Sunday, January 30, 2005


Yes, I know, two weeks have gone by since my last post. Really, I did try last weekend but Blogspot was down. While my life is pretty steady and rather mundane I now feel my head is full to bursting with things I could write, ideas that could be on the road to somewhere, connecting with someone. I am rather surprised at how I enjoy this blogging medium. The occasional comment from total strangers or from familiar friends and relatives are very motivating. I am honored to have my recent post 'A Cook's Life Story' on the website Member of the Band. If you're a writer disguised as a blogger, (like myself) consider submitting a post to Member of the Band. I will never be particularity artistic at designing a blog nor facile at adding links. But every once in a while I can get into the writing groove and the finished product is worth sharing. Today the essayist in me is not in full gear so I will stick to recording recent events. Yesterday I went for a long walk in Shorewood and was delighted to see so much of Spring already in action. Blooming pink and red camellias, dainty pink flowering cherry blossoms, one or two bright spots of yellow forsythia, purple and golden crocuses, and stiff green leaves of tulips and daffodils; so fresh from the earth that even the slugs have not taken notice. I have been doing pretty good at limiting my time looking at garden catalogs and books. I keep telling myself that since I will be gone for a month this summer there really is no point in buying new plants but boy am I tempted! An Arisaema collection would look so good in my woodland garden. I get lost reading descriptions of Helleborus in my catalog from
Heronswood. If you live in the Pacific
Northwest and you are a gardener there really is no excuse for not having visited their gardens in Kingston on the Kitsap penninsula.
Aside from lusting after plants, much of my 'free' time has been used planning for our trip to Europe. We have our airline tickets to Geneva and we have really unique accommodations in Paris in, of all places, a hospital in the middle of the Seine, facing Notre Dame. And no we are not suffering from any ailments; the hospital just
has 14 rooms on the 6th floor which are rented out to tourists. It came recommended by a friend and the price is reasonable too. Now we are working on finding an economical flight from Paris to Rome. Ryanair or EasyJet seem to be the way to go. Then we need to snag accommodations in Rome. Any hot tips out there? We talked to Anna Rae yesterday and much of the conversation was about how many days we would spend in each place and how can we possibly fit in Florence, Cinque Terre, Siena, Tuscany, and get back to Gap, Lyon, and maybe, just maybe, the Riviera? Venice will have to wait.
Today is the day between semesters and that means no work for me. The big plan is to take the pleated shade from our living room to Alpine Cleaners in Lynnwood. Since I am going so far north I may just head up to Edmonds to visit Rick Steve's travel store, Europe Through the Back Door. But first things first, so I am off to the Y for a little exercise.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Unrelenting Rain

It is nearly 2 in the afternoon and the rain has been pouring down with the same rhythm and intensity as when I first sat down at the computer five hours ago. The air is grey with rain and you can almost see the buds on trees swelling right before your eyes and the moss becoming luminescent in the lawn. Yes five hours on the computer. I have been hankering for this unfettered time to upload and edit photos. As I upload I read. I started Amy Tan's The Bonesetters Daughter on Friday and I am thoroughly enjoying it. On Friday as I began the book it was this passage that made me determined to see today as 'free time' in the most ideal of definitions:
"Free time was the precious time, when you should be doing what you loved, or at least slowing down enough to remember what made your life worthwhile and happy."
Much to my surprise Anna Rae was also online so we Instant Messaged (Is that ok as a verb?) She asked why I didn't talk about her much and I explained that she kept everyone pretty well informed and we are managing fairly well without her. "Thank you very much." being her response. She was downloading music to her ipod. Her friend Andy (another VHS student in Italy) is in Paris right now and I think AR is a bit envious of that; seeing Paris before her! She is bored with her hair and due for a cut but I can't imagine her doing anything too adventurous in that department. We talked about the new clothes she bought last week and she hinted broadly that I could still buy her a skirt if I wanted. We'll see.
So what else have we done this weekend? Watched the DVD A Door in the Floor which was quite good; I had read A Widow For A Year the book from which it was created. We ate out Friday night at Dragon Express on the corner of Roxbury and 16th. It is a Cambodian/Chinese/Thai restaurant. The food was delicious. I had a Thai salad with chicken; it was a little heavy on the cilantro but I liked it anyway. Next time I will order the papaya salad but I am sure it won't compare to what Tanya gets in Thailand. People were coming and going for carry-out as we sat and ate. On Sunday we went grocery shopping together (Chris and I) and afterward we ordered carry-out Mexican food from Reconsito in Burien. I had Mulitos (I am not sure of the spelling) which were delicious. Between all that eating there was the usual cleaning, laundry and newspaper reading that happens every weekend.
I talked at length with my parents and was saddened and worried to hear that my brother Dave is having health problems; an arachnoid cyst on his brain. Symptoms of numbness in his neck, jawline and in one leg and foot led him to the Dr. Supposedly it should be alright. They are just going to monitor it. I am confused as to why they don't just take the thing out.
On another dismal note my brother Jeff is being laid off (or he could relocate but doesn't choose to) in March because his company is being bought out by a bigger company. The severance pay is good and there are opportunities for retraining or going back to school so maybe there is a silver lining here. At age 47 this can't be easy, though. My prayers and sincere concern will be with them in the coming months.
Well, I am getting serious butt ache and cold feet from setting so long so I am going to rouse myself to refill my coffee cup and gaze out at the rain.
And AR if you think that I didn't notice that you got back online and stayed up past 11:00 you are WRONG!

Sunday, January 16, 2005

A Cook's Life Story

I went to an estate sale this weekend and came back with an oak recipe box. It is about 12 inches long and holds 3x5 cards. It was filled with empty cards, alphabetical, numerical, and month dividers. It was the perfect find to give me the push to organize the manila envelope that held my recipes on cards and many a sauce splattered scrap of paper. As I went about my sorting so many memories beyond the taste of food, were brought to mind. When I look at a recipe card I almost always remember the person who gave it to me; even if their name is not on the card. (The same is true of plants that I get as gifts.) Two breakfast casseroles from my Great Aunt Margaret bring back memories of a delicious Easter brunch. Many a recipe from my mom; the Heathbar Cake that I requested for my birthday every year when I lived at home, The Hearthside Beef that they served at their 25th Anniversary, the Chicken Casserole recipe painstakingly copied by my sister Lisa who was probably 9yrs. old at the time, and the Plum Pudding and Hard Sauce recipes which I requested when I spent my first Christmas away from home; one in Lisa's childish script and the other in Lynn's (I remember how I ached for familiar holiday foods and the happiness when care boxes arrived at my SanFrancisco apartment filled with baked goods and gifts). There's a recipe for my Grandma DeNoble's Tomato Rice Soup that reminds me of the only time that something broke in my carry on luggage, it was a large jar of that very soup given to me by Grandma after a visit in Wisconsin. The disappointment in not being able to eat the soup was at least as big as the mess it made. One treasured recipe I have yet to try is from my Grandma Caldie. My mom and I unearthed it as we going through old photos and memorabilia last summer. It is for 'Kiss Me Cake'. Don't you love that name? It is an orange flavored cake. There are several recipes from my mother in law. On the one for Cheese Strata I have written "from Mrs. Goethe" which makes me smile 'cause she's been the familiar "June" for so many years I can't remember when I would've referred to her as "Mrs."! I have recipes from cousins and the wives of cousins, from neighbors and co workers. Even Anna Rae contributed a card; Anna Rae's SECRET Salsa. She also wrote out a recipe for Anna Rae's Mystery Soup (it was quite tasty as I recall) on a small piece of orange paper. I think it is interesting that one recipe is 'Secret' and the other one a 'Mystery'. Now I am left with the recipes on pieces of paper and though transferring them to cards would be the orderly and organized path to take, I probably won't. The original writing, the tattered and folded papers of many colors, are all what makes it A Cook's Life Story.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

1-9-05 Snow in Seattle

1-9-05 Snow #5
Originally uploaded by mtnester.
This is looking straight back from the patio into our backyard. The yard waste container is under the apple tree waiting for the 'Garden Fairy' to put all those pruned branches into it and heft the cart up the hill.

1-9-05 Snow on Wheelbarrow

1-9-05 Snow #1
Originally uploaded by mtnester.
Snow makes everything look peaceful and clean.

1-9-05 Snow on Pines

1-9-05 Snow #6
Originally uploaded by mtnester.
This one is taken from our deck looking to the southeast. Snow makes for some prime
picture taking. It is hard to take a 'bad'
picture of snow.

1-9-05 Snow at last!

1-9-05 Snow #3
Originally uploaded by mtnester.
Isn't it pretty? Finally we got our snow!
The flakes were falling in big wet clusters when I got up at about 6:30 this
morning. Since I was up 'till 12:30 last night, reading blogs and experimenting with my own I am going to be very tired today. I do hope to keep my eyes open during the Packer - Viking game. It better be rousing. Go Packers!!

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Colder Than A....

If you are from Wisconsin you know how that phrase ends. Tonight it could get down to 20 F in Seattle and in the morning everyone will be commenting on how cold it is. Northwesterners know rain but they sure as heck don't know COLD. Read the link to my new blogger friend,Penny

.Now this gal knows COLD; Alberta, Canada COLD!

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year!

Originally uploaded by mtnester.
On New Years Eve we went to see the movie Aviator with our friends. It is a 3 hour long movie about Howard Hughes. Each and everyone of us enjoyed it and no one seemed to think the 3 hours dragged. Howard Hughs was crazy and brilliant. We thought it would be hard to see Leo DiCaprio as Hughs but he did a great acting job and once we started concentrating on the dialog we got caught up in the story. The female leads while they did not really look like Kate Hepburn and Eva Gardener, they had the distinct voices and strong characters of those screen stars. I also liked the the clothing from the 40s and 50s. The nightclub scenes had great ambiance. After the movie we went to see the lights at the botanical garden in Bellevue. It felt good to get out of the car and walk around. After that we were starved and ready for the dinner that I had waiting in the crockpot. The recipe was called Chicken and Shrimp Over Orzo and was it ever delicious! Christine brought a tray of veggies and dip as well as a plate of Christmas cookies to round out our New Year's Eve dining.
They left at about 10:30. Chris and I manage to stay awake to ring in the 2005. From about 11:50 to 12:05 there was a great view of a variety of fireworks right from our garden window.

A Giant Spider

Originally uploaded by mtnester.
What garden would be complete without a spider? The entire web arrangement is about 6 feet across.

Red Hot Pokers

Originally uploaded by mtnester.
It was fun to walk the path and try to determine what type of plants the lights
were trying to imitate.

Lots of Lights

Originally uploaded by mtnester.
There was such variety of forms.

At Holiday D'Lights

Originally uploaded by mtnester.
After going to see the movie, Aviator, we headed over to the holiday lights display at Bellevue Botanical Gardens. The lights were beautiful and we were not the only people out to enjoy them. The parking lot was full. Here is Christine, Tom, and Ann, (Christine's mom).