Monday, August 31, 2015

Summer's End

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It was chilly this morning when I started in Portland and by the time I got to Wapato, it was roasting (relatively speaking). I love the high highs and the lower lows we're having these days. What I do hate is the darkness. In the winter, I love the first time it is still light at 5:15 pm and it feels amazing to be gardening at 7pm in April. By July, we're in a summer light rut - we have had so much of it, we stop taking it for granted.

 As I swept up have the branches from our big sycamores out front today, I realized that the light is fading so much earlier. While our house is light and airy most of the time, the front rooms don't get a lot of evening light - so everything feels dark and hopeless inside even as early as 6 pm these days.  I was happy to put on my jacket to sweep and prune just to be in the light.

I'm not looking forward to the next fifteen weeks of shortened days and weaker light. I'm trying to spend as much time outside as possible to soak up as many photons as possible. Its a coping mechanism, but it works.

Happy September.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday in Portland Wrap Up

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Number of cups of coffee consumed: 5 (all decaf)

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Number of waxed mustaches spotted: 6
Number of books purchased: 6

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Number of tasty meals: 2.5
Number of not so tasty meals: 0
Number of needlepoint canvases purchased: 5
Number of dogs I played tug and catch with today in a needlepoint shop: 1
Number of rain showers experienced: 3

All in all not a bad Sunday.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Friday, August 28, 2015

September Goals

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My goal for August was to post every day to this blog and also to log my food everyday. I am doing pretty well on both fronts. Nothing has changed on the food front - I eat a lot, exercise some and would make my naturopath very cranky if she was to peruse my food logs.

So, what should I do for the month of September? I have travel, schedule changes, more stress and unlike some people hate chunky sweaters and boots.

Food challenge? Actually eat seven to ten servings of fruits and veg a day? Possibly.
Writing challenge? Perhaps post usable content?
Brand challenge? Stop being so schizophrenic and drill down to what I want to achieve with my writing?
Mood challenge? Try to not be so cranky?
Health challenge? Attempt to get over six hours of sleep?


Do you think I'm up for it?

Now off to confess my eating indiscretions - thanks Alaska Airlines fruit and cheese plate.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


I took myself out to a lovely lunch today at the Cafe at Chez Panisse. It was my first visit since they remodeled and the rooms felt much the same to me, much like eating in a Berkeley home with all the wood, hard benches and the feeling that you are suspended in the trees.

What I did not love about my lunch as listening to the conversation carried on by the ladies lunching next to me.  I was not trying to listen, but the seats are quite close together and I was entertaining myself, so I had a book but not much else to keep me occupied. I suppose I could have live tweeted it like the woman who documented to a couple breaking up on her flight she witnessed in real time.

I heard more about polyps, mammograms, ungrateful and directionless adult children (hmm) and the tribulations of being the spouse of a trial lawyer that I had anticipated when I sat down. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure my conversations would bore you to tears, but I am not likely to discuss my upcoming colonoscopy while dining in a public place, especially when sound travels and we're sitting cheek by jowl.

For me it was also a reminder that polite conversation should avoid politics and polyps, especially while dining in public spaces.

Lunch, by the way was outstanding.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


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It is so late in the evening and I've given up on having anything useful to say. I'm out of words.

Maybe something will come to me tomorrow - after I review abstracts, find an electrician, meet with roofer and attend conference call. Maybe it will happen after I take myself to lunch at Chez Panisse where it is impossible to make an OpenTable reservation for one (WTF?).

Looks like the weather is changing at home. I could feel a change on Monday. I'm reaching for my down jacket for early morning dog walks and gym visits.  I love and hate it, but I have to learn to accept it. Fall is coming.

3/4 of the year is over. I'm not sure what the last quarter brings, but I'm certain something will change for the better.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

To the South

In Berkeley for a few days....

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It was fine day for fig picking.
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and then some lemons ....
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I so very much missed the sunsets.
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I'm glad to be back.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Comfort of the Familiar

The croquet pitch at the Four Seasons Lodge at Koe'le is one of those familiar places for me. 

Jacques, our previous basset travelled between Berkeley, Seattle and Northern B.C. for the first seven years of his life. He hated the flying and the kenneling that accompanied it. However, as soon as he arrived at his destination - he went straight to his water bowl and then to his bed for a nap. Ernest does the same thing - water, sniff around and nap, no matter how long it has been between visits.

There is something about having a well worn routine and a familiarity with a place that makes going and coming easier.  For some, it may be going to the same cabin every year or visiting family and knowing you'll be in the guest room with the really loud wallpaper.

This week I'm revisiting my old familiar, in a different capacity than before. It should be interesting and challenging and I'm clinging to the hope that there will be a little sliver of fun as well.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday Wrapup

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That is what we call Can-Mari - Seattle style.  Please note that some foods are much better in theory than in practice - Chioggia Beets for one, deviled ham is another.

I'm looking forward to the week ahead with some travel, a lot of work and hopefully a change of scenery that will lift me up.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

To the north

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Missing this view and the relative silence that comes with it a lot.

I'm plowing through errands and such at home in preparation for a busy week ahead.
I can't believe September is around the corner and with it - the last quarter of the year.

Happy Saturday.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Canning it

What I accomplished today in the world of preserving -

Dried Peaches
Plum-Apple Chutney
Poire Belle Helene - pear and chocolate spread
Tomato sauce

The damage -
one minor cut to my hand

The upside -
no pepper burns
no cracked jars

I love and hate canning this time of year - it is warm during the day, but the time the last batch of salsa that goes in the canner, it has cooled off enough to make it pleasant to be in the kitchen. I'm happy to say that after tomorrow's  next batch of salsa and the remaining peaches, I'm done preserving until the apples come in and we're inundated with another crop of tomatoes.

Last year, we did a pretty decent job of eating through most of our stuff. I'm starting to distribute the last of the marmalade and jams from earlier in the year and I'll make some effort to enjoy the remaining stash from 2014. This year, my goal is to have nothing go to waste.

In my desire to Kon-Mari my stash and make my canning a more pleasant experience (read: no longer dread), I'm thinking we'll skip peaches and canned tomatoes as neither give me joy.  Salsa gives TH joy and is easy to make and I would stand each jar of chutney up so that I could admire it before diving in and devouring it.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Summer's bounty

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The harvest and preserving season is upon us and this year I promised myself not to get carried away. 

Easier to say than done.

I see salsa making in my weekend plans and peach drying and some plum chutney.

Don't get me started on the tomatoes.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Closed. #dailyernest #bassetsofinstagram

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We grow weary of the weather and talking about it. Apparently tomorrow is supposed to be in the low 70s and I have a date with some mildewed squash leaves and quack grass.

Thank goodness.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Around the bend - the editorial calendar

The Garden at Great Dixter is a good place to take a nap, but it is not Paris. Highly recommended. 

I had some choice things to discuss today, but since today is nearly over and I just got around to writing, it is going to wait.

Maybe I need to start writing earlier in the day. Maybe I need to stick to my awesome, yet slightly out of season editorial calendar.  Why do I even need an editorial calendar?

Patterns are good. People like to know what is coming. The notion of expecting the unexpected is a in theory, much like when you hike and come across a marmot, but you knew that a waterfall was around the next bend because you were bright enough to look at the map before setting out. 

Editorial calendars set patterns– whether it is a Tuesday travel post or a weekly series of productivity hints that culminates a set of recommendations.  As a reader, you may have an inkling that Tuesday’s post may feature my suggestions for dining in Paris, so there is that waterfall you are expecting and sometimes you get the marmot that appears out of nowhere, like where I would go to take a nap in Paris when my hotel room is too far away.

I’m working hard to get to the waterfall over marmot in terms of creating interesting content without boring you to death or myself because I am struggling to figure out what to write.

When I walk the dog, talk to TH or look at my pathetic lawn (blog post soon), I get ideas for things that I would like to write about. Unless I write them down on paper or send myself a message immediately, those thought vanish into thin air only to be retrieved when something random comes up.

This is not the best way to operate.

So, back to an editorial calendar I go – nothing seasonal or kitschy, but something that works for me as a way to set patterns so that you can expect to see that marmot frolicking in the waterfall around the next bend.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Blue Monday

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Happy Monday. 

My Mac picked up some weird malware that hijacked my Chrome browser and it took me nearly two hours to figure out how to tackle it. I’m not sure I did the right thing, but I reset my Chrome settings, installed some malware software remover  that was recommended. I ended up ditching Chrome and removed the application. I may go back to it, but not until I’m certain everything is copacetic.

While I was trying to extract myself from this irritation, I realized that I could work unplugged and get more done with less (distractions). Why do we have this deep seated need to read status updates for things that only serve to muddle up our thought processes?  Why bother checking mail on your laptop when you can do it on your phone and be done sooner.   Why bother checking your mail at all?

Many companies are abandoning email all together and using tools like Slack or Hipchat to communicate internally and share assets via these services. I’m still not convinced that this is a way to conduct all communication or work, but how lovely it would be if you could unsubscribe from threads of conversations that you don’t really need to be part of  or tell the world you are away with a emoticon of a sleeping koala bear?

We tend to say the same things when we’re communicating by email as when we talk to our colleagues. While some things bear repeating, if this information was delivered quickly via a internal messaging system, questions could be answered quickly and succinctly and we could use that five minute water cooler conversation talking about solutions instead of setting up the scenario or problem we’re trying to solve.

Why is it that we’re so fast to answer a text and so dread answering email?

I’m going to try this unplugging while working for the rest of the week – maybe I’ll see a rise in my productivity or at least a decrease in my dislike for the sharing aspect of the web.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Miles from our home

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I never get tired of this image, this falling down outbuilding around milepost 93 towards Ellensburg. I drive by it a few times a year and every time I appreciate it even more - no matter the season, no matter how fast we're going.

My guess is that most of us have place much like this - whether it is seeing the wind turbines in Altamont, the Space Needle as you drive from the south into Seattle,  the first sight of the Battersea Power Station on train towards London, a house or garden that we pass daily that reminds us that we're nearly home.

These are the places that remind us where we're rooted and where we want to go.

I'm not going to lie to you. I have been a lot of places this year and I still have the hankering to leave again, somewhere familiar but somewhere I can always find something new to discover.  There is comfort in the familiar, no matter how far from home we are.

Happy Sunday.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The wanting, the waiting

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Waiting room - Terminal 2F, Aeroport Charles de Gaulle, November 11, 2014.

I'm in love with these chairs and want them.

 I also realize that although I want them, I don't really need them.

They are the same ones that one sees in Parisian parks, so they are even more lust-provoking in my heart and mind. They are also on sale - but not the exact style I want. So I'll wait, somewhat patiently until the right style comes along.

Waiting is hard. Waiting is something I'm terrible at and waiting is something I need to learn to be better at. I'm not of the mind that all good things come to those who wait, because that is not the way the world seems to work now.  It is more like the "early bird acquires the worm and fires all the worm's besties and shelves the worm's technology".  Its a worm eat worm world out there.

I'm glad this week is coming to an end.  I'm looking forward to the following week and hoping that it brings less waiting and more action.

Friday, August 14, 2015


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Seattle is happy. The rains came today.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The rescue

Sometimes you have to thank the friend  who shows up on your doorstep bearing directly from the oven-  roasted tomatoes, some of which he picked from your garden. It makes your dinner of toast with feta cheese much better and for this I am grateful.

Recipe can be found here. 

This recipe with a bit of florence fennel thrown in for good measure was a staple of my time in Rome. It was a great way to get rid of bits and bobs and was great on bread or pasta. I can't wait to toss this bunch with pasta for dinner tomorrow.

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And this on quarter of the tomatoes we've harvested. If tomorrow's forecast hold true - I'll be able to make sauce and not die of heat stroke.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The non-work day

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It is nearly 7 pm and I'm knackered and I'm not quite sure what I did today.

So far --
  • Worked out at the gym
  • Checked on parents (they say hi!)
  • Picked tomatillos at p-patch
  • Dropped off library books
  • Picked up stuff at drugstore
  • Went to grocery store  
  • Arranged a meeting for next week 
  • Worked on AMS Program planning 
  • Brought laundry in due to approaching thunderstorms 
  • Cooked a million things for the next few weeks (chile sauce, enchiladas, fig jam FTW)
  • Tried to walk dog
  • Cleaned kitchen after cooking all the things
  • Raked and general garden clean up 
  • Tried  to walk dog
  • Met with garden gate designer for final install 
  • Finally succeed at walking dog (pre-listing this because I really want the dog to walk)

It can get lonely at home. The dog is great company, but I feel that unless I get something concrete done towards the goal of finding a job, the day is a bust. Writing out what I have done makes things better, but I still wish I that all things accomplished towards making my life saner are good things.

While I enjoy human contact, I realize that I can power through my list if I limit my own interactions with the world - sort of my own heads down time - no social media, not running to Google every time I have a question and trying to run errands and perform tasks in a logical order.  I guess is it much like the ideal workday - Say hello to the dog, have a cup of coffee, power through the tasks, eat and repeat until it is time to call it a day without having to attend a standup or eat bad teriyaki at your desk.

The problem with working at home and doing home work is sometimes it is hard to know when end the work day. Even if you break off to have dinner, talk to your sweetie, spend time together walking the dog, it always seems that there is something left to do.

I'm trying to stick to my list and when it things are crossed off, I'm done.

There will always be more waiting for me in the morning.

And the dog just rang to go out.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Right Place, Happy Plant

Friends, I come you today with one thing on my mind other than the vile weather we're still having.

We're in a drought and we've been asked to cut back our residential water consumption by 10%.  This really shouldn't be too hard without having to resort to showering with another person.  Here are some easy to implement suggestions -

  • Shorten the time you run the water in your shower/bath by 20% by simply turning off the water when you lather up and shave your legs. 
  • Turn the water off when you brush your teeth. 
  • Run full loads of laundry and ditto for the dishwasher.  
  • While it may be gross - refrain from  flushing  after every pee (at home) but still wash your hands.

For the love of Pete (whomever he might be), don't stop watering your vegetable garden, the one you ripped out your sod and cut down that street tree to put in your parking strip.  The same one you spent so much time and money talking about installing, waiting in line at the Tilth sale, instagramming and blogging about.  Those beds need to be watered and tended until the crops are done producing and you've pulled out the last wizened tomatoes plants from those really expensive cages you bought (to instagram, natch).

All plants require water as  they become established. Seeds need water to germinate,and need moisture to establish roots, Judicious watering plumps up those tomatoes, beans and strawberries you desperately want to eat.  Most imporantly,  everything needs to be planted in the right place and in the right containers.

The picture I took today was in our neighborhood.  I'm sure the person who planted their parking strip had the best of intentions, but something got in the way of their regular watering and tending of their strip garden.   It kills me to see a huge patch of strawberries dead - maybe from the lack of water, maybe because they were planted in full western exposure and probably because they were planted in a metal trough which baked the poor plants.  It was likely a combination of all three of these things.

In my dream world, I would own a large pumping truck full of water and I would go around with my minions in the dark of night, watering all these poor beds and on occasion performing interventions and removing blueberry and gooseberry plants from unsafe homes and rehoming them in boggy areas where they can fruit in peace. 

There is a great concept - Right plant, Right place and even I need a refresher course on how important placing plants with the same growing requirements can help conserve water and your time because you are not having to adjust your watering schedule or tempo from one plant to another.

Yes, I sound like a crank, but do it for next year's strawberries.