Sunday, April 29, 2007

Another sign of spring

The first patio dinner of the season: grilled ribeye with fruit salad, by the light of a hurricane lamp from my grandparents' cabin.

And a walk to Ben & Jerry's after.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Blue flower

I'm not sure what this flower is. It's from a bulb, I'm fairly certain. At least, the foliage is bulb-like. My early clem is blooming, too.

This garden is going to be really hard to leave. After nine years, starting from bare, bad dirt and complete ignorance on my part, it is finally turning into a really good-looking space.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Hi Lois


You probably can't see this very well, even if you click to enlarge. I'll try to get a better photo later.

What is it? It's a small patch in the middle of the basement floor that has not been whitewashed like everything else. Why? Because scratched out in the middle of it are the words: "Hi Lois, June 30th, 1945"

I wonder what other clues are hidden around?

When my mom left the house I grew up in, after 35 years, she she wrote our names and "We loved this house" with permanent marker on top of one of the basement beams.

The inspector gets high

It's very gratifying to hear an inspector oohing and ahing over a 113-year-old house. The foundation is solid, the wiring and plumbing are good, the overall structure is sound.

A couple of things need to be dealt with, but they're totally fixable.

It is clear, however, that I will not be able to clean my own gutters anymore.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

What I'm reading: A bunch of stuff


Geek Love
by Katherine Dunn

All the Clean Ones Are Married:
And Other Everyday Calamities in Moscow

by Lori Cidylo

Tallgrass
by Sandra Dallas

The Bird Artist
by Howard Norman

"Geek Love" was the weirdest of the bunch. I think it was better in concept than execution, or maybe I was just too distracted. "Tallgrass" was pleasant enough; you could recommend it to your grandmother. "All the Clean Ones Are Married" was a bit scattered. Interesting bits and pieces about living in Russia in the '90s, but it didn't hang together well. "The Bird Artist" is the best of them, well-written with interesting plotting.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Nightlights

I miss the colorful lights they put on Denver's City and County Building at holiday time. Seems like they should be there now, since it's, you know, snowing and all.

Home sweet home?



I made an offer. They accepted. I'm both thrilled and terrified. Que sera, sera.

Do you think it will go with my drawing of spoons?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Spoons

My favorite housewares shop, Peppercorn in Boulder, was having a warehouse sale this weekend. It was fairly well picked over by the time I got there, which was probably a good thing. (I secretly hoped they would have a good pot for no-knead bread on sale. But they didn't.)

I did get this nicely framed drawing, which I think I will have just the place for.

Eventually.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Tiptoe

Kodak moment

Sophie and the squirrel in the same photo.

Reduce, recycle, reuse

Spotted at the Boulder Farmers Market this morning:

It's been an amazing week, with really low lows and soaringly high highs. I haven't been this exhausted in a long time. If all goes according to plan, though, I'll have some good news to share soon.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Eye candy

Bear of bad news

I had no idea yesterday when I posted about Knut's teething woes that there had been a death threat against him!

BERLIN (AP) -- The Berlin Zoo received a fax threatening to end the life of its superstar polar bear baby Knut, which police dismissed Thursday as a hoax and zoo officials insisted would not disrupt daily viewing of the cub.

The fax, which the zoo received on Wednesday read, "Knut is dead. Thursday noon."

Zoo officials immediately alerted police who inspected Knut's enclosure ... Full Story

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Breaking news

An outpouring of concern around the world is focused on the Berlin Zoo, where, it was reported, Knut the baby polar bear was feeling under the weather.
But now all can lay their fears to rest: He was just teething.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Buzzzz

What I should be wearing: These shoes. Too bad they don't come in any size larger than Toddler. The last two days have been extra-long and high-pressure at work, and all the details I have to keep track of are going buzz-buzz-buzz inside my head. I am satisfied it is good work, though.

I haven't accomplished much at home, but at least can still manage a daily walk. Dogs are great for requiring exercise. It was brisk and overcast this morning, but it stopped raining early. The light was bouncing in such a way that it really made the colors pop.

This photo doesn't do these tulips justice. I'm rubbing my hands together knowing they will be blooming for quite a while yet. They're just getting revved up. (And look! The grass needs cutting! Again!)

Our Lady of the Crabapple watches over the garden. Her tree, the appropriately named "Spring Snow" variety, is just getting into full swing. It's a non-fruiting variety I planted two years ago, and I'm happy it likes where it is. Much better than the sickly aspen it replaced.

We and our shadows ...

... strolling down the avenue.

I wish it were this sunny! We've got wet gloom here today, so I'm looking with longing, and for more than one reason, at my San Francisco pictures.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Good eggs

I was checking out this post at the blog French Laundry at Home, which involves poached quail eggs. I remembered I had a photo of me with quail eggs on a stick I bought on the street in China. The eggs were cooked in soy sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds. I think this was in Changchun.

I'm not sharing the whole photo. I weighed about 100 pounds and had enormous glasses and a crewcut that was growing out badly. But the eggs look good!

Chinese street food is really imaginative and usually delicious. Where I lived, there were vendors who would go up and down the halls, calling out their wares. One of my favorites was the tea-egg lady, who was aware of my devotion and would call softly through the keyhole "Cha dan! Cha dan!"

Tea eggs are boiled in tea and soy sauce, like the quail eggs. The egg is cracked a bit once it has firmed up so the saltiness seeps in. You get a tasty egg snack with no need to add salt.

How funny ... tea eggs have a Wikipedia entry.

Planet Sophie

To answer Kris' question in the comments, this was taken at a middle school in my neighborhood. Below is the original artist's concept. It was part of a landscape architecture project that looked a lot better on paper.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Cold-drip coffee


I like a cup of coffee in the morning, and what I drink is cold-drip, which is basically coffee concentrate added to hot water or milk. It's tasty, has low acidity, and is very convenient. I make the concentrate about every two weeks.

I first encountered cold-drip coffee in college, thanks to Regan Jones of Shreveport, La., who kept her dorm fridge stocked with it. Regan, where are you these days?

More recently a friend who also hails from Louisiana showed me how it's made, and next thing I knew I had a rig of my own.

Two companies make this setup (that I know of): Filtron and Toddy. I have the Filtron.
The plug goes in the hole underneath, the filter fits snugly in the little trough inside.

The coffee (coarsely ground) goes in the main chamber.

The surface-tension breaker goes on top of the grounds.

Fill the reservoir to the line marking.
The water reservoir fits on top of the main chamber. A tiny hole in the center drips water onto the coffee below. The surface-tension break ensures that the water seeps into the coffee instead of just pooling on top of it. The whole thing then sits for 12 hours or more.
When the grounds have soaked long enough, place the rig over the carafe that comes with it and pull the plug. VoilĂ ! You've got gourmet "instant" coffee.

What a diference a day makes



Friday, April 13, 2007

What I'm reading:
"The Wayward Bus" by John Steinbeck

You probably haven't heard of this Steinbeck. I know I hadn't. Published in 1947, it's considered one of his "minor" novels. I can see why. It starts out great, but gradually loses steam, even as the tension is supposed to be building.

It's basically a book of character studies, and Steinbeck tosses 'em all in a sack like a bunch of bulldogs to see what will happen. The sack is a little country store and a rickety old bus that makes a daily run between the Central Valley of California and the coast, and a rising river with an iffy bridge.

The characters are the store owner/bus driver (Juan the Manly Mexican) and his wife (Alice the Secret Boozehound), their two employees (Pimples the Horny Teenager and Norma the Homely Waitress) and a collection of passengers: the Traveling Salesman, the Businessman with his Migraine Wife and Rebellious Daughter in tow, the World-Weary Dame, the Crotchety Old Bastard.

The set-up was good, but I kept waiting for something, anything to happen, and by the time anything did, I was already skimming and thinking to myself, "Either they all live or they all die. But I just don't care anymore."

Oh well.

What I should be wearing: the shirt at left.

I have done zero, zip, nada all day. I did not go skiing. I did not work on my bookcase cleanup. I did not even walk the demon beast.

I napped. I read. I read and napped. The demon beast seemed content with this (she napped on top of me). I feel like I've eaten too much candy, but I'm kind of glad I did it. I've been feeling sleep-deprived lately, and work is always go-go-go.

Tomorrow I'll be productive. Yeah. Tomorrow.

Evil eye

The beast looms over me as I lie in bed, her psychic beam focused like a laser: Get. Up. Get. Up. NOW.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Crabby

Just went out walking for an hour, and my ears ache from the cold wind. The clouds have come over and the rain will begin in another hour or two, I'm guessing. Then it will turn to snow.

All the blooming trees (including this crabapple) are at their peak. The snow won't hurt the trees themselves, or the perennials ... if they've survived this long, they're certainly used to it. But it's still a bummer.

I'm supposed to ski tomorrow, but that's going to depend on what the roads are like in the morning. I don't relish the thought of being stuck for hours behind a jackknifed semi.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Park day


This was an eye-catching display next to me at a stoplight today. It's amazing what they can do with printing/painting on vehicles these days. I think it's electrical supplies, but I'm not sure. ... no, it's all kinds of hardware: www.hiline.com.

I was on my way home from a trip to the dog park with Sophie. It was so windy it made my eyes water, but she enjoyed it. She played one of her favorite games: rolling the toy into the water. She'll drop the toy on the edge of a slope and paw at it until it rolls, then run down, bring it back up and repeat.

When she was younger she used to do it on some fairly steep and deep cliffs. She'd get a lot of exercise and all I had to do was sit back and watch.

In other news, Kurt Vonnegut is dead, and we are supposed to get 6-12 inches of snow of Friday. Yes, that's SIX to TWELVE inches.

And so it goes.