Thursday, December 31, 2009

Saturday, December 05, 2009


I am really here. I just can't even bear to even begin.

Eat, Pray, Love my ass.

how about this:

Can, Stress and then let it go.

That is more like it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Things are under construction, stay tuned for a better blog.

a work in progress

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


- Ref 71 passage
- TH screening my work email and everything else
- Missy for putting up with my fretting and being a patient chocolate shopper
- Beth for her thoughtful emails this past week
- JP for sending SP pictures almost daily
- for the freedom to come and go as I wish
- for the familiarity that comes with visiting somewhere over and over again

- the wonder of finding something new

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


Constant, Genin, La Maison, Aoki, Hevin, Foucher...
Chocolated out

Monday, November 02, 2009

Cruise hair

There must be an art to how to create a hairdo that will withstand a transatlantic journey and a 10 day cruise from Barcelona to Venice while looking like you just walked out of Mr Armand's House of Beauty in Huckleberry, USA.

Other than that I so hope Missy gets on my flight we have a lot of Paris to recapture!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Hotel pet peeve 36711

Phone on one side of bed and clock on the other.


My rooms here in BCN have been on La Rambla. A bit loud but what a nice view. I managed to score the same suite on both visits.

Its a shame that I am here for such a short time. Monday means Paris and the familiarity of patterns and routines are comforting.

Walk, macaron, tea, chocolate, walk and hopefully do some mind clearing when the time is available.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Testing testing

One two three

Over my lack of trackball ghetto bb, as soon as I return I am buying
an iPhone . Wondering if my bb is really set to not roam.
Sent from my iPod

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

an apology

I have been remiss. I have been busy, overwhelmed and frankly really crummy company.

So, I wouldn't want you to have to suffer through any of this.

I am working on something now that I hope will come to fruition mid December. I will try and visit at least twice weekly, but honestly, sometimes it is just painful.

I'm off for a week's vacation - heaven help those who will be trying to contact me. It just isn't going to happen.

Be safe all.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pickled peaches

oh the choices v2

We're in the middle of a canning frenzy. Honestly, we've been canning since June, but now, we're really getting into it. TH is also starting to dry fruit. Why? Because when neighbor's fig tree breaks branches under the weight of the fruit, you have to do something. Figs led to apricots and now peaches.

Peaches, we had a lot of them this year, we have two trees that produce -- one Babcock - the ubiquitous white peach and one yellow peach that has seen better days, but still produces fantastic peaches. The Babcock is directly outside our dining room window - TH would monitor her peach development and curse each squirrel who would eye her tender peaches.

Everyday was a peach orgy here -- breakfast, lunch and after dinner would see us slicing and eating peaches - TH likes hers with milk and I just like them. Peaches are one of the things that brought TH and I together in the beginning and that in itself is key.

Life around here can be sweet, but these days, I'm being sour. Work and family stress is making life with me a bit trying. Just ask TH and the dog. Instead of making peach conserves with my plethora of peaches - we try something else, a pickled peach. Imagine the concept of peaches with a little bite, but still sweet and with a non mushy texture. Pickled peaches are a great accompaniment for pork or just by themselves. You can can them, however we just make them as we need them. They are delicious and made even more delicious when made with peaches from your own tree.

Pickled Peaches - from Chez Panisse Fruits, Alice Waters

Makes six halves, can double or triple recipe

3 peaches
2 cups water
1/2 cup red wine vinegar (my guess is white would be just fine)
2 T honey (1 T is fine)
1/2 t peppercorns
4 whole cloves
2 allspice berries
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf - fresh if you have it

Pickle the peaches one day before you need to serve them to let the flavor mature.

Peel peaches - if they are ripe, the skin should peel right off, if not, plunge in boiling water for a minute and remove and place peaches in cold water to stop the cooking process. Skin should peel off easily. Cut peaches in half and remove the pits.

Measure water into a non reactive heavy bottomed sauce pan, I use Le Creuset for this. Add peppercorns, cloves, honey, vinegar, allspice, cinnamon and bay leaf and bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add peach halves and cook for 3-5 minutes under low heat, after 3 minutes they peaches should be tender. Remove pan from heat. Carefully remove the peaches from the pickling mixture (slotted spoon is good for this, or a 1 cup ladle), place peaches into a non-reactive container - I use pyrex or glass working bowls. Let pickling mixture cool, strain out the solids and pour liquid over peaches to cover. Store overnight in fridge and serve the next day. Will keep in the fridge for a week, good luck having them last that long.

Alice suggests serving with duck, me not so much. I like a nice pork loin.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


shades of blue

I have been rejoicing over plums this year. There is a big plum tree that overhangs the ppatch wall. I have no idea on the variety, all I know is that the plums start in early July and they are red on the outside and red on the inside. They taste like a plum - tangy and sweet. I have yet to find a plum tree to plant that has the same characteristics. With the plums we picked day aft
er day - windfalls mostly and some off the tree, not trying to be too greedy, we made plum jam to mix into yoghurt and have slathered on toast come January.

The ubiquitous Italian prune which seems to drop its beautiful blue/grey fruits this time of year is another plum that I can do without when fresh - a bit astringent when under ripe and mushy when ripe. Not a flavor or texture that works for me - but oh, my my oh my when combined with apple for chutney or made into a plum sauce for meats - it transforms itself to a much nobler fruit. Blessedly at least six people you know have a tree in their back yard and will be happy to part with their fruit in exchange for a jar of chutney. I won't even go into the myriad of recipes for plum cakes that will use up the excess . Much like zucchini - many have been the victims of a drive by pruning.

Last weekend at the farmer's market, I saw Damson plums for the first time in a long time. This is a plum that has definitely fallen out of favor in the past generation. I can't blame you for not loving them - they are tiny, the pit versus flesh ratio is high and they are very astringent. However, with a bit of lemon juice, some sugar and time, you can create something that will bring you back to fall sometime in January.

Damson plum jam - makes approximately 4 pts

2 lbs damson plums
3 cups sugar
juice of one lemon

If you are patient, you can pit each plum.

If not, place plums in a heavy non reactive pot - I used Le Creuset with an enamel interior and cook until plums are soft - approximately 10 minutes, be careful to keep the heat even and low and check to make sure the plums aren't sticking.

Once soft and easy to pit, remove from heat.

Place softened plum into food mill or into sieve to remove the seeds. Collect plum puree and place into non reactive pan.

If you are patient and have pitted the plums by hand, pat yourself on the back with your sticky plumy hand and place the pitted plums into a non reactive heavy pot and heat under low heat until plums are soft. Stir often to prevent sticking and burning.

You can now use your food mill to remove the skins, but don't bother.

Add 3 cups of sugar and the juice of one lemon to the plum puree. Stir until mixed and heat under low to medium heat -stirring frequently to prevent sticking until jam starts to thicken - approximately 20 minutes, the mixture will come to a boil. When it has reached the desired thickness, remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes. Skim off any foam.

Place into hot jars - process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Eat within two years.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


Dinner, all ready. I'm over it.

My father knows how to make three dishes tops, which considering his age and the era in which he was raised, is pretty good.

When we were little, my father left Seattle to go to London to take a course in biomechanical engineering. He went three months earlier than the rest of us. While I missed my father, I was more worried about what he was going to eat. As far as I was concerned, the only thing he knew how to cook was ab-gusht, the Persian lamb stew with shanks, chickpeas, onions, and tomatoes -- all slow cooked to a meaty goodness. The marrow was the best part. My mom assured me that he was going to be okay.

Later, his repetoire expanded to addas katteh - rice with lentils - easy fast and surprisingly meaty and hearty and his version of piperade - a mix up of eggs, tomatoes and potatoes. I used to love watching him make it, mostly because the idea of my father cooking was so unusual. His time at home was outside, or reading and studying. I also loved this combination of flavors - except back them I did not like runny eggs. The sharpness of the tomato combined with the richness of the egg yolks and the substrate of the potato was a classic combination, little did I know my dad was not this dish's inventor, but his version was a knock out.

Piperade is very much the same classic combination of flavors -- sweet peppers and onions as a base with a touch of smoked paprika or chile powder and tomatoes added and cooked down and the crowning glory -- eggs, glorious eggs. The potatoes are addition. Most people would mop up the eggy goodness with bread -- the potatoes are just a nice addition. Ditto for adding ham to liven things up.

The recipe I used was from Chocolate and Zucchini -- I'm going everywhere these days to excite my palate. The best part is the vegetable prep can be done the day before, leaving you with only adding the egg and cooking.

My hack:

2 peppers - red pepper and yellow pepper -- sliced
1 medium onion - chopped
1 t ground chile pepper - not hot
1 T olive oil
1/2 clove chopped garlic
sea salt
4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped - could used canned in the winter
sliced cooked potatoes if you have some sitting around
8 eggs

In a large heavy skillet, heat olive oil, add sliced peppers, onions, garlic and cook using low heat until everything is softened and melting - approximately 35 minutes.

Add seeded chopped tomatoes and potatoes if you have them and cook another 15 minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated and spread the mixture evenly in the bottom of the skillet. Season with salt and pepper.

Turn off the heat -- crack each egg, without breaking the yolks. Add each egg to the pan one by one and cook over low heat until the yolks are softly set.

Remove from heat, divide into fourths and serve with crusty bread.

Monday, September 07, 2009

I spent today trying to not care about any sort of social media. I did keep my phone nearby as to see if TH would check in from the frigid north.

She did, late.

Out of boredom, I would hit the twitter icon on the blackberry and then think to myself - do I really care what you are doing? Do you care what I am doing? Why am I following a bunch of people who follow each other, start conversations or make dinner plans that 10000 people follow and don't invite you?

Twitter - The whole concept is voyeuristic and at the same time, disheartening and at times ego deflating. I wonder to myself --am I not a cool kid? Am I not one of the in crowd? Honestly, at the ripe age of 40 something, why do I care about such clique ridden things? Most of these intimate between two people conversations can be held via a email stream that not all of us really need to cc ed. It is my belief that for some,Twitter is now replacing that level of intimacy that most of us have come to cherish - notes passed in the hall, an email check up, and horrors of horrors - picking up the phone and actually talking to someone.

I think I understand why teens are not twittering -- IM works better to have a icon to icon conversation without the rest of the world reading and laughing along.

Why do I give a flying puck?

From an intellectual level and as a person trying to grasp how social media can be used for information dissemination - it is important. If I had a graduate student and a lot of time, I would spend time reading tweet streams of certain groups of people and the ask others to assess what they are really get from 140 characters or less? If I had the strength - I would write an abstract for AAG.

In terms of information dissemination -- news feeds, hurricane advisories, software updates, twitter is fantastic. Case in point, @dooce used twitter this weekend to reach out to her 1 million plus followers for help in locating a missing friend with some mental illness issues who was last seen in the Phoenix area. The police were not willing to start an investigation - but did at the urging of the public. Imagine if we could do the same with Amber Alerts, flood information, severe weather, that is a great use of twitter, what your on the spur of the moment lunch plans - not so much.

So, will I stop twittering, nope, but I will be more likely to keep things to myself and pick up the phone a little more often.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

My friend JK, who we see only these days on Twitter and Facebook has given me lots of ideas to chew on for blog topics, thank you!

The weather on the East Coast this summer has been dreadful - wet and not too warm. The tragedy of it all is that potato and tomato blight has struck with a vengeance. We small scale city gardeners can kvetch about our lack of B,L, &Ts, but its the commercial farmer - be it a monolithic farm or a small scale CSA who are really feeling the hurt.

However, it gave me pause for thought -- how much does it cost to grow that tomato on your patio? Did you buy a fancy new pot? Compost, one of those spiral hoses? Did you remember to get someone to water it when you went away for the weekend? If sunk a bunch of money into that lovely terracotta pot and an obscene amount of money for that heirloom tomato plant and only get three marble sized tomatoes and cost average it -- well, you don't want to know. Twelve dollars a tomato is a really nice salad at Chez Panisse or a medium pizza with a coupon at Papa Johns.

Yeah, the 10' or 100 mile diet costs, big time.

Due to my schedule this summer I have been spending a lot of time in our ppatch and maybe we have been lucky so far with the varieties we planted, TH's judicious pruning and the exceedingly disgustingly torpid weather - leading to crankiness for humans and bumper crops of tomatoes for us.

Today I picked eight lbs - mostly these tiny little paste like tomatoes that I abhor and TH loves and made a thick rich sauce that will get us through at least six lasagnes this fall and winter. I think we might have another twelve lbs to pick if the weather cooperates.

I realize that our own little garden costs as well - our annual renewal fees, the compost and seeds we buy and the extra we contribute each year to garden scholarships. We also give back -- pounds and pounds of summer squash, beans, beets, greens and soon hard squash to local food banks.

The sauce is simple to make -- if you have a mouli or Foley food mill. I'm a lazy cook - I'm not one for the tomato peeling and deseeding pre-cooking - besides you lose so much of the flavor in the juice of the tomato.

Sauce for lasagne -- suitable for freezing, but not for canning

In a very heavy, non reactive dutch oven -- combine and melt over low heat.

4 T olive oil
2 T butter

Add 3 cloves chopped garlic

once that starts to cook

chop two medium sized yellow onions

Add to garlic/butter/olive oil mixture

cook until transparent - about seven minutes

Meanwhile, take six lbs of tomatoes - paste is preferable, but whatever you have on hand and is ripe will work.

Core the larger tomatoes and chop into fourths. Pierce the skin of the smaller paste tomatoes to allow them to burst when cooking.

Add tomatoes to onion/garlic mixture -- mix well.

Turn heat up a bit - you don't want to scorch the tomatoes and cook for at least twenty five minutes or until tomatoes have started to fall apart.

Take off heat.

Use the food mill to remove the seeds and skins from the sauce. Usually I do this right into the new pot - still keeping to non reactive finishes. If you wish, you can season with some sea salt. Cook tomato sauce down until you have reached a consistency you like -- this batch has been sitting and slowly cooking at warm for the last six hours and its starting to look like sauce.

Once you have reached your desired thickness for your sauce - -remove from heat - let cool down and decant into your favorite freezer containers.

Making tomato sauce can be discouraging -- all those pounds of tomatoes for a yield of four quarts if you are lucky. The sauce is wonderful on a cold winter's night. In some cases, I add one or two sweet peppers to the onion mixture to add a little complexity. I'm not one for adding the herbs until I know what I am planning on doing with the sauce and sometimes they go bitter.

Why am not suggesting you can this? I'm not sure that the addition of the butter is going to be good with boiling water canning. Its better safe than sorry.

This year I am not canning any tomato products - its too much work for not enough return. Sorry, I hate to tell you that - sauce is easy, peeling hot tomatoes and then canning them for 35 minutes - not so much.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Alas, my workcation has come to an end.

Today, I managed to get three things off my desk!

Like any vacation - I did a bit of shopping -- managed to score a pair of BR jeans at 80% off and took a look at the new Tiffany and Co. that opened in the destination mall by my house - scored a small box of Frans there - DOUBLE SCORE.

Dog walker took Ernest to Greenlake and around and to the DOG PARK and he's very tired - TRIPLE SCORE.

Yeah, for being stuck here instead of an immigration cell at YOW, I'm scoring left and right.

Its a long weekend - so I think I'll stick to the excitement -- cleaning, reading and gardening.

Thursday, September 03, 2009


Day three of my workcation is over... Honestly, it is probably not a bad thing for me to be at work. I'm less stressed and asking people to cut to the chase instead of waffling. It saves everyone time, really.

I have yet to find poutine, I know its available at Bastille - but I'm not going there by myself. Instead we'll eat TJ's hors d'oeuvres and tomatoes from the garden.

I left work early - 4:30 yesterday and took my camera to the Ppatch and took 400 pictures. The abundance of what is grown is amazing and still people are planting -- winter greens, lettuce, peas and beets and turnips. Things are not going to grow as fast, but maybe we'll be rewarded with some dinosaur kale in November. Picardo farm is located in a hollow and heartache follows the first cool night when the fog settles into the hollow and we lose the tender squash plants. I hope that doesn't happen for a long while - I need a bit of cheer these days.

Anyone planning on planting a garden this winter?


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

I find it amazing that TH can email her former advisor who is currently in Budapest tonight to bring her a crottin from CDG. The crottin will appear in front of her tomorrow when they meet in Ottawa.

Lucky dogs.

The dog is also lucky because his dog walker is taking him on two long walks tomorrow.

Lucky me.

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Tuesday, September 01, 2009



I have been remiss. Sorry to my six loyal readers.

Its been a hard summer. For those of you who see me on a marginally regular basis can attest to my Pepcid AC swallowing and deep breaths. For those of you who aren't, you are not missing anything particularly pleasant.

This week I am pretending I'm somewhere else. Poutine, Molsons, bagels and a beaver will fill some gaps, but not all - including finally meeting Sherry, Graham and Sophie.

Well, there is always a next time and I'm a pretty lucky person these days, considering.

Happy September, the month could end now for all its worth.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Oh hi.

I can't say I have anything new to report. Life has basically been about work, editing and on occasion doing science.

I am relishing the last of the longish evenings -- now that Ernest is back I am back to watching the sun start to set as we finish up our last walk.

It seems like this summer was a big gyp.

Hot,work,too hot, operations, caretaking, work.

All I can remember is the blur of emails, running to and fro each soaker hose and the occasional moment of calm.

Most of those were short.

It felt weird not to train for anything, nor spend long hours talking to friends while walking. I miss it, but this year was not the year.

Today I told someone that I am looking to simplify my life - not add complications to sap yet more energy from me. It seems that life is throwing those complications at us right and left. Its just learning to say no, okay and maybe later to all those opportunities, chances and obligations.

I have said enough and maybe not much of anything.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Thursday suckitude v.2.0

one fine day

More of the same, yeah, you know, I have talked about it over and over again.

Good points:
I am healthy
I have a roof over my head
It is not 100 degrees
I have a great support system

Bad points:
I'm unhappy with some things and this affects the rest of my life
This continues
on and on
that really sucks
The economy has still not recovered enough
to make a change
I'm also afraid of change

Who knows, is it worth being unhappy?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Big yellow moon and apricot jam

Cooler now, I can think.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Happy August.

Today it was only 86 degrees. The garden, for all that we have watered, mulched, pruned and carefully tended, is toasted. It is hard to see and even harder to swallow. I am over this, I was over it well before it started. We are not adapted to deal with these "weather events".

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of excitement, none of it good - weather, my father's knee, the ensuing complications and becoming a dogsbody. While my parents are still healthy and have a myriad of resources, it always seems to be a crisis around the corner. Thank god for hotel status, communication skills, a huge network of friends who know everything and everyone in Seattle. TH has been amazing and ready to step up to the plate for almost anything at any time.

This aging thing is really overrated.

Tomorrow, we celebrate a birthday and an anniversary date that has come so fast -- at least we can toast the living and those who have passed with good food and dear friends.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hanging in, barely.

There are only sixty days left of summer, thanks Martha for pointing that out to me on this month's issue of Everyday Food.

Its hard to make each one count when you are exhausted.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

I am glad the MJ spectacle is over.

Today, while driving home from the dentist, I heard his daughter's final words during the memorial service.I was appalled by his daughter's public grief. I don't know why, but for some reason it rankled me. Sure it took guts to get up and tell the world how much she missed her father, but the question remains -- is there an end to all the coverage and media spectacle when kids are thrust in the spotlight?

I remember being overcome with sadness when William laid the wreath and the card on Diana's coffin. That was a private moment, that while displayed publicly, kept the feelings and the sentiments between William and his mother's mortal soul.

Don't think that I'm a cold callous person. I feel for these kids -- after all, who would want to be referred to the moniker Blanket? What child who spent the last eight years of their lives wearing masks and disguises in public would want to be thrust in the public eye at the height of their grief. Maybe now these kids will live a somewhat normal life given their notoriety and get a chance to grieve the loss of their parent in private.

I guess all things these days are ready to be shared with everyone, including our deepest sorrows.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Thank goodness for a cold front.

Lots to do and the heat didn't help.

Good thing there is always the week ahead to tuck in a chore or three and maybe, if you are really lucky, an unplanned evening to sit and listen wind in the trees.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

I turned my tv on for the first time since the digital switchover.

There is still nothing on television worth watching. I spent three minutes flipping through the 10 channels we get -- including five religious stations and realized that it had all become Michael Jackson tv. I realized then and there, the only coverage of his demise that I had seen was static --the web, covers of magazines and the newspapers that still get delivered chez nm.

I had missed the spectacle of his moonwalk, the moonwalks of others, the tears, the exposes and all the old footage. It all seemed so kinetic, but didn't make it any more real for me.
I realized the same thing with 9.11 --all my exposure had been the print media, the internet and listening to hours of NPR for the few days after the event. I missed the footage of the planes hitting the WTC and people jumping out of buildings. The first time I saw the graphic footage was on some anniversary show. It just hadn't dawned on me that to some, all they had seen were the images of people fleeing, the smoke and the devastation. I can't say my life is better or worse for not watching the coverage. I just think that sometimes the visual doesn't necessarily help paint the picture.

I guess the televison will remain a vehicle to watch poorly subtitled films made in Ulan Bator until the next large weather event. In which case, we'll consider turning it on.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

way up there

July is here. The year is half over. Ask me what I have done? Lots and not so much.

I have weaseled out of two races and this year's 3 day. Other than many walks with the dog and forty minutes four times a week at the gym, I'm not doing much.

Maybe I burned out last year.

I have three full months before Portland. All I can think of is Mile 17 and the climb to the bridge. God, that killed me.

I refuse to let it kill me again.

I also promised myself that I would shave a goodly amount of time off my time. I think this year I'll just settle for 12 minutes and be happy with 13. However, this takes some commitment to training. I haven't gone over ten miles since last October. I think I may be a fool to try again with only three months, but the only way to find out is to try.

I don't do a lot of ruminating on what makes a great leader, athlete, or entrepreneur. I am not a student of business or what makes something successful. I know there are a hundred books lining the shelves of airport bookstores waiting to be read on this topic. I tend to try and mull these concepts of failure and success and the obstacles to overcome them over in my brain until it hurts and then I ask for opinions or a bullshit check by some third party.

I'm really trying hard these days to not make public declarations of my intents -- for various reasons, but mostly because I do not want to appear a failure. I am fighting the same twenty pounds, my inability to keep my desk in my study tidy, and my ability to balance a check book, while seeming petty, all these things are things I have talked about and still loom over my head.

Let's say that from today, I intend to train for Portland with the intent of conquering mile 17. Check with me at the end of the month to see where I am.

Monday, June 22, 2009

when tragedy befalls you

I don't follow many celebrity trends. I get most of my news about tanorexics, infidelity, children stuck inside of culverts and the beagles that rescue them from whatever magazines are strewn around the gym. The Kate and Jon Gosselin saga is revolting yet like any good slowdown on the freeway, always a bummer at the end when its all for naught.

Yup, it's her hair. Her stylist should be shot and their collection of 80's new wave music removed from their possession.

Well, maybe not her hair per se, but all that it represents -- the money they accepted, the tummy tucks, the hair plugs and the house. They paid a price in the lack of privacy they had to endure, but they knew what they were getting into when they signed that contract. Who loses in the deal?

Not you and me. The Gosselin's will live in reruns and we will pick apart all the episodes to see what the tipping point was in their relationship - Jon forgot to put the cap back on the toothpaste, a kid lost his shoe, and they were late to school, the crusts were not cut off the sandwiches. Who knows.

The kids lose out. They were prostituted by their parents for their personal gain and they had absolutely no say in any of it. What three year old is benefiting from mommy's new hair (a life of its own) or endless tanning salon love fests? They lost a precious part of their childhood by having cameras shoved in their faces and every move recorded. Worst of all, they lost their family as they knew it.

I know some will argue that unhappy parents make for crappy childhoods, but one must wonder if they had just gone quietly and raised their brood without corporate sponsorship and cameras, whether life would have been better.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

time out

I started moving at 0530 this morning -- dog, garden, ppatch (5 hours), house, friends and all the time my mind was organizing all that needed to be done.

The first true day of summer and I'm worrying about folding laundry, bill paying and what to have for dinner.

I let it all go. We went and got take out. The laundry can wait, the bills are not due yet, the evening light was marvelous. We ate cherries off the tree, white alpine strawberries off the plant, picked raspberries by twilight and marveled at all we have.

Tomorrow marks the beginning of a series of killer work weeks. Its just grind, grind, grind until the end of the fiscal year. I have been planning, projecting and trying to organize myself and others so that we're not pulling out our hair the last two weeks of September. I let that all go this weekend and I'll be happy to tackle it tomorrow, in a new light.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

As lame as it is, I am going to revamp the blog soon. I need a new banner, new links and a new look. Why do I bother? God knows, but I am going to do it. I still think I have something interesting to say on occasion.

Tonight I went to my first tweet up. Good times. I was excited to meet the man behind @Alaskaair's tweets. He has been very helpful. As I am starting to look at the idea of tweeting and location based services - it all is done for research. ;) I even won an all expenses paid trip to the flight simulator -- I may give it to TH, who knows.

Montana and VAF2009 was fun. Glad to be home. Many things going on, mostly all good.

For those who have asked or are going to ask. Yes, I am following the information coming out of Iran, but honestly, other than being amazed at how information is flowing via social networking and bluetooth technology, I'm staying out of this one. What you see in Tehran is not indicative of all of the country, much like our little hamlet of solstice loving/hemp wearing/ canvas bag carrying represents the heartbeat of America.

Oh yeah, I have succumbed to facebook, so sue me. I'm on there once a day unless I am walking the dog. Check me out.

Snoring bassets are not resting bassets


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

home truths

someone has to marry the cable guy
someone always ends up in the middle seat on the plane
the pedicure you skip intersects with your need to wear sandals
rhubarb invariably peaks before the local strawberries, ditto for figs and raspberries

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

dear Sun and hot weather,

Go away, I'm hot and bothered and I could do with some gloom without having to leave the state.



Monday, June 01, 2009

I am still reeling over the loss of the Air France flight from Rio to Paris.

All those souls and with not a trace.

I take flying for granted and mostly my safety while flying. I believe that short of some smaller podunk third world airlines that I have experienced, most pilots and mechanics do a pretty excellent jobof making sure things are fine before we take off and land. In fact, sometimes all I care about is that fact that we take off and land safely. I can do without the warmed nuts, the beverages and the movie. I'm not a nervous flier, but I am a cautious flier. I wear real shoes on the plane, natural fibers, pay attention to the safety announcements and take them seriously. If I have reservations about flying -- I won't. I have walked off of flights that I just felt uneasy about. Blessedly, no issues have occurred after my departure, but I have to sleep with own phobias and concerns and they are already battling for airtime in my over subscribed brain.

I cannot even imagine what its like to get up in the morning in Paris excited to see your family or friend who was flying back from Rio today and tell you all about their trip or a colleague who was coming to Paris for a meeting. I cannot even imagine turning on the news or going to the airport to see the words on the monitor that tell you to go see agent about flight status.

Heart stopping and breaking.

However, what are we to do? Stop flying, stop dreaming, stop commerce, stop tourism and stop living because you have a one in a million chance that your life my end over the ocean? I guess you could stop living, because for me, that is what it would be like.

God rest their souls.

Monday, May 25, 2009

over the moon

I am in love with a five day old little boy -- I never thought I would be so fiercely in love with a baby. I am not a baby person, per se. But my little nephew has stolen my heart - honestly and truly.

Other than that, I turned my brain off of work like things at 5:45 pm on Friday and all weekend I did not let data management, sensitivity tests and location services intrude into my weekend of gardening, sunning, dog walking, baby cuddling and just relaxing.

TH is out to sea == I wish her smooth sailing and good science. Both things are key to to having a cruise go by quickly.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Today would have been better if I hadn't even tried to get out of bed.


Tomorrow has got to be better or I'm really screwed.

Monday, May 11, 2009

In case you are wondering, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. I have been hurtling my
body through the air hither and yon and trying to make sense of it all.

Milan, Paris, Brussels with entirely too much time spent in JFK.

Yeah, it'll end soon.

I have had lots of time to think.

Sometimes thinking is good.

Sometimes thinking is bad.

In this case, the bad outweighs the good and I have a lot to mull through.

TH has been a good sport these last few weeks. She even tolerated sitting through Andrew Bird with me in Brussels. She's the best.

No sign of L/LM-P. I have many variations on my niece/nephew's name, but alas, the secret should be revealed sooner than later.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

This afternoon I sat between my parents and grieved the loss of smart, beautiful woman who died much too young and suffered greatly. How hard it must be to bury your child, your sister, your best friend 0r your partner. How hard it is to watch your mother and father trembling with tears for the memory of a little girl they watched grow up and get married. How frustrating it is to feel like there was absolutely nothing you could have done to stop her suffering? How hard is it to feel guilty because today you felt the sun on your face and breathed in the sharp scent of pear blossoms -- something she can no longer experience.

We have now lost two of our childhood cadre. We blessedly have no war dead, no drug overdoses, nor horrific accidents to take away young lives, but to illness - sudden and chronic. Within our small group, the loss seems even larger and deeper. Death and illness sucks the lifeblood out of families and relationships. It is hard to watch and harder to go through.

As our parents age, these afternoons are fast becoming a common part of our lives. This past year, we have lost husbands, fathers and grandfathers. Losing someone who still had a long life to lead for some reason just seems so unfair. There is so much more to experience - both good and bad. M. seemed to pack as much good in as her body would allow, that was her gift.

Today was hard.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Talladegha Nights and a diet coke are all I'm good for tonight.

However, circumstances did not allow for such sloth.

I managed to do three loads of laundry, make a dinner that featured three food groups and walk the dog before collapsing. It has been a long day.

shake and bake baby, shake and bake

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hmm. I missed a day.

I had three witty and deep things to discuss, but at this late hour I will just say.

Crap, I am getting old and my body aches from use and disuse.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

I had a day, a good one, but I am now beyond tired. This cough is getting old and so is the Pepcid AC moments brought on by coughing.

At least I know where the easter basset is hiding the eggs.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Knackered, completely and utterly brain dead from the past week. It appears to be no end in sight.

Off to immerse myself in the life of Judith Jones, she's back in New York with Julia and Paul Child.

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

I can't really talk about growing up today, because I don't feel like I did a lot of grown up things other than schlep the dog to the groomer, deal with an increasingly mundane workload (soon to change), gardening way past dark, and spending money for things that seem intangible like car insurance and what not.

It seems like more and more people my age are playing games and removing themselves from reality. Let's face it reality these days can suck.
I am all for escaping, but honestly, it just doesn't seem that you should bowl until your taxes are done and the dishwasher is emptied. I know that a lot of people think I am a crumudgeon and cannot relax but when I add up the amount of stuff I do in the day there never appears to be time to relax.

Flying to Hong Kong for dim sum does NOT count.

How do you do it? How do you turn off your guilt gene and take "wii and me" time?

Off for a walk with you know who...

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Sophisticated tastes

This evening I burned the shit out of my finger attempting to make butterscotch tapioca. A younger me would have recoiled at either of those words, but the mature older me loves warm tapioca right out of the pan before it gels up. Afterwards it is just okay, not great.

I have no idea why growing up I was repulsed by tapioca. I think it was the boxed stuff made by Jell-O that didn't solidified into uneven yellow chunks.

TH is a big fan of the 'oica. Milk, a bit of sugar, an egg and couple of tablespoons of tapioca, a bit of vanilla and some patience and judicious stirring can lead to a dish that in no way resembles the chunky stuff you tried to feed the dog under the table.

Butterscotch is another story. The idea of eating something that color with no real taste other than sweet has never swayed me. Once I realized that caramel is the equivalent to the butter of the Scots I stopped hating it and am learning to embrace it.

My foray into mixing the two of the together this evening using Fanny Farmer's recipe (no egg?) was not a rousing success. I ended up with a scant amount of pudding, a throbbing finger, leftover caramel for a tarte tatin and the realization that I continue to grown up.

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Monday, April 06, 2009

Leafs of faith


Today we started in earnest to get the vegetable garden ready for the planting season. It is a division of labor -- TH works hard to schlep compost, plastic, build beds, while I clean out the long season plot of old asparagus stalks, pruning raspberry canes that reach to the heavens and relocating errant strawberry plants.

Every year, I pull up 100s of columbine plants and raspberry canes. They are both plants where a little goes a long way. I can't say that I am the most sentimental gardener. I used to be until I realized a tiny cosmos seedling in May becomes a 6 foot monster with a stem the diameter of a corn stalk in October and broadcasting seeds hither and yon.

Every year as I turn over the soil, I say a prayer that this year will be better than last. That I will have patience and sustained enthusiasm for the entire season, not just for the easy part -- the planting.

I mumble to myself thanks for the ability to bend, stretch and reach over rows to weed pain free. To use my hands and fingers nimbly to drop seeds in holes that hopefully will yield a carrot, turnip or beet.

I also retain the faith that in a week when I return, I will see a bright green stripe of sprouting seeds with telltale leaf patterns that tell me if I have planted carrots or kohlrabi.

Go plant something, take a chance.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

sunday wrap up

dog, gym, parents, brunch, garden shopping, nap, garden clean up, nap, grumpy, garden assessment, dog walking, dinner, dog walking

can you see a trend?

Saturday, April 04, 2009

more than a feeling

Today I spent the afternoon with my childhood cadre -- those who are still here -- both in the 'hood and on earth. We celebrated the impending birth of my first niece/nephew. Blessedly no games were played - just the normal oohing and aahing of the myriad of teeny tiny green/yellow and gender neutral clothing. This not finding out the sex thing of the kid is both really cool and really irritating at the same time.

Suffice it to say, baby will probably never want to wear the color green again after the first six months of its life.

I talked to S at length about the children's table and wondering as we all sit with our mothers and aunts and long time friends of our parents -- both how lucky we are to still be friends, but also how we still feel like we're the kids.

Yeah, we'd rather sit giggling about Donny Osmond than discuss how that salad was made.

nm a little bit country

Friday, April 03, 2009

Arguing a point, and as usual not winning

My mom knew before I was born I was to be a girl. She had a name picked out and everyone was excited that soon N would be born. Perish the thought that I would have been a boy, non?

There was no ultrasounds, no blood tests, no nothing. My mom just felt like she was going to have a girl. It is a 50/50 chance thing. She picked the right side of the coin.

I always wondered what it would be like to be a male child, they are treated so differently. Those societal strictures can really put a damper on what you end up doing with your life.

Suffice it to say, its been a long windy road that brings me where I am today.

This week has aged me by at least a month if not more.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

growing up

on the way up

Don't worry Mony. I am not going anywhere. I just wanted to make sure I had made my contributionfor April 2009 's NaBloPoMo. This month's theme is "growing up".

I can't say I've been very good at it. I seem to exist in a perpetual state of immaturity. Even in my 40's I wish I could sit at the kid's table at Thanksgiving and sometimes shy away from conversations that involve adult topics. However, overall I think I did a pretty good job of growing up. This month you'll hear all of it - someone of it mudane, some deep and some of it sort of funny and pathetic. Growing up as a half generation from the oil refineries, carpet looms and high plains of the motherland in a country where Middle Easterners are portrayed as the bad guys made growing up hard to swallow at times. It also gives one pause for thought.

Hold on though, it should be good.

The above picture was taken this weekend, in Paris where I decided to wrestle between my adult mature self and my not so mature free wheeling self and go on a quest for DEQMs. It wasn't all that bad really money wise and time wise or on my body. In the long run, I will still be able to retire before I'm 65 and be able to say that I was once young and foolish enough to fly to Paris to buy macarons and easter eggs. Yes, I think I will be okay.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

April 1st

This space for rent. Be back later.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Today's flying time

The airport teems with benzoyl peroxide, bad tattoos and pillows.

The Board Room was the same.

I managed to leave my ipod ear buds at home and just paid 30 bucks for a pair of headphones, which kills me because I have a pair of shures at home.

I think I will leave these in my bag.

When did travel become so technical and connected? I will admit that my parents and TH appreciate the text or email that I have arrived safely wherever I am. However, it can be tempting to check in with you all and the 9 to 6 to keep on top of it. I guess I have the power to turn it off, but do I have the will?

I had to bring my ipod charger because it failed to charge -it seems that I managed to not set the pod into the cradle correctly. I probably won't even listen to it, but it serves as a security shield from my seat opponent should they try to enlist me in a vertical marketing scheme.

So, one more piece of plastic, wires and chips to lug hither and yon.

I should turn this thing off--after I call TH and check in at home. Hearing her voice is the most important pre-flight check.


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Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Quick one here...

My dear Z's husband Anth is currently undergoing a heart transplant, they knew the procedure was inevitable, but the need came far too soon.

Please send your healing powers towards Pittsburgh for all three of them - Z, Anth and Ev.

We also send prayers for the family and soul of the heart donor.

If you have not ever thought of signing your organ donor card -- please reconsider the life you save could be the one of your fellow blogger.


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Wednesday, March 18, 2009
I seem to be welcoming these days.


I have been a bad correspondent, for all sorts of reasons. Nothing too deep and meaningful is stopping me, just life and the drudgery of being on the computer at home. I am beginning to loathe it.

We had a nice time in Paris -- the weather cooperated, food was awesome, walking was outstanding and shopping was not too stressful. I was happy to come back non-stop and go right to WORK--at least I didn't suffer from jet lag.

Other than that, things are normally staid and dreadfully dull around here. The more I try to bring order into my world, the faster it crumbles. Right now I am staring at a pile of papers that I keep on meaning to organize and just can't get it together.

Oh, did I tell you that I have my first half marathon of the season in less than two weeks? Yikes.

The longer days make me happy -- I cook in kitchen full of sunlight and pray for the first favas to appear. The raspberries all need pruning, the violets are all up, the daphne smells divine and I have two pots full of lettuce to plant this weekend.

A new year is just around the corner.


Saturday, February 28, 2009

Le parfum du souvenir

I am a double scent girl -- annick goutal's l'eau de hadrien with jo malone's grapefruit. It hardly ever changes, citrus and clean is my thing.

However, the smell of the park hyatt vendome is one that I cannot get out of my mind. In a way, I resent the reality that the world comes in white tea, kiwi, vanilla and sandalwood scents. I abhor the use of dryer sheets and scented laundry detergent that assault us on dog walks. However, the signature scent at the PHV always makes me crazy in a good way. It is musky and deluxe, which really makes no sense unless you are exposed to it. When I am feeling down, I use the shampoo to remind myself of good times in Paris.

Better than a plastic eiffel tower.

Mlle nm a votre service
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Friday, February 27, 2009

Paradise can be created with buckwheat flour, eggs, water and a bit of caramel au buerre sale.

Quite tired now...
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Thursday, February 26, 2009

On the day of ....

So we had snow -- what a way to start the day, magical yet vexing.

Lucky for me, a seat opened up out of LA, so I get to experience LA and the various and sundry irritations involved with transiting through a 3rd world airport.

There is something comforting about flying into a landscape with which you are familiar. The grid of the valley, the getty as hill town, sinuous Wilshire from the ocean through Tehrangeles and to Beverly Hills. For such a planned and deliberate landscape, the vast green spaces are a comfort.

I will admit that I promised four different sets of friends and relations that I would come down and visit. It looks great from the air but I am not sure that it all can be taken in one week, let alone a week.

Baby steps.

We're off...
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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

free samples - wine at the market2
I am avoiding doing anything I need to do.

Why is the 90210 back on the air again? Didn't they kill off half the characters?

Yeah, I'm avoiding doing minor things like packing, writing checks, straightening up.

Things that I should have no problem doing, but for some reason I am suffering from
a great case of ennui.

Tomorrow I will be flying to Paris. Really. I'm not quite sure what I will do once I get there - I believe there will be eating, walking, photo taking and a stroll or two around the Tuileries.

I'll be back in five days. Keep the home fires burning.


Thursday, February 19, 2009


Originally uploaded by flora and flying

Thursday seemed to vanish. Days seem to either drag on forever or
whiz by. Sometimes I wish I could just slow things down enough so that I could either savor a sunny dog walk or make sure I could leave work with an empty desk.

Today I could have stayed at work until 10pm and still not complete the tasks I had laid out for the day.

No, I did not bite off more than I could chew -- the world handed me more crap that had to be dealt with now.

Well, at least the laundry is done.

Tomorrow also will be nice, good thing the weather craps out on the weekend. I wasn't really planning on leaving my office.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Originally uploaded by flora and flying

Bribery will get you somewhere.

Tired and behind as usual. Not looking forward to the end of the week as I think I'll be working most of the weekend in order to feel like the following very short week is deserved.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Originally uploaded by flora and flying

Yeah, it was sunny and warm. I am loving February, a month I typically despise.

Lunch has been confirmed at Robuchon. I love a hotel with a decent concierge -- one you can email on a regular basis to get these things straightened out or arranged. I especially like one that you can hand a package to (prepaid of course) and it will be mailed for you.

I sometimes I think that I appreciate these things more than the actual city. I also realize that when traveling I don't like surprises.

More on that later.


Thursday, February 05, 2009

I'm thinking tis better to stop blogging and keep on taking pictures.

What do you think?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

back and gone

I am back from Hawaii -- fabulous b&b, no show tunes, just plain old fashioned amazing hospitality and great weather and avoiding Kona is the best thing you can do, trust me.

We're home for three days and then back off to MCI for my brother's wedding.

I cannot wait to see my extended family and meet the rest of J's family.

Should be a fun weekend of beef and what not, including cupcake deliveries and fusing Persian and American wedding customs.

I am looking forward to my eighteen days of staying in the state before leaving again.

Other than that, spring is coming and that gives me some more hope.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Again, nothing of note.

My brain is on vacation for the next four days. I'm sure by Saturday my body will follow.

No, let's be serious. It may be as early as Friday morning.

I cannot torture you too much with pictures of papayas from the interwebs, so you will just have to be patient.

Really. I promise to come back refreshed, recharged and with something witty to say.

Try at least to check out my flickr stream. I have been having deep thoughts there, just ask Mony.



Sunday, January 25, 2009


I have nothing to say of note. When I went back and read my live journal postings from 2007 I realized two things -- I have more to say there than here and two -- the more things change, the more they stay the same.

On the horizon --- five glorious days in Paradise. We're staying in two gay b&bs that came with great accolades, but my greatest fear is that there will be show tunes belted out randomly and card games and you know how I feel about that.
Oh yeah, after that there is that wedding thingie going on. I have dresses (note plural) and shout outs to B and TH who kindly gave thumbs up or down and Miss C. for finding which ended up being a great resource for this P shaped body --note the Beth Chapmanesque bobs.

Now, if only my new Choos will get here in time, I'm good to go.

nm ready for anything in a medium heel, light on the dressing.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Today I was quoted in print.


I am glad I didn't say anything stupid.

It has been a really long week and because of it, I'm leaving early and going back to work.

I can't wait.

I did laugh my ass off with Yassi, drink way too much with Lori and finally meet the not so angry Joseph Stains, Tanner T. and their lovely apes.

I also gave two posters, one stressful talk and moderated two sessions, answered a few questions about assessing land use and land cover change, made some interesting contacts and ate way too much.

Yeah, my breasts are heaving and I'm okay with it. I can start exercising again and eating better to deflate the girls, but you can't capture laughter, hanging at the Valley HO! and gustoing mucho with the Stains with such ease.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

thursday suckitude

all that is left
Today sucked for various and sundry reasons, but overall when you think about Darfur, Gaza and the state of the economy, its a nano sucking day that really only affects me and those who hear me roar.

I'm wishing I could retrieve back the last three weeks, skipping the holidays and getting my brain back to normal. It feels like the last few months have been a foggy conglomeration of bits and bobs that slowed my brain down to molasses.

Well, short of being a short tempered cranky type A, I'm feeling better and sharp.

Now if I could only go to the gym.

Maybe next week or the week after. We'll see.

I'm off to pack for Phoenix. I have one poster session, one talk and two sessions to moderate. My sessions will be over on Tuesday and I can relax for the rest of the week. We have a taco truck excursion on Tuesday and some catching up with one of my best friends this weekend.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Hey, is this thing on?

Its twelfth night here. I am about to take down the tree. TH is somewhere on the border of LA and MS tonight. She went to the Waffle House known for its hash browns. Color me jealous -- locally produced pasta with sun dried tomato pesto sometimes just doesn't hit the spot the way hash browns and eggs do.

I would have probably taken the tree down earlier than twelfth night this year. Frankly, I was over Christmas this year by say, Christmas. I think it may have been cabin fever, the inability to get the dog and the fact that everyone felt that money was tight and that Christmas couldn't be the same without the usual plethora of presents.

Honestly, I think it was just the weather and the anxiety produced by the monotony of snow.
nary a cloud

On Sunday night, it snowed again. Lovely, lovely snow. We went out to dinner at a higher elevation and by the time we emerged, there was about three inches on the ground, we managed to get home okay. We even took the dog for a romp. We even lost power. Our neighbors created some awesome snow people in a short period of time. You know the best part -- it was gone by the time I went to work. That is the snow I love.

So, snow. Why do you care? I don't really. I just want to share.

Oh my resolutions. More of the same.

This year I am participating in a cool photo project. Come visit my ordinarily dull existence.


Friday, January 02, 2009



I started out the year with the stomach flu. It has improved drastically since.

more later.