Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A Stationary Feast

some time back in august when we were eating fresh stuff from the garden i noted our evening meal menus for a week. we don't have recipes. we have ingredients. i have left salt and pepper out of the lists, but not out of the food. most of our cooking starts with olive oil in a skillet. i've put in some basic prep and/or cooking steps. most of these meals can be ready in half an hour. ok. 35 minutes. yes, we grew a lot of zucchini, but never once made zucchini bread. i wish i had pictures of each of these meals, but i don't so this slightly photoshopped image will have to do.

thursday----zucchini/carrot/corn fritters (grate the zukes and carrots, add salt to the grated zucchini and squeeze out excess water, add matzo meal and egg, maybe some chopped onion, don't forget the corn, we add spices and/or herbs for either italian or chinese flavor, saute. a sauce might be nice), steamed rice with basil.

friday---zucchini soup with basil (steam zucchini, puree in blender with fresh basil, olive oil, serve with a dollop of sour cream, or a pat of butter, maybe some grated parmesan. adding cooked millet is great. this soup freezes well and is grand in the dead of winter), sauteed yellow squash.

saturday---boboli (prepared crust) pizza-- zucchini, mushroom, red pepper, onion, garlic (saute this stuff, arrange on boboli thin crust over warm tomato sauce (we like newman's cabernet marinara, so sue us) and grated mozzarella), add fresh sliced tomato, sliced onion if ya like, bake till the cheese melts. side of steamed clams.

sunday---sauteed tofu with nutritional yeast gravy (marinate sliced tofu in tamari, sprinkle on yeast, brown on both sides, remove from pan, deglaze pan with white cooking wine (we like dry sherry), add more yeast, a bit of butter, tamari or thick soy, stir in some chopped tomato, pour over tofu). steamed beets/greens and broccoli, steamed rice.

monday---sauted chicken, zucchini, yellow squash, onion, peanuts, garlic, with steamed rice

tuesday---stir fry tempeh, zucchini, yellow squash, broccoli, green onion, mushroom, peas, carrots, garlic, hot sesame oil, peanut oil, horseradish, dried red pepper, red bell pepper, serve over spaghetti.

wednesday---grilled chicken, grilled potatoes, grated beet/carrot salad

thursday---pot luck at friends, we bring zucchini soup and zucchini casserole (grated zucchini (add salt, squeeze out water), matso meal, egg, onion, garlic, spices/herbs you like)

friday---rosemary infused white sauce (simmer fresh rosemary in milk, turn off heat, let it sit for half an hour, in separate pan saute onion, red bell pepper, garlic. add sliced leftover grilled chicken from wednesday (or sliced, cubed raw chicken). make a roux in a corner of the saute, add the milk, simmer til thick) serve over pasta. baked butternut squash.

bon appetit!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Sunrise and Mountains

We've had several mornings of absolutely beautiful sunrises. It would be crazy to post them all, wouldn't it? But on Monday morning the natural glowing pink light on the Olympic Mountains was so breathtaking it just had to be shared. (All photos should be clicked on for enlargement.)

Of course, I had to run the photo through the filters to see what artistic results it would produce. I really like some of these affects so much. I used the accentuated edges and fragment filters, but I also lightly liquified the sky!

On the ferry ride to Seattle, we photographed Mt. Rainier. The sky was an interesting mix of soft grays and pastels.

Quite an interesting look with the filters.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Ferry Blogging!!!

we're on the bainbridge to seattle ferry. taking jsk to the airport. here's the view. the ferry has wifi!! woohoo.

update: now we are on our way home to the olympic peninsula. again posting from the ferry.

posted by the pirate on RD's computer. with her help.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Frosted Watercolor

Bear with me. I just discovered a filter on Photoshop that turns photographs into paintings and me into a watercoloring fool. I'm a fake artist and loving every minute of it! I photographed this flower this morning in the frost and early light. (My apologies to real artists everywhere, I know this ain't nothing like the real thing, baby.)
click to enlarge

Update: So I tried adding a second filter called Accented Edges under Brush Strokes. I think it makes it look more like batik. We can all pretty much agree that I've lost my mind.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Rain and Light in a Western Sky

The rains came. It didn't pour, but it rained most of the day.

The birds splashed and bathed in the puddles. Amazing how some rain on a gravel driveway creates a joyful pond for the juncos and finches.

After a while the sun streamed out of the western sky creating our favorite light. The dark clouded sky in direct sunlight.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Day As We Lived It

We finally had a clearing, the fog lifted so we could see the sun rise on Thanksgiving morning. We were absolutely grateful for that. It was delicious to see the sky. Even to see the clouds beyond the ground-hugging fog was an invitation to let our minds wander further than a few feet.

We explored the newest "I and the Bird" and found a link to WoodSong and saw photographs of birds that utterly blew us away. Cindy Mead's photography is simply inspirational, and we recommend that you go over and take a look at her staggering artistry. I'll admit that her work inspired me to try photographing birds on the branches in our trees.

It does make for a more interesting composition, and it gives me something to aspire to and work for.

Fortunately we had some fine visitors to our yard today, which gave us a lot to work with. We think this hawk may be a Sharp-shinned, only because the tail feathers are so so different from the Cooper's Hawk, which we often see in our yard. This hawk was not very big, and the tail really squared off in a way that looked very Sharp-shinned.

We had an early Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, I saw the hawk while I grated zucchini for our feast. I made an east Indian meal, and we watched the sunset while we had dinner. The fog was blowing along the horizon, but we had had a day of birds, light, and shadow. We were so thankful.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanks Giving

Jeremy (RD's nephew), dpr, RD, RD's sister and Dad
Pictures deceive. My father lives in this photo, but he does not live. This was his last Thanksgiving, in 1991. A few short months after this lovely feast he drew his last breath. In this photo, he had walked the steps from his bed to the dining table. Hard as it was, it was a walk he would have made around the world if he could have, to sit with his family and give thanks for such a gathering.

When I think of Thanksgiving, I always think of my parents. It was at their table that I found the gratitude for being in a family that was built on love. It was not a Hallmark Card of love, not a sappy song, not an insipid rhyme. It was a chaos of cultures, a wild peal of laughter, a raucous conversation of politics. It was not easy, it was not always delightful. It was our Thanksgiving table. A real family.

I miss my father. Still, I give thanks for all that came before.

I and the Bird #11

The 11th "I and the Bird" is being hosted by Clare in the High Arctic. You can check it out here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Still Crazy After All These Years

some of you may have noticed that we get occasional comments from "jsk." maybe even noticed that in comments on my post about tree planting jsk described seeing the camp i was talking about. and then RD posted about a visitor. well. JSK, whom i have known since 1968, is our visitor.

we met in kitzbuhel, austria. i and my first wife had quit our jobs and gone traveling. we wanted to ski so we rented a studio apartment there. the language of austria is, of course, german, of which we knew just enough to be to be polite tourists. for the first week we had no conversations, outside our own, beyond bitte, danke, zwei bier, drei wurst. (please, thank you, two biers, three sausages) one day in the post office the fellow ahead of us in line turned around said "hey, you two from california?" we were from berkeley. he was from bakersfield. we got along anyway. he offered us a ride back to our place and as we pulled off in his vw bug he pulled out a pipe and a baggie of weed and lit up, passed it over to me and leaned out the window to offer a smiling "gross gott" (a polite greeting in public, literally "god is great") to the policeman directing traffic. our new pal introduced us to the small circle of ski bums in this high end resort town. one of them was his girlfriend, jsk.

we fell right into the group. mostly americans, or united statesians. there were also scots george and the two frenchmen, and someone was canadian. we skied together a lot. on non-ski days we gathered at somebody or others' studio apartment to hang out, smoke dope and snack. we once tried to make tortillas with cornmeal. doesn't work, the right stuff, as we learned subsequently, is masa harina. as it was winter and cold we all wore long underwear of some sort. the apartments were always toasty warm so the norm was to walk in and shed down to long undies for lounging. somewhere in the deep of winter we got word from the bigger world about tie-dyeing. so we all did our long thermals or unitards or whatever. we were a colorful lot. at least in our undies.

to go skiing we would take a tram up to the ski area, ski around up there where there are lifts, and take the tram back down to town. there are ways to ski down. one way is one of the world class downhill runs, the hahnenkahm. we did that once. lots of sideslipping and falling. another time we followed jsk, who knew the whole mountain, having been here many times with her family, down the "backside" through pastures. we crossed fences. we went through tree lines. we were in powder snow 10 feet deep. in the middle of one huge, sloped pasture we were ten hippie ski bums schussing through virgin snow and the leader raised his arms and yelled "close your eyes!"............. and we did! well, for seconds at least at a time. it was fun. we did have a mile walk back to town at the bottom.

so jsk and i have been friends since then, supporting each other through marriage, divorce, love, despair, and happiness. though she lives far away now, in times past we lived nearby and sometimes in the same house through pregnancies (hers and my wife's) and births (daughters, a week apart) and the early years of our children. we have shared the high of skiing and the mundane of diapers. we have shared wacky adventures. she is second mother to all my daughters. she and RD are pals. her hubby and i were, til he died of ms several years ago. i recommend to all of you the value of a friend of the opposite sex. or gender, whatever. a cosmic sibling. love, support, and friendship, without romance. an ally in life.

that's me on the right with the green hat. RD took these pictures when we all went walking in the fog.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Fog Lift

Suddenly there was light pouring through the skylights and in the windows. The sun was spectacular after so many days of grey. We threw on our walking shoes and headed out to the mouth of Chimacum Creek to show our friend/out-of-town guest where dpr goes clamming.

We walked the shell-laden beach, saw only two other people and two dogs. Our friend gathered many shells to take home to her grandchildren in Minnesota.

There were so many shells to choose from.

There were also many birds in the water.
It is not hard to imagine that they were uplifted by the sun as well.
The fog returned tonight. It is thick enough to obscure the rest of the world and anything else on the other side of the shrouded pond.

Still in a Fog

Along the Larry Scott Memorial Trail with Marrowstone Island in the foggy background.

Despite the overbearing foggy gray skies, we ventured out on our favorite walk to see if any birds had shown up during these bleak days.

We found Black Turnstones (Arenaria melanocephala) on the shoreline and rocks. We had not seen them before, and discovered they make a wonderful sound when they spring into the air and fly inches above the water. Ten or twenty birds often take off at once, making quite a rattle and dry chattering sound.
What was truly surprising though was the stunning black and white color produced by their bold wing pattern, only visible in flight. The pattern is created by the white feathers at the base of the leading edge of the wing, a white wing stripe, and a white lower back.
Watching them fly definitely took the edge off of the blah November fog and made our hearts rejoice.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Fog

the fog has been here for several days now. we don't mind the cold or damp, but the neverending grey is a bit depressing. is it 10 am or 4 pm? can't get a clue outside. it's all the same flat, directionless light. today the fog is down into the trees.

the deer are still outside the fence.

representative Murtha is a ray of light even through the fog of war. watch him with russert, via crooks and liars.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


We've all seen the photos of George Bush juxtaposed with images of a chimpanzee. The looks on their faces eerily similar, so silly and buffoonish. But those images remind me of other photos of primates that I've seen that look nothing like the vacuous president.

I first saw this photograph of an orangutan in my Intro to Physical Anthropology text book over twenty-five years ago. I saved the book for this picture. This orangutan had such presence, depth, and ubiety. Its face reminded me so much of the film director John Huston, it shocked me. There is nothing buffoonish or ignoble about this creature. Its face has a thoughtful dignity, It has no deceit. It is not craven or corrupt. It is not smirking. It is not scarily vacant behind its eyes. It is a face unlike anything the president has ever projected.

I came across this photo after reading a Sierra Club magazine in the dentist's waiting room. The photographer James Balog had done some stunning photography of very big trees. When I explored his website, I found this photograph of a chimpanzee and woman. The chimpanzee's face suggests such a rich inner life it is absolutely remarkable. It has depth, is stunningly emotive. It is a face that would not laugh at Carla Fay Tucker. It is not petty or disgraceful. It is a face unlike anything the president has ever projected.
I googled the words pensive gorilla and found this photograph by Sheila Smart. There are so many others. The faces of one of our closest primate relatives are astonishing for their beauty and intensity. Their eyes say things that reach into our human psyches and demand that we recognize their inviolable dignity. Their faces are not booze-splotched and shameful. Their faces are unlike anything the president has every projected.

Under this photograph were these words by Isaac Bashevis Singer:
There will be no justice as long as man will stand
with a knife or with a gun and destroy those who are weaker than he is."

I googled the words pensive George Bush. Try it yourself.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Light Posting, Maybe

We drove to the Seattle airport today to pick up a dear friend visiting from Minnesota. So there may be light posting over the next few days. We plan to do some Olympic Peninsula sightseeing and hiking.

We photographed this hawk last weekend. It looks like a Red-tailed Hawk to us. Quite a beauty.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Watching Them Like a Hawk

Does everything seem crazier in Washington these days?
There's a rumor going around that Bush is drinking again. Is it true? We don't know, but we watched the video, saw the way he slurred his words, and the way he draped his arm over Laura's shoulder, when he left AirForce One. It definitely looked like the move of a drunken man. It was alarming, to say the least. This is the President? We are watching very carefully.

Does Bob Woodward's admission seem strange? Especially in light of all the interviews he's done chastising Fitzgerald on the pundit talk shows without revealing his role in the affair. But why today? Why now? Some people say this helps Libby, but we can't see how. Libby's indictment is about lying to the grand jury-- perjury and obstruction of justice. Whether Bob Woodward was told earlier about Valerie Plame by Hadley or someone else, how does that change the indictment? We are looking carefully at the charges.

Wouldn't it be great if someone would just tell us the truth about everything? Do you feel like you are being purposefully kept in the dark? I remember a line from the movie The Graduate. It went something like this: I've been in the dark so long, I've learned how to see in it. Nowadays, we take a cue from the hawks and learn how to see what they're doing behind our backs.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Tree Planting

i lived in fortuna, in humboldt county, in northern california, during the 1970s. it was a depressed place economically, and temperamentally depressing as well for anyone unsuited to a winter of unending grey and 35 degree drizzle. i had been ekeing out a living doing firewood when my woody partners invited me to salvage a barn. a big barn. forty by sixty. sixteen feet to the eaves. the siding was full dimension one by twelve redwood and the beams hand-dressed redwood. it was the era of "barn chic." weathered barn siding was all the rage for trendy restaurants and hip boutiques.

after a month of dusty, sometimes dangerous deconstruction (not the literary kind), during which we miraculously avoided injury, the barn was transformed into a pile of siding and a pile of beams, and we were ready for some designer's money. the ad was placed. we were potentially, but not actually, flush. now what? now i get a call from another buddy telling me what a moneymaking adventure planting trees is.

the forest service lets contracts for tree planting. ya gotta have insurance and a business license and papers. but a partnership of independent contractors could sign a contract without those pesky requirements, like a performance bond and accident and liability insurance. sixteen scruffy northwoods hippies filed into the forest service office to sign the contract. some of the group had been making a sort of pilgrimage to the black rock desert in nevada every year to relax and enjoy the hot springs, so we became "the black rock unit." (yes, that is probably where burning man moved first when it left san francisco) one of the "partners," and two of the sixteen, was/were a married couple who would bring their homemade camper and cook for us. each partner kicked in $100. we bought food and materials to make three geodesic plastic covered domes.

we arrived in orleans, on the klamath river, in very early spring. the forest service tried to put us in a public campground close to town, an hour's drive to the nearest place we would work. after a bit of negotiation they let us drive out into the forest and pick our place. we camped at about 4000 feet maybe fifteen miles from orleans. no electricity. no "facilities." running water though. in the creek. the first two weeks were too wet to plant, so we hung out at camp. we built a sauna by the creek. we drove to our planting blocks any day that looked halfway dry, ready to plant. the inspector would scuff the ground with the toe of his boot. the drizzle would turn to rain. we would return to camp. the first day we planted it started snowing about 10 am. we tried for another half hour, then drove back to camp. we had about two weeks of temperate weather after the rain stopped and then it was hot. like over 90 degrees out on the unshaded, bare red dirt where we had to plant.

our forest service inspector was a no-nonsense by-the-book guy who was not initially favorably impressed by us. we didn't know anything about tree planting. he showed us how and inspected us closely. a tree every eight feet in rows eight feet apart. no j-roots. that's when the taproot forms a "j" with the very tip turned up. trees with a j-root won't grow properly. after a couple of weeks he saw that we did good work and lightened up, becoming friendly. after a month he told us we were the best crew he had inspected. we didn't know that other crews threw whole bags of trees over cliffs; that they slacked off planting the bottom of a big blocks, hoping the inspector wouldn't hike a mile down a steep hill to look. we never thought of cheating. three big steps. throw that hoedad into the ground. pull a little fir tree out of a canvas bag. shove it into the slot opened by the hoedad (no j-roots!!!) and stomp the dirt down around it.

the pitch on the tree seedlings dried out our skin. soon we all had painfully cracked skin, made worse by the stinging pitch. we sent an emergency shopping team to orleans. they brought back every bottle of any sort of hand treatment available. we smelled like old ladies (thank you, jergens), but our hands healed. some of us, not i, had inadequate footwear and suffered very painful blisters.

we ate well. our cooks had once run a restaurant. they made fresh bread for us. our days began with a huge fire, as the cook poured gas (or "girl scout water" per pablo at Roundrock Journal) on last night's embers in the dark of pre-dawn. then he made a lot of noise. he had, as a youth, sold hot dogs at yankee stadium, or the dodger place, (i'm from california, what do i know) and serenaded us with his hot dog selling spiel. we would eat, gather up stuff, and drive to the day's planting site. sometimes riding for an hour or more. we had sandwiches for lunch and yours truly always brought along his campstove and the huge coffepot. a big mug of after lunch coffee, a doobie, and we were on it for the afternoon.

on thursdays, or was it tuesdays, the cooks brought their four inch tv out by the campfire, along with the twelve volt battery, and we all watched the untouchables.

we worked for about two months. the contract was completed. several partners used their shares as down payment on land further east on the river. i returned to fortuna. several years later i moved up to the river where they had gone.

below is a picture of camp. on the left is one of the domes. the "kitchen" is in the center. a bit of the cook's camper is visible at far right, along with two planters. there is an extension cord draped around. we did have a generator that powered lights in the dark of morning.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Art of Marriage

My first marriage drove me crazy. Literally. Married for ten years, and in therapy for the same ten years. You don't even have to read between the lines. Six weeks after I said "I will" or "I do" (who can remember these things), I was crying to a therapist wondering what the hell I had willed or done. I tried for ten years, but my husband, the film-maker photographer of the family, finally crushed whatever remaining spirit I had. It was over.
Monday morning before the sun
It is hard to remember all the specific little things that make a bad marriage, but the one that stands out after all these years, is that my husband did not want me to succeed. Any success I managed to eke out was somehow an affront to his very existence. I was a straight-A student in college, and every superlative heaped upon me by my professors drew his ire, angst, bitterness, competition, and contempt. He was not conscious of his malignancy; it just grew in him silently like all cancers do. He did not set out to undermine my progress, but he pulled the rug out from under me every chance he could. We moved every year for ten years. In my senior year, I dropped out of college so we could go to one of the most expensive cities in the country where he could dabble like a dilettante in freelance video production. I was the one who responsibly found employment and paid our rent. I was admitted to Berkeley for my senior year as an out-of-state student. This was quite unusual for them, but they waived some of their restrictions and requirements to admit me. It was thrilling. I met the chair of anthropology department. He welcomed me. I never stepped a foot in a classroom there. We moved to Arizona instead.

You get the picture.

Sun not yet over the horizon
For ten years, I never picked up the camera at our house. I never arranged the furniture, hung a picture on the wall, or grew a flower. He was the photographer. He had the visual sense, the art, the inner dream that needed expression. If there was pain or joy, it was his, and I was merely a part of it. There was only one dreamer permitted in our marriage, and it would never be me.
First light on the tall trees
So, it is more than gratifying to know that some of the things that I photograph move you. It is truly enlivening and exhilarating for me. I have not been in therapy for seventeen years, and I have not described all of the things that make a marriage fail. I hope that our blog describes some of the things that make a marriage work.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

In a Drop of Rain

Went out into the yard early to catch the light on the Japanese Maple. It had rained during the night, so there were still drops hanging from the branches.
The Japanese Maple with almost all of its blazing red leaves gone.
Three drops of rain on one maple branch.
The surprising reflection of our house in the closeup of one drop.
There may be a reflection of the pond in one of these raindrops on the leaves of a California Poppy.