Friday, August 31, 2007

Anybody home?

Sophie doesn't understand that her doggy friends and the nice lady who gives her Bones! and Hot Dogs! don't live at the art gallery. Why won't they open the door at 11 p.m. when we walk by?

Downspout garden

A while back I posted a picture of my rain-cup downspout. At the base of it there is a rock with a hole in it, about half the size of this one just a few doors down. I think the previous owners were working toward creating something like this lovely treatment. I have to ponder what I can do that is similarly charming, without being a complete copy-cat.

You can find a variety of styles of rain cups and rain chains here. They are not cheap.

(Apologies for the poor photo quality; I was working from a different computer that only let me save it as a gif.)

What I'm Reading: Two by Nicole Mones

One nice thing about visiting Mom (among many reasons) is that I don't worry about bringing along a stack of books; she always has a supply of new reads she wants to share.

(And when I say "worry," I mean that literally. What if I don't like what I've brought? I need to choose backups. But what if I don't like them? More backups to choose, and then I don't have room in my suitcase for essentials, like clothes.)

This trip, she had two by Nicole Mones for me: "The Last Chinese Chef," and "A Cup of Light." Both are set in China and feature American women protagonists who are experts in their fields – one a food writer and the other a porcelain appraiser – and who are facing personal and professional challenges. The stories also give a glimpse into some of the other (mostly Chinese) character's personal lives.

In "The Last Chinese Chef," our recently widowed food writer is investigating a devastating but dubious claim against her late husband. Her editor gives her the opportunity to expense the trip by writing about an up and coming Chinese-American chef who plans to open a restaurant in Beijing featuring the classic imperial cuisine. He also is experiencing a personal crisis. The book chronicles how they wrestle with their demons separately, and how they manage to find common ground through their love of food. You get some Chinese history, some lessons in cooking, and a sweet story of a blossoming friendship.

In "A Cup of Light" the porcelain expert is tasked by her auction house with assessing a collection of imperial pieces that have recently surfaced. They are also national treasures that are destined to be smuggled out of the country. Our expert is also almost deaf (she wears powerful hearing aids), has a supersensitive tactile sense and an amazing ability to memorize details, all of which help her in examining the priceless collection. Mixed with her story are those of the smugglers, middlemen and officials pursuing the porcelains, as well as those of ancient and modern artisans, and one wayward American ex-pat our expert encounters along the way. Again, there's a generous dose of Chinese history mixed in, and the story of breaking down personal walls and forming new friendships.

I enjoyed "The Last Chinese Chef" more, in part because of all the food (of course!) and it felt more personal. "A Cup of Light" was engaging and made me more interested in Chinese ceramics, but also a little uncomfortable because of the smugglers' greed and the unfortunate truths about China's loss of its cultural heritage; i.e. it was a little less escapist than I wanted just then; my fault, not the book's.

But I recommend both!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Mail call

In today's post was a lampshade:
And rocks!
Not in the same package, though.

I got the shade while on vacation. It's very Victorian, and I had a hunch it would match the colors in my living room. The flash belies the fact that it is a lighter shade of the wall color, and it is exactly the same color as the upholstery on the window seat. Now I can have fun looking in thrift stores for a suitable lamp.

The rocks will go in the tumbler. I collected them while they were wet, so I know just what they'll look like polished. Beautiful!

Top this

A house near me has some clever toppers for its fence posts. Decorative and useful for preventing the wood from rotting. I haven't seen ones like this before. I wonder if they made them themselves.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Huge sunflowers

Gratuitous cute dog photos

Nothing to report this morning, except that Sophie is still cute. I caught her with her head in the box of rawhide flips, which is not verboten, just funny. She gets bored, goes in and pulls out a few, picks one to gnaw on and leaves it half-chewed somewhere else in the house. She is not deterred by such obstacles as an open dryer door or bubble wrap. Occasionally I walk around and pick them all up and throw them back in the box.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dawn departure

My last view of the beach until next year. I always got up too late for the sunrise, and on this last day, too early. Much, much too early.

But the trip home was smooth, and I am happy to cuddle my puppy again.

Wisconsin wild life

A visit to The Ridges nature center promised "wildlife viewing," and came through with a couple porcupines squalling like babies high up in a tree, a toad and a snake. Not very exotic, but fun to spot just the same. It's a lovely place for an easy little hike through the woods.

We got some kayaking in, too, on the one day the water was calm enough.
And we played with the wannabe wild critter, Charlie, whose hunting prowess is limited to catnip mice and paper wads on string.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Cana Island lighthouse

Take your pick

Perry's Cherry Diner, just over the old canal bridge in Sturgeon Bay, is for sale. Only $290,000 for the building, land, restaurant and equipment! If you're cash-poor, however, you can setle for a really good chocolate malt and an order of fries.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Focus on food


Rack of lamb

Hazelnut-encrusted grouper

If you're like me, your focus is really on that cosmopolitan. But the food was pretty yummy, too. This is what vacation is all about. Good food, good times.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Monday, August 20, 2007

The cabin

This is my favorite retreat; I return every year for 10 days and wish it could be more. As a kid, I spent every summer here, and some long winter weekends when we had to haul everything in on sleds, the snow was so deep.

The surrounding area can be very touristy, but here it is quiet and wild, and you hardly see anyone, especially during the week.

It's very good to get away from it all.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Vacation rocks

(Sloooooooooow dial-up innernets here, so don't expect much from me for a while.)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Welcome aboard!

'Am I going to be famous?' the flight attendant asks.

Mmm Cinnabon

Traveler's indulgence

Good omen?

Snakes on a plane!

Plus a dragon named Sparky.


With a stop in Chicago, where I'll get off. Hope my bag does, too.

This socks

How does this happen? I've done all the laundry in the house. All of it. So how is it possible that I have 12 (twelve!) single socks?

Meanwhile, household tools can come in handy when your belt needs some new notches.