Monday, August 22, 2011

Classy Evenings in Santa Fe

About 6 yesterday it started raining. It was one of those flash flood, monsoon rains where it goes from not-raining to you're-soaked-to-the-skin-if-you step-out-for-5-seconds-raining in about a minute. And since we do live in the desert the drainage system on our street, like many in this town, leaves something to be desired. So in about 5 minutes we have current running down our street, and the water's starting to come up onto the curb, dramatic, but pretty normal for the summer storms.

Anyway, it's getting time to leave for the opera, so Jackson puts out the trash like the good husband he is, since they come fairly early on Monday. When he comes back in he says jokingly, "I hope the trash can doesn't float away out there," (who sees where this one's going?). We get ready and are pulling out of the driveway when he says, "Uh, where is the trash can anyway?!" It sure wasn't where he left it and sure enough, we drive about a block or two down the street and there it is, floating along merrily, our bags of trash bobbing along in front of it! It's still raining pretty hard at this point and yes, we are in our opera clothes (it's Santa Fe so not super fancy, but still) and yes, I'm about 8 months pregnant but there we are, at least ankle deep in running water, (mostly Jackson I have to admit) grabbing the trash can and fishing our bags of trash out of the creek-like street. Pretty amusing scene, I'm sure. One of those "Santa Fe is so spiritual" moments I guess.

At any rate, about 15 minutes and a change of clothes later we're on our way again and uneventfully make it with about 10 minutes to spare. So the moral of the story is always make sure to leave yourself plenty of time when you're going to the opera!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Well, it's finally spring and I feel inspired to pick up the blog again. Also, Peculiar recently (well, sort of) got a laptop, so I no longer have the excuse that I can never get to the computer because someone's always editing photos.

Maybe it's a remnant of hibernation instincts, but nothing interesting seems to happen in the winter. Fall is good, and there's often expeditions, vacations, not to mention harvesting the garden. But then after October things get busy and the Christmas fast begins so there's not even any good eating to write much of until Christmas. This year the space between Christmas and Lent was extremely short, so right as we were recovering from the business of Christmas it was time to gear up for Lent.

But Pascha was a few weeks ago and with it, obligingly, came beautiful, bright, warm spring weather. Last year I tried to plant a garden starting from scratch in the snatches of time between my sisters' weddings, moving into a new house and Holy Week/Pascha. Given the circumstances, it was really more successful than could be expected. That's not to say I was happy with it though. I did get a good amount of basil and tomatoes, and even a watermelon, but we decided to take a trip to Turkey right in the middle of the harvest. It was a fantastic trip, but I couldn't help being discouraged to return home to a frost-damaged, bedraggled mess of a garden. I wasn't even sure if I'd do one this year.

But the Baker Creek catalog came again, with its seductive heirloom charms. Then the greenhouse had raspberry plants on sale,and the staff assured me that berries do, in fact, grow well in New Mexico (we'll see about that), and one of the workers gave me 6 tomato starts. . . and now I have my two beds ready to go again and have lettuce, peas and other greens in the ground, with the first little lettuces coming up today.

And so we're off! I started the hot weather crops inside today. In addition to my 6 tomatoes I started some striped Turkish tomatoes, a purple tomato called "Cherokee Chocolate," an early, cold-weather cucumber from Russian, a big rust-colored cucumber from the Himalayas, some purple eggplant that are supposed to do well in short growing seasons, an eggplant that looks more like a tomato, again from Turkey, two kinds of melons and basil. I'm not trying corn again this year. I got a few mediocre ears last year and it takes up alot of space and nutrients. Ditto the winter squash - I did get several pumpkins last year only to have them go bad before we could eat them. For being such a staple crop I have NOT had good luck with winter squash, so I think I'll take this year off. I hope to have better luck with them in the future though, since there are so many interesting varieties out there!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Good Food Blog

So I was going to to to the gym and go swimming tonight, I really was. But at 4:50 one of our needier clients called, and kept me on the phone discussing her estate plans until 5:40. They're supposed to come in and sign their wills tomorrow and really just want them to go away at this point, so I thought it best to put in the time tonight.

So I pull into the gym parking lot about 6:00 (and lap swim only lasts until 7:00) still trying to make a go of it and there is literally no parking space to be had. I think they were having some kind of elementary/high school basketball game there because I doubt this many people are into free weights and Pilates, even in Santa Fe. People are parked on the sidewalks and all along the road. At this point I give up and decide to to home and cook dinner. What's in the fridge? Uhhh, we have plenty of egg from the chickens, who are still laying well, there's some red chile sauce, so huevos rancheros are an option, although I doubt the beans I made about 2+ weeks ago are still good (blech!!). There's a few slices of bacon, some pasta, random cheeses left over from a squash tart I made over the weekend. I know there's some kind of dish that involves pasta, a cream sauce and bacon. . .pasta. . car-something. Well, if the universe is set againt me getting any exercise this week (which it is, I've meaning to go every night this week!) I might as well have pasta with cream sauce and bacon, right? Right!

My old standby, Cooks Illustrated let me down but Google brought up What Geeks Eat, about halfway down the page. They had a super-simple receipe for Pasta Carbonara, which was exactly what I was looking for. Upon looking more closely, a recipe for Bacon Donuts with Maple Glaze showed up ("Can you make those now?" says Mr. P.), along with Pistachio Lambchops, a paella and a blogroll full of delicious sounding blogs.

So check it out!

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Really, I'm not going out of my way to find this stuff. There were a bunch of these lying in a big stack on top of a newspaper rack near Ohori's. I hope you find it as amusing as I did:

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I would cry if this wasn't so darn funny in a Monty Pythonish sort of way. . .

Warring Monks Threaten Destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre


The dispute over the Deir al-Sultan monastery [a small monastery on top of the Holy Sepulchre Church] is a more recent phenomenon dating back to Easter 1970. When the Coptic monks, who had controlled the area, went to pray in the main church and left the rooftop unattended, Ethiopian monks seized the opportunity to change the locks at the entrances before the Copts returned.

Relations between the two groups have remained tense ever since [ya think?], with the Coptic Church refusing to relinquish its claim to the monastery and posting a single monk there at all times. In the midst of a blistering heatwave in the summer of 2002, the Coptic monk on duty moved his chair from its agreed spot to a shadier corner. The move was taken as a hostile manoeuvre by the Ethiopians and 11 monks needed hospital treatment after the ensuing fracas.

Again, do you really need to make movies that make fun of religion? We do a much better job in-house, sad to say.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

"Welcome Red Autumn"

This was the last day for the garden. There's a chance of snow tonight, with a winter storm warning in effect. The lemon-grass plant has long been in, and today the rest of the herbs joined it in the long southern window. We pulled all the green tomatoes using headlamps in the dark. They are all crowded in a cardboard wine-box, with the basil plants I cut thrown on top.

It turned out to be a better year for the garden than I was expecting, especially considering my modest goals for the season. The basil did fairly well, well enough to make and freeze several batches of pesto. I would have liked more tomatoes, but we got enough to enjoy a consistent diet of fresh ripe tomatoes for the last couple months.

The problem with gardening this year was that it simply wasn't hot enough for things like tomatoes, eggplants and peppers to be really happy. Growing up in Texas, "not hot enough" is a new challenge. It has never occurred to me before this year when I tried to grow something that having a cool summer could possibly pose a problem. This summer was one of the most enjoyable I've spent in Santa Fe. We only had a few weeks of consistent 90+ weather, and the heat broke extremely early -- sometime in the middle of July I believe. And this was after one of the slowest-coming springs and summers I have ever seen here. Our last freeze was in June!

A cold spell in mid-July really set everything back. It did warm up again in August and September, but by then the plants simply didn't have enough time to get going again before it started falling into the 40s at night. I've been covering the tomatoes at night for the last month or so.

I tried three kinds this year: Striped Romans, a salad sized "white" tomato, and a large pink "Tajik" tomato whose seeds I got last year from a vendor at the Santa Fe Farmers Market. The white tomatoes were really a very pale yellow, but tasted simultaneously more mellow and more interesting than most standard yellow tomatoes. We grew the striped ones last year on the farm, and they are a fun, delicious tomato. The Tajik tomatoes were good and sweet but very slow to develop, so we didn't get as many of them. Here's a picture of all three kinds:

I've already requested the Baker Creek Catalogue for 2009. Dangerous, I know, especially when I'm not sure where I'll be next year, or how much room I'll have to grow things. Well, seeds don't take up that much room, right? And they keep for a looong time. . .

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Okay, One More

From David Brooks:

[Sarah Palin] represents a fatal cancer to the Republican party. When I first started in journalism, I worked at the National Review for Bill Buckley. And Buckley famously said he'd rather be ruled by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by the Harvard faculty. But he didn't think those were the only two options. He thought it was important to have people on the conservative side who celebrated ideas, who celebrated learning. And his whole life was based on that, and that was also true for a lot of the other conservatives in the Reagan era. Reagan had an immense faith in the power of ideas. But there has been a counter, more populist tradition, which is not only to scorn liberal ideas but to scorn ideas entirely. And I'm afraid that Sarah Palin has those prejudices. I think President Bush has those prejudices.

Thank you! That nails the frustration I've been feeling since the Palin pick. I want to be a conservative (I think, whatever that means these days) but the idea that someone who cannot compose a coherent sentence without days of intensive preparation might very well be in charge of the United States, along with the largest military and nuclear arsenal is in world, is insulting and unacceptable. I've watched in shock as the "She's next door to Russia, so she has great foreign policy," argument has migrated from some Fox news pundit ("Okay, he's a Fox news pundit, what do you expect?") to Cindy McCain ("Okay, maybe she's not the brightest bulb in the shed, and she probably picked it up from the moron news pundit"), then on to McCain himself (WHAT?!?), then on the Palin's tortuous attempt to defend it to Couric (words fail). They really expect us to believe this? Really?

When I first started paying attention to politics it was the conservatives who seemed to embrace and support the intellect. William Buckley was a big fan of St. John's, a college based on the redical notion that some books are objectively "Great," that Truth is not subjective, and that it can be dicovered, at least in part, by us through diligent inquiry. This was in contrast to the intellectually shoddy liberals who filled up colleges with things like Women's Studies, Diversity Studies, etc., etc., etc.

And now it's this party, and Mr. Buckley's political and ideological (but not physical!) descendants who are championing the vice-presidential nomination of a woman who can't even name one magazine or newspaper that she reads on a regular basis! And seriously, with no exaggeration, she cannot form a coherent sentence, and has major problems with prepositions, subject, objects, and all those pesky things only elite, arugula-eating, America-hating liberals care about.

When asked about global warming, she said twice that she's "not going to solely blame all of man’s activities on changes in climate." Huh? To be precise, that's what she said in the Couric interview, direct quote. But then she said pretty much the same thing in the VP debate. Okay, I think she was trying to say that she doesn't think that climate change is solely attributable to man-made causes. Fine. I know there are alot of smart people out there that think that. Fine. It's not the position I have a problem with. But c'mon, it's not that hard of a statement, especially if it's one you truly believe. So why can't she get the subject, object and preposition right, and in the correct order? Is that really too much to ask in a vice-president?

One of the justifications of studying logic and rhetoric in a classical education is that the ability to speak clearly is intrinsically tied to the ability to think and reason clearly. Clear speaking shows clear thinking. One of the best reasons to study Euclid is not as much to understand geometry as it is to expose your mind to one of the clearest and most elegant presentations of any subject that you will ever find. As you go through the propositions you are training your mind to think clearly and logically, moving easily from one mathematical truth to the truth. The same process is followed in Apollonius and Newton (although it's perhaps not quite as straightforward there), and even up through Einstein.

This nomination is a resounding slap in the face to those of us who value ideas, the intellect, and civil political discourse. If we hadn't just suffered through eight years of an aw-shucks, Joe Six-Pack, inarticulate president (and I voted for him in 2000), this might be a little more palatable. It also might be more palatable if we were not on the brink of a potential Great Depression, involved in two messy, horribly mismanaged wars to which I can see no honorable end, and facing a resugent Russia, and increasingly powerful China, and the possibility of a nuclear Iran. Oh yes, and it might be just a tad more acceptable if this incoherent VP were not the VP of a 70+ man with a history of cancer. Given all that, a party that would put forward a VP candidate of this caliber under these circumstances does. not. deserve. to. win. In fact, it fully deserves not only a second but a third helping of its own ass that's going to get handed to it on a plate this November.

UPDATE: William F. Buckley's son Christopher has just endorsed Obama. Read the whole thing.

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