Monthly Archives: July 2007

A rough chronology of the last week or so

Wizard Island in Crater Lake

A week ago: we realized that our decision of the week before that I would stay home to take care of the rabbit instead of going to Seattle as planned — a decision prompted by the lack of boarding slots at the House Rabbit Society — was perhaps not exactly the right decision. After our friend Andrea volunteered to check in on Thistle from time to time, we made new plans. I would drive up to Seattle with Becky to visit her sister’s family and then I’d drive back a few days later, and she’d fly back a few days after that.

Wednesday: realized that my schedule would not likely permit a visit to Nina. Sent an apologetic email explaining such. Accidentally sent the email from Becky’s account, which scared her given my choice of subject line: “Some Sad News”. Consoled myself by deciding to call Auguste for a coffee visit on my way through Oregon heading south, perhaps with a stop at Powell’s Books. Asked Auguste for his phone number. Got some work done. Cleaned house. Went to sleep. Had fitful dreams populated by bitter abandoned rabbits.

Thursday: Put a year’s supply of food and water and a toy into Thistle’s cage and locked him in. Left house painfully early, drove up I-5 to Weed with a visit en route to a blasé woodpecker in a rest stop south of Red Bluff, and then passed through one of my favorite parts of California on our way over to Route 97. Headed north into Oregon through Klamath Falls, rolled into Crater Lake NP around 3:00 in the afternoon. Committed various wilful and wanton acts of blatant tourism. Slept on ground in a forest after reading myself to sleep with The Snoring Bird by Bernd Heinrich, which took some time seeing as it’s a fascinating book.

Friday morning: Drank coffee. Drove to wildflower area. Took some photos. Drove to next wildflower area, this one with a short hike involved. Had forgotten to secure gear in camera bag at previous stop: dumped expensive camera and more expensive telephoto lens onto dusty gravel parking lot from about waist height. Annoyed nearby parents with small children by responding to incident with a short, guttural Anglo-Saxonism. Determined camera, lens still worked. Went on wildflower hike. Fed mosquitoes. Marveled at greenness. Moved on, took more photos of the lake. Harassed innocent corvids. Left park and headed toward Eugene.

Friday noon: stopped at roadhouse on road between Chemult and Eugene, intending to buy coffee. Found that owners had preserved the recipe for the Best Baklava Ever, said recipe having come from owner’s Cretan grandfather. Bought baklava.

Friday, remainder of day: drove from Eugene to Seattle, pausing for an hour and a half to savor the zero MPH average speed of rush hour in Portland. Likewise savored the increasingly insistent blinking of the dashboard alternator light, beginning just south of Tacoma. Made it to Mercer Island, ate dinner, played with kids.

Saturday morning: took car to garage. Verdict: alternator failing. Briefly considered trying to nurse car home over two days. Realized this would probably involve semi-permanent stay wherever the alternator finally failed, probably in Albany, Oregon. Revised plans yet again: I would come home as scheduled, but via other means, and Becky, whose schedule was looser, would get alternator replaced and enjoy leisurely solo drive home in a week.

Saturday afternoon, evening: took Whidbey Island Ferry to appropriate island. Drove, got coffee, hiked, checked out campgrounds, waved wistfully from the Port Townsend Ferry terminal in the general direction of Nina, ate best salmon ever and best mussels ever in Coupeville, made scary noises in abandoned army fort to make three-year-old niece shriek in delight. Drove the long way home through Deception Pass, incidentally bringing me to the northernmost point I have occupied in my life at 48°27’45.02″N.

Sunday morning: arose painfully early. Drank coffee. Went back to bed. Got back up. Was dropped off at Seattle Amtrak station twenty minutes before scheduled 9:45 AM departure of Coast Starlight. Boarded Coast Starlight at 10:50. Left Seattle at 11:10, approximately 25 miles per hour.

Sunday afternoon, evening, late night:  Sat on train in Tacoma. Noticed great blue herons along shore of Tacoma Narrows. Watched more green. Thought of things the oddly familiar green made me feel. Determined to write something or other about it. Sat on train in Olympia, Centralia, Kelso-Longview, Vancouver. Reflected that regardless of the town, each one, like most other such in the US, chooses to display its butt crack to the railroad. A trip across country on Amtrak would likely give one the impression that the USA is populated mainly by rusted out junked cars, with distinct minority populations of ominous discarded barrels and torn sofas. Sat on train in Portland. Did not call Auguste. Sat on train in Oregon city, Albany, Salem (which presented an unusual manicured face to the tracks), Eugene. Realized in Eugene that Coast Starlight also goes through Chemult and Klamath Falls. Wished in vain for unscheduled baklava stop. Slept for a few minutes after leaving Klamath Falls. Woke to watch the moon illuminating Mount Shasta.

Monday: Dawn in Redding. Train was variously on time, an hour late, or three or five hours late depending on which Amtrak employee one asked. Sat on train in Red Bluff, Chico, Yuba City. Arriving in Sacramento, it turned out that “three hours late” was the correct answer. Luck held: my connecting train to Richmond waited across the platform when I got off the Coast Starlight. Rode past mouth of Pinole Creek, coffee in hand. BART train was waiting for me at Richmond Station, cab at the end of the BART ride, rabbit at the end of the cab ride.

Tuesday morning, 12:52 AM: coffee finally wearing off, having had two hours of sleep since Sunday morning, I am going to bed.

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The fact that it’s a blogger that said this has not escaped my amused notice

But insofar as people who are interested in literature make themselves come across as horribly unpleasant people whom one would never want to meet or speak to, and whose primary interest in books is as an adjunct to the vicious hatred of human beings, then I think it’s natural that lots of people won’t develop an interest in literature.

Matthew Yglesias, whom I would characterize as tilting at windmills were that not an elitist, misanthropic literary reference.

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Panspermia

These perfect strings, unbowed and yet singing
the music of the spheres, a symphony
of light on folded fabric, light that drives
all things before it endlessly and slow.
These ancient seeds to ride the crests. They ride
the troughs, they fold themselves inward and hard
against the nothingness, they fold themselves
and wait, only a flickering, sluggish spark
banked well against the ages. Given just
a bit of damp, their fire rekindles staid,
deliberate, an epochal reveal
unfolding, filigreeing. A chaos
from old, entropic order they distill,
life prised from mathematics’ bony hand.

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What the blogger had for breakfast

The secret to cooking omelets is to use a pan on a much lower flame than one would for fried eggs. A 12-inch non-stick skillet is ideal for three-egg omelets, and should nonetheless be lubed with a bit of good cooking oil — olive oil being my favorite — and the oil allowed to heat thoroughly. If the omelet filling requires frying before you assemble the omelet, you can do so in the same pan, but be sure when you remove the filling that the pan is smooth and slick. Add more oil if necessary and let it heat.

The base of the omelet is plain, unadulterated egg, three or four of them, beaten with a fork until nearly uniform, with perhaps a stripe or two of white among the yolk. Making sure the pan’s surface is uniformly hot and slick, with oil coating well up the sides, one pours the egg mixture into the center with a flourish, then lifts the pan and tilts it so that egg covers the entire bottom, running up perhaps a little on the sides. If the pan is the right temperature on its medium flame, the sides will cook through almost instantly while the center remains a pool of liquid. With a bamboo spatula, push the cooked sides slightly toward the center — an inch or so — tilting the pan to flood the space you’ve freed with egg.

In three or four minutes, the egg should be nearly cooked through with only a bit of uncooked liquid atop it, in the center, and bubbles may have formed in the center above the flame. Shake the pan by its handle: the egg should move freely in the pan. If it does not, use a lower flame or more oil next time, or both. If the egg sticks in the pan, gently try to lift it free with the bamboo spatula. It may tear, in which case you may as well just fill the omelet at this point, cutting your losses.

But if the egg moves freely in the pan clear the kitchen of onlookers, move the pan to a place where you have a few feet of airspace, and breathe for a moment. Toss the egg into the air with a flip of pan. A round-sided, well-oiled pan will send the egg toward the front of the pan, up the side and vertical into the air, where angular momentum will flip it and gravity pull it back into the pan, upside down. This is easier than it sounds, but if trepiditious you can always run through a few dozen practice eggs.

The egg flipped, you return the pan to the stove, draw an imaginary line bisecting the egg, and put your filling in the center of one of the halves so designated. An omelet’s filling is best arranged with an eye toward symmetry, the eventual flavors in combination in each bite, and prevention of loss out the sides. Fold the omelet: cover the filling. A few more minutes on the flame will meld flavors, warm the filling.

I have in this past week filled omelets with handsful of herbs from the garden, savory and oregano, sage and sorrel, chopped fine and added raw or sauteed first in olive oil and then removed to a plate to await the eggs. I have filled them with wilted dandelion greens. I have filled them with Genovese basil from the farmer’s market, a bit of sticky white chevre and a couple tablespoons of chopped walnuts added in a moment of blinding inspiration. A few days ago I rummaged through the kitchen for omelet filling and found a jar of pickled fern fiddleheads, a gift from Kat, and a piece of goat brie we bought before our hike this month, and made a Kat omelet of fiddleheads and goat brie. Or that same cheese and a sauce of roasted dried chiles. Sometimes I add to the eggs, before beating them,  a pinch of truffle salt: an extravagance of twenty dollars when I was employed, three ounces black Abruzzi truffles ground fine and mixed with sea salt, and if we use a pinch a day our truffle salt budget will run ten dollars a year. It is one of the best things I have ever tasted, and adds savor to the eggs, though it would not have worked well with today’s basil and walnut omelet, I am thinking.

Tonight I took three long japanese eggplants, fried them well for our dinner with basil and garlic and oregano from the garden, and about a quarter cup of olive oil. Tomorrow comes the Imam baldi omelet. It may be worth it, this waking up.