Monday, October 9, 2017

a big wind in the valley

While Napa burns, the wind is whipping things up here in the valley, too.  It's been blowing for a couple of days, and while we've missed the close peril of fire, it has made a mess of everything else.  Our pool resembles one seen in Gothic horror movies; dark and covered in rotting leaves and twigs.  Not only is our own birch tree dumping its trash, but our neighbor's huge crepe myrtles are, too.  "Fall" is named that for a good reason.

I finally got around to watched "Fences" a couple of days ago. I couldn't watch it all in one sitting; a whole lot of anger flying off the screen.  I don't know how a cast could summon so much energy night after night for the stage play.  Viola Davis was superb as Rose and her Academy Award was well earned.  The contrast between Troy and his friend Bono was beautifully portrayed.  I guess I liked it, but not to the point of raving.

Today I will wrap up reading James Gould Cozzen's "By Love Possessed."  I read it probably 40 years ago and, after revisiting it now, realize I had no idea what it was about.  Either that or I've just forgotten most everything.  Here's one thing about Cozzens; he knows and uses (correctly) more obscure words than any novelist I've ever read.  This novel is a (long) discourse on love; between families, friends, siblings, colleagues, married couples, youth and age.  He has a lot to say; it's dense and meticulous and I have enjoyed it immensely.  But to read it you have to commit to the long haul (it's 600 pages) and a good dictionary.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

dates from Jordan

These are not Jordanian dates from that Middle  Eastern kingdom.  They are, instead, from the date ranch of Jordan Nelson, one of the four famous J Boys (of Mexican beach fame).  Several years ago he bought land in Northern Mexico ~ I think quite close to the US border near San Diego ~ and planted many, many date palms.  I have watched the progress via his postings on Instagram.  These are from this year's harvest, maybe the first.  They are absolutely delicious.  A diabetic's dream food! I'm hoping he'll bring more down to the beach when he and his family come for their annual Christmas holiday.  If anyone reading this knows Jordan, pass the word!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Las Vegas

if you want wistful

I watched this on the Flix® yesterday afternoon out of curiosity and I'm glad I did.  Two pros do a lovely job with this light, sweet script.  Maybe a tear or two.  Funny, poignant, real.  Believe me, if he was my neighbor I would definitely ring his bell, if only to see his smile.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

a new hero

Aaron Falk is a federal police officer in Melbourne, Australia who travels 500 km back to his
 home town to attend the funeral of an old friend.  The man, Luke, was found shot, along with his wife and 8 year old son  Since Luke was not exactly a choir boy, and had had some troubles in the past, the consensus is that he was responsible.  Aaron and Luke's parents are not so sure.  Thus begins the investigation.  It's taut, smart, with interesting characters.  The past has a way of interfering with the present.  But wait!  There's more . . .

I can only hope that Ms. Harper has more Aaron Falk in mink.

Saturday, September 30, 2017


It's cooler up here in the valley (at last) and time to haul out the long pants and turtlenecks.  Not much color change yet; the Chinese pistache trees are dropping leaves but not because of any cold snap.  They're just tired of hanging on.  Some gardens have shows of chrysanthemums and asters, but most gardens have all been replanted to have mostly drought-tolerant grasses and succulents.  Remember the drought?

So now that I've managed to make small talk that completely ignores the fact that this blog has been silent for too long, let's move on.

Earlier in the month I went up to visit daughter Alex in Walla Walla.  The main reason for going was a big quilt show put on ever year.  It was gorgeous.  The talent and skill on display was amazing.  This was my favorite of the show.

My next favorite was a smaller piece, really for display not for use, except perhaps for an infant.  It was in a silent auction and, on the first day we went, I eyeballed it and decided to think about bidding.  On Sunday, the final day, I put in a bid and thought no more about it.  The staff said that winning bidders would be notified later in the day.  No call.  OK, well, I hoped (grudgingly) that the winning bidder would take good care of it.

I left on Monday and on Tuesday, Alex called me to say I had indeed won the quilt!  Now I have to figure out what to do with it except to gaze at it in wonder!

The theme of this year's show was "Paint the Town Red".  This was the winning piece.

On Saturday we joined a group for a train ride up the Walawa River.  Beautiful scenery, benefit for the Blue Mountain Land Trust.

The little engine that pulled us up the mountain.

The confluence of the two rivers, the Wallowa and Grande Rondein Oregon

The length of the train; we were near the end car on the way home.
After a lovely but all-too-short visit, it was back home, out of Seattle, where it's all about water, boats, trees, and coffee.

Next trip:  NEW YORK CITY in late October with daughter Cait.  We'll be seeing g'daughter Emily, niece Kaley (she'll train from New Haven for the day), two plays, a whole lotta other stuff including the 9/11 Memorial, the Statue of Liberty (must go wipe her tears), and Bloomingdale's basement.

Then it's off to the beach.  Gotta fix that ceiling!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

what's for dinner?

I have long been curious about the sous vide method of cooking.  How in the world could boiling food in a plastic bag for hours on end enhance the flavor of anything?  And is cooking something in plastic a good idea, health-wise?  (Actually, this really never occurred to me until my very health-conscious masseuse brought it up!)  But I wanted to try it anyway.  Gourmet Grandson had an "extra"(imagine!!) sous vide cooker gizmo which he gave me, so last night I tried it out.  First experiment a total success!

The dish was pot roast with vegetables (potatoes and carrots).  Instructions were to set the water temperature to 170ยบ and let it simmer for 24 hours!  TWENTY-FOUR HOURS??  But I thought, "OK, that's what the instructions say so let's see what happens."  I put all the ingredients in a zip lock bag, did the immersion seal, clipped the bag to the edge of the pot and settled in for the wait.  (Just before it started I had to put in an emergency call to Andrew for help in setting the timer, an embarrassing question but he told me and I set the clock and it all worked just fine!)

Late yesterday afternoon the timer stopped and the bag came out.  What was so surprising was how strong the color of the carrots still was; I thought it would all turn to grey mush, but it all looked beautiful.  Then with a few finishing flourishes, it was ready.

Everything was so delicious!  The meat, not the most expensive cut in the butcher's shop, was just as tender, juicy, moist as if it was filet mignon.  Carrots perfectly done, a bit al dente just as I like them, the potatoes still firm and sweet.  It was worth the wait.

This sous vide thing is alright!  Next treat; chicken breasts.  AZ insists it's the only way to cook them if you want tender, juicy chicken.  I'll let you know.