Sunday, June 29, 2008

Caveat to Sun Worshippers

Daedalus and Icarus/ Rubens

The Fall of Icarus/ Brueghel

The Lament of Icarus/ Draper

Saturday, June 28, 2008


An impressive stance of O against the rising sun.
Is it my imagination or does he have an Asian je ne sais quoi?

This poster was photographed by tomate farcie on the edge of Chinatown in San Francisco, and it appears here with her gracious permission. You can read her interesting comments on her blog (June 8) and decide if you respond as she does.

Do you, or someone you know, have pictures of freelance Obama posters? I'd like to see them!


Funnily enough, soon after posting the above, I came across this picture in today's internet edition of Le Monde. So for the sake of balance, here is the other would-be savior.

This is the best I could do with the tiny picture of my screen, but you get the idea!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Now you see it, now you don't

ON her blog, Melissa of the inspired room asks to show examples of concealing flaws or unsightly spots in our houses. I had no trouble finding examples in mine, beginning with the spot at which I am writing this entry.
How to deal with the eyesore created by the tangle of outlets, plugs and cords of my computer system and its peripherals?

This solution isn't perfect but at least they are out of sight:

My laundry station is tucked away behind three doors, and though the ironing board is a normal implement there, still it lacks appeal. It's also where I keep my long arm grabber and a tub on the floor with clean rags:

Adding a curtain, dresses up the the wall and keeps all these necessary tools of the trade handy and hidden.

The worst for last. In the family room, this A/C unit screams 1960 yet on the few days each summer when the temperature rises above 90 in the NW, I close the doors and it creates a oasis of coolness in the house so we gladly overlook its lack of elegance.

When it's cooler, this light weight wooden case, painted the same color as the wall, seems a little strange perhaps but way better than what it hides:

YOUR turn. Melissa wants to know your concealed secrets,too!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Veni, Vidi, Vici", Melissa dixit

And like Caesar, she did.
Problem solved!
And she did with flowers, too.

Monday, June 23, 2008

On Melissa's Impending Visit

Melissa of the inspired room is coming to my house through the wondrous ways of blog surfing. From My Marrakech, a truly divine site, to Cote (translation: assessment, mark or altitude, take your pick) de Texas, where uncomfortable opinions are risky, I arrived at Melissa's lovely blog.

Her bio revealed she is a color consultant, and one e-mail later we discovered we each live on opposite sides of the mighty Columbia. I was elated. Having for weeks debated over the color/style of my living and dining room walls (and bored friends, neighbors and family with this triviality), I sensed a solution. One more e-mail and a date was agreed upon. This coming Wednesday.

I quite liked the faux finish but it's been 8 years. And I only want to paint those two walls. The open plan is the problem: each wall leads to another with no door to separate the spaces if you see what I mean. I could end up having to repaint the whole house. NO, non, no way.

and what about this eyesore?

So, I will listen to her ideas with an open mind, a closed mouth, and new eyes. She will drop an inspired pearl of wisdom in my ear and I'll *know*. Then, perhaps we will have tea, coffee or wine in the rose garden and get to know each other a little.
If you care to know more, stay tuned. If you don't give damn, who can blame you? Not I.

P.S. Please, Melissa, don't feel any pressure, really . . .

Friday, June 20, 2008

Lemony Tuna and White Beans Antipasto Salad

Mon bien cher Fils #2,
As you know, I like to bring a new recipe when I come to visit but since I can't be there, here is one that one or all your little women could make for you. It has been successfully tested!
Comme tu le sais, j'aime bien vous faire partager une nouvelle recette quand je viens en visite mais puisque je ne peux pas être avec vous, en voici une que l'une ou toutes tes petites femmes pourraient te préparer. Elle a été essayée avec succès!

Lemony Tuna and White Bean Antipasto Salad

(adapted from Food and Wine)
Serves: 4 as antipasto, or 2+ as a main course
Important: using an imported Italian or Spanish variety of tuna packed in olive oil makes the salad worth writing about.


* 1 bag of baby greens salad or baby spinach leaves
* 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons EACH of fresh lime and lemon juices
* 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fruity extra-virgin olive oil, plus more
for drizzling
* 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar
* Two 6-ounce cans olive oil—packed tuna, drained and broken into large chunks
* One 19-ounce can cannellini (small white) beans, drained and rinsed (about 1 1/2 cups)
* 24 pitted Calamata olives
* 2 tablespoons capers, drained, or if packed in salt, rinsed
* 2 heaping tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
* 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
* 2 teaspoons minced garlic
* Freshly ground pepper
* 2 roasted red peppers
* sel de Gruissan or Kosher salt
* 4 lemon slices, for garnish


1. Pour the lemon and lime juices into a large bowl and slowly whisk in 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the tuna, cannellini beans, olives, sliced celery, capers, parsley, lemon zest and garlic and toss gently. Season with pepper, cover and set aside for an hour to allow the flavors to mingle.
2. Arrange a bed of salad greens or baby spinach on the plates.
Halve the roasted red peppers lengthwise and arrange on plates, drizzle with olive oil, the balsamic vinegar and season with salt. Spoon the tuna salad over the peppers and drizzle with more olive oil. Garnish with the lemon slices and serve.
Serve with crusty French bread and young sparkling dry wine, a Blanquette de Limoux, par exemple . . .

Bon Appétit et Joyeux Anniversaire!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Oregon Garden

The weather was perfect, the visitors happy and the Oregon Garden grows larger and more beautiful each year!

what about this living roof?

and this great vista?

The ponds are green and cool,

some covered with lilies

and others dressed in red.

With that colorful bird on it, I could even tolerate my least favorite plant . . .

Everywhere we turned there was beauty!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Change of Plans

I should be packing my toothbrush and checking that le chat Gris 's dish is filled with tasty bits of fish next to his pan of clear water. I should be offering a deep watering to the dahlias and to the newly planted hostas under the willow tree. Then, I should double-check the timing on the automatic watering system, and that the back door is locked. I should turn off the answering machine. In my shoulder bag, I should drop my rarely used cell phone along with my camera and spare batteries; check that the printed sheet with my confirmation number is readily available. Oh, I almost forgot, sunscreen in a sealed bag for that California sunshine. I should be humming, smiling, thinking of hugs and kisses and fresh-faced granddaughters, of celebrating their parents' respective birthdays, all of us together.

The refrigerator should be near empty, bread and milk in the freezer for toast and tea when I return. The house should be picked up and my bed made with fresh sheets, a clean nightgown under the pillow. And I should remember to empty the vases for nothing is sadder than to be greeted home by desiccated flowers. I should reconsider which books I am taking along on the plane; no, I shouldn't, I have already deliberated long enough in front of the TBR stack. For my good neighbor, I should be writing down the contact phone numbers in case the house burns down or le chat Gris needs a vet. Finally, I should call the company with the nice drivers, wheel my bag outside, lock the front door and wait on the porch. Once in the cab, I would smile and say, "To the airport, please!"

But sciatica has struck and I am grounded for the duration.

CB plays my mood.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

In My Neighborhood

My friend Marilyn has come for a visit, so I took her on a short neighborhood tour. From the slope of Mt Tabor, an old volcano (dead, I was assured), she could see Portland

and our reservoirs

with their dark dungeon towers.

Then I showed her my favorite garden

which looks like a greeting card,

and we admired the flowers one by one.

First, the peonies

and the California poppies

then, the blue blue blue bachelor buttons

and the bright red poppies which remind me of Flanders' fields in Belgium.

I couldn't stop taking pictures so here is just one more . . .

On the program today: more gardens!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A Sofa for All Times

In Brussels it had sat proudly in a former painter's studio. For decades it accommodated many derrières; it was privy to loving embraces and dreadful arguments, to promises and lies, to naps and restless moods. Mostly, people would simply drop themselves into its soft duvet cushions, curl their legs under and nestle for long reads or conversations. The sofa never creaked or complained when little ones jumped right into it feet first and climbed over its back, dropping down to complete the loop and jump in again. The next morning someone would seize the cushions to give them a vigorous boxing and not a few slaps. It all took its toll in inches of loosened gimp, split seams and the graying of its former lovely green sheen. Tired and shabby it ended up in America, in the home of the painter's granddaughter.

Upon hearing the stupendous cost of re-upholstering, she slipped a layer of foam under the cushions to provide firmness where the exhausted springs had collapsed, and hid it in a small room, under a lose cover. Now and then, it would do as a bed for the granddaughter's own young granddaughters. Years passed.

One day, the granddaughter pushed aside the cover and decided a rebirth was in order. She knew that the cost of bringing it back to its former beauty could easily buy two new sofas. But it held her own memories of lingering kisses, and chatty times with cousins, and last conversations with her father. Could she send all those away in a Goodwill truck? Of course not. Instead, she sent the sofa away with two strong upholsterers.

For weeks, she wondered whether she had been right, whether the new color would be a bit much, whether it would suit its new assigned place. Finally, it came home, and it looked more beautiful than she had dared imagine.

Before long, the great-grandson of the painter, also his namesake, came to visit with his lovely companion and in a tender moment they gave the sofa a new memory for a new century.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

"Right out of the sixties": Russian Dump Chicken

The daughter of a superb cook, I literally never boiled an egg while living at home. The kitchen was my parents' domain and hangers-on were not welcome unless dirty dishes needed to be tackled. In my early days in the US, when I was learning all at once to be a wife, a soon-to-be mother, an English speaker and a cook, my Bible was "The Good Housekeeping Cookbook" with its comfortingly simple open-a-package-of-biscuit-mix directions; versatile Bisquick was a staple in my kitchen cabinet for years.

One recipe at a time, I discovered I liked to cook and soon acquired enough self-confidence to experiment with recipes starting from scratch. Later, Julia Child re-introduced me to the food of my youth and my repertoire grew to a respectable choice of palatable menus for all occasions.

The "Dump Chicken recipes" are a flashback to the days when "organic" was a science textbook word and "cuisine" meant kitchen in French: simple, fast and tasty despite an absolutely non-PC list of ingredients!

My feedback on the Russian version:
Super easy to put together (after you have hunted down the one bottle of Russian dressing on the supermarket shelves). I baked the chicken in a covered dish so the final result was probably altered. The sauce was fruity but a little too sweet for my taste, I would substitute chopped dried apricots for the jam and add a good pinch or two of pumpkin spice to the mix; the chicken was very tender and tasty. I froze the leftovers for another last minute meal!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

June 1st Resolutions

I skipped the traditional New Year list but in mid-year I need to get a grip and straighten out. So here goes:

* no letting my desk get like this

* stop ignoring chores indefinitely

* plant flowers before they die

* decide on the new color for the living room walls

* draw for 30 minutes e-ve-ry day

* organize loose recipes

* no surfing amazon till the TBR stack is down to 2

* ONE garden/deco mag a month

* simplify, and smell the roses . . .