Friday, November 28, 2008

Buy Nothing Day

Are you familiar with Buy Nothing Day? Today is the 7th anniversary of Buy Nothing. So no, I am not hitting the sales. Instead it is my plan to give myself the gift of time to create. Perhaps I will paint those funky old lamps I bought last spring. But no, that would mean I would need to go to McLendons and BUY paint. On second thought maybe I will just run to the Y and exercise, come back here and put up the Christmas tree. That sounds like a plan.

A Four Day Weekend

I love Thanksgiving. Yes it is a bit of work to get the house cleaned and all the shopping and cooking done. But then there we are sitting at a table with an astonishing variety of food. It is delicious on Thursday and even better as left overs on Friday and Saturday. Valerie brought the bird; don't let the odd oblong shape fool you, it was very moist and tasty. It was an organic free range turkey from Whistling Train Farm.

Two new favorite dishes this year: Valerie's quince jelly on Manchego cheese made for a delectable appetizer that was a pretty display of pink and white on a plate. The quince were from their tree. I made a grape salad that was very easy: red and green grapes and a dressing of softened cream cheese and sour cream and sugar, garnished with brown sugar and toasted pecans. It was a refreshing change on the traditional fruit with whipped cream salad.

The 'kids' are growing! Lindsey has her driver's permit, next year she will be their designated driver.

Galen has a crummy cold, although you wouldn't know it by the smile on his face. Maybe the smile is because he won the dominoes game.

We talked to our daughter in Tunis via Skype. She was getting home from her Thanksgiving dinner at a hotel hosted by the directors of the OSU program which she attends. She said the dinner was ok but the mashed potatoes were like glue. Her host family's house was a jumble of conversations, probably in three languages. These Skype calls are still such a treat for us. There's our girl, on the other side of the world and we are talking to her and seeing her in live time. When I was her age and lived in San Francisco and my family was back in Wisconsin we talked every other week if that and I set the timer for ten minutes because to talk any longer would be too expensive. I looked forward to weekly letters(USPS NOT internet) from my mom and sometimes dad or my younger sisters. I would read and reread those letters 'till the next one came. I suppose everyone says "It's a whole new world." as they age, and I guess now it is my turn. So I give thanks for the ability to look back and smile and marvel. Life is good.

A Three Olive Week

As I walked past the easels on my way to the coat closet on Wednesday, I saw Zoe's painting and thought: "I'll have one of those!" I did not watch her paint this picture and I am sure she has a story to go along with it that does NOT include a martini but that was my frazzled brain's interpretation. The 3 olives are significant; one for each day of this short (blessedly so) week. Twenty six conferences are done and the twenty six report cards are close to being behind me too. We had conferences for seven school days. The kids get dismissed at 1:05 on those days and granted, it makes for a challenging day care scenario for some families but I'm not sure I want to change the system. First of all, eight conferences in any one day is the maximum I can effectively hold. More than eight and I'm talking about Suzy when it is Sally's parents sitting in front of me, and I begin to wonder if I can give genuine enthusiasm for Johnny's stick figures in his journal, or concern for Jill's ability to stick her fingers three inches up her nose. If I did three days in a row of eight conferences I would be a basket case, not to mention my vocal cords would probably be stretched beyond capacity and I would only be able to whisper at the Thanksgiving table. AND for those of you who think we sit in the staff lounge and eat bonbons on the days when we have a light conference load, you are SO wrong. The spare hours created in the conference schedule are used to catch up with a myriad of tasks; report card writing, talking to specialists about the kids we both serve, writing our Data Team goals (a recent years' addition to our work load), planning for December, and tidying up closets. Even with all the so called 'extra time' one might think is within the conference days, my teammate and I never left the room before 5:00 and most days it was 6:30. So Wednesday evening it wasn't a martini but a bottle of wine I uncorked to sip as I zipped around the kitchen prepping for Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunshine In a Bowl

Before our eggs and toast we had the last of the California grapefruits toted back in our luggage. It was tart and juicy and redolent of last weekend's time in the California sun.

As for the food...

it was a unique experience too! This is Soon Du Boo (also Sundubu), Spicy Korean Tofu Soup. I had the vegetable tofu version, others had pork or beef. I have looked up the recipe and it is too involved for me to tackle. The bowl is a bubbling cauldron that comes to your table and the eggs are raw; you crack them into the soup and they cook instantly. The other dishes are kim chee, pickles, and other spicy vegetables to add as you go. Now that there is a BCD Tofu House in neighboring Kent I may get my fill of this Korean comfort food. The only thing I did not like about this meal was the stainless steel chopsticks; they were way too challenging for me and I think I am pretty competent with wooden chopsticks (for a white lady).

Other food I will remember with longing: the Koren frozen yogurt we had at Pinkberry. This is nothing like the American version of frozen yogurt. It is more tart and yogurty tasting and the stores are only in California and New York. The meal I will lust after most of all is Armenian Chicken. It is delicious beyond belief. I think Kim and Arthur bought it at Zankou. The garlic paste, the creamy hummus, the tender rotisserie chicken or maybe it was just how ravenous I was that night, but Armenian Chicken is a delectable dinner not to be missed.

But wait, there's more....

I know, I should get on with life here in Seattle but I must share with you the sparkling view from Griffith Observatory:

Los Angeles stretches on and on. I guess we were lucky to get such clean air and great visibility. You must click on the photo above to get the full impact of what we saw.

Chris and the Nakatas here, just gazing out at the 'City of the Angels' below:

Saturday, November 15, 2008

L.A. Sunset

We went up to Forest Lawn Cemetery to see a Tiki show at a gallery on the grounds. I know, sounded weird to me too; "Art gallery at a cemetery?" But the show was great! Sorry, no pictures allowed. When we came out there was this gorgeous sunset starting. It is one of my favorite photos from this trip; probably because of the vertical palm trees punctuating the horizon.

Silver Lake Neighborhood

Back in L.A. we spent a day window shopping in the Silver Lake neighborhood. There were plenty of trendy boutiques but we spent the most time in this store which is chock full of toys, trinkets, artwork, books, cool handbags and a bamboo bicycle. Seattle folk, "Think Archie Mc Phees on steroids."

And I saw this painted wall and had to take take the picture. I figured it gives a good time line perspective to all my other L.A. photos.


We're back in Seattle and the furnace is humming away but I still have photos to share from our weekend in CA. Lynn and Rich drove us down to Malibu for lunch. Whodathunk; two 'cut ups' from Miss Stanfield's West H.S. Theater Class in Green Bay, WI would end up having lunch in Malibu. I had the Ahi tuna sandwich and Chris had fish and chips; very tasty and you couldn't beat the view from the patio!

I am sure it is not this vacant in summer.

Volleyball, anyone?

The 40 mile per hour winds kept all the 'Baywatch Babe' types away; much to Chris' disappointment.

This is certainly the most unflattering photo of us you might ever see. Just as Lynn clicked the shutter a big gust of sand hit us in the face. There was sand in my teeth, ears and down to the roots of my hair. Good thing we had sunglasses on.

Recognize this rock? It has been in several movies. This is Zuma Beach. If you enlarge the photo you can see a rock climber getting ready to rappel down the front face. There was a guy on the shady side too but I don't know if he is in this photo.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Friends in Topanga

Kim was very brave and gracious. She loaned us her car to drive to Topanga to visit Rich and Lynn. Chris has known Rich since junior high. Here the guys are on Rich and Lynn's deck overlooking the foothills of Topanga. Their landscaping is an eclectic combination of succulents, cactus, fruit trees and a pond. They get lots and lots of hummingbirds. They go through a quart of sugar water a day at this time of year.

The pond:



Not pictured are the lemons, figs and grapefruit; three of which we are taking home.

Almost directly across the road from their house is Topanga National Park and this trail which we hiked:

Dry mustard plants against a beautiful blue sky:

If you click on the photo to see it full size you can see the Pacific Ocean in the distance between the hills.

The striations in the sides of the rocks showed millions of years of shifting; nothing horizontal,it was all diagonals, I suppose as a result of earthquakes.

Friends and Sunshine...

...such are the ingredients of a good vacation. Our friends Kim and Arthur transplanted from Seattle to L.A. seven years ago. Their 'family' has expanded to include sweet and agile Nina(photo right),and holy terror canine, Melvin (photo left). Melvin must be 'Top Dog', hence he is at Kim's shoulder. Dog shennanigans provide plenty of entertainment.

Here is their backyard:

That is a natural spring that you see spouting in the pond; quite an unusual feature in arid L.A. Here is the gigantic Canary Palm that is on the side of their house:

This is their front yard:

And look at the beautiful Bird of Paradise on the side of their house:

Monday, November 10, 2008

Soaking Up Vitamin D

Instead of getting soaking wet in soggy Seattle we are on vacation in Los Angeles, soaking up the rays. I didn't think I needed a vacation this early in the school year. I must confess I am enjoying the warm weather much more than I thought I would.
Here I am with Kim our friend and hostess extraordinaire at Huntington Gardens which is an awesome place with gardens, galleries, and a library. We saw only a fraction of everything inside of our three hours there. The plant life couldn't be more different than that of the Pacific Northwest. If you want to see more of the gardens go here to see my slideshow.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


I just know my daughter is kicking herself for being in far off Tunisia instead of in Chicago at Grant Park. It is so exciting to be an American right now! It looks like the dream is becoming a reality and anyone can become president. I hear fireworks in the neighborhood! Obama is the SOMEBODY who has brought this change around and I am proud to have been his supporter since day one!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Garden Paparazzi

On my Saturday runs I am often slowed down by the landscaping that beckons from the curb. I have wanted, for some time now, to have pictures of the plantings that inspire me. So Saturday I did just that. I hopped in the car and retraced my morning run. I felt a little like a paparazzi since I do not know the gardeners who created these admirable plantings, but I suspect they would see my photo snapping as a compliment. I'm thinking I will add to this slide show as the seasons change, creating kind of an online idea book for myself. The house on the northeast corner of SW Cambridge and 25th SW is hard to see behind all the foliage. They are fearless in their selections, choosing rugosas and grasses that could easily run rampant. High up in the vine on the telephone pole you see a sign (I almost missed it.) for a landscaping design company. So I guess they had some professional know how. Then, further south, defying the sometimes rogue image of White Center there is this tidy red ranch house with the loveliest combinations of tall and squat, lime green, dark green, and a sprinkling of burgundy. How I admire the restraint they show in limiting the variety of plants and trees, creating beauty within order and simplicity.

Two days to the BIG day! My vote is in the mail. I have not taken time to talk politics on my blog, I'm just too busy. Besides which there are more than enough good political journalists out there. My favorite daily pacifier throughout this campaign has been reading GO OBAMA!

Well, the Packer/Titan game is too stressful for me, so I think I will go outside and become blissfully unaware of the score as I garden for a bit. I have a rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheustos)to dig up and after all of the rain from last night the ground will be plenty workable.

Three hours later and the football game is over. They lost narrowly, in overtime. I did dig up that rose mallow and put it into a pot. If it survives I may sell it in a plant sale this coming spring (an idea that is germinating).

I worked in the rain and the sun then the rain again. It is not too cold though so it didn't bother me one way or another if I was getting wet or not. There is increasingly less color on the trees and more color on the ground. It's not quite time to rake though.

Our daughter used to climb this Japanese Maple that is next to our driveway. As a 4 year old she could be completely hidden in it's branches. I often worried that she would jump out at the wrong time and I would back over her with the car. She says I worry too much, that I never have given her the benefit of considering that she might have common sense. This week she will be traveling in the Sahara, off the beaten path in southern Tunisia. She will also be turning 21! Am I worried? Yes; this time about bus plunges and dessert pirates.

The Asian pear tree has a growing puddle of golden leaves at the base of it's narrow trunk.