Sunday, November 28, 2010


This morning I couldn't get the pancakes to cook right, hang together or hold blueberries. I browned Tom's egg a bit, and the medium-boiled eggs just weren't appealing. At dinner time I realized I just don't feel like cooking any more. I'm not sure I even feel like reheating. Yesterday evening the turkey sandwiches were so good, the poached salmon a bit tough and not really flavorful. There are two pounds of green beans already prepped, ready to just cook in butter. That might be dinner. We have so much cheese left, but the dip has expired. The little satsumas should have gone away with Allison and the boys, who could have eaten a dozen of them before breakfast, I think. The best part of their visit was going up to my bedroom the morning after Thanksgiving, crawling into bed with Thomas and Allison. He was awake and talking, Allison, barely. It wasn't long before he crept out in his little PJs, to go see what his brother and dad were doing downstairs. Allison put a sweater on over her nightgown and followed after him, but I just stayed in bed for a while. It's cold in that room in the morning, but the comforters and quilt are heavy and the white sheets are cozy. 

I haven't figured out what to hang on the wall up there yet, so there's a Karie Jane drawing that belongs to Tom, and that's it. He put it up there when we first moved in, and every once in a while he notices it again and says Hey! That's mine. There are so many Karie Jane pieces. Also four Todd Horton's and four Jessica Bonins, not counting Tom's. We moved the table that was in the little room by the kitchen into the living room by the wood pellet stove, and the little room by the kitchen has a couch now, and a side table, and its own tree. You can sit there and strum on the baritone ukulele when no one else is home, or drink hot chocolate and think about what art you want to hang where, or read the internets, or write a blog post. It's better this way. I made a striped hat that goes with my sparkly wellies, and very little progress on the trashed spare room, but I did wash a lot of kitchen towels, and sheets and the bathroom is still mostly clean and the big vacuum cleaner doesn't work now but you can still get by with the dustbuster on the area rugs if you're patient.

I don't know what's going to happen with the little study off the living room. For Thanksgiving it was the kid's room, sort-of, which wasn't too smart when you consider what a bad idea it is to slam that door that has all the glass in it. It turned out fine in the end, and nothing was broken, and nothing burned. Afterwards, we were tired, but sometimes a nap is another one of the best parts. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

This is it

We were determined to get a portrait of her. She was determined to bark. We both won.

All week there were rumors of snow, and all week I thought to myself, I hate having to cheer against it. Once we've been to the grocery store, and the drafts under the door have been stopped, and there are plenty of wood pellets for the pellet stove and I'm off for the week, then, I cheer for snow. Until then, I hope against it, regretfully. 

When I pictured going to the Anacortes farmer's market this weekend, I naively imagined the food vendors all cooking over their hot grills, tamales and pork tacos and vegan stir-fry wraps and maybe something with an egg in it. I was pretty sure there would be a latte. There had to be a latte, right? No. That wasn't the scene at all. In fact, it was so cold that the coffee in the thermos at the coffee stand had gone most of the way cold and the stand itself was practically blowing down in the chilly wind. There were lovely piles of produce at the few produce vendors who were there, but almost everyone seemed to be asking the vendors "What will you do with all the extra?" since the wind seemed to have kept people away. The beets I had my eyes on for roasting were on their way to the co-op, at least that's what I think I heard that vendor say. Ordinarily, a line two deep at a farmer's market is no deterrent for me, but Tom had been right when he declared the cold "unbearable" almost as soon as we got out of the car. It really was, because of the wind, mostly, and neither of us had dressed for it, so the beets stayed there and hopefully I'll catch up to them at the co-op tomorrow. There was no line for rainbow chard or red carrots, and the vendor piled a little tumble of loose carrots in with my bunch, and both big bundles only added up to $4. It was warmer inside, so we went there, where people were selling soaps and cheeses and dog biscuits and felted cell phone covers and snowman soup and beautiful looking puddings and baked things with cranberries.

Tom was sure that they only picked him for the door prize (every 20th person wins! the woman told him) because he was the grouchiest looking person there, and I liked that idea. Wouldn't it be brilliant if it were true? We bought a salt and pepper shaker and tasted a wheel of cheese that had been covered in cocoa powder and chile and black pepper, and Tom tried on hats but didn't find the right one. Afterwards, we had breakfast at Adrift, my favorite place in Anacortes. My mom took me there the first time I went, and it was crowded then and has been 20-minute-wait-crowded a few other times I've been there too. I've always been happy to wait, though, like the time Tom and I went to Todd's art opening and then afterwards had a late dinner where I got the last of whatever it was I wanted, and we sat at the counter, watching everything come out of the oven and off the stovetops on to the table in the middle of the kitchen where everything gets plated and arranged before it is promptly transferred to you where you wait. All the past waiting only served to make me feel lucky when we walked in at two and never slowed our stride from the time we walked into the restaurant until we sat down at our table in the room with all the books and the sails overhead and that painting of the gulls and sky, framed by what looks like driftwood that's been nibbled at artfully. Everything I ordered tasted like the right thing, and it was turning out to be the kind of day where even what looks like a boring old red apple sliced in a fan on your plate turns out to be a perfect crisp pear instead.

After errands we went home to Emmy, and I put the delicata squash in the oven right away, then for a little while watched Tom fiddle around with the sorts of things that you fiddle around with in the cold when you are trying to take care of a house, and then the squash was ready to come out, so I started cooking up the chard with onions and bacon and Tom put a pot of water on to boil for the tortellini and soon enough dinner was ready. It was a good food day.

On Friday the Molly Moon ice cream truck came to work and everyone came outside, whether they had warm coats or not. The rain started 30 minutes into their visit, but that only meant that we congregated in the lobby, comparing pumpkin clove to scout mint, hot fudge to vanilla caramel sauce. Some people had cones that their dishes of ice cream wore like hats, and I had whipped cream, jimmies and a cherry on top. The only thing I skipped was the walnuts. Never was a big walnuts fan.  Walnut fan or not, though, both days were days where there was very little to complain about.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

First rule of cooking

Kate, who is skilled enough to leave the kitchen when she cooks, in our Ballard kitchen. 
(the kitchen I never use & in which I do not have one single possession or item of food)

Stay in the kitchen while you are cooking. This is something I am not good at. I'd rather have something else going at the same time, why is that? It leads to disaster, though, things stuck to the bottom of pans, burning, or failing to realize that I've got the wrong burner on, or accidentally turned the oven off after I preheated it to 450 for the steaks. I'm getting a little better, though, now I'll stay in the kitchen mostly, doing dishes if there is a little down time. Mostly, though, I'm still cooking too many things at a time. Pasta boiling and fresh cherry tomato sauce cooking and steaks being pan-seared before their trip into the oven, and a butter sauce on the stovetop, missing most of the ingredients that would make it qualify as a sauce rather than just melted butter. 

Last weekend that meant that I made the nice fresh cherry tomato sauce but ruined it with too much salt, until Tom came in to try and rescue it, and I opened the fridge to look for some miracle rescue ingredient that we were talking about when I saw the ricotta cheese that was supposed to be part of the sauce. Whoops. Forgot! Luckily, the ricotta did in fact rescue the sauce and it was delicious, though at that point there seemed to be about a gallon of it, owing to the fact that I had added every single tomato I could find and various other things before discovering the ricotta.

Oh well.

If anyone thinks that Thanksgiving dinner will be anything less than chaotic, well, then they are an intruder who doesn't know me and should be promptly invited to vacate the premises. Or they are related to Tom and should be settled in on the couch with a nice pumpkin cracker and some crab dip and possibly a hot cider. I don't know why I think that Thanksgiving will be lovely, but I do. Between the turkey, ham and salmon, one of those things has to turn out edible, right?

Friday, November 12, 2010

In which things get better

Around mile 21, there was a heron like a hitchhiker, standing right by the side of the road. At mile 18, there had been a bald eagle in a tree, same milepost where I saw an eagle drift over all the lanes of I-5, last time I made the morning drive from the mini-farm. The dessicated corn stalks that I had hoped to photograph in front of one of the abandoned houses on our street had already been cut down by the time I got back from California, but there are red blueberry bushes now, brighter than flame, and I know now how many things there are to photograph on Bow Hill Road.

Bow Hill Road is the route we took to the Bow Little Market the last time Kate was in town. They've got their holiday fair going this weekend, so tomorrow I'll be up before noon, eggs for breakfast, then on my way  to see what our Bow neighbors have to offer. There are errands to run as always too, a trip to Lowe's for a space heater for the upstairs bedroom, which won't get warm unless you've thoroughly roasted the downstairs rooms. Cozy is good, roasting is bad. Hopefully we'll pick up the last of our new light fixtures, and run some errands in preparation for Thanksgiving dinner, which is going to be the biggest gathering we've ever hosted at the mini-farm, double the size of the infamous bachelorette party. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

There's a frog in there somewhere

I did it again. Made what seemed like all the mistakes possible. But I'm getting better at recovery. I had the enlarger set to white, which was a problem since it turns everything red - Emma looked like she was playing guitar in a moodily lit nightclub rather than the northern California fall sunshine. Then the kickstand on the lens was wide open so duh everything was overexposed at first. But by the end of the night I had some beautiful 10 1/2 inch prints, if I do say so myself. I love seeing the images that big, even on the toy camera shots that I was printing, the color was pretty good. The Bronica shots are just downright gorgeous, so crisp, with rich bright color. If I could have gone out and spent more film that moment, at 10PM, I totally would have. 

The photo above, just a snapshot. Tom and I were in the yard and he spotted one of the sweet bright green  wee frogs that live there, and I wanted to capture it. So there it is. A frog.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Just showing up

I'm not sure which writer is was who said to pay attention to the stories you find yourself telling over and over, to find where the meat is. On the radio today, there is another story about the new Cleopatra biography and two about sonar affecting marine mammals and what is being done to fix that. I'm thinking about hot chocolate and seasonal ice cream flavors and color correction. The photo above is the one that came out right in the color darkroom the other night, so I have finally dragged out my box of 11x14 paper and  will see how that goes tonight, with the help of my portrait class teacher. I have to give a talk on a photographer whose work speaks to me, so I'll introduce the class to Mary Randlett, even though I can't find a single color portrait she's done. I feel so clueless when it comes to fine art photographers, especially photographers who work in color. If you anyone out there has ideas about who I should be looking at, speak up! 

On the phone at night, Tom and I talk about Thanksgiving, what we need to do, what we want to make, me in my bed in Ballard and him wandering around the back field at the mini-farm, investigating Emmy's hunt near the greenhouse. I imagine him wearing the grey wool cardigan he fished out of Jessica's basket at the LaConner thrift store and tell him to give Emmy a pet for me. I've got another night in Ballard before I can join them and our new light fixtures for hot tea and knitting on the couch before bed. 

Monday, November 08, 2010

Pretty Much Everyone Was Smiling

It was a big deal for me to ask the other writers in my workshop to pose for portraits for me. The fact that part of the piece I wrote for the workshop and then read in class talked about what a terrible student I was for my first photo class only added to the angst. But in the end, people volunteered and were patient with my fiddly focusing and even Ron C agreed to a photo, all Ray-Banned, silver-haired, well-seasoned cool, but not before specifying that the portrait should be for my own use only, of course. It was a good week, just enough clothes packed, all the signed books I came home with fitting into my luggage, but just barely. The week felt economical, well-used, not a moment wasted or to spare. There was the trip to coffee in town every morning, then the rush off to workshop til noon, panel discussions after lunch, readings at  night, and then a few nights crammed into Sarah and Emma's room, with bananagrams and chocolate and gossip about ourselves and bad song lyrics. Always bad song lyrics. 

I came home with a notebook full of scribbles, a few word documents and some thoughts about form. I've never really thought about form before, how to map out a piece of writing, in my case, just how to put a frame around the space I'll make for sitting down, writing out what I've got. 

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

This is about as close as we got to Happy Birthday

It's harder than you might think to get two toddlers to sing or say happy birthday and simultaneously film yourself and them doing it. I'm just sayin'.