Long Weekend!

Well today we are getting let out of work early and then the long weekend begins! We make such a big deal out of Canadian Thanksgiving in our house that we are a little burnt out on the giant dinner thing by the time the American holiday rolls around. So we enjoy a quiet dinner for two on a smaller scale at home. I’m not making anything earth shattering for dinner (and since Mike doesn’t eat turkey we will be having roast chicken), but I am planning on making pumpkin spice donuts. I found the recipe on RoostBlog. I’ll be modifying the recipe slightly to make them dairy-free. I’ve made another type of donut from one of RoostBlog’s recipes before and they are a house favorite so I have high hopes for these. We do have a local friend coming over this weekend and doing the sleepover thing too (mostly so we can drink adult beverages to our hearts’ content). Mike is a bit of a bah-humbug when it comes to Christmas. So my friend K. is coming over to help me put up the Christmas tree, decorate, eat, drink, be merry, and generally get our Christmas on. Mike’s job is to fix the cocktails; a job he is thrilled with. I might also make a wreath for my front door. Mike collected a bunch of pine cones from our front yard (the Doug Fir dropped a ton this year) and a recent storm blew some fir branches down which would be perfect for a homemade wreath. If I do, and it turns out well, I’ll share. Nothing rings in the holiday season like breaking out the hot glue gun!

 
I’ve been thinking about how to share pictures from our trip to Europe. I should probably post them to someplace like Flickr and then link from here. I’ve been dragging my feet though because I am maintaining so many things right now – as are so many people. Part of my plan this weekend is to get the bazillion photos off my phone and onto a hard drive at home, and responsibly backed-up as well (we have a mac-mini with extra memory, which is attached to the TV, which is also attached to four external hard drives, and networked to my old G4 MacBook…it’s kind of insane and you can tell Mike is a tech-geek). Once that happens it will be easier to get them over to Flickr (if I go that way) and then share them. I really miss being in Europe. It was spectacular. The pace of life is different and some of the small towns and communities we spent time in in Ireland and Italy were really wonderful. I hope one day I get to go back.

For now enjoy a few random pics I feel like sharing (the one above is the view from our room in Amsterdam).

Two of my favorite people on the planet – my dear friend Matteo and Mike. And let us not overlook all of the Italian cheeses that I overdosed on! This is in Matteo’s kitchen in Italy. I miss him.

Did I mention our backyard meditation labyrinth is pretty much done? It is and it is spectacular.

Emmie with her summer garland of flowers. Such an intense cattle dog gaze.

And our goofy Serena. Nothing intense here just pure silliness and joy. She was born to wear that flower garland.

My sister’s pup Abbey who fell asleep with one of her birthday toys. She just turned one. So adorable.

And my new Chuck’s which I haven’t taken off since I purchased them. I bought them in a little store in Hood River. And look at that sun shining down on them! Every glimpse of sun in Portland right now is precious.

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Pickles & Social Meltdown

I made the refrigerator pickles this weekend. A lot of them. The only reason I stopped was because I ran out of jars, not cucumbers. It was insanely easy. I used the Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking’s “Fridge Pickles 101” as my guide.
Other than the pickles my weekend was filled with a lot of uninteresting things (laundry, cleaning, laundry, cooking, laundry, pickle making, laundry) and also dinner with friends on Sunday. I’m a total social wimp (i.e. natural introvert), so while the dinner was fun I now feel like I need three days to recover from the social interaction with a couple of people I had never met before. The “other people coming to dinner” was sprung on us after we had been at our friends’ house for about 20 minutes. I can’t help but think they know us well enough to not tell us ahead of time thinking we might cancel. Which we wouldn’t do. We might fantasize about it but we wouldn’t actually cancel. They were of course very nice people and nothing bad happened to us for socializing. Well, other than annoying each other on the ride home which I’m going to chalk up to being at the end of our social rope and using each other as a release valve. And that’s generous because it was, of course, all Mike. (Hi, Honey!)

Ears, Artists, Apples, Comics, Produce, and Pickles

Quick updates…
We finally tried the restaurant Roe, which we had hopes would be like our beloved (and sadly closed) Fin. It was incredibly disappointing. We went to get tacos after.

My ear infection seems to have cleared but allergies and my sinuses are kicking my ass.

Our house guests spent their last night with us last night and we officially have the house to ourselves again.

We went to see an artist give a talk at Bullseye Glass and I was not overly impressed (although I am glad we went).

I got invited to do the Oregon Fruit Loop with a friend weeks ago, but had to decline due to the pesky ear infection and generally feeling like crap. But then another friend asked me to go with her and I was well and had the time so we went and of course visited the Mt. Hood Organic Farm that also happens to have one of the best views ever. I will be baking pie soon.

We went to Powell’s to hear Matt Fraction chat with author Sean Howe whose book, “Marvel Comics: The Untold Story” was just released.

I am still harvesting tomatoes and spent a chunk of time making tomato sauce. Looks like pasta for dinner tonight! I also am planning to make refrigerator pickles since I have a ton of cucumbers I need to do something with. I am planning to use Fridge Pickles 101: from The Hip Girl’s Guide to Home Making as my guide; unless someone has a better suggestion.  But I really like the idea of being a hip pickler – this is Portland after all.

Enjoy this picture of Mike getting his book signed by Sean Howe at the Powell’s in our neighborhood. Yeah, yeah – I still owe pictures of Europe. Patience. It involves moving pictures from one device to another…and you know how that goes. I mean…I’ve got pickles to make.

Lazy Poster & Tig Notaro

I’m posting to say I’m thinking about posting. Mike and I went on a big trip. I have pictures and I can share experiences that I feel oddly removed from soon. I managed to get a big fat ear infection when we got back and Ive been a little bit down and out.

In the meantime if you haven’t downloaded this audio from Tig Notaro – via Loius C.K.’s website – then you should. I laughed and then I cried. I laughed and then I got a little bit depressed. But if you know someone who has suffered from cancer, or is suffering, or…well it isn’t really necessary to have that in your life to appreciate this. It is a unique take on finding out you have cancer and basically life kicking the crap out of you at times. And it *is really funny. And brave. Also, she throws in a good reminder to the girl who just got off antibiotics (me) to take her pro-biotics to stave off problems (diligently!). You too. When you finish those antibiotics make sure to take pro-biotics to fix things up in there.

The picture is from our travels in Ireland – Drombeg Stone Circle. One of my favorite days.

It is hard to be back in the U.S. Let’s all move to Dublin, shall we?

Summer beet (and potato and cucumber) harvest!

We harvested some of our beets this weekend. I’m the worst photographer ever so I’m pretty proud of this shot. It doesn’t quite come across but the beet on the left is about the size of a softball. Huge and wonderful and the beauty of growing beets is that you get two vegetable out of it.

The first night I used the tops. I cut up the red stems into a fine dice and threw it in some olive oil with some diced red onion. I sauteed them until they were slightly brown then added in some freshly grated ginger, salt, and pepper and after sautéing tat for another minute or two threw in some white wine. I then sliced some red potatoes (also from our garden) very thinly and added that into the mixture. I simmered this all on low with the cover on until the beet stems were soft and the potatoes were cooked (adding water if needed along the way). I then threw in the chopped up greens and put the cover back on and cooked this until the greens had wilted. I then took the lid off, stirred everything so that the greens were evenly mixed in with the stems, potatoes, and onion and placed pieces of whitefish on top of them. I then covered the pan again and let it simmer once more until the fish was cooked through.  A one pan meal that was very tasty.

The next night I roasted the beets themselves in a 400 degree over for an hour and fifteen minutes. I like my beets straight up with nothing to distract from the sweetness. I also harvested some cucumbers from our garden (it’s produce-palooza over here) and decided to make a salad. I always make my owen dressing and this one was a combination of sesame oil, olive oil, tamari, rice wine vinegar, ground ginger, salt, pepper and a bit of honey. I used a bit of this dressing as seasoning for some salmon fillets. I brushed the fillets with some of the dressing, wrapped them in foil, and threw them on the grill outside for about six minutes. So delicious!

It’s amazing how creative you can get when you are inspired by the veggies you grew in your own garden. I wish I’d taken pictures of the actual meals, but I was still riding the high of the fabulous beets picture that it didn’t even occur to me.

Stay tuned because my tomatoes are on the cusp, my lettuce and carrots and rainbow chard made it through the horrendous dry heatwave, my red okra is starting to produce and the cucumbers have gone crazy.

Excavation!

We are having a bunch of work done in our yard by two – sometimes three – amazing women. Our yard is a pretty large size for Southeast Portland and it has really been a challenge for us. We were keeping on top of it for the past two years with help from a friend, but our friend couldn’t help us anymore and we were rather abruptly reminded of how much work it is. Work that we can’t keep up with, not only because we both have horrendous back problems (me with arthritis and weak spots from old injuries, and Mike with a misshapen disc), but also because we are busy people who like to spend our time on more fun things than back-breaking yard work followed up with ice-packs, pain, and ibuprofen. When we bought the house we were gifted with twelve planter beds in the yard. Since I don’t have six kids, and I don’t want to homestead and be canning all the time, this is simply too much for two people. We are pulling out three of them. One of the smaller ones will be turned into a closet shed for tools, and the other two we are giving away to friends. A lot of plants in the beds are actually landscape plants and so in the early fall (any day now!) we will be moving them out of the beds and using them in the landscape which will hopefully help suppress weeds. We are also planning to build an over-sized shed that will become Mike’s glass studio. From a practical standpoint the shed is a good addition to the house since a yard this size, where the house has no garage and no basement, desperately needs one.

In the open area of the yard we have decided to build a labyrinth for meditation, reflection, and just to look at since the curves are beautiful. A big bonus will be that the hard-scaping will keep weeds down (it’s a constant battle here in the urban rainforest). It will be on a smaller scale than what you see at places like St. Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, of course. We are going to go with a more medieval and simplistic design that should suit the house and soothe our hippie souls. The dirt excavation to make room for the gravel and stone has been quite interesting from an anthropological standpoint. Our house is an old farmhouse (circa 1895) and is the legendary hippie house, which is saying something in Southeast Portland. Before we bought the house it had been rented for 15 years or so by up to eight hippies who were, as one neighbor put it, “real laid back.” When they finally decided to all move out the owners moved in, renovated it, and then sold it to us. They were lovely people and we feel grateful to have such a cool house, in an awesome neighborhood, in an amazing city. You can see a little bit of the history of the house in what ends up getting unearthed as we excavate. I find it rather fascinating and a lot more interesting than the usual, and seemingly endless, bits of glass (i.e. broken beer bottles) that have been constantly pushing their way to the surface over the past three years.

This weekend we have nothing more exciting than lots of errands to run to prepare for house guests, who will then turn into house/dog sitters, and the big trip to Europe.

Travel

I finally had a weekend at home after five straight weekends being away. It was glorious. By coincidence my friends, and Mike, were traveling so I had the very rare weekend with no obligations and no one to consider except myself. I miss Mike (he is on a business trip to Guadalajara). He is due back tomorrow and I can’t wait, but the time by myself has been good. I’ve been moving so much I haven’t had time to process anything. I’m still dealing with the death of my friend. It hits me unexpectedly at times. Such loss. Such grief. I’ve needed the time alone. I’ve been so disappointed in the general populace around me. The things people fight over and the way they can treat each other can be intensely disappointing sometimes.

Anyway, I’m trying to figure out next steps in life, but the immediate plan is to take a real vacation with Mike and let the travel experience happen and see how I am changed by it. First stop will be Amsterdam, then on to visit a dear friend in Italy in his house by a lake, then on to Dublin and various parts of Ireland. I’m excited to see new things, interact with different people and cultures, spend time with a dear friend, and have these experiences with my favorite person in the world. I feel so grateful that we are able to do this.

In the meantime I’ll be cleaning my house to prepare for the dog/house sitters, shopping for the perfect gift for our friends in Italy, finishing up the final details for the Ireland leg of the trip, and making a small gift to send to a friend who recently mailed me some of the cards he made using some of his photography of Hawaii, Alaska, and Europe.

The picture in this post is from the gorge I visited in Watkins Glenn, NY a few weekends ago.

Oh, and did I mention I turned 44 this month? No? Well, I did. Yup. Indeed. Here is how I’m wearing 44. Not bad for an old broad with no make-up on 😉