Monday, December 31, 2007

the end of the year

Beautiful day here in Rome, all of them have been spectacular so far. Sunny, not warm, but very comfortable for walking and taking in the sights.

Tonight we'll be watching Rome celebrate the new year with military grade fireworks, lots of singing and screaming and hugging and kissing.
We'll be eating lentils and cotechino, braised greens, fennel salad and toast in the new year with a nice barbera and prosecco. Chocolates from Paris, typical Roman cookies and Sicilian clementines will finish off our celebrations. It is a good life, we have, we are lucky.

All day long the streets and monuments have been filled with Romans enjoying the day. We stood in the museum of the Capitoline taking in the sights and amazed at the number of people walking in the Forum amongst the ruins. Later we enjoyed a lovely lunch in the Ghetto where TH enjoyed her trippa alla romana and I tested my new gold standard in pasta - cacio e pepe.

The air is filled with people wishing each other a good new year, blessings and good fortune. Every five to ten minutes it sounds like the cannon that sits at the top of the Janiculum hill is going off, but that is just Roma saying goodbye to 2007 and hello to 2008.

I wish the same for you, happy new year and may 2008 be filled with joy, good health and love.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

the great leap forwards

View from the terrace, December 2007 (cameraphone).

I'm not going to go in depth here, because I vowed to spend only fifteen minutes a day on the computer, but the Rome that I have loved for the last ten years and have been to at least ten times in the last ten years seems to be changing.

Wine bars, remodeled coffee shops, chain stores and supermercatis everywhere are changing the face of Rome, a city I love for the fact it seems resilient to change.

Change is hard, especially for me.

Is a tarted up coffee shop going to make me spend more time there? A new supermercati does not make provisioning (the one hour spent daily to acquire milk, clementines, fughi and carciofi as well as scrumming for bread) any easier really. It just makes it more modern and in some ways more impersonal. The vendors in the food market change yearly it seems, with fewer and fewer food people and more and more scarves, handbag vendors and touristy tat.

The lack of goods, such as today's foray to find napkins (cloth) took hours because the good kitchen supply shop near where we stay is gone. We managed to secure very lovely placemats, but heaven forbid that one can find a cloth napkin that matches. TH and scoured the streets (not such a bad task) and finally found napkins, first white and then a cheery festive red that matched.

Tomorrow, our friends R&K arrive. TH will do the traditional meeting them at the local train station and then the fun really begins. We hope to be able to show them our Rome, some touristy, some not so.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Decompression chamber

I am having a hard time relaxing, much to the irritation of TH.

I want to go go go, yet, my body is saying, relax.

This is nearly impossible for someone like me.

I am completely and utterly conflicted.

Off to attempt to nap, after an espresso.

more later

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Rome as we see it, mosaiced in flickr.

It is snowing here, not too hard, but making one wonder if driving to someone's house is such a great idea when you could snuggle up at home and eat leftover sugar cookies and plum pudding for dinner. However, family obligations are such that going out on a freezing night with a mother who has a mother of a cold is just what you do.

Tomorrow, we fly to Rome for seven days and then another three in Lazio and Florence and then one more night in Rome before we fly home.

I am excited to show TH some gardens that I saw ten years ago and wished that she could visit. Her plan is to not have one, but to drink cappucino decaffeinato, eat gelato and practice her Italian scrumming for piazza bianca as she wants. Honestly, I'll just be happy to see her happy and relaxed for the first time in two or three years (the post-classwork/orals/pre-research years).

We'll be blogging while gone, flickring and twittering as we can, so stay in touch.

Ci vediamo ragazzi.


Saturday, December 22, 2007

winter light

Some morning, on my way to work, November 2007.

Today was the first day of winter, one of my favorite days of the year. It brings me hope that I'll be able to walk Ernest in the light, wake again to natural light and give me an inkling that all will be okay in the world as spring comes soon after.

While we woke to lashings of rain and a dull gray sheet of clouds, the day brightened as it went on. It improved to the point that the and errands that required doing and things that couldn't wait, waited, while we stood in the dining room and smiled at the sun coming in and warming our house.

Hello Winter, thank you for bringing us light and warmth, if just for those brief minutes.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Raise your hand if yesterday was the first time you heard that Britney Spears had a sister.

Raise your other hand if yesterday was the first time you had heard of Britney Spears.

Okay, get back to wrapping.

Monday, December 17, 2007

coming home

Father sun, my garden, sometime in 2006.

Tonight my brother and I are picking my parents up from the airport. It is unusual for even one of us to drive to the airport to pick them up. We're not bad people, its that my parents are pretty independent souls and they are used to either picking up a car that we have left them or getting a taxi.

However, tonight my parents are coming back to Seattle forever.

Growing up we were not particularly peripatetic people. The first few years after leaving Iran, we traveled where my father could get a better position as he moved up the ladder from intern to resident to fellow to faculty. My mother continued to do whatever was needed, making friends and connections as she could, keeping us amused and out of our father's way while he studied or slept between shifts. When he realized that at the ripe age of 41 that he had to move from the University to private practice to give his family everything that he never had, he made that shift.

Even when he made that jump, he went from the University to a hospital in West Seattle that desperately needed someone with his leadership, good nature and organizational skills to bring the hospital around. My father accomplished this and then moved on with his team he had amassed to a larger hospital. He flourished in a practice at a time when medicine was not about HMOs and PPOs and they just went to work and helped people. My father left his practice at the right time, he worked hard and had a good group of doctors around him to carry on.

He wanted to garden in the sun, enjoy his days off without rain gear, he wanted to see blue skies that stayed blue and to garden in short sleeves all year around. They moved to California where they built a house that few could dream of and enjoyed it with their friends. They later decided to downsize and remodeled a house that many would still consider to be palatial. During this time, my mother and father remained upbeat, even as they had to visit their things in storage while the contractors ripped out walls and installed granite counter tops.

Last year, when my brother was offered his dream position back in Seattle, my parents decided it was time to come home. They had different requirements than they did in 70s and 90's and 00's when they did major moves, but over time we managed to find something that would work for them. It still requires time and effort to get my mother's seal of approval, but for me its perfect. It brings them within five minutes of myself and my work, near a good grocery store, a pharmacy, hair salon and close to some of their long time friends.

The last few weeks have been very emotional for my mother and father. In the twelve years they have been associated San Diego and La Jolla they have made an amazing group of friends. My mom has been involved in several large charitable organizations and my father has kept himself busy educating himself at the Salk Institute. They are losing bond to my mother's nursing school friends who are known to fly down for a the weekend to have a bbq. These people gave them a sense of adventure and spontaneity that seems to lack here. I don't know why that is, but it just feels that way. In Seattle, they have twenty seven years of memories and an extended family that cannot wait to see them, yet, it all feels so bittersweet.

I cannot explain it, but the move that is permanent means that they are now rooted here, something that cannot be moved. I hope they do not lose their sense of adventure when they come home.

Friday, December 14, 2007

lesser of two evils

Marching into the new year, Ernest the puppy, January 2007.

TH and I have this routine after dinner. One of us walks the dog while the other does the dishes and puts away dinner makings and leftovers.

90% of the time I opt for dog walking.

Tonight, I got to do both as dinner clean up took too long and it was only fair to TH.

Next time we're going the long way home.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Not to feel dead old or anything.

I wonder if Lawrence Welk is on the comeback?

Busy here, well, not really too busy. TH is at work (its 10 pm people), Ernest helped sample lemon poppy seed shortbread and I'm too tired to even consider the ten holiday cards that Ernest needs to send out tomorrow.

Tomorrow, that is it, I'll do them tomorrow before work.

nm who wishes she could be misty mountain hopping with the rest of them

Friday, December 07, 2007

Field of dreams

Somewhere in Colorado, September 2006.

Note I wrote this 11/30, last Friday, thank you for your patience.

It is cold here in Corvallis. It was very strange driving into campus today with TH and have her explain to me the passing landscape, she has a knack for describing things that makes it easy for me to imagine what it looked like in different seasons. TH did this drive for three years, transiting back and forth from Seattle to Corvallis by plane, train and automobile. She was lucky enough to have a home with our friends L&E kept her in divine food, clean clothes and coffee for those long quarters of classes, papers and commuting.

They gave her respite and a place to escape in a beautiful house in the middle of Christmas tree farms.

Over time, she found her perfect drive to and from campus. She would drive windy back roads through small family farm plots full of spinach, hazelnuts, blueberries and leeks. While, this morning it was sleeting and gray, I could picture what it must have been like for her in the early spring when the blueberries were starting to flower and the hazels were unfurling their first light green fuzzy leaves. In the early fall, when the hazels all turned yellow and the corn was ready to be cut, she could see yellow for a few acres. The drive was a good way to prepare before she was to present her work on Bayesian modeling in her informatics class or discuss how ideas in science diffused. We talked a lot on the drive down yesterday about learning, school and when you are ready to be done with school. Neither of us believe that you ever finish learning, there is so much out there. School, that may be another story.

Today, I can say that she knows more about the cutting edge of mapping, information sciences and visualization and how they can be applied to a slew of environmental issues. She has approached these ideas as a geographer, scientist and historian and made sense of them.

Good job TH, Dr. TH to the rest of you.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Trying to find the best present for my parents this year... a welcome home to Seattle basket? AAA membership? Gore-tex jackets? A dog bed for Ernest? A light box?

Attempting to not drive TH crazy by planning a trip to Drome and Haut Provence before she's done with the rest of her obligations including ten days of decompression after Christmas and really bugging her by suggesting she travel separately.

Motivating myself to haul ass to the Village to buy a new pair of jeans now. Mine are baggy in the butt and hopefully a size smaller will help, vanity sizing that is.

Wondering if I can leave the dog at home after this morning's consumption of yet another ornament.

Asking myself if I really am excited about 2008.

nm trying to forget that tomorrow is another work day

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Some travel related stuff

Self reflection, Place Vendome, December 2005.

You can now use your Alaska Airlines miles for redemption on Air France. Those awards are dear, but to get to the airport at noon, board at one pm and be in Paris at 8 am just in time for the next transit strike, supreme!

We're booked for a week in March, Seattle-Marseille, pottering around Drome and Haut Provence and then to Paris to pick up some chocolate.

Mileage runners (you know who you are), post or read here and get some ideas. Trust me, when you are nearly there, you might as well make it, right Bueller?

Me, I'm done for the year, well, sort of. I have to go to Chicago this weekend, but that's just to make sure J gets her December race under her belt.

nm wishing and hoping that her upgrade to F clears

Monday, December 03, 2007

lost and found

Frickin futabulous, sometime this summer with Ernest.

I felt like I lost yesterday in all the prep and running around of our Christmas cookie party. I was toast at 7:30 and fell asleep reading a book while TH battled data and the forces of evil in prep for today's business trip.

Today, I found an hour when my trainer called and told me that she wasn't coming in. I used that time wisely chasing frosting bowls into the dishwasher and dragees with a broom. I managed to get to work early, bang out revisions to a proposal, do the other tasks I needed and get my errands done at lunch. I left early for the airport for my short trip to SD. I gave myself plenty of time that I didn't need. My typical airport ride was 20 minutes shorter since everyone seemed to abandon work early to deal with their basement flooding. The airport itself was mellow and my flight was delayed enough to make me rethink flying and waiting and making my parents drive after 10 pm.

They called me and told me to go home. I did.

My trip back from the airport took even less time.

I have all night by myself.

I am not good at relaxing, TH, the Js and everyone who knows me knows that I cannot chill for the sake of chilling. However, tonight I have a date with a great book, my lovely Christmas tree, the heater and a goat cheese pizza. If that does not wow me, I know where a guy who loves tater tots and has some cool moon boots lives, and I may just have to visit him.


Maybe we should stop multitasking.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Lights at the hotel de ville, Paris, December 2005.

Taking a page from Kimberly McK's book, let us rejoice in the first day of December.

Snow fell today, not too much, but big fat flakes that frosted everything. It made for easy driving and a magical day if you weren't expecting to do any yard work. Kids dragged their friends out for a quick snowball fight and it made for some impromptu, if not micro snow people in our neighbor's front yards.

TH and I went Christmas tree shopping in the snow, not something that happens too often in the Emerald City. In our running of errands, we found parking downtown on the first go and everyone we had contact with was in a great mood. Why? because this snow will lead to rain and we'll be back to the Seattle damp, chill gray of December.

Right now, our house smells great --a fresh wreath is on the door and the tree is now covered in lights. Soon garland will festoon our porch and holly on our plate rail. Tomorrow afternoon, we'll see a covey of kids trying their hand at decorating sugar and gingerbread cookies. I'm sure the adults will also jump in do much the same. TH is relaxed and reading a book, something that has not happened in a while, she's also enjoying the first day of December with peace.

The holiday season has really started to kick in here chez f&f. Its not so much the shopping, the card writing, but the need to catch up with our friends who we see in spurts, some more than others, but miss dearly because life has been hectic. Sometimes, just the simple act of getting out of the house to visit sometimes seems monumental especially when you have deadlines looming and gardens to tend.

More importantly, for us, this year, its a time to be thankful that things are coming to a close in a positive way.

I hope the same for you.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

deck the halls

The Koloa School tree, LIH airport, November 2007.

Things that can't be recycled, being made into ornaments, seen in my brief stay at the LIH airport last night. Nothing like smelling pine mixed in with some gentle tropical breezes. There were at least thirty Holiday trees decorated by different schools in the county. TH and I spent a time between flights (Shut up) admiring them all.

Wish I could have stayed, but I'm off today again.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I can now walk down stairs like a normal human being.

I am down to two advil a day.

I am doing a normal workout.

I do not cringe when thinking about getting out of my chair.

I cannot believe that people who are not athletes feel like this every day.

I will try my hardest never to be in that situation.

Love your body, its the only one you have.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Knackered, completely bone tired.

Anyone have any great ideas for a boy christmas present?


Monday, November 26, 2007

To do

Alaska, June 2007.
  • Freaking because I haven't sent out Ernest's holiday greeting and shameless plug for Presidency
  • Turn in my FSA paperwork, realizing that I'm not quite sure what my taxable income really is
  • Made my Holiday shopping list and actually stick to it
  • Finish planting the bulbs (shut up)
  • Wondering with my friend B, what are appropriate gifts for our service/trades people
  • Figuring out if I really care about renewing my Admiral's Club membership for the following year, especially since there isn't one in Seattle and I am not flying that much
  • Deciding when to stop making cookies for Sunday, are twelve batches of sugar cookie dough and six batches of gingerbread cookies enough?
  • Trying to decide if my Italian SIM card still works and is it worth using it versus Tmobile roaming
  • Figuring out if I can write some donation checks this year
  • Gathering my taxable donations and getting them ready and out the door for this tax year
  • Wishing she could make Ernest a deduction
nm who needs to let the bullets go

Sunday, November 25, 2007

blister in the sun

What can I say, today's Seattle Half Marathon could not have had better conditions.

Sunny, calm, foggy in the right places and it is done.

I PRed it, but I can't tell you what my time is since the server is down. Next year, I'll be doing some serious hill work.

I missed J, but she was with me in spirit.

Shout out to TH and Ernest who met me in the Arboretum and provided moral support and an eggnog latte for the last six miles and for toughing it out and meeting me at mile 12.9. Ernest provided everyone a little joy at the end.

Shout out for the Team in Training angels who were at Madison and the Arboretum providing gummy bears, pretzels, peanut butter and jam sandwichlettes and oranges and bananas. You rock.

Ditto for Mr. kiss by the freeway.

On my way into Memorial Stadium, the Violent Femmes' 'Blister in the sun' was playing on the loudspeakers. I started singing along with them. I love that song, it brings me back to my college days and I cannot tell you how much it made me happy to run into the stadium and to my chocolate milk.

At mile two I realized that I every step I take is a blessing. My body hurts a bit, but I did it, I walked/ran 13.1 miles today and enjoyed most of it. It made me realize my body is something that I have taken for granted in my 20s and 30s and with the aches and pains of my early 40s I have learned to respect and listen to and realize that I can no longer abuse with poor nutrition.

I spent time today loving my body, all its lumps, bumps and small crows feet for the fact that it got me where I wanted to be -- the finish line.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

if I hadn't bought the finishers tshirt already

I would be in bed tomorrow morning instead of standing around in a corral wishing that I hadn't had any coffee.

Wish me luck, its a crap crap hilly course and if I break 3:40 I will be a rock star.


Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday wrap up

Orangey goodness, June 2007.

The Dow stayed in the green, so did NASDAQ. A little miracle.

Three dinners down, one to go.

All shopping I did today was on No malls were pillaged by yours truly. Tomorrow we'll hit the University bookstore to look for some baby shower present books and then off to hit and mighty goods again for some inspiration.

I'm a Secret Santa twice this year. One is easy because my recipient is female and I have a clue. The other is male and I haven't a clue, but I'm not going to succumb to a gift card to Starbucks Coffee quite yet.

Secret Santa gifts are really more fun to get than anything, you get a set price, some clues about the recipient and then you are off to create something interesting and fun that they'll remember all year.

Tomorrow, we're going to pop downtown to pick up my race packet. I'm so not ready for this race but I'll go and I'll finish and know that I met my goal this year of seven half marathons walked. I just got this month's Northwest runner and now plotting my race strategy for 2008. I'm looking for a few boutique races and maybe one new state! I know the J. has some long term plans for some long ass days, but I'm going to also start looking at running a half sometime in May!

off to bed

Thursday, November 22, 2007


For what I am thankful, November 2007.

I am thankful that I live in a place with clean water, clean air and relatively high standards of safety.

I am thankful for amazing and lovely shelter that we have.

I am thankful I live in a country that allows me the freedom to express my opinion and with citizenship allows me to chose who I vote for. I am also very grateful for the ability of free movement between countries thanks to citizenship.

I am thankful for my family and especially now that we are all together in the same zip code. I am especially thankful that my parents are healthy, active, irritating and still together and are resilient to change. I wish I were.

I am thankful for TH, and her patience and love for the last sixteen odd years. It hasn't always been sunshine and lollipops.

I am thankful for my friends, both local and worldwide who keep me sane and keep me laughing.

I am thankful for Ernest the puppy who keeps us all busy and reminds us daily that life is too short not to check out the neighborhood and stop and smell each hydrant. He is thankful that he lives in a country where a basset hound can dream of running for president and in some places, probably win.

I am thankful every time I walk a race that every step means I am alive, healthy and grateful that I can push myself to do this.

I am thankful that I have a career, which sometimes I bemoan, that is still an amazing one that exposes me to amazing technology and people.

I am thankful for the abundance of fresh, local and organic food that graces our table and the farmers that produce it.

I am sometimes embarrassed that the things that I worry about include petty trivial things such as will my upgrade clear to Chicago and why didn't my hotel stay post, when others work sixty hours a week to make sure they can pay their car insurance and keep their kids warm.

I am thankful for you all.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dinner on the fly, November 2007.

For those of you utterly tired of recipes for swiss chard gratin, chipotle braised rutabagas seasoned with epazote and pumpkin sweet potato gratin served with a froth of nutmeg air, I bring you eating something else the night before Thanksgiving.

Originally, our thought was to go to the local really better than you would think Chinese place next to MM, but then life got the better of me. I looked in our nearly bare fridge and came up with a dinner that will be a keeper for a while.

I'm not a big fan of ready made food, nor am I a big fan of making foods that others make better than me that are available in the ready made format. One of these foods is gravy, but you can deal with that tomorrow. The other is alfredo sauce. I can't imagine having such ingredients on hand and honestly, we don't use tons of it. However, one local company, Cucina Fresca does a great job and we have been seen with the very lovely reusuable jars in our shopping basket. One leftover lug of saffron pasta from Wedgwood's La Pasta, some smoked halibut kindly gifted to us by MZ, fish smoker extraordinare and the some fresh parsely snipped from the garden and we had a dinner that made us both happy and used some awesome local ingredients.

For some the combination of the smoked fish and saffron may seem odd, but honestly, it worked, the woody, sweet flavor of the halibut played nicely off the sweetness of the saffron and the alfredo just held it together. If you can believe it, we're out of parmesan reggiano as well, but this dish didn't need it. The flavors stood on their own.

I can't really give you a recipe for this, I already did. It was a total throw together a meal meal and it worked. I can't wait to make it to the market on Saturday to buy more pasta and recreate it.

For those of you still looking for holiday recipes, remember, stick to the classics and it will all be okay.

Happy Thanksgiving eve.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Wishing for a moment it could be July again...

It has really been a day that seems like a week. Leaving early tomorrow to hide in the basement is sounding better by the nanosecond.


Monday, November 19, 2007

You know you are a frequent flyer when the first thing that comes out of your mouth, but not what is necessarily on your mind when you friend tells you her father had a heart attack is "when do you want to leave?".

Seriously, maybe having a stash of miles and the knowledge of how to use them isn't such a bad thing.

Here's to hoping that R doesn't have to use that ticket.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thankful for a sunny outlook for next Sunday's Seattle Half Marathon.

Wowed by ACT's The Women.

Pleasantly surprised by Cafe Presse.

Wolfing down leftovers of C's rendition of Shauna's cauliflower with smoked paprika and cocoa.

Lusting after my brother's iphone. Not that I need a gadget, I just love the google map application and the great camera.

Very thankful for the fact that I'm done with stuffing for the year.

Wondering if going to Tunisia for three days is worth a flight, a trip to the airport and hiring a guide or should I stay local and see parts of Lazio I have never been.

nm, wondering if video killed the radio star

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday means

According to blogger and flickrer KimMcK, it means clean out your fridge day. You know why, to get that 18 lb beast in amongst the bags of cranberries, the celery and the brussels sprouts that you always make and end up in the dogs dinner.

I cleaned mine out a few weeks ago while TH was in Hawaii. Its pretty clean now, we have methodically been eating chard, pork chops and eggs to make room for goose, fennel and hubbard squash.

I can see to the back, this is a good thing.

It really doesn't take too much time and if you are really clever, you can photodocument it.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Must dash, doing something beyond stupid today.

At least I managed to post for National Blog Posting Month.

I'll be back tomorrow, so please don't fret and no, I am not bringing you back a pineapple.



Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

See you later

TH says five minutes and then stop computing.

I'm not even going to spend three.

Consider the persimmon and discuss.


Monday, November 12, 2007

looking back

Ernest getting guidance on rewiring a lamp, November 2007.

2005 -London for the Remembrance Day weekend. I think I was not by myself, I cannot remember. Yes, I was with TH. G-d, is my memory so bad.

2006- London for Remembrance day weekend with 150 flyertalkers. Definitely not with TH, but still had a blast.

2007 - Seattle for Remembrance day weekend, weekend spent keeping Ernest amused and alive, raking leaves and dealing the minutae of life.

2008 - I'm hoping for a middle ground, a bit boring and a bit exciting at the same time.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Eat local this Thanksgiving

This Saturday I at the market, I noticed a bunch of farmer's sporting these great buttons that said "I took the pledge", which means they took the pledge to eat local this Thanksgiving. I'm always up for some challenge, so we went over to the Eat Local booth at the U. District Farmer's Market.

The campaign highlights the fact that by eating local, we are reducing our ever expanding carbon footprint. I know mine is atrocious for being a locally eating, tree hugging, obessively composting liberal. It sucks due to my love of Parisian haircuts and Belgian bath cubes. I would calculate it for you, but when I did it January, I cringed.

So, back the great campaign at hand, by eating one or more products within your ecotone, soil conservation district, radius in which you are comfortable or even back garden you will:
  • Help maintain our local farms and open spaces
  • Help reduce greenhouse gases caused by transporting food from far away
  • Help create a food system that good for people, our environment and our economy
Not too shabby, eh? Don't even have to eat organic to make a difference.

Even my fair mayor (eck) has pledged to eat one thing that is local this Thanksgiving.

This made shopping a challenge today. Were trying to get ready for the thanksgiving before thanksgiving, thanksgiving proper and the day after thanksgiving thanksgiving. (really!)TH and I walked around the market trying to figure out what to substitute for celery, it not really very local this time of year. We're trying fennel. Everything else is easily sourced from the market, our regular grocery store and our garden. It should be fun. Sweet potatoes, that should be a challenge.

Think local, eat local and gobble local.

nm thinking about taking a nap about now

Friday, November 09, 2007

A few things of note:

Raise your hand if you are not logging into your brokerage account this week...I know you should if you manage your own money, but if you are trusting in someone else, make sure they are doing their jobs.

Remember, we're in it for the long run.

Just to depress you some more, on my way back from increasing my consumer debt and carbon footprint by driving in a single occupancy vehicle today to get my brows waxed (like I could do such a good job myself!), I listened to the Marketplace's Consumed series. I'm now going to move to a yurt and live off the grid.

I'm totally completely shattered from the week. Today we listened to Microsoft tell us that they are collecting petabytes of orthophotogrammetry to build these 3D visual cities for commercial applications, while the US government agencies that are mandated to collect and store and standardize our maps are years behind in updating the basemaps because we can't get funding to do this task. All it takes is big business to fill a need and boom, let it be.

We need that data dammit.

words for today : yeta and zetta, we'll soon be there folks.

nm trying not to depress you before the weekend truly starts

Thursday, November 08, 2007

who would have ever thought such a comment would start such a furor?

I am totally in awe of every thing I saw today, the world if full of possibilities when it comes to
putting data onto maps - text, images, social networks, moving targets.

I'm totally stoked.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

wordless wednesday

Okay, a few words, I spent today and will spend tomorrow and Friday in Bellevue.

The best parts were finally getting to Koots Green Tea, eating lunch with TH and talking to some really smart folks.
Lunch was a thing of thom kah with some rice thrown in, believe you me, we went everywhere and that was the best option without having a microsoft expense account.

Now, I'm home, pooped beyond belief and really really not looking forward to my tomorrow, which is more of the same, followed by chocolate cake with mocha buttercream frosting.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

this is going to be a long week

After a glorious Monday that came complete with a lovely hand plant right about two houses up from mine, I'm ready for the week to be over.

Seriously over.

Other than that, just hoping that my hand recovers, the dog behaves and that traffic across the bridge cooperates for the rest of the week.


Monday, November 05, 2007

sunny monday

Glorious day, too nice to be at work, but unfortunately, the world does not stop because I wanted to stay home and hang laundry, make quince jam and rake leaves.

Had a great catch up with Ms. J. and her trip to Paris. I'm still waiting to hear from Kerrio about her trip to the Falklands and Ms. JK is busy running around India. Nothing like getting a text message from India!

We are a lucky bunch of travellers.


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Posh marshmellows, chocolatier Foucher, Paris, October 2007.

I'm knackered, it is the time change.

Ernest goes by his own clock, so up he was at 6 am and now he's down at 6:30.

He's a by the book kind of guy.

I have nothing of real import to report, I'm a bit sad today. One of our family friends is putting her husband in a nursing home. There is that subtle shift between the acceptance of your elderly relatives needing to leave home when their husband/wife/partner or caregiver can no longer provide them the care they need and when it becomes the person that introduced your father to the practice of medicine.

I can't even imagine what my parents are going through today. They went to go see them today.
On a happier note, some of my pics are up from our last trip to Paris, London, Brussels. Go check them out. I have yet to tag them properly. We found a lovely new chocolatier on rue st. Dominique (Jen, you must check him out) and all the favorites were just fine.

My risotto is burbling, my artichokes are as well, TH is setting the table and its time for dinner.


Saturday, November 03, 2007

bulb management

Bulbs for the spring, November 2007.

I'm getting ready to plant bulbs. Tomorrow looks good for bulb planting with no rain forecast. I have some inkling of where they are needed, which always helps. I tend to buy species tulips, narcissus and alliums. TH likes tulips and crocus. We split up at the bulb sales and then regroup to see what each has purchased. Neither of us minds planting the other's choices, which is good. The muscari or grape hyacinths are already peeping up as are some of the irises.

It seems that we have a nice collection picked out for 2008, they are all recorded as to what we bought, where they get planted is harder to record, but we'll take pictures and ooh and ahh over them this spring. We buy most our bulbs within a fifteen minute rampage at the Arboretum Foundation bulb sale that is held the first Saturday of October, come rain or shine. We have been known to rearrange our schedules to not miss this event. We love it and they have come to love us.

I try to shy away from anything too flashy, I am partial to white, small cupped narcissus and some of the more humble naturalizing species. I have been known to fall for some flashy orange cupped beauties that fade to a yellow when they are done being cheeky. TH plants tons of late tulips that bloom splendidly with the bluebells that we cannot get rid of and offset some of the columbines and bleeding hearts that threaten to take over two beds of our garden. Every year I promise to plant a cutting garden, but when I see the clumps of tulips, I'm happy to run to the market and give Jonkheer Greenhouses twenty dollars for four huge bunches of French tulips so that I can keep admiring mine in the garden.

You still have a few more weeks to get those bulbs in the ground. If you are lucky enough to still have some available to buy, I say go out and dig! You can't go wrong.


Friday, November 02, 2007

weekend reading

Geez, why not.

Actually, its four weekends or is it five until I go somewhere again. I should be happy. If I don't have my Holiday shopping done by November 15th, you can kiss my grits.

I'm in a contrarian mood today. I'm frustrated at the dog who had kennel cough and played with Ernest and whose owner was so gormless as not to tell us. I am trying not to be frustrated with Ernest, he didn't do anything but want to play. I am relieved in a way to be home as well, I have a presentation to put together for a meeting and now I'm not scrambling to get it done. TH has more time to work on her proposal as well, but still, beach, sand, sun.....

Ernest is also confused. He's not allowed to play with anyone for the next 10 to 14 days. That sucks. He's quite active, just sounding like crap. He doesn't know why he can't say hi to his buddies.

What is on tap for the weekend? I'm trying some new recipes, cleaning the now 10" pile of assorted papers off my desk to be filed, shredded and dealt with, planting 400 bulbs, deadheading and maybe a short walk/run in there somewhere.

I recollect signing up for some half marathon in November. I guess I should get ready for it.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

best laid plans

TH and I were Kauai bound on Saturday, three days of beaching, sitting and reading in hammocks, eating papayas and doing nothing.

No proposals, no editing of manuscripts, no data calls, no nothing.

Ernest woke up with a nice cough, a kennel cough. He'll be fine, but he can't be kenneled.

We're not going now.

Good thing everything is cancellable.

I'm extending our February trip by a day or two.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Days of the week

Macarons, Laduree, September 2007.

Four days on the ground in Europe. Some could go with two pairs of smalls, I'll splurge this time and go with four. Ditto for socks. Socks used to be my big purchase, now with the Bush Peso in the toilette, I'll settle for recycling my socks from 2004 and pretending that things are better than they are. I could share with you my ATM transactions from last month and you can watch the dollar weaken yourself, day by day.

This trip is about London, Paris and Brussels. I'm seeing a great lunch in London, a michelin one star dinner in Paris and moules at Place St. Catherine to top things off.

I'll be flickring as I can, so stop by and see what is going on.

Thanks also for all the emails about LJ and SD. My parents still seem to be out of danger, but according to some, the smoke is pretty bad in LJ.


Monday, October 22, 2007

completely and utterly freaked

San Diego Fires.

My prayers are with all residents of No. San Diego County.

Parentals are here, keeping their fingers crossed that the fire does not go further down south.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Please visit Ernest, he is concerned about the change in weather, try and reassure him will you?

Tablecloth weights, believe it or not, we don't have.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Life underneath the kiwi vine, October 2007.

TH is in Honolulu all week for work. Yes, really work. I promise you she's is slaving, not surfing, nor slamming back the mai tais. She's interacting with her peers to make science work better for you.

I am using this opportunity to do those things that you just can't do with another human body in the house such as bathroom recaulking, oven cleaning and lingerie clean out. Unlike most people who pine when their partners are gone, I determine the number of chores that can possibly get done without interruption.I have another dear friend who looks at alone time as creative time intermixed with garbage/purge chores that she can do by herself.

They are quite freeing these very important business trips.

Next week, we'll both be traveling, together for the most part. I hope the dog keeps up with the honey do list while we're gone.


Sunday, October 14, 2007


J: Hi NM, do you want to meet for dinner tonight? X is in town and I figured we could all get together.

At this point, I'm thinking no, its Sunday night and I'm not leaving the house...

J: I have your tiles from the Moravian Tile Works.

At this point, I am still not leaving the house.
J: I also have a bag of quince.

Okay, I'm going out, she has me hooked. I love quinces and I love her, but come on Sunday night...
I heart you J for dragging my sorry ass out more, I need it. I owe you one.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Happy Weekend

Frankly, I would be happy just sitting and reading all weekend. I'll be gleaning the garden, making rummage relish, something that requires zucchini and pepper jelly and keeping the dog amused. That seems to take more time than anything.

Happy sunny days all.


Monday, October 08, 2007

I love book reviews in magazines, online journals and on Amazon. The idea that you can search for one book and find several similar books or see what others that bought your selection also bought is sometimes intriguing. Sometimes you can find a gem nestled into some of the duds that others tend to read. In some cases, some of the connections between books seem so tenuous, but sometimes they work.

On my way to Patricia Wells' new book on vegetables, I came across this little beauty by Viana La Place called My Italian Garden. It arrived for me at the library (see, amazon, book reviews, magazine reviews = library holds) and I love it.

Today, I made a green tomato risotto that at first didn't seem like it would work, the timing seemed strange including a brief 16 minute stirring for the arborio rice. As a risotto maker, I realized that this step would take longer and just went with it. After about 30 minutes the rice finally went from crunchy to creamy and the risotto was done.

TH gave it a thumbs up with reservations on when the tomatoes get added and if you could add smoked fish to it. I think she's reliving a dish she had in Leith years ago.

Without further ado, I give you Green Tomato Risotto adapted from La Place's My Italian Garden, 2007.

Serves 4 healthy appetites

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil1 garlic clove, finely chopped3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat leafed parsley1 1/2 lbs green tomatoes , thinly slicedsea salt1 1/2 cups arborio rice5 cups lightly salted water, veggie broth or chicken broth, brought to a simmer1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter1/2 cup almonds (lightly toasted) and finely chopped10 large fresh basil leaves, torn into fragments
freshly grated parmesan (optional)

In a medium, heavy bottomed pan (I used a le creuset), heat the olive oil. Add garlic and saute over medium low heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add parsley and cook for another 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and salt to taste and stir well. Cook until tomatoes start to break apart, about 10 minutes.

Add rice and stir for several minutes to coat the grains with the tomato, oil and parsley concoction. Begin adding broth/water by the ladleful, stirring until each ladleful has been absorbed. Add the next ladleful and continue add broth and stir until all the broth is used up. The risotto is done when the arborio rice goes opaque and the mixture become creamy, about 30 minutes.

At this point, remove from heat, add butter and let it rest for a few minutes.

Before serving, stir in almonds and basil. Serve risotto in shallow pasta bowls, add parmesan if you wish.

I had oven dried some sweet cherry tomatoes. We added these to the second servings of the risotto, it was a nice contrast with the tang of the green tomatoes.

Buon Appetito.


Sunday, October 07, 2007


Sorry I have been out of commission. I have lots of great ideas to discuss, but really have been without a spare few moments.

Right now the heavens have let loose. Taking what I said in my last post to heart, I embraced every last moment of dry weather and squeezed it dry yesterday and today. We took down what was left of our allotment yesterday. It was time that TH carved out of her very busy planned to the minute schedule because it had to be done. Sad as it was, we did it. We harvested another handful of carrots, some huge beets, lots of squash, pumpkins that are show quality and more green tomatoes. We are left with chopped up sunflowers, some beets that can be gleaned, some radicchio that sounded good at first, but wasn't the kind we're crazy about. I am hoping the food bank recipient that gets it can put it good use. I couldn't bear to chop down our amazing dahlias. We'll do it on Friday, rain or shine and take the huge fistfuls of tubers to our long season plot and replace dahlias that just didn't seem to want to show off their flossy flowers this year.

Our year round plot is amazing me with its raspberries. We picked and ate yesterday. I'm sure the rain right now is not helping matters, but in tomorrow's promised sun before more clouds, I'll run down and pick what is ripe. I see a small tart in my future. Ditto for our pear supply, why plant fruit trees if you are not going pick your crop? Every day on our walk, we scrump (Sorry Kerri), pears from our neighbors yard mostly to keep ourselves from injury from slipping on mushy fruit that falls to the ground. TH picked six today, some will go on our salad, some in a nice pear tart tatin for tomorrow.

Yesterday the rain held off enough for TH and I to attend the Arboretum Foundation bulb sale and make our contribution the cause. We only brought back three full bags of bulbs. This year I feel to scattered to make a good estimate at where we need bulbs. I'll augment the amazing collection of narcissus and species tulips I bought with alliums from my friends at Choice Bulb Farms at the Farmer's Market.

The rain held off long enough for an impatient basset hound to have a great walk and putter in the maples at the Arboretum to feel that his day was not all about retail for humans.

This morning the rain held off long enough for me to drive from Seattle to Bellingham at 4:30 for the half. It was a strange drive for me to do in the dark. There with very few people on the roads and I realized that until you go north of Marysville, you are infested with lights and signs and development that makes you were old enough to remember more than getting sick on Chuckanut Drive every summer you spend two weeks up in Birch Bay. Skagit Valley when your friend Paula's grandparents farmed and ran an u-pick for raspberries, you know, the Skagit Valley that was about farming and not about Paper Zone, Lowes and Premium Outlets. It was a drive where I listened to songs from my youth spun by a disc jockey with whom I went to high school.

The rain held off until J, F and I were safely enclosed in our booth at Anthony's over looking the last .2 miles of the marathon/half marathon route. We had a great race, with the nastiest hills and wind that I have ever seen, we made a amazing times. I send a grateful thanks to the nice woman I walked/ran with the last three miles for keeping my spirit in check and my motivation up to try and make my PR.

For this I am thankful.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

two years on...

Still going strong, September 2007.
It is my bloggiversary (is this a word)?

How do I feel?

Not very excited.

Should I continue on? I wonder.

I get tons of feedback on flickr, but here, not so much. Are my pictures more interesting that my written word?

Again, I wonder.

It is a nice and rainy day here. It is the kind of rain that soaks you to the core. It is the kind of rain I fear for my half marathon next Sunday. Please do not let it rain like this, we have been blessed so far this year.

It is the kind of rain that makes you wish you had gotten up and planted those last fall perennials on Friday when it threatened rain, but you contentedly spent 15 minutes reading your book.

It is the kind of rain that cements the fact your tomatoes are done for the year and that you have some green tomato chutney making in your future.

It is the kind of rain that makes a basset hound do an about face without even visiting the front lawn.

I see many of these rainy days in our future.

I am not ready for Fall, but it is here and I suppose I'll make the best of it.

I hope you do as well.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

the sweetest post

Carciofi, December 2005, Rome, Italy.

I just popped over to Shauna's blog to read about their honeymoon travels in Italy. Seriously, some of the sweetest writing I have read in a while.

I get goosebumps just thinking eating in Italy by reading this.

nm who sees green tomato risotto in this weeks meal planning

books of note

I am back, not quite together, but back.

For the first time in a while I read a bunch while on holiday and definitely since I have returned. I think the return reading is partly due to my inability to sleep more than six hours and my desire not to go to work at 5 am.

In no particular order I read:

  • The 64 dollar tomato
  • Water for elephants
  • One good turn
  • Saffron Kitchen
  • Many silly murder mysteries that I am embarassed to discuss
  • Never let me go

I am currently perusing two cookbooks of note:

  • Pork and sons
  • My Italian Garden

I am too lazy to post links. We have had a morning of retrieving Ernest from Yakima. All I have to show for it is a pound of coffee from Pioneer Roasters and another lug of tomatoes that will be canned tomorrow.

more later,


Monday, September 17, 2007


dog appropriate footwear
dunkin donuts iced coffee
loofah for throwing at abusers of the no cell phone use in the flagship lounge
book i hate for bookclub
sense of humour (may be lacking after my earlier email conversations with work)

be back in about ten days or earlier if i can find a computer.

however, if you are all crazed, you can follow me on flickr.

smooches and opa.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

what a old crotchedy woman is entitled to say


I can say it in my underwear, to anyone I want, anywhere I want, if you are talking on your freaking cell phone in front of my hotel room door and I'm tired.

I am not angry, just merely cranky.

For the record, I did not display my undergarments to anyone, especially some under aged boy from New Jersey who couldn't get cell phone reception in his room.

I have not scarred him for life.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Still life with latte, downtown Seattle, September 2007.

I am fedexing my clothes to my mom for the wedding. If I could I would fedex myself.

TH is sick of this trip. I can't blame her. I was about three seconds from having to buy a full fare ticket from SKG to CDG, but found a cheaper (relatively if you think 400 bucks is cheap) ticket at the last minute.

I also realized my cheap credit card (the one that only charges 1% on foreign transactions) had expired. I did locate the new one and activated it.

Good news is that they released an award seat for me. I no longer have to fly through LHR on my way back. Gives me three more hours of sleep, which by then I will need.

Must find a new quart sized zip lock bag. Mine is toast.


Monday, September 10, 2007

this big old life

Still life with preserves, September 2007.

Things here chez flora and flying are fine, considering I'm leaving in a few days and other than barely fitting into the dress I wore to my other cousin's wedding last year, I'm pretty much resigned to a short trip to Greece that is no longer about Greece - Athens, Crete, Santorini, but about seeing my family - lots of them, and they just keep on coming.

Should be a hoot.

It is interesting to try and pack for three entirely different trips in one trip. A half marathon requires running/walking stuff, a wedding an entirely different set of clothes including shoes that you really can't wear with anything else and then clothes that you hope you don't spill taramosalata on because they have to get you through London and Paris as well.

Now if I can only get American to release me a seat to Chicago that doesn't require a change in London...

Enough of that, tonight we had four men over for dinner - a spaniard, two turks and the brother of mine. First of all, I had to wrap my head around the fact they eat more than we do. Second, they don't do coffee. Third, they don't eat as much dessert as women. However, we had a great time and I had no idea that real men eat tomatoes, and how!

We have recovered from Berkeley. I must call and find out how day one of yard clean out went.

Nothing much more to report, over and out.


Sunday, September 09, 2007

The weekend wrap up

60-75 bags of yard waste
A large cars worth of plant material to be shredded with more planned this week
Lunch at Cafe Fanny
Dinner at Chez Panisse
A laundry list of chores completed in the 94707
Catch up with a dear friend, oh how we have missed you
Eating raisin snails in the sun
Flights that took off and landed on time
Realizing that TH is a blessing, even if we have our moments
Deciding that its okay to recycle a dress for a wedding, especially nine time zones away
Picking and eating blood peaches and fresh lemons off the tree is not a bad way to spend the day
Being glad to be sleeping in your own bed for the next four nights

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

the sounds of silence

Planning our next Ernest retrieval, we're getting bored of the usual routing.

It is so quiet here. If the boy wasn't in such good hands, I would be sad. Since he's running around acting like a dog, chasing rabbits, hiding from cats and walking the big walk, I'm content.

It was strange to not have to walk him this morning pre-gym, lunch, pre-dinner, post dinner and one more time because we may have missed something.

In that time I have managed to can 8 pints of tomato sauce, 15 pts of salsa and make a dinner we were able to sit down and enjoy.

Now, I am beside myself with boredom.

Good thing there are bills to shred.


Monday, September 03, 2007

Really, I cannot do better than this picture.

Tickets all changed, I'm canning tomato sauce, have no idea what is for dinner and I could give a whack.



Sunday, September 02, 2007

contrary to popular belief

A view from I-90, Thorp, before the fruit stand, September 2007.

I am alive, kicking, just busy.

Survived DC, coming home to the same old and today was spent taking the ernmeister to
the 509 for his rest cure.

Stopped in Winegars for ice cream, yakima for tomatoes, Goldendale for some love and Wapato for gas.

We're tired and the house is so quiet.

I'll miss the boy, but he's having a blast.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

lucky me

I am sitting in the presidential suite of my hotel, not because I'm the president (though Ernest may enjoy it), but because I asked for a room that was not on the atrium. The room they gave me was not cleaned, I went to the front desk to ask for my original atrium room back so that I could collapse. The front desk dude clicked a bunch of keys on his computer and gave me a key. He hoped I would be happy with room.

I am, I could have forty people over right now and I wouldn't even notice they were here.

I have the beginnings of a cold. I am overwhelmed by the amount of information and processing that happened today at my meeting. I am still trying to play catch up for the day and hopefully it will happend before too long. I'm bushed.

On the flip side, I found a marimekko store in Silver Spring and a cakelove. Cakelove is great, but marimekko travels better.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Here I sit in DC, sitting digesting my delicious dinner that JK and I had at Teasim and considering the salted oatmeal cookie for dessert.

It has been a week.


I am still decompressing from all sorts of work stuff, dealing with a dog in his terrible tweens, travel planning for not just me and having my parents come up for the weekend.

Its all under control now.

I hope.

Now, if I could only find something to watch on tv while reviewing my documents for tomorrow's meetings.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

All I can say

I lead an event driven life.

I am escaping into my hole now.

See what Kerrio's up for some fabulous summer/fall foodage.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

wordless wednesday II - very few words

On my way out of the building before all hell breaks loose.

On my way in this is what I was greeted with:

Aren't they beautiful? The picture on my phone sucks, but they are magnificent and I'm touched.

When I went to pick up the dog from the groomers, this is what he looked like:
Very tired.

We then left him to go see the Be good tanyas, they are better in a smaller venue.

Now, I am at work, not really doing much of anything, but setting up directories for tomorrow's downloading of data to refine our models.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

home work II

You both walk the dog and you realize that your conversation is about subtracting one raster from another to compare changes in a digital elevation model and it doesn't even phase you.

God, can we just leave it at work?


Monday, August 13, 2007

an amazing abundance

Still life with fig, August 2007.

The two houses on either side of us have huge green fig trees. I suppose at one time we may have had one. I just don't know. I must remember to ask Marge, our next door neighbor if they planted their tree or it was there when they built the house in the early 60s.

The trees are loaded this year and we are enjoying their fruits. On Friday I macerated the figs with some cognac and a bit of sugar and served them on top of a cake that Kimberly McK baked for Shauna's visit.

I am in love with this cake (i'm sorry I didn't take a picture of it, it was pretty). Today, we decided to try something new...

We're making fig bars.

Right now the figs are cooking away, tomorrow, in the heat (ugh), I'll make them base and then spread the lusty dark fig concoction of top and bake them. The following day we'll eat them plain or with a foil of greek yogurt or vanilla ice cream.

My friend B and I are fiends for fruit foraging and canning. She has devised a way to freeze figs, I am not sure that I want to go that far, but maybe this year we can work on making fig jam.

A fig is a terrible thing to waste...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

pure bliss

Home grown peaches, yogurt and leftover lemon/almond cake.

I was a total slug all weekend. I may pay for it on Monday and hear about it for a while, but I just was tired.

I read four trashy books, did minimal decluttering, minimal gardening, minimal of anything and you know what, it felt okay.

This week should be a bear or something like it. Pray for no deep sea earthquakes, that is all I'm saying...