Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloweenie

What a pretty little head

The 100 grand bars are open. I love them and will only have one. I believe we purchased candy that I do not like other than the 100 grand bars, so I am safe. I am working from home today and I managed to get my presentation together and now its time to get cracking on other things.

We carved one pumpkin last night and scooped out the insides of another. I need to find my keyhole saw to carve that puppy. The white pumpkins (Luminas) are hard to carve. I like the good old fashioned sugar pies. I'll be saving my rouge vifs for someother occasion, like soup.

Well, back to work and then packing and then well, who knows, maybe another futile attempt at shopping at Banana Republic.

An aside: what is with me and the word manage? I managed to say blog it at least three times yesterday. I must have a management issue.

I made quince juice, but not quince preserves, so I must freeze the juice in hopes that maybe next weekend I can actually complete the task of preserve making a la Christine Ferber, who clearly doesn't leave town the with regularity that I do.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

30 minute parking

I ran to University Village today in search of something to wear for next week. Don't get me wrong, I love to shop, but really not now and not feeling like I am currently feeling. I managed to find 30 minute parking, ran into Talbots, picked up some garanimaly skirts and tops and left 250 bucks poorer (one sweater, two skirts) and now I better not eat between today and Wednesday. Managed to get out of there in less than 15 minutes.

I feel pathetic.

I did manage to plant 160 bulbs, rake lots of leaves and complete my beauty maintenance for the 6 week cycle. :) Thank goodness for that.

With apologies to the Bon Vivant, the 25 for $25 postings are out for November. We have Nells on the radar for next weekend and Campagne reserved for the following week. November is a busy month chez nous, but we'll find some way to get Cascadia and maybe something else in as well.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Thanks for the fiddle faddle, but honestly

Sugary goodness - just in time for Holiday baking.

Alaska Airlines recently sent their elite tier flyers a box of Harry and David's Moose Munch to thank them for putting up with the summer of delays and cancelled flights. They sent out a lot of these boxes, including two to our humble abode.

Alaska Airlines no longer staffs their elite desk reservations and help desk 24 hours a day anymore, so if your flight from Boston is now 3 hours late arriving and you are going to misconnect to Carlsbad or Kotzebue, who are you going to call?

No one.

Alaska recently posted a nice story about their third quarter profit. You think they could stop sending out moose munch and maybe use that money to hire a few graveyard shift gold desk agents?

Trust me, we'd all be happier in the long run.

Friday, October 28, 2005

thank g-d for blogs like this

Just the info I needed today.

uppity and down

Honfleur September 2004

I'll be the first to admit that I have had a priss-poor week at work, but it almost behind me and I am no where near to be for my meeting next week and boy howdy, I'll be working this weekend on it.

However, it'll all get done. It always does.

What is with down this year? I just got the Eddie Bauer Winter catalog and its chock-o-block of downy goodness. Check this out, just in case your pearls get cold. I am thinking that this might be on my wish list for the winter travel season, especially if pillows and blankets continue to disappear on flights.

So, I checked out the new Ipod yesterday. I am thinking that I will get one in the not too distant future. The screen resolution is great and since I'm a lover of gadgets, I'll cave.

Other than that, papers to write, data to manage and bags to pack. At least we have a quiet weekend here, farmer's market, fighting for parking at Trader Joes, hitting Home Cake Decorating for meringue powder and colored sugar for the big christmas cookie party (planning ahead as usual). I had no idea this place was so popular, I have been going there for years with my mom. There will be partying at 10:01 PM on Saturday (2 of the 3 part of the dreaded generals completed!) and bulbs to plant as usual. If I manage my time well, I may even run to the shelter and drop off two grocery bags of airline amenity kits that will be mucho appreciated. I'm a big lover of the list and crossing it off.

If you have a spare bike and some time this weekend -- drop it off for a good cause - Katrina Bikes.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

step by step, bulb by bulb

Greenwich, England February 2004

On Monday afternoon I planted 70 bulbs. Nice huh? Mostly small cupped narcissus, mostly naturalizing, mostly white. I like white narcissus because they really pop out in the back garden. 70 bulbs seems like a lot, but dearest ones, I have like another 800 to go. I am not kidding. We have a bulb fixation that puts us on the same level as Martha or some small parks and rec department. Our goal is to get them in the ground before January 1st and it happens. No worries, they all come up in the spring and they look great. However, we don't plant them in one fell swoop, we do things slowly, when we can steal a moment or three. I ripped out a bunch of raspberries and moved some stuff this fall and planted a few rare rhodies that I got from the Rhodendron Species Foundation. I will underplant with narcissus, a few galanthus and muscari. I am not big on tulips, but I may put in a few species tulips in the same area. I figure 300 bulbs can go into that bed. No bulbs are in there now, but it still takes planning.

The same concept applies to my increasingly frustrating work. It is easier for me to apply in the garden than at work. I need to think of work as a garden and soon I'll chip away at the bags of work that need to get done in the same manner.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

humpy and foggy

I woke up late today and cranky. I turned the heat on when I got home but it appeared not to have gone off. I woke up sweltering and the temperature was too high. Finally fell back asleep to see that I had overslept by 1.5 hours.


I also called Lands End, the pants I want are not available in the store and even if I ordered them today, they wouldn't get here by monday on Second Day, so forget you. I'll either plan ahead or shop locally. Maybe just shop locally on Friday. I hate shopping for things like pants. My mom's tailor in SD manages a one day turn around for hemming, here its more like a week. I guess I'll just wear skirts and hope that they all fit.

Well off to play in traffic downtown.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Just in the nick of time

October Hydrangeas

Okay, I just came home from the acupunturist (get that metabolism back on track!) and it was raining. This should not be a real problem as I live in Seattle, but since I hung laundry outside to dry (quelle luddite and how martha), I was prissed. It was dry and I was happy.

Along with the millionth catalog from some outfit that sells cat polarfleece jackets and the christian coalition book of the month club (what is with that?) was the new lands end catalog.

Wow, some nice stuff in there including some pants that could get me through these troubled times (inablity to get into last winter's wardrobe). But damn skippy, if I could just get them to fedex me tomorrow so that I could take them to the tailor so that I can make it to DC looking polished.

Hmm, it may be worth it.

What do you think of these? Not really my type, but need something that will work with heels, not make me look terrible and go with a heather grey cashmere top and maybe one shirt? No one really cares what I wear but me. I sort of like it. :)

I love shopping on line, however, it is the inablity to check the sizing that kills me. I'd have them hem them if I knew they would fit.

I guess maybe its time to hit nordys in hope of finding a skirt and a pair of pants to make it through next week.

Well off to play in traffic to have dinner with some folks from FT and maybe get tired enough to go to bed without any need for manic cleaning.


high maintenance

I'm due for beauty maintenance this week. Those girly things you would never have considered doing five years ago -- facial, pedicure, manicure and other things are now manditory. When did we become so floofy? So obsessed with bikini waxes, microdermabrasion and hot stone pedicures.

Or should I say, when did I become too floofy?

So, if you meet me in the street, don't freak out, my brows are usually well groomed.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Another before Halloween sighting

Orangey goodness

Just got an email from Peets. I love Peets, glad to see them in Seattle, but come on.

Not to scale

Ugh. Thus goest the neighborhoods. Thanks to our mayor, basically any variance is granted to developers no matter what the community feels. We're densifying our neighborhoods with the addition of faux craftsman houses with three car drive in garages and traditional homes wired for CAT-5. Add the requisite drought tolerant parking strip (removing any mature trees that existed to lessen the burden on homeowners, poor things) and the newly constructed just 6' fence around the yard and we've really added a neighborly feel to the 'hood.

I fear for several houses on my block. I do indeed.

I'm okay with densification as long as it is to scale, appropriate in style and adds to the street scape, not detracts from it.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

thank g-d for little favours

Currently in the new JFK Terminal 9 Admiral's Club for the second time today. Outbound flight had a major mechanical and they found us a new plane, thankfully, in this terminal.

There are some pretty peeved people. I think they should all be thankful that 1. We're in the new terminal with decent food options and light and air and space 2. They found us a replacement plane in 15 minutes 3. There is no downgrading of equipment 4. We didn't have to do the terminal 9-8 third world shuffle 5. We didn't find this mechnical somewhere over Saginaw.

So, I'm missing dinner at Dahlia Lounge. There is always Wednesday night. Right?

By some act, my upgrades cleared for both flight.

They were showing March of the Penguins. I wanted to watch it, but I didn't want to be seen bawling next to my very important person who felt like ripping paper during the flight and decided that his secret confidential banking infomation didn't need his attention anymore, so he left them for the cleaning crew.

What a boy.

Like losing a friend

We think we know why you fly - Admiral's Club Logo at SEA.

The American Airlines Admiral's Club in Seattle closes it doors on October 31st. Ironically, I fly out on the Dulles redeye that night. Mid SeptemberAmerican Airlines notified Seattle-based members of the close through mail. The letter explained the closure was due to increasing operating costs and exorbitant rent by the Port of Seattle. I am distressed by the closing for a number of reasons -1. What will happen to all the folks to worked at the club; 2. Could this be the end of mainline service from Seattle; and 3. Why is the port making it so difficult for airlines to do business at SeaTAC. I am also sad because those who fly American Airlines will have no longer have an advocate in Seattle. My relationship with the gate agents is good as well as the the ticketing folks, but honestly, I don't really know them. My interactions with them are minimal thanks to ticketless travel and expedited boarding. I see the AA club crew all the time when I fly on Alaska and American. They call me if my flight is late or I'm going to misconnect and are good at protecting us on later flights. They can do miracles on clearing upgrades, most importantly, they are just good souled and hearted professionals.

I will miss them all.

Coincidentally, The Admiral's Club has just started to sell Lifetime Memberships. Yeah Right.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

falling asleep on the couch means always having an interesting pattern on your cheek

I'm whomped. TH and I did redeye turnarounds last night. Boston for me, DC for TH. The best part was getting off the plane in SEA and leaving the airport together. The worst part, not having enough time to get to DD outside of B security at Logan.

Oh well.

Managed to get to the market to get some Conference pears and more baking apples from Booth Canyon Orchards and some chanterelles for dinner. Don't usually see Conference Pears outside of England.

Tomorrow, more of the same and I'm still in 9B on my outbound. Definitely doomedto coach on the return, but looking forward to a late celebratory dinner at Palace Kitchen. ;)

Friday, October 21, 2005

how to survive a redeye flight

Trust me, I'm an expert.

Take a shower ahead of time, change into something comfortable, find one pair of those eyeshades, some ear plugs and some music ( I prefer soundtracks to fall asleep to).

Don't eat anything heavy for dinner, don't drink anything alcoholic either before or on the plane. Drink water, but you'll wake up somewhere over Buffalo and your seat opponent will be drooling on your shoulder and you'll be trapped.

To avoid being pinned, take the aisle seat.

If you are lucky enough to be flying in First or some sort of configuration where they serve something resembling food, tell the Flight Attendant not to wake you up for such things.

Trust me, food on the plane is not worth waking up for. However, dunkin donuts may be worth waiting for. :)

I'll report back tomorrow.


Friday means ....

Persimmon tree leaves.

Nothing really. Another day, another meeting and another set of priorities and tasks moved up or down the list. The biggest thing that I will look forward to today is going to the University Library to pick up some books on models of peer to peer data sharing. Can you sense the excitement?

The weekend will be long, unfortunately full of the airport and really not very much fun. I just hope by the end I'll have finished my six feet unders and my reading for class. I seem to read, but nothing seems to be sinking in. I think its the dryness of the theory combined with the history selections which I believe don't do the topics in question justice at all.


I remade my kiwi conserve. It looks better.

I have been jonesing for sliced canned peaches. I'm now bummed that I didn't can them myself. It isn't hard, I do it all the time, this year was just not my year. Oh well. There is still time for pears. There is nothing like canned peaches/pears and cottage cheese some days.

I have a million New England pie pumpkins I need to make into either pies or soup. I better get cracking. Tonight I'll be leftovers, but tomorrow it'll be soup. :)

Have a great friday.


Thursday, October 20, 2005

I lost it again

Returned to work to get the makings for dinner that I left in the fridge. At least it got refrigerated and the rocky road is in the freezer.

Sometimes I need a post it note stuck on my head.


pungent memories

Still Life with Quince

Right now, the smell of quinces in the house is overwhelming. I just need to get started on the making of quince jam. The recipe is easy, yet daunting. Making my own quince juice is a big step. I'll have to buy some cheesecloth, but I'm up to the challenge.

My mom uses quinces alot for jams, jellies and for certain stews. They are not used much in this country. As a child, I remember my mom being so excited when she could find just two quinces in Seattle, they were so rare in the stores. However, some folks had them in their yards. My mom would boldy spot a quince tree in a neighborhood and start working her charm. In most cases, she would knock on the door of the house, introduce herself and say how much she admired the tree and would love a few quinces as they reminded her of home. In most cases, the quince tree owner would be ecstatic to rid themselves of the quinces and would tell her to help herself. She would pick what she could, without appearing too greedy and share the bounty with other Iranian cooks who would make amazing preserves and koreshts.

They had a mommy network that would pass on the bounty of things such as unripe grapes for "gureh" or verjus, grape leaves for dolmeh, figs from friends who had moved to Fresno, a special kind of raisin that Iranians have with their tea , sour cherries for a special kind of jam and albaloo polo (not just montmorency would work) . My parents would make a pilgrimage to Mt. Baker Vineyards for their sour cherries, Wapato for melons and small japanese eggplants for pickling and koresht badamjoon, St. Michelle Winery for grape leaves. They often went with other couples and made it a day complete with a elegant picnic and always came home with more to share for those who couldn't take the time off. It is a strong and sweet memory for me.

My parents live in California now, their are tons of Iranian stores with quinces, gureh that is already bottled, more japanese eggplants and the correct kinds of Iranian produce. Finding foods that remind one of home is not a challenge nor surpise any more. My parents still drive to a winery in North San Diego county for grape leaves. They let my mom pick as long as she brings them a lunch of dolmeh once in a while. While they still picnic, its mostly at the beach.

I miss my mom's stories of their trips, often spontaneous and community building. We try to do the same thing at least once a year, but for us its blueberries or peppers.

So, when I smell quinces, I think of my mom and I think the memories of a home 10,000 miles away.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Hah. Before Halloween.

Spotted downtown. Trust me, they make some of the best normal coffee in the world.

I knew it.

I'm not here for this, but I insist you go see The Wailin Jennys at the Tractor Tavern on November 1st. I love them and am seriously bummed I'll miss them. They are looking for restaurant suggestions, so pass them on.

Nothing else going of of note. I was just gifted with approximately 8 lbs of fragrant ripe quinces from our friend Amy who owns Cloud Run Farm in Philomath, Oregon. She makes a lovely quince paste and quince jelly which she sells at the Corvallis Farmer's Market. I'm going to make something of teh same using a recipe from Mes Confitures.

Stay tuned as my jam making seems to be failing this year, but I'm being persistent.

i'm losing it

I just ran an errand that included the purchase of two bags of groceries. They are still in the car. Good thing I didn't buy ice cream.

I'm really really tired.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Fall in the flatirons

They say color has peaked. I will disagree.

I'm in Boulder now. Yesterday was chock a block of meetings followed by a well deserved nap. Last night I accompanied a friend to the 20th anniversary celebration of sushi Zanmai at the Boulder Theater. This black tie event was by invitation only and I was severely underdressed. They let me in anyways. :) Free sushi, checking out all the cocktail dresses, well drinks, karoke, the Zanmai band and all sorts of different entertainment kept us out of trouble for a few hours.

There was more alcohol than food at this shindig, so we headed to the bar at the Boulderado for a quick bite.

It was beautiful here today and will be tomorrow. Sunny,warm and the trees have all changed color. With the Flatirons in the distance and the blue skies, it is heaven, except that I still need to go into the lab for a few meetings tomorrow. At least I'll get out at lunch. :)

Monday, October 17, 2005

what a weekend

White asparagus, purple cauliflower and damn tasty cheese at Wegmans

Spent my Saturday running hither and yon with J. --falling in love with tissue-weight cashmere at Saks-Jandel and watching her put together fabulous outfits with help from the amazing sales associates . They were bringing all sorts of things to try on and it all worked together beautifully. It reminded me of the good life way back when shopping at I. Magnin in downtown Seattle or Bronkas in the Village were similar. Such were the days.

Drove up to No. VA to Minervas for a very complete Indian buffet lunch, walked around the mall at Leesburg hoping to score the elusive jean skirt that wasn't cut for a 12 year old at Barneys (no luck) and then off to one of the most amazing grocery stores of all time -- Wegmans. Wow - what a place, it could take all day to really see the store. Great produce, cheese, deli and everything under the sun. Picked up some washed cheese curds and more of these yummy fennel crackers we found at Joe's Italian Marketplace in Fishkill a few weeks ago.

Had sushi at Murasaki with much lively conversation and then off to a lovely viewing of vacation photos and a short but sweet night at the Dulles Hyatt. This is probably the nicest hotel airport I have stayed at in years down to the Molton Brown toiletries and the copy of bon appetitit!

Thanks to J, N and R for a great weekend and one day you'll all have to come to Seattle so that I can reciprocate.

Not to start Monday off on the wrong foot

My biggest hotel pet peeve : slamming doors. Do you slam the door at home? No. Then don't do in a hotel. It's just not very nice.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

what next, valentine's candy?

They're here . I predict the eggnog latte by November 1st and the first Santa before Veteran's Day.

Whatever happened to looking foward, but not too forward to the season?

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Lazy Saturday

Hyacinth beans - Kitchen garden at Stone Barns at Blue Hill - September 2005

In Bethesda today-should be fun day of Indian food, sushi, running around and enjoying the sunny warmer than Seattle weather. :)

I love DC in the fall. I'm back in little over two weeks for five days. Other than the fact, I'm there for work, I look forward to my visit and putzing after my meetings. I love looking at front gardens around Dupont Circle and Georgetown and enjoying a gin and tonic in the garden of the Tabard Inn.

Wired last night, watched three episodes of Up/Down. I'll be sad when the last dvd is over.

Have a great Saturday.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Cramped quarters and no powerports

Bag, schmag, when are we getting to the museums?

I'm going to DC today to see my friend J and her elusive Sis and BIL (I hope), enjoy some decent weather, read some trashy mystery on the plane and enjoy some Ethiopian food (hint). It should be okay flying. The flight is full, but I'm in a decent seat and there is puportedly food. I'll be doing my rounds at the Pacific Marketplace, natch. J. is picking me up from the airport and I'm treating her to dinner (remember, no 60 dollar bottles of wine, cupcake!). Hopefully, I won't bore her to death. :)

I am testing out a new computer bag that I bought after great deliberation on ebags. This is the model I bought. I should take my laptop, a few files and my new Nikon N50 without feeling like everything is getting crushed. My model (seen above) is not amused in the least. He says it needs to be more "structured" like this. I'll think about it. The bag is nice in that the inside is not also black, so there is a bit of contrast to find things.

So this is my rant about bags in general. I think that we should be able to try bagsout before we commit hundreds of dollars to them. The messenger bag, the little clutch, the luggage, the cute little backpack and especially the wallet. I was skeptical at first, but I'm thinking that this concept is not so bad especially before you make an over 250 dollar commitment or less depending on your budget. Trust me, I'm no trendsetter. I buy bags that are good quality and last a long time, but it would be nice to see how they work with the cell phone, filofax (old fashioned) and wad of keys, not to mention wallet.

I might even consider it - just to find the perfect messenger/laptop bag.


my silver fox

Jacques Cartier de Morbier- Spring 2005

It was sunny and lovely on my drive home on Tuesday. I drove by the playfield and got very sad. It was Jacques favorite place to take a walk. It was a small playfield enclosed and with many trees and good smells. He could amble and snorfle and take his sweet time enjoying life. It wasn't a work out for us, it was just a nice way to spend a half hour talking, watching and chilling. We were never in hurry with Jacques, you couldn't be. He was a very thorough basset (detail-oriented in fact). Yes, when you were trying to get him to go out and do his business and it was cold, it could be exasperating, but still it was okay.

Jacques was not our dog his whole life, he came to us as a middle-aged dog. We did know him his from "tiny stand on your ears" puppyhood and had the honor of extended visits while his master travelled. When his master became homebound, Jacques was his constant companion. He kept his master's attendants walked and kept everyone's spirits up, including ours on our frequent visits South.

We were honored to have him come and live with us and even his cat begrudgingly came to love him.

We lost Jacques in June, one month after his beloved cat died. It was the hardest month I have lived through. I miss them both, especially on days that I come home to a quiet house with no noses appearing in the hall as I open the front door. I miss him especially on the days when I often think "it would be good to be a basset sitting on your couch catching the last rays of sunlight on a fall day". I just miss him and his sister terribly most days.

I hope one day to get another dog (probably another basset) and another cat (something that is as interactive as his cat), but I feel like I need to start remembering more of the good times with Jacques and not thinking of his last days. He filled such a large part of my heart and home that it will be hard to get a dog that will be like him. I guess I should just get over this feeling.phase and realize that every dog is special, no two are the same.

I wish you could have all met him, he was a good guy.


Thursday, October 13, 2005

ammoniacal? Is that a word?

Kiwi love - tenacious as hell.

Ugh, I just paid $3.99 for a typically delightful Bingham Hill Poudre Puff cheese from one of our more bespoke grocery stores. I love this cheese. When just right and ripe, it is like butter or like a nice aged goat's cheese - creamy and a bit sharp. This one is overripe to the point of tasting like ammonia. It is a disappointment and make me realize that grocery stores are not places that offer the d' affineur de fromage - not even places like Dean and Deluca do a good job with these more delicate cheeses. Trust me, I've experimented. I guess I could try Whole Foods again, but honestly, the Roosevelt store scares me. It is crowded no matter when I try and shop, so I leave it to the others.

The grocery store chain in question is having an artisanal cheese festival this month, I should go down when the producers are around and ask if they check how things are aged, displayed and stored. That should be pretty standard, no?

I guess I'm just going to have to rely on mature cheddars and home grown goat cheeses until I make my transatlantic cheese runs in a month or so. ; )

An aside:

I want these. So much, I think I'm just going out tonight to get them.

Since I am missing Saturday market after market, I decided to go to Lake City today. Good market, good stir fry and tamales, but oy, the parking and driving to get there, even from my place of employ. Now, I remember why I don't go here often if I'm in a hurry. However, I did manage to pick up some more kiwis for my conserve.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Hump day - whoop de doo

To scale- not to scale (Pasqua the bear, top pot and ipod still life)

My obsession with Top Pot is going to have to stop soon. These are really good, especially the raspberry glazed chocolate. Mind you, I didn't really have dinner last night, but this is not dinner. This is "I ran three miles around Green Lake and planned for this" kind of treat.

Oh well.

Tired, really really tired today. I slept well last night (unusual for me), but just can't seem to get moving today. It is a long day - work, class, end of board meeting and then getting ready for cleaning diva visit tomorrow. House is neat, just needs the 10 minute per area pick up and put back and we're good to go.

An aside: My kiwi experiment is a flop. I am going to try again this week if TH can pick up some kiwis at the market. I am missing the market again -- going to DC for the weekend. Maybe I should find a market to visit while there, I could use some new cheeses. :)

Tonight is soup night chez nm - I'm thinking carrot soup for dinner with some of Essential's Sweet Perrin and a nice hunk of cheddar from my last trip to Wales. Need to finish off that cheese before London next month.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Best Laid Plans redux

Greenland - FCO - ORD March 2005

Well, it's 10 am and I'm back in Seattle. Flight was on a ground hold so long that I would not make my turnaround, so they rebooked me for another day. No biggie to me. They were cool about it and I get to go to book club tonight. I read the book a few months ago (Curious incident of the dog in the night, but I'll try and punt). It means I can deal with my spreadsheets etc. here. I think I would have preferred the plane, no interruptions.

So, best laid plans fail. I will eat my sandwich for breakfast and my yoghurt parfait for lunch and get to rake leaves this afternoon.


God I'm doing it again

The Pacific Marketplace at Sea-TAC. Decaf bittersweet mocha and something from Dish D'lish awaits me.

Flying back to NYC today. I am crazy and I actually have work to do today on the flight . I have a paper to start writing to submit for a meeting, a presentation to pull together for the end of the month and a spreadsheet that needs my utter concentration. I am hoping that I can pull off some of this today.

On the plane, if pressed I can do anything. There is no hall conversation, no phone calls, no work instant messaging and no interruptions. I love it.

If I'm lucky, I'll have no reclining onto my tray table and be able to get something done. If not, at least I'll catch up on my class reading and catch some zs.

an aside:

I went to blockbuster this evening around 8:30, there was a woman with school aged children and they were rip raring to go get a movie and drink a 2 liter thing of sprite (forget the caffeine, its the sugar)! I was gobsmacked, when did kids start hanging out and getting movies to start watching at 9 pm on a school night?

Me, I'm ready to download the copious spreadsheets I need for tomorrow and then off to sleep.


Monday, October 10, 2005

Happy Mondays

Chihuly at Kew - August 2005

I love Mondays. I'm not a Boomtown Rats fan and I don't care much for the Happy Mondays either. What I love is the idea of starting the week fresh, even if it hasn't nothing that exciting to offer other than yard waste pickup or my cleaning diety coming through. I like passing time until my next adventure or milestone (businesspeak for a project goal).

This week is short for me, I have one day in the air that I plan to catch up on some stuffl I leave earlyish on Friday to go to DC to see my friend J. for a short weekend. My weekend is shot as I have a business trip next week, so all the putzing that most people do on the weekend, I will do in the few days I'm home and upright. I try and run all my errands to and from work, keep things as simple as possible and have hired others to do some of my dirty work (outsourcing is the word of the week). Our time at home is so precious that it is okay to have someone come and mow during the daylight hours. Okay, so I need to discuss the subject of keeping lawn clippings for the compost, but honestly, I just don't have time this year.

Is it expensive? Not really. Do I feel guilty? Slightly, only because he uses a gas mower. Do I enjoy the time I can now spend planting 800 bulbs in the waning autumn light. Yup.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

black gold

Stewartia leaves

Yesterday we finished putting the P-patch to bed for the year- at least the short season one. We finished cutting up the glad leaves, cutting down the tomatillos and the cosmos and left the kale for someone to glean for the food bank. We also migrated about 20 steer manure bags of compost we made in our short season plot and moved it to our long season (permanent plot). This stuff is amazing. Some call compost black gold, I call it Picardo platinum. It is beautiful.

We learned the technique of bag composting from our P-patch neighbor who shared her secret. She pulls up all the seedlings and weeds, chops them up if necessary and then puts them into plastic bags (usually black garbage bags) to compost. Depending on the freshness of the greens, the temperature and the intensity of the sun, we have compost in as a little as 2 weeks. This stuff is amazing and rich. We don't need it as much in the short season which gets tilled and cover cropped every year. The soil in our permanent plot which is awful. We are constantly trying to improve it with amendments.

It was so much fun to dump all the bags into each bed and just revel in its richness. I will dig it in sometime today (if the weather and work permits) and sow some cover crop for the winter.

At home we do a bit of composting, but not to the level of our P-patch compost operation. We have a worm bin that is hard to keep up with (feeding them, not the actual compost). I thought it would difficult, but its quite fun to see what the heck they are eating. We compost leaves and grass clippings too, but I need to do a better job of that.

Worm composting information can be found here. General compost information can be found here.

In Seattle, coffee grounds can be obtained from Peets and Starbucks (call ahead for availablity). These are great addition for the worm bin. Ours is quite caffeinated. :) You can also call your local independent coffee place and offer to take their coffee grounds, they'll love you for it.

Winter composting or lasagne composting can be done very simply by just layering green material with leaves or brown materials much like a lasagne and covering with burlap sacks. Call a small coffee roaster to see if they have some laying around. They make great path material as well as covering the compost. They smell pretty darn good also.

Too much knowledge is a dangerous thing

New Years day 2004 Roma

I'm currently trying to book an apartment in Rome for a four day visit. Sounds pretty simple right? Well, no. I lived in Rome for three months as a graduate student and felt like I got to know the historic center pretty well. I go back there for a week or 10 days every year and I know what I like and what I don't like. The place we usually stay has a minimum stay of a week so we're looking for a short let. As I surf the web looking for apartments I feel like I'm reading personal ads, trying to tease out what the adjectives and descriptions really mean. I also know where the "party on down" hot spots are located. I I know that I don't want to end up somewhere where I have to push away drunks to get the portone open. It is a challenge when you know an area so well you can be choosy.

I feel like I am basically looking for a perfect match for this brief visit:

ISO a brief affair:

Me: picky Rome loving F, NS, very quiet ISO of a short term relationship with a refurbished, but historically accurate 16th-18th century palazzo in the centro storico. Elevator is not necessary, heat is.

Caro apartemento needs to have:

At least one bedroom (no loft with 20 stairs to bathroom at night, thank you very much)
a bath with a shower
a kitchen that is more than just a hot plate/tiny fridge
washing machine (after a week of travelling, its nice to have clean smalls)
a view of something interesting (even if you need climb stairs to get there)
somewhere that quiets down at night
somewhere close (5 minute walk) to good coffee and a market

All available in mid December for a four day visit and under 200 euros a night.

Why an apartment over a hotel? Eating stuff from the market, laundry, being able to stretch out and chill if the weather is gloomy and a bit of autonomy.

Anyways, I keep on trolling the web looking for the perfect match. I hope we can find eachother.

An aside:

My trip to JFK was uneventful. I landed at the new terminal to find out my flight was leaving from the old terminal, so I ran to the club and had them print my boarding pass. I tromped over to the new terminal, waded through the massive lines , got to the gate with little time to spare to realize we weren't going anywhere. They couldn't get the jet bridge to work, so the poor folks on the inbound we're still stuck on the plane. We moved gates (10, my favorite delayed to London gate) and we took off an hour late. Decent flight with no one next to me. That was heaven alone...

I spent today putzing around. It was a fine thing.

More about that later....


Saturday, October 08, 2005

Sometimes its a good thing to pack your own

I'm flying today, so I am keeping myself sane by watching a few episodes of upstairs/downstairs, listening to some ambient music on the Ipod, taking a nap to the Rushmore soundtrack, read for my seminar, and eat something to pass the time away.

More often than not, I'm flying in domestic First because I buy tickets that are confirmed upgradeable or my upgrades clear. This means a bigger seat and food (sometimes). Food is not necessarily that great, its just something to do to pass the time. One one flight that I take, I have pretty much rejected the breakfast offering and now bring my own baked apple or yoghurt parfait to pass the 2 hours and 19 minutes to San Diego.

Today I'm flying 5 hours. I will have visited my favorite new addition to the airport, Cafe Dilletante and had a nice extra dark mocha. I will have made a sandwich from home and then brought a bottle of water and an apple and a bit of cheese. That should do me until New York.

My flight back has been upgraded. I will probably diss the food or ask for the set up (just the nuts, salad and roll) in hopes that we'll go somewhere decent when I get home. I'm thinking Tulios. ;)

However, life these days is uncertain. The weather in NY does not look good. I'll be packing a luna bar, some nuts and some cheese in case I'm stuck in the airport later. The terminal I land at is not known for delicatable eats.

One colleague who travels a lot to Alaska says that domestic flying these days is a lot like flying to the Aleutians -- bring a good book (two in fact), something to eat and realize that it may take more than one day to get to your destination. He is a wise man.

An aside -- I'm thinking that this may work for some, but not for me.

Airtroductions - meeting people on the plane . Frankly, I'll sit by you, I'll make polite conversation during the meal, but I don't want to talk, I don't want to hear your life story and I don't need to be part of your pyramid selling scheme.

However, if you have tried it, do tell.


Friday, October 07, 2005

How I will spend my Saturday

Campari still life - Quimper, France September 2004

Tomorrow, I embark on something that I am not proud of. I am flying for the sole reason that I need miles. Yes, I am short about 15,000 miles this year and there is a big difference between sitting with 85,000 miles and 100,000 miles flown to date when there are 8 confirmed upgrades to business class that are there for the taking... So, I did the math, bowed to the great circle route mapper, whipped up an excel spreadsheet and started looking for cheapish fares that would get me the miles and not take me to Peoria via Tallahassee in the shortest amount of time. The following is an email I sent some friends nearly two years ago when I did the same thing, but only once.

To: JK, BH et. al
From: NM
Subject: what not to wear or do on a transcon

I am so embarassed that I spent most of last night and most of today flying. Really. I question my allegiance to money grubbing airlines who treat me like the queen that I deserve to be, most of the time.

Leave the house at 8 pm, go to blockbuster, get a few dvds, go to airport. It's beautiful in seattle, Why am I leaving? Get to airport, try to check in for return flight, won't let me do it. I don't understand why, Alaska lets you check in for as many segments as you want within 30 hours of flight time.Go to club, have nice lady try to price out itinerary to London, it's expensive. Sit in club, get bored go to gate. Get to gate, we are late by at least 20 minutes to board. It is a white boy flight (WBF) except for some of those overly new yorky women. Flight is smooth, but the flight attendants insist and really insist on gabbing at full volume in the galley during most of flight, I am in seat 1b, i am not is passable. I have a few almonds, a light gin and tonic and eat the inside of my quiche. I forgo the rest, I try and fall asleep to billy bragg.

Finally wake up to realize that we are about 25 minutes late arriving, this is not good as I don't have a boarding pass for my next flight, set in a mild panic.Thankfully we land and my next gate is only 3 away. Flight is really really full, volunteer, they take me and I get a measly voucher for 200 bucks (covers my next nyc flight in august) and put me on a jfk-stl-sea flight. I take it because that service is gone as of next month (can you believe it?).

The gate agents are super duper bitches, I request to be put on the waitlist for a FC seat and she refuses. I tell her that she is a great piece of American work, she feels the same about me. Notice that she does not give me a connecting boarding pass for my STL to SEA flight. This makes me a bit suspicious.

Schelp through the third world airport that is terminal 8 at jfk. Oy the masses that should consider shower to shower! Go to terminal 9 and right to the Admiral's Club, explain my lack of boarding pass to the head agent/receptionist. Turns out I don't have a seat or a flight coupon, she fixes it for me and gets me an exit row. Okay, no upgrades available.FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY AA CAREER (JULY 2001 - current) I AM SITTING IN COACH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, I'm okay with this. Go to au bon pain, get a yoghurt, coffee and wrap, skipped the chocolate chip cookies and milk the AA offers on the SEA-JFK flight at 5:30 AM. Maybe a breakfast buritto, but a cookie? Go through the line, take out laptop, blah, blah, go to second world gate area at terminal 9, reconsider coming home and consider getting on flight to Aruba. Board past all the fc passengers --- hey, I am one of you, get wistful for a second. Actually I don't really like the AA FC md80 seats, so I'm okay. Row 10 has good leg room, power ports and they block the seat next to me.

Did I mention the Campus Crusade for Christ has about 75 of the coach seats on this plane. It was scary, lots and lots of bibles open and they were wearing lanyards with their IDS. I was scared.

Sit on plane, we're not going anywhere, we have a mechanical. Call Executive Plat desk, they protect me on the following Seattle flight. Now I won't get home until 5 pm. I'll have three hours to sit and work in STL. Not bad, not good. Finally leave, work for a while, realize that we are making up time, but we are at gate by 11:45 --- gate D18 to gate c27. Can she do it? Her next plane leaves at noon.She runs, she sprints, she knocks over old people and she makes it. :)

Even manages to get a bistro bag which in her opinion is way better than most FC meals served on AA. No powerports on this plane, so i read, watch the Sopranos and think. Good views, but i'm on the aisle. Good service and very comfortable, I may reconsider using upgrades for short flights.

So, I'm home now and not in the mood to go anywhere. Unfortunately, that is not an option.I am so happy my lucy yoga pants were comfortable and I was wearing running shoes, cause I needed them today!


Wish me luck, the weather at JFK tomorrow afternoon doesn't look that hot and my upgrade only cleared one way.


Thursday, October 06, 2005

Things that I can believe

Arbutus unedo - strawberry tree

I'm taking a class this quarter, a seminar actually. I'm the perpetual student. I have a degree, several in fact. I yearn for more. I secretly wish I could go back and get a Ph D. but I leave that to one per family at one time and right now the coveted spot is filled. So, I keep my mind going in directions it wouldn't necessarily go at work by finishing up a professional certificate that keeps me out of the house at least one night a week.

Is it fun? Most of the time. Do I feel old? God yes. I'm sitting around this seminar room full of grad students and thinking to myself. Geez, I am too old for this. I'm ready to scream "Hey, life sucks, sometimes you have to do what you are told at work and sometimes it is better to just work the system from the inside". I just want some of these newly minted grad students to realize that life isn't all about sustainable living and mass transit. It is about mortgages, dealing with ornery folks at work, finding a pair of tights in the morning without runs and figuring out for the 19th time this month "WHAT WE ARE HAVING FOR DINNER". I left seminar just feeling cranky. I loved the topic - tenement reform and rational planning. Being a scientist by training, rational planning sounds so logical to me, doing planning for a living (in one way) shows no sign of rational behavior. Tenement reform and housing is fascinating as well, but maybe not before dinner.

However, I will keep my nose to the grindstone, keep my comments to myself and learn something new for the next ten weeks.

In the spirit of my need to just tell you something --

I just took my watch in to get a new battery. Dearest ones, this is a very lovely watch, which I love and covet and they offered me a service loaner! A service loaner? My car dealership doesn't give me squat when I take my car in. However, as lovely this loaner is, the watch band stinks of the perfume du jour of said house of couture. Yech. Gave me a headache to the point of taking the watch off during working hours. Its amazing how often you put your watch next to your face....I'll be glad to get my watch back in 10 working days.

We were the recipient of a lovely gallon bag of freshly roasted New Mexico/Arizona green chile. I came home to a yummy turkey green chile stew adapted from the Coyote Cafe cookbook. I look forward to making more yummy green chile stew dishes and revisiting an old favorite cookbook.

Well, time to log off and consider hitting the pillows..

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

flat surfaces

Teeny, weenie and bubba

I keep things pretty neat at home. It has taken a while, but the dining room table is always ready for dinner, recycling doesn't pile up and we always have clean clothes. Once in a while, the one thing that gets to me are the aggegrations of flat surface attractants. We have a few designated places for these to evolve and grow (zoned for the specific purpose). These "petri dishes" tend to accumulate the wierdest things -- on the stairs alone I encountered three sets of eyeshades the airlines hand out. One I can understand, but three? Small shampoos from hotels, boarding passes, old receipts, extra shoelaces and safety pins were also spotted. Yesterday morning they finally drove me to accumulate one big pile which I put on the bed and vowed to sort as soon as I got home.
Well, it was soon time to go to sleep and I wastempted to move that pile over and get some zs. But I did go through it for five minutes, do the Dave Allen thing and then got to rest on a flat surface that was clean.

I repeated the same process with my study. However, instead of dealing with the toppling pile on my chair, I decided to take the Thor, the laptop into the living room to finish up my day. The pile can sit on the chair another 24 hours before I deal with those papers. There are bills in there, so that pile will get dealt with tomorrow.

Getting organized is hard, staying organized is harder. I use three methods that work well together.

Dave Allen - Getting things done - great for those procrastination people - me included.
The Flylady - okay, this is a bit hokey, a bit over the top, but it works.
Julie Morgenstern - If I could have her over for lunch, it would be a dream. I would love for her to see my office and give me a few pointers.

More randomness- Last night I made jam, why? I was sick of looking at these peaches purchased with the intention of eating, but they were not the best eating peaches. I used Christine Ferber's Mes Confitures recipe for peach jam and was not too pleased with the results.

Initially things looked good, but the second boiling did not yield the lovely syrup I had hoped. I canned it anyways and we'll have it with waffles.

I'm hoping that there will be quinces at the market this week. I could use some quince preserves. Quince compote with ginger poundcake.... Yum.

The last of the pears should be picked tomorrow. I can't believe how lovely they look.

Dinner tonight? I'm thinking out. Really.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

What did and didn't work....

Dinosaur Kale - October 2, 2005

Putting the Ppatch to bed for the winter is always a bit sad. I look at all the earthworms, the compost we made and all the sunflower seeds scattered around and I get excited for next year. Every year, I grump at the huge cosmos stalks, some the diameter of corn stalks and I vow to pull them up when they are small. They are so pretty, especially the ones that are variegated. I say the same about my cornflowers until I rip up the wiry plants and wish I had a machete.

This year we had a nice crop of tomatoes, mostly pastes (juliet and family) picked up at the U. District Farmer's Market from Billy's Garden and Langeley Fine Gardens. Both of these folks grow great plants and we try and give them the best care possible.

We tried something new this year, a Caspian Pink tomato and it just didn't do well. The tomatoes cracked (we did not overwater) and then just didn't ripen. I was truly disappointed as I could have happily planted another nice paste tomato in its place.

The kale went crazy, as did the chard. We didn't get a lot of carrots this year, but since our devoted carrot eater is no longer with us, it didn't seem to matter as much. We had a bumper crop of summer squash, basil and raspberries, but staples such as lettuce, beets and dahlias just seemed to wither.

I have to say that the summer travel schedule probably did not contribute to the state of the P-patch, but a lot of these things are pretty hardy. Next year, I hope to concentrate on a few dependables -- kales, tomatoes,lettuce that will not bolt, basil, summer squash, acorn squash and shallots. These are all things we'll devour. I will plant more interesting glads than last year (too much pink) and make sure my zinnias are also represented.

The P-Patch program is an amazing thing. I have been a P-Patcher at the Picardo site for the last 16 years, I have a house with a large garden, but you couldn't keep me away from the soil that I have helped build for anything. Even when I curse our long season bed that is full of quack grass and bindweed, I love the 'Alister Stella Gray' rose that blooms in the spring, my huge asparagus bed, the peonies, and the raspberries that bear from June to October.

Go to the City of Seattle Ppatch program website to get more information about community gardens in Seattle. Click here for information on community gardening in general.

A bit of a diversion, which I am very fond of:

Trader Joes now has dried cape gooseberries. Tart, tangy and never seen here before. This is a very cool thing.

What I am listening to today: Screaming Trees - Invisible Lantern, Levity soundtrack, I-10 Chronicles....and trying to learn this new project management colloboration software...

Oh, I guess I could go on, but the weather is nice and I want to whack back the wisteria.


Monday, October 03, 2005

Finally, a new place to walk to in the hood

Cake with sprinkles, a still life.

We have anxiously been awaiting the arrival of the Top Pot Doughnuts to the Wedgewood neighborhood (though, it is officially still in R/B). It opened to great fanfare earlier this month after a summer of daily drive-bys to note progress on the building. It is now open and quite lovely on the inside. Nice and airy, lots of tables, a big window to sit by. Outdoor seating is available for those who wish to take their four footed friends out for a stroll followed by a cake doughnut. The palm trees are a great addition to the location as is the large toroid that serves a doughnut.

The neighborhood needs a place like Top Pot, open late, free wireless, mellow tunes, walkable and independent. It is next to Grateful Bread which makes some fabulous bear claws and Danish and is also a nice community hang out with live music. The best part of both these places is that they don't involve the urge to purchase 1. 175 dollar jeans 2. a designer purse that is the equivalent of a mortgage payment or 3. corporate coffee. I can live with that. : )

I'm sure that more of my trips to the library will be on foot from now just to compensate for that latte I'll imbibe on my way back. For me its an uphill climb and a nice leisurely walk back, which I will spend checking out garden happenings in the 'hood.

Now, if they would only make doughnut holes or bear cub claws.

Top Pot is open: M-F 6 AM to 10 PM
Sat-Sun 7 am to 10 PM

Gratetful Bread is open: M-F 7 AM-7 PM
Sa 7:30 AM-6:30 PM
Sun 8 AM-6 PM


Sunday, October 02, 2005

Rain rain go away

Waiting for a coffee delivery near Macrina on Queen Anne.

Last night and this morning it rained a lot. A good soaking rain, but definitely not good if you are walking around in ballet flats and without a hat. The garden can use a soak and the lawn is greening up. Honestly, if you don't have to be out, it is a good day to stay home and curl up on the couch with a good book. In my case, it is readings on the theory of planning. I'll leave the new Earl Emerson for the evening after my seminar.

So today we hit the West Seattle Farmer's market in search of roasted green chiles, made a lovely omelette. Yum.

I managed to coax mom to give me her recipe for candied arctic kiwis that she serves as a compote. I hope it works and is lovely as hers. I also finished cooking up the last of the home grown tomatoes into sauce. It isn't the usual bounty, so I'll be freezing instead of canning.

Kiwi Compote - Step by Step.

1. Get the ingredients together. 1 cup water, 1.5 cups of sugar, 1 pt container of firm, but ripish arctic kiwis.

2. Make a simple syrup of sugar and water. Bring to a boil and then cool.

3. Add kiwis and gently heat, you don't want them to burst, like cranberries. However, that would be novel for Thanksgiving.

4. Once they are heated through, you can take them off the heat, put them in another container and refrigerate. The sugar will be absorbed and you will have glaceed kiwis suitable as a compote.

Also picked the rouge vif d'etampes pumpkins and our hubbard squashes (tiny, weeny and bubba) and started putting the P-patch to bed. Unlike last year, we did not have a bumper crop of winter squash. One lone delicata squash in one bed. It was sort of pathetic. However, live, learn and next year, plant acorn squash.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Feels like Fall

Long Island Cheese Pumpkins et al. at the Tonnemaker's stand at U. District Market
Cool, grey with hints of blue this morning. Hit the gym bright and early and went to the U District farmer's market and TJ's with our friend B. Nice to be back into the normal routine for at least eight days. The squash are lovely as are the roasting peppers. It is nice to see Booth Family Orchards back this year with some very lovely apples. I picked up my five for my daily baked apple and two for a fennel and apple salad.

Choice had bulbs, only picked up some Emily MacKenzies as I figured we'd see what we could find at the Arboreteum Sale.

Sale was great, we spent lots of money, got lots of very cool bulbs. On the way home , I realized that I had a whole new bed to plant as I just dug out all the old raspberries that were in a very strange part of the garden. Sweet. This is the part of the garden I see from my study, so I'm very stoked. Time to get the bulb names written down in the book and the decide where the heck we're going to plant them!

Other than that, just a normal, grey Seattle Fall Saturday, without the joy of football hoards clogging the streets around the University. :)

Baked Apple Recipe:

Core as many apples as you want
Stuff center with muscavado sugar (I'm thinking 1/2 t)
Add a pinch of pumpkin pie spice (or a combo of nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and allspice)
Stuff the rest of the core with muesli or granola (we're featuring apple granola from TJ's)

Bake in a 350 oven until soft. Try and keep those apples from collapsing, but they taste great anyways.

Cool and serve with Fage Total Greek Yoghurt.