Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wallingford Traffic Circle

I am perfectly fine in having something "art-y" and fun be a centerpiece of a nearby traffic circle, but I'm honestly not sure what to make of this.

An old-school desk and chair left in the dirt? Why?

Is the whole point for it to sit in place, letting ivy and morning glory cover the furniture, eventually rotting to become a physical representation of the loss of public schools in Seattle?

Or did somebody get lazy and just dump some old furniture and skip town?

Monday, September 27, 2010

What's for Dinner?

In our case it happens to be pork tenderloin with an Indian-inspired spice rub, poblano peppers (for a tomatillo salsa) and fresh corn grilled in the husk.

Who's hungry?

A Brief Recital

I had my first recital today - on any instrument - since I was 15? 16? Earlier? Later? I have no idea. But it was certainly the first time I have played any music for people other than my friends and family since 98% Chimp broke up all those years ago.

Overall I'm pretty happy with how it went. I played two Estudios by Fernando Sor: (Op. 6, No. 1, and Op. 35, No. 22.) While I flubbed a few notes here and there - my inner metronome revs up anytime I get in front of an audience- I did feel that lovely spark that only live performance can bring you, a spark I haven't felt in a long, long time.

Nerves are a strange thing. Even though I'm more than happy to direct highly paid models through a day of tough location shooting without worrying much beyond when lunch is going to arrive, put me in front of a dozen beginning guitar students and tell me to play a couple of hundred-year-old guitar studies, and I start shaking like a leaf.

Still, it felt great to be performing again. And not just to say, "I'm sorry, Your Honor...."

Huge mega-thanks to Rosewood Guitar, and especially Jason Williams, my patient instructor, for not only hosting a lovely venue for us beginning guitarists, but for keeping classical guitar alive and vibrant in Seattle. They really do kick ass.

Photo (c) 2010 Suzette Johnson

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ghosts of Pioneer Square

There used to be so much life in Seattle's Pioneer Square. The crowds jumping from club to club, trying to catch all the great bands. Places to eat. Places to buy a cheap book, then kick back with an espresso and a self-satisfied smile. Pioneer Square was always a little dirty, but it was fun.

Now days things are changing. Stores which anchored the streets for decades are leaving. The clubs have become dangerous. You can still get something to eat, but there are far less choices, and the ones that are left just aren't very good.

There is so much history here, epochs of boom and bust, that one day it will rebuild itself and become the funky, gritty heart of a great city that it should be. Let's hope that happens soon, before we're left with nothing but the ghosts of what was.

Friday, September 24, 2010

These Are Some Serious Stones

I'm a bread-snob. I know that.

Lately, however, I've realized that every time a piping hot loaf comes off of my baking stones, I'm doing something more important than getting a wild-yeast fix. I'm saving money: cold, hard cash that can be used for such frivolities as gas for the car, or the electric bill. The little things.

What you see here are the stones I cook those cheap-but-oh-so-tasty loaves on. Simple, unglazed quarry tiles I bought six years ago at the Home Depot for fifty-cents each. They are a bit scorched....Okay, they are a lot scorched, but they are actually very clean and are so well tempered that they make bread that can only be described as having "awesome character".

[Here is some simple math: I usually buy my flour in 5-pound bags. (9 times out of 10, it's King Aurthur flour.) Depending on what is on sale at that moment, they cost anywhere $4 to $5.50 per bag. On average I get six to eight loaves out of each bag, including the extra flour needed to feed my starter. That means I'm paying anywhere from $0.50 to $0.91 per loaf, which kicks the average local grocery store's price of $3 per loaf in the butt.]

I'm going to buy a new set of tiles soon. Not because these aren't doing their job, but because I need pretty tiles to use as backgrounds for the bread book.

Still, these rough and tumble stones can sure turn out some beautiful bread. Like this:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Marmite....It's Not Just For Dinner

Marmite was a complete blast of a dog.

He knew we were just dog-sitting, but was more than happy to let us boss him around.

And at the end of the day, as Suzette and I think about getting a new dog, we both realize that no matter what dog comes into our lives, we're ready.

I just hope that the dog is ready for us.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Deep Inside Bread

Bread happens.

The Bread Book is happening.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Accept the Ghost Pepper

It's the Naga Jolokia pepper, also called the Ghost Pepper, the hottest pepper in the world!

Or is it?

Yes. It is.

On the Scoville raiting (a rating based on the amount of capsaicin, the primary chemical involved in making a pepper "hot"), tobasco sauce comes in at a moderate 3,500. Habeneros light it up at approximately 250,000. And the Naga Jolokia?

A little over one million Scovillle Heat Units.

I didn't even want to touch them with gloves on.

But I love the fact that some crazy S.O.B. is growing them, and about a million other types of peppers, too.

Thanks to Seattle Tilth for even existing, and here's to anybody who's crazy enough to try and grow something amazing wherever they may live.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Summer That Was - Part 1

When the thermometer hits 95 F, and water in the lake is reading 72 F, that is the time to jump.

This summer in the Pacific Northwest was short and brutally hot, but we managed to get some partying in. For example, this picture of Suzette jumping into Lake Retreat, WA.

"Ja Vole!", baby.

The Monkey is Watching You

It's true. There's always a monkey watching you. Is the monkey in the camera that tourist is holding? Is it the one strapped to the stoplight above your car? Is your monkey deep within yourself?

Find your monkey. Love your monkey.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

We planted. We picked. We ate.

We have a good sized garden in our new place. This is just a small sampling of what we pulled out. Potatoes for the next three months and some monster heads of red cabbage. And one lonely onion.

Next year, oh, boy, are we going to go wild on that garden.

Mmm....Real food......