Monday, June 27, 2011


An opulent  birthday orchid from my generous friend, John Baker.  

The world's longest cold, wet, unlovely spring I think has passed here.  We've managed to string a few dry days together.  It looked like it wasn't going to happen last week.  Wednesday and Thursday were just gray, overcast but rainless.  Then the brightness of a summer sun that I associate with Portland burned me awake on Friday.  It wasn't a hot day, but the sky was a brilliant blue all day long. There was a breeze and it felt fabulous.  For the first time, I slept with my bedroom balcony door open.  What a luxury it is to sleep comfortably with a gentle breeze to keep you under a blanket. The windows have been open for several weeks and all that bird chirping won't let me sleep much past 7:30 AM.  It will soon become warm and I'll add the ceiling fan to keep me comfortable, but that balcony door will pretty much remain open through September.

Bit & Beau "snoring" the Cherry Duet from Puccini's MADAMA BUTTERFLY, an interesting 
and vocally provocative interpretation.  

I hung a clothesline between the pillar supports of the balcony, and it's a favorite place to hang sheets to dry when the weather is nice.  I remember line-dried sheets as a kid and the smell is just fantastic.

Yesterday (Sunday) I spent my 61st birthday in my garden.  I had begun the day with a visit with my buddy, Trish, to the newly opened Woodstock Farmer's Market.  Woodstock is the community just southwest of my neighborhood, which is called Reed (after Reed College).  Local farmers bring their fruits, vegetables, flowers, plants, local fish, meat, charcuterie, baked goods, etc. The place was lively for it's opening day with free pony rides for the kids, and lots of food stands to feed the hungry.  I bought beautiful beets with tops so fresh I can't wait to cook them tonight.  One of Trish's favorite farmers from the Hollywood farmer's market has gorgeous produce.  I also bought nearly two pounds of rhubarb, which I plan to turn into syrup for drinks and/or breakfast pancakes.  Found the recipe in this gorgeous new cookbook called HEARTLAND: The Cookbook by Judith Fertig (Andrews McMeel).  This is a book that gathers some of the best recipes from between the coasts that comprise the center of our country.  The book is gorgeous with many beautiful photographs and recipes that are contemporary and appealing.  The rhubarb cost $1.75 a pound.  I can't find it in a supermarket for under $4 a pound--a real bargain. Then I snatched up a generous bunch of Italian flat leaf parsley for 50 cents! Trish bought a flat of the most fragrant strawberries.

Coleus that has been growing in a window in my mud room is being rooted for the balcony 
planters just outside my bedroom door. 

Back at the house, I mowed the back lawn, pulled a million weeds, and potted a geranium that looked grateful for the attention. Today I'll do some more planting, such as moving an unhappy bay leaf bush, and will find a home for two stunning pots of Calla lilies (one orange, the other purple).  Two hours later, I had to run into the shower to prepare for dinner out.

I found this appealingly rustic summer peach cake on Amanda Hesser's Food 52 blog.  
I had nectarine.  The cake featured both almond and vanilla extracts, buttermilk, almond flour
and nutmeg.  Served it for dessert on Saturday and ate it for breakfast on Sunday and this morning. 
It was a snap to make. Let me know if you want the recipe. 

John Baker arrived for a quick glass of wine, and we were off to Wildwood for dinner.  Wildwood, along with the late and lamented Zefiro's and perhaps Paley's Place, were in the early 90s a strong notice to the food world that Seattle wasn't the only restaurant destination in the Pacific Northwest.  Wildwood, located in the city's north west section, has an eclectic, low-key Pacific Northwest ambiance about it. You enter a small reception stand and are immediately plunged into a generous-sized bar area. Cocktails are a serious business here with lots of exotic and familiar alcoholic concoctions created daily.  The main dining room features lots of medium wood panelling and gray banquettes with lights dropped from the ceiling above tables. The wait-staff here is polite and welcoming (but sometimes a tad condescending--fortunately that was not the cast last night).

Though I have gone to Wildwood for lunch on more than several occasions, this was my first time there for dinner.  The food has always been really interesting.  They take local ingredients very seriously.  there are lots of very appealing items for starters and the main course, but I found myself almost immediately making a decision.  I wasn't disappointed.

I chose an amazing lamb shoulder which has been slowly roasted until the meat was falling off the bone.It was then pressed and wrapped into a large and thick round, and sauteed to give it some caramelize its surface. It was finished with a small puddle of bernaise sauce.  It came with bacon wrapped artichokes, wild mushroom farro risotto, and sauteed pea vines.  An amazing dish.  The lamb was unbelievably tender, and didn't taste much of lamb at all (I love the sometimes gamey taste of lamb), but this was just , rich, incredibly tender meat of deep flavor and complexity. Awesome.  Arugula salad with sliced baby summer squash, grana padana whipped cream, strawberries, and a thin layer of chocolate on top.  

They had about eight rose wines on their summer wine list and we found an amazing French rose for $19!

In all a low-key birthday--just the way I like 'em these days. 

Bit looking sleepy and thoroughly comfortable on the back of my couch (you can see Beau's sleeping 
form just above him--see the ears?).

Sunday, June 5, 2011


It's finally hot enough to work in the garden and get things done.  We have managed to string together three rain-free days and this morning as I let Beau out of the back yard door, I noticed the peonies have finally opened.  They are gorgeous.  I went out to get a better look and to take this photo when I noticed the fig tree is finally putting out leaves--they are on the base of the tree, which seems strange.  But I had given it up for dead--it's already June 5th and everything else has leafed by now.  Since I'm home today, I was saving an empty Skippy peanut butter jar for Cooper, the squirrel I've befriended with peanuts.  He's a brazen little guy and was into the inside of the jar in no time at all.  He's cutie and lots of fun to watch. I've also got this regular crow who comes in bellowing to make his presence known.  He and Cooper argue over the peanuts with Cooper ceding not one inch of space getting to the precious nuts.  The crow eventually gets his, but I wonder why he's so intimidated by the squirrel.  They put on quite a show together, though the Crow's unmusical squawks are not to my operatic taste.  Bit is trapped inside watching these antics with a look that tells me he's dying to get outside and cause some mischief.  

Went to a posh party in the chic West Hills last night for John Baker's 65th birthday.  The party was being hosted by Peter Sargent, a decorator here.  The house is just gorgeous--a 50s day ranch with an enormous living room/dining room with windows overlooking a very formal garden.  It was beautiful and hot out so lots of us took our drinks along a deck stretching the entire side of the house.  There are about six seating sections with various groups holding forth. It was a decidedly older crowd--40 seemed to be the youngest. God we're all getting old.  But everyone was in a good mood.  There was a ham with small poppy and sesame seed rolls for mini-sandwiches, crab cakes, skewered beef and chicken satays with peanut dipping sauce, sliced Chinese pork with mustard and sesame seed to dip it into, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, cold shrimp cocktail, cucumber and salmon finger sandwiches, assorted cheeses and mini-cupcakes for those with a sweet tooth.  Good groceries.  I drank a lot of excellent French rose and worked the room like the good publicist that I am.  I found it odd there were no women there (save the bar tender).  The older gay crowd seems to segregate their social lives.  All of us have women friends (some like me are great buddies with mostly women!), so it was strange to find no girls to mix it up with. Still, it was a nice gathering.  

I'm off for my first driving lesson in a truck, since I have to get used to driving the big Ford f150 pick-up that I own.  My friend Sara is taking me to an empty parking lot this evening.  This will be my fourth lesson.  AND NOBODY DIED!

Friday, June 3, 2011


This iris has nothing to do with my rant below, but it sure makes me calm!

Let me begin by saying, I don't care how big it is!  Congressman Weiner's "junk" story show us all just how low we've sunk as a nation.  I sat slack-jawed watching this non-news event this week on MSNBC and then the little Weiner came on and in all seriousness talked about this SERIOUSLY.  Typical poll.  He wouldn't say that was his wiener and he wouldn't say it wasn't.  Rachel Maddow plowed ahead with her questions, looking only slightly queasy.  And today we have stories by the media about the media frenzy this story has created.  Are we kidding??? Thank god for Jon Stewart, who did a funny riff on the whole story (Weiner is supposed to be a friend, but Stewart is an equal opportunity satirist and he had a small field day with the whole thing).  

Later this week I open The Daily Beast to find a story that wonders if Weiner might be a serious contender for Mayor of New York!!!!  Maybe I should be thrilled to have left the Big Apple!

Which brings me to my next political WHO CARES.

In this case, WTFC? Here is every media outlet in the country running after Bimbo Palin's "America" bus tour.  She has said nothing of substance (DUH!). Put a microphone in front of her and she's still spouting nothing.  She criticizes President Obama and anyone who is keeping score can simply refute all her made-p facts (well...actually they are facts, they are Repug-speak BIG WHITE LIES). But there is the media, shallow as always, chasing after her every utterance.  Sarah is just trailing ahead of them, and without any effort whatsoever, she makes them look like the pack of overpaid dummies they are.

Jon Stewart did an insanely funny riff on The Donald taking The Bimbo out to lunch at a tacky chain pizza parlor in New York.  I'm sure it's on YouTube.  Check it out.  Stewart did a hilarious Italian tough guy, shaming Donald for taking Palin out to a crappy chain pizza joint and then made fun of him while he stacked two slices of pizza and ate with a fork!  Only in America, folks. MSNBC is wondering if Sarah is going to run at all! It might be just an elaborate ruse to raise her profile for her Fox series.  You can't stoop any lower--there's no way to go. 

And if my blood pressure wasn't in the stratosphere, there was the sight of all those Repugnicans marching to the White House to demand that the President give up Medicare in exchange for lifting the debt ceiling.  The gall of the jackasses is breathtaking. We sit in front our our news shows night after night as we're told that America's corporations are not paying their fair share of taxes, which means, $billions are not being collected by the IRS.  The rich are not paying their fair share of taxes. But the value of homeowners homes has plummeted 33% in the past three years. Individuals and corporations can no longer afford to pay the outrageous sums demanded by the greedy and cash-soaked medical insurers. Wake up Repugnicans--America has shut its consumer pocketbook up.  You've shipped all the jobs overseas and you continue to squeeze more out of us. So what do you do?  You get all drama on us, march on the White House (let's not get into the arrogance of your racism and lack of respect for the President) as though anyone but you is responsible for the disaster and horrific expense of two wars that are inconclusive at best. You are responsible for letting banks and investment houses run amok and ignore regulation. You are responsible for the holes in our borders.  You are responsible for the disintegration of our infrastructure, and now you want to take away Medicare?

NOT GOING TO HAPPEN and you will go down in flames, my fellow Repugnicans.  You are now going to try to take away our last safety nets--Medicare and Social Security.  Time you sent the Tea Party back to their birthing wombs cause you're going to get your asses kicked in the next election if you keep going down this insane path.  You can fix the tax situation fare less painlessly.  Tax the corporations and be as punitive with them as you are with ordinary tax payers. Restore the cuts you have given the rich.  It's an easy fix.

Final weird political mess this week is the news that John Edwards has been indicted for illegally using campaign funds to hide his mistress, Rielle Hunter and their love child and pay her living and medical bills while under deep cover, and then lying about it. Of course, Edwards' lawyer is trying to hang his client's case on a slender thread--that being Senator Edwards wasn't misappropriating or illegally using campaign funds to protect his presidential campaign, he was covering it up to protect his wife from finding out what a sorry ass MF he is. I would say it's technically both and therefore the bastard should go to jail and lose his license to practice law. And what of Miss Hunter herself?  Talk about manipulative. She bears some responsibility here, no? And that former aide of his, plea bargaining his way out of this mess by testifying against his boss. He shouldn't have agreed to this elaborate and ultimately uncoverable ruse to begin with. I say lock'em all up together. 

And Repugnicans thought Bill Clinton was bad. We've gone way beyond that!

Maybe I should react the same way Shirley Maclaine claims she acts about the outrageous things she encounters in this day and age in newest book:  I'M OVER ALL THAT.

Wish I could truly capture this iris' true black velvet purple and periwinkle colors. 
It has to be seen to be believed.

On a less serious, but far more relaxing vein, I purchased a new iris at the Beaverton Farmer's Market a few weeks ago. The color of this flower took my breath away.  And old-fashioned bearded iris called "World Premier," the top petals are a brilliant periwinkle blue (my camera cannot truly capture the color accurately).  The bottom petals are a spectacular black velvet purple.  It's a seriously gorgeous flower, and I've been holding off on planting it because of the heavy rains here which are pounding blooming iris all over town. This plant is protected by my balcony.  I'll plant it after it has bloomed.