Friday, March 31, 2006

Things that vex

Crocii in the lawn, chez nm, Spring 2006.

TH called me while I was at the store on Wednesday. Turns out our lawn dude (yes, we have one) came by and mowed. He mowed down our crocuses. WTF? For the first time in my life, I actually fired someone on the spot. He was confused. He thought I told him to wait until the crocuses has stopped blooming to start mowing. He was wrong. I said, I would call him when we needed him. We typically don't mow until the crocus foliage dies down and the energy goes back to the bulbs. For a guy who has gone through the master gardener program, he's a few nutrients short of the 10-10-10 N,P,K ratio needed by most bulbs.

So, what do you do?

TH went out and bought some little containers of tete a tete daffodils and spread them through the lawn. It looks better.

I was chatting up the clerk at MM, bemoaning my lawns fate. She gave me the name of her parent's lawn guys and says they are good. So, hah, now I have a name. Poor Ms. C who asked me the day after the massacre for the name of the lawn dude. I hope this other person works out better. I have to say MM is one of the best things to happen to View Ridge/Bryant in a long time. Thanks peeps.

This morning on my way to work. I looked at the lawn and peeking out of the edge was the purple of two late blooming crocuses that made it through the edging and mowing and give us a sign of life.


Thursday, March 30, 2006

word cloud

Word cloud, March 2006.

From snap shirts website that I found while following a Seattle blogger, Michelle de Seattle, from Jenorama's blog. I hope you are feeling better today. Yowch.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

ducks in a row

Angus, the scottish duck. Edinburgh, Scotland March 2004.

Ack, it is tax season and other than knowing where all my stuff is, I haven't done diddly to get it to my dearest accountant who I'm sure is just salivating to get cracking on my taxes.

So, tonight, I will sit with the pile of papers, the statements and try and give her a glimpse of where the heck all that money went.

I have to say, that I should be getting a honking return, which will be nice as it ain't going to be that way much longer.

Right after tax season, she'll be vacationing I'm sure and you all will promise me you'll do a better job than me of getting your ducks in a row before next tax season rolls around. Right?

The same can be said for updating your wills, estate planning, figuring out your withholding, doing a FSA through your employer and maybe taking a few more dollars out of your paycheck pre-tax. I had three good conversations this past weekend with three women who are in charge of their finances and they all convinced me that I need to be a better job of dealing with my pre-tax dollars.

Thanks ladies.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

New Year's the Roman way

My haft sin, March 2006 in Rome. Funny thing was that just down street (via) of our apartment was a Persian Rug shop with a lovely haft sin and a nice sign for Persian New Year. I purposefully walked that way daily just to see it.

I liberated my hyacinth (sombol) in the planter outside of our building. I will visit it sometime next Spring and hope it is flourishing.


Monday, March 27, 2006


Originally uploaded by flora and flying.
Okay, I'm lame and busy and tired. Here is a little bit of my mom's ajil for your perusal.

I think there is a tad left and I went to the Iranian grocery store on Saturday for some dried mulberries and a few more almonds.

For those of you who are wondering what the heck is up, I'm just tired and trying to catch up with my life.

More later on this most beautiful spring day.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

hyacinth and going home

Hyacinth, March 2006.

On my way home from Rome, sitting in the Cathay Pacific First Class lounge at LHR dining on shumai and other delectables. The Hong Kong flight has boarded and we have the lounge to ourselves. Our transit has been remarkably easy this time. Bulkhead on BA, upgraded on AA and I'm looking forward to reading a few magazines, taking a nap and getting my menu ready for my persian new year dinner.

See you all later.


Monday, March 20, 2006

Happy New Year - Aide shomah mobarak

Haft sin, Rome March 2005.

Happy New Year 1385 from chez NM to you.

May this year be much better than last year and the the following years even better.

Peace to all.

For more information about Persian New Year, please visit Persian Mirror.


Saturday, March 18, 2006

out for coffee

Cafffe Camerinno, the coffee with three fs. Rome, December 2005.

We'll be back in a few days, so just sit tight.


Friday, March 17, 2006

miracles happen

Roman holiday, March 2006.

My camera showed up today, just when I was starting to really groove on J's Fuji that he kindly sent me. I promised him I'd send him a cd of my pics, so I'll try real hard.

I'm almost packed and if the weather goddesses are with us, we'll make it through DFW between rain and thunder.

Later taters.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

airline pet peeve number 344

Well, more like an airport club one. People who speak very loudly on their cell phones in relatively quiet lounges when there are little work cubicles to be had.

The US airways lounge in BOS is pretty nice. Decent tarmac views and other than self-important peeps and the inability to carry in outside coffee, it works.

That does not work.

Had a fabulous day in Boston. Dinner last night at Durgin Park with a really great waitress (yes, J, she was great) who gave us two tips for places to get a lobster pizza and lobster roll next time we have a car.

Hotel was good too, nice suite upgrade and welcome from the GM. It was a bit out of the way, not really in Cambridge, so we had a 9 buck cab ride each way into Harvard Square. After the conversation with Jacques, the taxi driver, discussing his plans for opening a pizzeria, I decided that I was hungry again. Half a felafel sandwich from Cafe Algiers helped ameliorate that. :)

A walk from Newbury street through the Common towards Locke Ober was brisk and sunny. We had a great lunch and toasted TH's father who loved the restaurant. I had a great lobster salad and carrot ginger soup. TH had lobster bisque and roast beef hash. We left sated and killed some time at Filene's Basement.

Now, we're at the airport, getting excited (?) to go home. I'm hoping to get some work done. If not, I'm hoping that I'll just get some sleep.

Back home tomorrow and then off to Rome.

B--- you'll get your ajil tomorrow. :)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

not for tourists

Not for tourist guides - available at many independent bookstores or

I love these guides. We have one for Boston which we'll use today and the one for DC is equally as useful.

I'm a big fan of alternative guidebooks, not the Fodors, Rick Steves or Frommers variety, but more like Time Out or Cadogan. In France I like the Routard guides and the Paris est a nous, which I have blogged about in the past.

The NFT guides are great local guides with hints on parking, where the nearest good food is and the maps are easy to read. I recommend you pick one up the next time you are going to Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco or Chicago or another fine metropolis.

Other good on line guides include Gridskipper and I'm always happy to search and post on Egullet and if it is seat pitch, airline lounges or what they are serving in first class Paris-Singapore I'll happily use the search function on Flyertalk.

Me, I'm looking forward to dinner at Durgin Park (I know, I know, but the coffee jello...) and lunch and Lock Ober.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

the eve before the last wednesday of the new year

It is nice to be able to celebrate more than one new year. In this case, we're getting ready bit by bit chez nm for the Iranian New Year. Granted I don't do the big huge celebration that you would see in the Southland, but in my own little martha-ey way, I get things together. Alas, like last year we'll be in Rome, we know when New Years will be and we'll do our portable haft sin as usual.

Today is the the celebration of last wednesday before the new year also known as Chahar Shanbeh Soori, the traditions are based on Zoorastrian Fire Festival. People light fires and you are to jump over them getting rid of the illness and bad juju and bring happiness to the new year. We do it in the small scale, a candle on the porch. In the past we would pass the candle under Jacques and Roya and jump over it ourselves.

The other tradition is to eat a noodle soup - ashe reshteh and to have a special fruit and nut mix (ajil) that one's mother is kind enough to provide.

The chahar shanbeh souri ajil

In equal proportions mix

Shelled pistachios
Roasted chick peas (found in Iranian grocery stores)
Almonds (fresh and non toasted is great)
hazelnuts ( I like mine roasted)
Dried figs (these little ones are very dry and yummy)
Dried apricots (my mom skips this step)
Raisins (we use two kinds - flame and sultanas)

Mix together and enjoy during the next three or four weeks, if it lasts that long.

Nushe jan!
Eat up, buttercups. My friends will attest to the yumminess of the mixture. TH leaves behind the chickpeas (my mom often makes a chickpea free version for her) and B. eats TH's chickpeas. Its a win/win situation.

The outpouring

Thank you all you lurkers who have emailed me or asked TH if I'm okay after my smooth move last Thursday.

Let's put it this way, I am staying away from watering cans, benches and woodstoves for the foreseeable future.

I'm touched.



Monday, March 13, 2006

my manicurist hates this time of year

No matter how many pairs of latex gloves I don, my nails looks like crap this time of year. She's going to be very cranky later today.

She's going to have to live with it, its definitely time to get dirty. Two pairs of socks is not enough to keep the earth out of my froggy boots.

It'll be vamp red toes for me starting next week or maybe I should go with something more earthy?


Sunday, March 12, 2006

rogue daffodils

Not so rogue daffodils, March 2005.

Today I spent the day going to and fro our fair city including a trip down Montlake Blvd with a requisite stop for bridge traffic. It was a beautiful and sunny day and who could blame folks for taking their boats out even if it means that the rest of us have to turn off our engines and hope that we'll make it across the cut before the next set decides to go through snarling traffic further.

If it wasn't a lovely glorious sunny day it would really suck, but it gave me a chance to admire what we call rogue daffodils, the daffodils that have naturalized on the slope between Montlake and the Burke-Gilman trail. We look forward to their appearance as they brighten our trips to and from our neighborhood to Montlake, Dowtown and the eastside.

Pretty much everywhere with the exception of Alaska should be seeing the first of the narcissus up and at em. I can't tell you how much it brings joy to my heart to see them popping up and spreading as the years go by.


Friday, March 10, 2006

what a day

When you start out your day by spending 10 minutes trying to hunt down your orange coffee mug you know it is going to be one of those days.

I have no big plans for the weekend. I'm actually here all weekend, I get to go to airport to pick up TH, but no flying or trains for me. I'm quite happy.

I'm ready to collapse now, so that is what I'm going to do.


Thursday, March 09, 2006

flat on the keester

Twice this week, the first time was last Friday morning going through the turnstile at the Gare du Nord Metro station, I went forward with my computer bag and my rollaboard did not cooperate. By the time we yanked it out, I went flying and landed butt first onto the landing. Very graceful.

Today I was watering some plants on our porch and standing on a picnic bench. I fell off and hit my back against the Franklin stove that used to grace our living room/dining room before the floors were done. I think if I had been anticipating the fall, it would have been worse. Good thing I was wearing a charcoal grey wool coat as I think I would be covered in soot and to the cleaners tomorrow. So, just call me grace, because this week I have proven to be not very light on my feet and happy to show it to the world.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Time shifting

This morning I went to a session at AAG on Podcasting and alternative technologies entitled Unfiltered: Podcasting, blogging and knowledge transmission. It was probably the best thing I saw today. Having just opened my brain to the concepts of podcasting, rss feeds and really how we deal with the constant bombardment of information and the best ways of filtering it to what we need and to determine what is the most accurate.

One thing that they did talk about was the concept of time shifting, which originated from recording television shows onto videotape for later transmission. Life is now about time shifting, paying bills on line with different due dates, tivo, podcasting, buy now, pay later. Time is both crucial as things happen so fast and yet, we try to make things work with our now hectic and managed schedules.

This alone is a topic of a dissertation.

TH and I had a great lunch today at Rhapsody. The weather was nice and we both decided that we could not stand eating out of a plastic clamshell, so we splurged and had a nice three course meal for 20.06. We're heading back out now for a plenary and dinner with dear friends. Sad to say, I have to be up at the COD for a 8:15 flight.

At least my upgrade cleared. :)


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

back in chicago

Today and tomorrow. Just had dinner with my bro and now I'm sitting on the couch of my room looking at the river and the Wrigley building. The weather is fine and tomorrow I look forward to seeing some great talks and catching up with some friends. I didn't score the Monarch suite this time but its still pretty decent. As TH stated four hotel room in 4 days is a bit much for her.

I'm hoping to do a bit of shopping while I'm here, but other than that, its work, work, work.

I love a city where 2 bucks gets you from the airport to downtown.


Monday, March 06, 2006

that nagging feeling

Signage, Lurie Garden, Chicago, January 2006.

I was awoken by my neighbor's car alarm at 4:37 am. I was actually asleep and I thought that it was one of our cars. Nope, it was his POS that continues to beep/screetch/honk at various and sundry times of the night and day and does he do anything? No.

Me thinks its time for a little talk.

Anyhoo, now that I am up, I am thinking that I am not sure if I have a hotel reservation this week for my trip to Chicago. I'm pretty positive that I did make a hotel reservation when the meeting dates were announced, but I'm not positive, thus the nagging feeling.

I log into my account and low and behold, no reservation pops up. Yikes. I go to my email and there is a reservation, but starting tomorrow not today. So, I check and I can get a reservation, which is a save. However, I'm now hoping that my reservation is still valid. If not, we'll be hotel hopping from McCormick place to Deerfield to the airport and somehow I'm not sure we're up for it...

None the less, TH has a room for tonight and given how she's been feeling, that is a good thing.


Sunday, March 05, 2006

not quite the wrap up to the weekend

TH is sick and is still in BRU. I think she tangled with something and honestly, it was better she just stay in bed today. I am quite used to travelling by myself, sometimes I prefer it. However,when I left her feeling miserable in the hotel room at 6:45 this morning, it felt strange, as if I was leaving part of me there.

She'll be flying tomorrow if she feels up to it. I can't thank the change desk in BRU enough for making some changes and getting her out tomorrow without the tortuous four hours that I have in JFK right now. It is too short to go anywhere and too long to sit here. The flight across was gorgeous - sunny across Belgium and France and England and beautiful when we made landfall in Canada. I got some really nice views of Long Island which is great since I'm currently working with that data.

The best thing is that I will finish that darn book before I leave here. Oops, I better go find something else to read.



Saturday, March 04, 2006

It's Saturday, I know I'm in Brussels

Oy, what a day.

Off to a cafe I know of near the canal and rue antoine daensaert. They have some really good hot chocolat and decent coffee.

Sunny and cold here, better than cold, sleet and grey of Paris...

More later.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

travel necessities

travel necessities
Originally uploaded by flora and flying.
Here in the ORD Flagship Lounge, the second time in two weeks. I was supposed to go through New York today, but the ever vigilant TH check the weather report for JFK and we rearranged our flights. I tried using the superduper premium line and was told I could buy a new ticket. TH went the not so super duper route and they rebooked us, retained our domestic upgrades and got us the bulkhead in coach. Good thing, because our original flight to JFK was cancelled this morning.

So, the lounge is starting to fill with VIP (in their own mind) types doing important things and chowing down on chicken skewers, scallops wrapped in bacon and strange triangle shaped things of which I am afraid of.

I'm hitting the DD for a nice big coffee (decaf) preflight and a half an ambien.

I have noted some of David Lebovitz's favorite chocolate places to try on this trip. The weather appears to be defective, so me thinks we'll be visiting Christian Constant for a TH chocolat chaud tasting.

A bienot.

I'll be blogging remotely. I think.


70K and counting

The Falls available at your local bookstore.

I have been carrying this book back and forth in my laptop bag for the last five months. I am giving it one more chance and if I doesn't move me, its going to be let free at a nice little English bookshop near Jardin de l'Odeon in the 6th.

I do this, buy a book and it doesn't move me to read it, it taunts me, it makes me feel guilty and then I either leave it at home or at my last destination. TH is a big believer in bringing as many books as possible, she reads voraciously and is always fearful that she'll run out of things to read en voyage.

So, her bag is laden with books that will soon be jettisoned and replaced with ballotins of chocs.

Sounds like a fair tradeoff.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

another pathetic evening chez ff

JK says her life is pathetic. She went to a show last night. I bored my seminar with my discussion of mapping flood markers in Rome and now at 11:30 pm, I am downloading data onto my laptop to take on vacation.


No worries, TH is right with me, working on her talk for a meeting on Wednesday.

Very PoMo here. Dueling laptops with external harddrives. Me thinks next we need a roomba and an espresso machine.