, Peels, and Stems more than once, possibly just because I find those spices so darned pretty:
 And yes. I'm all too well aware that the world is going to hell in a hand basket. Which is maybe all the more reason to find ways to make use of what one has and to appreciate things like tiny spice markets and local farmers.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Gecko Foolery

I'd sort of like for this to be an April's Fools' joke, but it's not. Geico sent Scott and me separate solicitations last week. Here they are:

The Lady of the House needs a lot of detail
whereas the man says, "Ooooh! Gecko!"

This isn't the first time Geico has provided some junk mail amusement; a month or two back the letter to me was pretty much the same blah blah responsible family finance blah, while the one to Scott was all about sports.

I really expect better from a lizard.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Back yard update in photos

Gato lion, cleaned of some moss
If there's one thing I never bother to resist, it's then and now photos pertaining to the house. Today, I mowed the lawn (such as it is) for the first time in 2018, and then, the weather being intermittently pleasant, I took some photos. Seeing as it was more a yard work than a photo-taking day, I took the photos with the iPad--and then had to deal with figuring out how to get them off the iPad and over to blogger. My life, she is so hard.
The "then" photo (to which I keep returning); the backyard circa 2009
And the latest "now" photo, the backyard this afternoon (March, 2018)
The cherry--the tree in the right foreground--lost a major limb a few years back.  I'm really not entirely sure what the rest of the branchiness is in the current photo.

And, because it was a somewhat lovely day and I frequently need to be reminded that not all is dark and dreary:

Clematis which blooms early and smells lovely
Lenten roses that have recovered nicely from February's late snow and frost
Budding magnolia against some cumulus clouds and blue sky

Friday, March 16, 2018

Moses says to Noah “We shoulda dugga deepa one”

His mind was freshly inclined toward sorrow; toward the fact that the the world was full of sorrow; that everyone labored under some burden of sorrow; that all were suffering; that whatever way one took in this world, one must try to remember that all were suffering (none content; all wronged, neglected, overlooked, misunderstood), and therefore one must do what one could to lighten the load of those with whom one came into contact; that his current state of sorrow was not uniquely his, not at all but rather, its like had been felt, would yet be felt, by scores of others, in all times, in every time, and must not be prolonged or exaggerated, because, in this state, he could be of no help to anyone and, given that his position in the world situated him to be either of great help or great harm, it would not do to stay low, if he could help it.

All were in sorrow, or had been, or soon would be.

It was the nature of things.

Though on the surface it seemed every person was different, this was not true.

At the core of each lay suffering; our eventual end, the many losses we must experience on the way to that end.

We must try ot see one another in this way.

As suffering, limited beings--

Perennially outmatched by circumstance, inadequately endowed with compensatory graces.

--from quite late in Lincoln in the Bardo (with some attributions omitted)

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Between books

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the state of being between books is extremely disquieting to some of us. Well, to me. And maybe it's only acknowledged by the handful of people who know me well enough to know that I get very twitchy when I am, as I say, between books.

 Even worse, I am realizing, is to be between books after having read a couple of what might be called, more or less accurately, "stinkers." Oh, Beatrix Lehmann's Rumour of Heaven probably wasn't really as bad as all that. It just didn't so much hold my attention, and I tended to fall asleep while holding it in the evening. That could have been because I've been tired lately. But it doesn't go on my list of favorite books read, no matter how long such a list might be.

 It would, however, fall somewhat higher on that infinite list than The Mitford Mysteries which book, thank god, I got from the library. I'd read a good review for it."I like Nancy Mitford and I like mysteries," I said to myself. "This is the book for me!" Alas, I was so wrong. I'd forgotten that what I liked was a decently crafted mystery. You can't declare at the end of chapter 1 that "no one saw her alive again" and then have the victim weakly waving as she is carried off the train and then slowly dying in a hospital some chapters later. No, you cannot. One might also ask how a laundress's daughter who picks pockets to get by gets hired as a nursery maid in a decent family. Oh, Ms Fellowes is maybe related to the man behind Downton Abbey, but has she never seen the first act of My Fair Lady?

 So I'm feeling a little skittish picking up the next book. I thought briefly about Moby Dick, a book that Scott loves and that I've never read, but I'm worried that it will also disappoint and that would be bad. I realized I want something less challenging, and with less on the line, so to speak. I said, in fact, that I wanted a nice book about cats. (I may have been talking to Gradka at the time.) And then I went into another room and had a look at the shelves. I determined that I didn't have any unread Trollope (and wasn't I disappointed to learn, immediately after finishing The Duke's Children, that there is now an unabridged version of that book out? It seems Trollope's publisher insisted he cut some 65,000 words  from his 200,000-word manuscript before it could be published. A few years back some enterprising person restored all those cut words. The full-length version is supposed to be quite good. But I'm not about to reread that volume quite so soon, even in a restored version. I digress). But a few shelves over from the Trollope is Antonia White and, when suffering from writer's block, Antonia wrote a 120 pages of fluff called Minka & Curdy. Tagline: "The enchanting story of a writer and her cats." There are illustrations. I think it's just the thing to get me through this traumatic period. Then maybe I'll go whaling.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Another Superbowl Sunday at Nisqually

The boardwalk at Nisqually
There's some question as to whether we'd actually visited Nisqually on more than one Superbowl Sunday before, but we'd gone at least one year which is enough to count as an established tradition, at least in my mind. (It occurs to me that I was at the Sorrento Hotel for a dinner with Reinhold Messner and John Roskelley on another Seahawks Superbowl night, but that's not something I see being repeated in this lifetime.)

Regardless, this last Sunday we got ourselves up and out of the house relatively promptly (aka on the road before noon) and spent the changeable afternoon wandering around what is now officially called the " Billy Frank Jr Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge." It was fine day for it, a little misty and atmospheric to begin with, with some surprising clearing thanks to some somewhat serious wind. We didn't see Rainier, and we likewise didn't see the saw-whet owl that has been reported (and harassed) by any number of birders and photographers over the past month, but the resident great horned owl was there to be seen, along with a lovely downy woodpecker, a number of song sparrows, some very handsome robins, a brown creeper, a gobsmacking harrier, and any number of waterfowl and shorebirds. And the scenery was quite nice.

Atmospheric trees

A few of the mass of peeps along the seemingly solid Nisqually River

Another bit of atmospheric landscape

A helpful family pointed out what we're told was a muskrat

Robins just do not get the respect they deserve; this is a damned handsome bird.

Maria Mudd Ruth's influence continues; just *look* at those clouds!

Scott took this one; we're calling it "The Wyeth"

Harrier in flight over the large field. My, she was yar.