Tuesday, December 30, 2008


The latest (humongo!) Craigslist find now hanging on our wall:

And articles of note from web wanderings the last few days:

The new feminists: lipstick and pageants. Still controversial but for this girl who's over the 60's burn your bra thing, refreshing.

The book is perishing? Do I really want to be involved with all this?

An atheist asserts that God is the answer to Africa's problems.

The best blogs for cheapskates. (And an insightful observation of the values behind 'cheap' vs. 'frugal.')

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Update: Holiday Season

I promised all these updates and pictures and then, like everyone else I know, I got swallowed by the Christmas season. In the last week alone we have been to D.C. three full days and Baltimore one (yes we skipped a day of work).

We have enjoyed the company of three different sets of out of town friends, with three more to come in the next two weeks, and we've done the usual round of festivities such as the annual Lights on the Bay (lots of sailboats decorated with lots of lights making loops round the Chesapeake), office Christmas parties, and Gl├╝hwein while tree decorating.

And there's been day after day of surprisingly delicious Kale Apple Soup ( seen here with TJ's Sweet Apple Sausages-oh so yumm).

There are a few pictures after all to show what we've been up to. I still have grand hopes of using this holiday weekend to catch you up on all the other interesting happenings but we'll see about that after a few rounds of ribeye and homemade egg nog.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Vegetables

My brother says, 'Autumn is not usually a time when I am inclined toward making changes in my lifestyle,' and perhaps that is true for most people. I, on the other hand, find myself cleaning and clearing, inside and out in the fall more than any other time of year. In the spring I look forward to adding to my life, adding outdoor summer time with patio eating, sitting by the water, and generally squeezing the most out of the many moments of daylight. Fall is another matter. Fall means paring down and prioritizing and using up all those darn sample sized bottles of shampoo that I get from hotels. I see a mini hibernation coming and I try to make my choices more deliberate so that the few things I do can be done well. Then I accept that I'll be living a smaller life for a while. That feels right in the fall.

The last few months I've find myself making many changes to simpify our routine and surroundings and I have lots of pictures stacked up to show it. I've been busy getting ready to not be busy. So, first things first: the vegetables.

We're making lots of changes to our diet, with many tips from Marianne. We've cut out pasta and even Vitamin Water (crystalline fructose), found multiple delicious uses for quinoa-the-wonder-grain (Lissa, I haven't forgotten about sending you the recipes), and we've joined a CSA. Shortly after we found out about this CSA we were called by the Cafe that organizes it to cater a very special dinner in the new barn at St. Brigid's Farm, one of the farms that supplies the meat for the CSA.

The dinner at $150 a head supported Heifer International, an organization which, after hearing about that night, I pretty much want to dedicate my life to. Zeb told me to settle for dedicating my evening. The menu was simply incredible. The meat for the Veal Orloff was raised right there, 20 feet away from the table in a beautiful clean pen with a huge cow sized motorized back scratcher. Never thought I'd be jealous of a cow but I really want one of those.

Every part of the meal, from the wine to the butter pats, was grown, raised or made within 50 miles of St. Brigid's.
Field to Fork Dinner Menu
Fresh Butternut Squash Soup
(Crispen Farm, Annapolis, MD)
Served with Sunflower Bread

Farmer's Market Greens Salad with Squash Blossoms
With Dragonfly Farm Black Currant Vinaigrette
(Davon Crest II, Trappe, MD - Dragonfly Farm, Mount Airy, MD)

Veal Orloff with Wild Chanterelle Mushrooms and Nutmeg Whipped Cream
(St. Brigid's Farm - The Woods of Maryland)
Roasted Mountain Rose Potatoes with Fresh Rosemary
Glazed Baby Carrots and Turnips
(Davon Crest II)
Served with Sundried Tomato Bread and Farm Fresh Butter

Cave Aged Cheddar, Sundried Tomato and Basil, and Chappelle Cheeses (Chapel Country Creamery, Easton, MD)
Served with Fresh Fall Apple

Homemade Cinnamon Ice Cream with Fresh Honey Figs
(Rebecca's Garden, Columbia, MD)

It was all cooked on the other end of the barn on glorified camping stoves by chef Craig who we think looks a lot like Christopher Walken and who is a complete culinary visionary, but who can be very intimidating under pressure (he growled that the nutmeg whipped cream Zeb was piping looked like dog poo.)
One of the things that struck me the most about the evening was the people who were there. I overhear quite a few conversations at the restaurant where I work and they are often awkward, revolve around yachts and when directed at me they are not infrequently rude or condescending. I don't mind at all, it kind of comes with the territory when you're a server at a fancy pants place. But it knocked my socks off when the folks at this dinner, who from all apearances come from the same circles as the guests at my restaurant provided some of the most down to earth and conscientious conversations I'd ever had the pleasure of eavesdropping upon. I was positively beaming just listening to them. They talked, these people who had just met each other that night, all about things like getting the permits to raise bison on their estates and about which farm's CSA's they subscribed to. There were so many common goals and ideals meeting in the food and conversation in that barn that I don't know that we could have been more encouraged or had more fun if we had been eating rather than serving the dinner. We left very ready to dive into this world of local, organically grown food.

This last weekend was the first installment of our weekly vegetable bag. It was a double dose of excitement for me that day as I was also going to the new Anthropologie store that opened this week here in Annapolis. Believe it or not, though, I was way more giddy about the vegetables. I exclaimed over every one as I took it out of the bag and interrupted Zeb's Southpark marathon to make him examine and touch each one as well. And I took lots of pictures.

My favorite is that one in the front, called a totsoi, that looks like a large rose made of spinach leaves. But really there's not a single one that's not a treasure. I can't believe I'm calling a vegetable a treasure. But that's how I feel. I'm savoring celery stalks like I never thought was possible. And we've discovered recipes I never would have tried if I'd been the one choosing what to put in my basket. We're through just the first week and I am already so on this bandwagon.

Monday, December 1, 2008

We Celebrated Thanksgiving This Year

I wouldn't go so far as to say that we're getting used to holidays alone, but kind of. The last few Thanksgivings I wasn't exactly feeling it. The first year I felt heartily sorry for myself as I ate alone after a long day of work. Last year we mustered a late night meal when I finished at the restaurant but even though we splurged on a duck kit it still didn't feel that different from any other night after work. This year, wow. Let's just say no one needed to feel sorry for us, small as our party was. We had a real Thanksgiving. We decided to hold it on Friday so that we could really celebrate. Thanksgiving itself was spent as usual at the restaurant but Zeb helped out this year so we got to spend the day together. Guests nicely thanked me for working on a holiday and we packed home leftover prime rib, sushi, scallops and pecan pie for a mini meal that night before we fell into bed.
Friday we feasted. Val came over early to start the day with mimosas and Orangette's Everyday Souffle. We took a walk to snag some dried lavender languishing in a neighbor's yard for homemade herbes de provence for the main course: Duck with Honey. Appetizers were olives and smoked oysters. On the side was a Pine Nut Cauliflower Brussel Sprout Gratin and a beet and chevre salad. We drank Oregon wine and finished the evening with friends enjoying Tacy's butter cookies and Val's Pear Gruyere Pie. The day was so delicious and contentedly spent with a few good people I care about, that it felt full - full enough to really count as Thanksgiving, not some kind of substitute. In a good way it begins to feel like we're actually living life out here, not just waiting until we can get home. Don't anyone go sabotaging Christmas for us though, just to make sure we're homesick. The crisp East Coast blue skies could never replace the Oregon rain in our hearts. Wait, let me think about that.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Speaking of Food...

Were we? Speaking of food? I was, I guess, because I'm still full but keep on eating all of the food I gathered and cooked this week. So this caught my eye.

Food is so good. Art is too. Combine them? Amazing food art by Carl Warner.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Conflicting Emotions

Headed toward a few years of cityscapes...

(Photos snagged from here)
Why am I instead drawn toward images such as these...

(Photos from WeHeartIt)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sidewalk Art

These sentiments greet us as we walk around our town.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Acceptance Is Nice

Today finds me somewhat giddy about a writing project that has been simmering for a while. Sometime late spring I was talking to Deanna about rejection letters as I had just received my first in what I assumed would be a long line. She asked to see some of my work and unbeknownst to me at the time (in case the answer was disappointing) she submitted the piece I sent her to her editor at Relief Journal. I was surprised and honored when I found out it was under consideration! The editor, Lisa Ohlen Harris, worked with me long and hard on painful but necessary revisions and now many months later that little piece is at the printers to be included in the fall journal. It is a short creative non-fiction description of my time visiting Northrise University in Zambia. I am so grateful to Deanna for all her editing and for getting this ball rolling, as well as to Lisa Harris for her incredibly helpful critiques and willingness to work with me. More thanks to Zak (published in the previous issue of Relief with Deanna) who also gave feedback, and to the rest of you who have been so encouraging about this and excited for me. Should anyone be so inclined to pre-order the issue, which will be chock full of other great poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction, that can be done here for a discounted rate.
Yeah! There will be some celebratin' at our house tonight!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


For those of you lucky enough to still live in the promised land (no irreverence, thus no caps, intended) The Whispertown 2000 is playing in Portland FOR FREE!
November 13, 18:00 at Music Millennium, Portland, Oregon. Go, even if it's only for me, stuck in the desert land where they have no tour dates planned as yet.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Whispertown 2000

Gillian Welch has been releasing her own albums on her own label, Acony Records, for some time now. Today Acony introduces a new band, The Whispertown 2000. It's a great listen, though there is a layer of static over the whole record that's a little hard to get used to. The band is talented and I'll look forward to hearing more from them, but I'm most excited about hearing more from Acony Records. With Gillian Welch and her good taste at work I'm sure Acony will discover many interesting new artists. My review of The Whispertown 2000's album, Swim, is here. (Yes, I did mean littoral, not literal. I got a little dictionary.com word of the day crazy there.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Quiz Show

Oh so many months ago, when Zeb and I first moved in together, I envisioned our evening unwinding time would be spent cooking together, reading books out loud to each other, talking for hours, or some other highly interactive activity. That is my idea of decompressing. And I'm sure that those of you who have been married any amount of time are laughing by now and you know what's coming. Zeb's definition of relax is a wee bit different than mine. He shakes off the drudgery of the day with a few hours of computer time. I'm not quite sure what rhyme and reason plot his virtual path, but it roams anywhere between online poker, Wikipedia articles on Civil War generals and R.E.M. videos on YouTube. At first this highly annoyed me and I wondered if we should start marriage counseling because, you know, first it's excessive computer time, then it's magazines in the bathroom, then next thing you know he's dealing drugs on the side. Pretty sure what I would have found out in marriage counseling is what I eventually and more economically figured out on my own - mine is not the only little world in existence. My way is not the only way. Zebulin is not me (somehow I get us confused sometimes) and he needs to be respected and admired for the preferences that make him he. Just as he does not ask me to account for why my bare feet need the protective barrier of my slippers even walking on a freshly mopped floor, he should not be questioned on what he considers relaxation.
That being said, we have come up with ways to overlap our chosen relaxation methods. Zeb gets to sit squarely at the computer and research away while I stay close with a book or make dinner. If, in the course of my reading, I find a word I don't know he dictionary.coms it for me. Often the recipe I make is online and he cooks with me by reading me the recipe over the course of an hour. If any question crosses my mind, like when is National Free Ice Cream Day, I put my handy dandy researcher to work and he googles it for me. Every time he laughs at the computer screen I ask him what's so funny and he reads the joke or calls me over to watch the video. Sometimes we play a game kind of like six degrees of separation for the internet. I'll ask him what he's looking at right that minute. It's usually something like the Wikipedia article on The Loch Ness Monster. Then I ask him how he got there and he has to go backwards and trace his trail of links for me (it's amazing, he'll start with burritos, pass through transcendental philosophy, and end up at Ninjas). This game works well because he gets to stay in computer world, and I get to hear his thought process.

These concessions on both sides have made the comp versus convo methods of relaxation workable, but it wasn't until this week that I actually began to really appreciate Zeb's researching hobby. See, along with being exceptionally curious about everything under the sun, once he learns something, he never ever forgets it. He can give names, dates, and details about everything, including every instance of me forgetting to turn off the stove. All the facts (minus the stove thing) floating around in his head make Zeb a highly prized teammate on trivia nights.

Team trivia nights. I had never heard of it before we moved here where trivia night draws as much enthusiasm and as big of a crowd as Monday Night Football. If one were addicted there is a trivia night available at different venues (bars) every night of the week. I suppose the fact that we've been twice this week means we might soon need TAA or whatever you might call a group for addicts of this kind. But it's such a pleasant, if competitive, way to spend an evening. You gather round a table with five of your smartest friends and a bottle of wine and the Kahlua/honey drizzled baked brie that my sister's got me hooked on, and you pour forth your useless knowledge. And it feels so good. It gives us self esteem when we win (even though I didn't answer any questions I still win if I'm on the team, right?). It gives us that little boost that will get us out of bed to go to work the next morning. But we could stop any time we want to. We probably will after we try a few other trivia nights, just so we're making a really informed decision to kick the habit, you know.
And now for an unrelated photo of our neighbor's lovely yard:

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Quite a Show

A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of seeing Dana Fuchs in concert. Did you see the Beatles' musical 'Across the Universe?' It was OK, as a movie, the connections were a bit of a stretch. However, the interpretation of the Beatles' songs? Brilliant. Bono singing 'I am the walrus...' and Eddie Izzard as Mr. Kite. Then there was Dana Fuchs. She was by far the strongest character, though she was a supporting character, in the movie. She was a strong, voluptuous, outspoken women who simultaneously defined, mothered and challenged the other characters. When I saw that this presence was coming to our sleepy little sailing town I signed up immediately. I didn't know anything about her, aside from the movie, but I figured unless they completely fabricated her voice in the movie, she'd be worth hearing. And she was. Her songwriting was a mixture of cliche and incredibly original folk/rock, but her voice was gripping. In a mesmorizing way. This girl is intense. She sings most songs at a 90 degree angle to the stage, bent over backwards screaming out throaty yet high notes with her long curly copper hair swinging and flying through the spotlight. Watch for thirty seconds and you'll get the picture. And see her if you ever get a chance.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Hitting Close to Home

The recurring question round the world is, 'Are you worried?' Two weeks ago we would have said no, not really. But things change so quickly. Both the boy and I work full time at real estate offices, and I pick up evening shifts at an outrageously priced restaurant. In the last week we find ourselves with reason to worry about all three jobs' security. We're not quite living on beans and rice yet, but we're certainly changing our course a bit.
There are many things I'd love for this season of my life, I'd love to be trying out new recipes on friends gathered 'round our table, I'd love to be camping, I'd love to be unaware of the time, wrapped in a scarf on the front porch drinking spiced apple cider, I'd love to lay my head down at night and feel it resting rather than spinning. But this season's gonna be, to put it quite bluntly, about the money while it can be. It will be extra shifts and long hours away from the things I love, on sore feet, feeling like some precious moments are passing me by because I just don't have the time to capture them. It will be less writing (here and elsewhere), less time with family and friends (virtual or actual), and fewer parts of me engaged with my own life. It will be me coming to terms with these things and trying not to feel guilty or fragmented. And then come January I expect I'll be working very little. Though that won't be by choice, it will be nice and I will feel that I have earned it. I'll spend my long hours on the couch instead of my feet, and I'll read and write again, and I'll call y'all and maybe even write you a letter. We still plan to set up house in Philadelphia in the near future; we might actually move on up a little sooner than we'd thought. All of those details will begin to order themselves around the end of the year, we hope.
Because I'm deciding to see this not as bad thing, just a rearranging (less time now so that there will be more time later) I'm OK with it, I just wanted to let you know. Nearly on the topic, here's a tidbit from The Onion that made us lol this week.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Marriage 15...or 20.

Several things: #1, I turned the air conditioner back on this week. While everyone, everywhere else, is talking about Fall and the crisp smell and tights and tea, we are still in this awful miserable purgatory of waning summer which just means that it's a few degrees under 100 and we will go from tank tops today to snow tomorrow. Probably. Give me moderate weather! Yeah right.
#2, on one of the days that there was a nip in the air last week, I enthusiastically pulled out my favorite pair of gray corduroy pants. There is one distinguishing, defining fact about these pants that I must mention, besides the fact that they are gray and corduroy and MY FAVORITE PANTS, that fact is that they were acquired pre-marriage. That is, they were purchased at the height of caring about attractiveness and toned shapeliness. They were the smallest size of pants I'd ever fit into. A year and a half later I pull them out, thinking I know I'm on the 'curvy' side of the scale but these are my favorite pants and I must wear them now during my favorite season. I get them on (I must admit they're about 70% cotton and 30% spandex). I think, they're on! I'm doing all right here. I do a bit of contortioning, bending knees, sticking out butt to get them really situated and they rip from waist to knee. Moaning, wailing, and a little bit of crying ensues. Zeb says (the dear) 'Well, corduroy is a notoriously flimsy fabric.' We both know that is not the issue.
The point of the story is... um, that I'm not exempt from whatever Murphy's type law says the more you swear you won't gain weight after you get married, the quicker you will? Or that the indulgent, conscience free honeymoon year should finally give way to the exercising and healthy eating that I actually want to mark my life? Or that I get new clothes? Yeah, the new clothes one (also, the other two). So I did. I held my nose and went to the mall for about 4 hours too many and emerged with three pairs of pants that are actually my size, that is, about 4 sizes larger than fifteen months ago when I entered this blessed state. That's the trade off? Gain 4 sizes in exchange for this amount of happy? I'll take that compromise any day.
#3, However, three pairs of new pants could not quite shake off the feeling that I might be getting too careless about superficial external things. I'm a bit afraid I might be, dare I say it? Frumpy. I've accepted the fact that it's coming, the frump, I just wanted to ease not jump into it. So I got myself bangs as well. Because that makes me feel hip and relevant. And every time I say that Zeb asks me what does that even mean and I really don't know so I shoot back in an insulting tone that his face is hip and relevant. See what I mean? That's even a frumpy come back. It might take more than bangs to save me.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

In The Mail

Many thanks, Summer, for this adorable little guy! He found a perfect home in a previously empty cubbyhole.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Music To This Girl's Ears...

From the hubby: 'If I were Jim Halpert, you would be my Pam.'

Incidentally, we are very very glad The Office is back. We have something, again, to live for.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Still Don't Wanna Talk About Economics But...

I'm as scared and confused as anyone when it comes to economics and the crisis going on this week. I am fortunate to have a financial advisor (hi Dad!) who I trust does have a solid perspective on how the market works and all the panic around it, and articles such as this one in the Village Voice that he points out on the history of the problem prove to be extremely informative and clarifying. It's long, arduous reading, and it definitely has its own take on who/what to blame, but my understanding of the basic issues, terms and key players exponentially increased after reading it. (If you're anything like me you'll need to have an economics dictionary or Google handy.)
On the flip side, we do well to remember that we all contribute to the problem as this article that Killpoets found points out.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Paint The Town

Last weekend...

"Memoir Writer Needed Immediately..."

This is the perfect job to get me through grad school...

Friday, September 19, 2008

I have five-ish posts swimming around inside my head but no time today and I'm headed off in a few minutes for my fourth extra night at the restaurant this week. I'm feeling just slightly that all I do these days is work when all I want to do is soak up the beginnings of Fall here and the light! that wonderful Fall light... Instead here are some of my favorite pictures from Annabel Mehran who clearly knows a lot about light.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Publishing Crisis

It's an interesting time to be jumping into a publishing career. Chat rooms and articles on the topic are very gloomy and doomy, with factors and debates including corporate publishing houses vs. mom and pop publishers, huge chain bookstores replacing independent local booksellers, and ebooks and online journals replacing print. While many consider it a crisis, I am actually optimistic and excited about entering entering this field at just this time. It seems that the publishing industry will need a complete restructuring and update and I'm up for it! This fantastic (and optimistic) article talks about the history, many of the concerns, and some solutions for the future success of publishing.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Please, not you too, lotion.

#1 pet peeve: dry elbows.
According to this article, I now have to choose between life and moisturized elbows. Oh, what an unfair choice. The question is: is life worth living if it has to be lived with dry elbows? I might rather go ahead and die, but die moisturized. Although the 100 toxic chemicals emitted by my vinyl shower curtain will probably do me in first.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Etsy Birthday

A few posts ago when I mentioned the things I speak frequently of, I forgot to mention Etsy. I don't actually speak the word Etsy because I don't know how to pronounce it. I'm sure Google could help me out there, but I haven't gotten around to that. At any rate, I speak about Etsy often, and surf it even more often. I love what Etsy is doing - a virtual shop for artists to showcase and sell their work. I love buying beautiful things directly from the hands that made them. My goal is to find more and more of my gifts for others and artwork for our house on Etsy.
August 31st has been a stop-everything-and-celebrate day for me for 15 years or so - it is Keiko's birthday. And later (for me) it became Zeb's birthday as well, so now that day pretty much wonderfully overtakes my life for a week before and after. I love August 31st. This year I combined two of my favorite things, August 31st and Etsy. This is what I came up with:

For Keiko: Domino Pendant from Gentle Suds

For Zeb: Oil painting entitled On The Green from Studio236

Companion painting The Sandtrap from Studio 236.

I did stray from Etsy for one item this birthday. Supporting artists' directly is very important, but so is finding the perfect gift that just screams out someone's name. And so far no one on Etsy makes these, and I just had to have it for my boy.

Could it get any more Boy than a lego ipod dock? (Don't tell him it came from the girly Paper Source.) It was a one time exception though, I'm already planning an Etsy Christmas.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Still Don't Wanna Talk About Politics But...

Killpoets is blogging again and this morning his blog points out a interesting article on the psychology behind liberal and conservative political views. Though there is some loaded language, it's the first article I think I've ever read from either camp that I could actually finish reading. There's even a bonus survey to help determine whether you subscribe to a fundamentally Millian or Durkheimian view of society.

Friday, September 5, 2008

New Emiliana Torrini

Emiliana Torrini's new album, Me and Armini, is one of the best I've heard in a long time. Zeb even voluntarily puts it on and he hasn't liked a new album since 1989. The girl is good. Me trying to sound like Sasha Frere-Jones about it here.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Eliot Review

The delay on this review was not because the book was uninteresting, but rather it was too interesting. I savored it. I didn't want it to end but my two week turnaround deadline was long past so I finally finished it and wrote the review. All I really want to say about this book is READ IT!! But Blogcritics frowns on too many caps and exclamation points so the dry, stuffy, real review is here.