Sensational Salt Spring Island

In celebration of 6 fabulous decades of life for our dear old ma, us chilluns organized a trip up to Salt Spring Island Canada for this past weekend. It was a bit cramped with 7 of us staying in a cabin that was built for 4 and all piling into the Subaru* to get around, but hey, if family can't invade each other's personal space then who can?

Anyway, aside from the coziness, it was a great weekend. I've been hearing about Salt Spring Island for quite some time; about its artist communities, its natural beauty, etc. etc. It didn't disappoint. We were deterred by the rain a bit, but we got a hike in, to see the farmer's market, check out the local one screen theatre*, and see the island landscape in general, where views, forrest, and farms abound.

Speaking of farms, our little cottage was on a goat farm, which proved to be good times. They gave us something to watch from the porch and someone to feed our food scraps to. Punksto esp. liked feeding them and, after initially being a bit shy, grew more and more brazen. Then the goat headbutted her. Goats are jerks. (She was scared by it but okay.)

Yeah, Salt Spring Island is pretty neat. You should check it out sometime.
Thursday August 28 2008File under: travel

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Local Foods Party 08

This year marks the 3rd annual local foods party at casa du Wren, et al. (previous coverage: year 1 and year 2). As always, it was fun, inspiring, yummy, educational, communal, and more. This year's festivities were markedly more cozy* than previous years, partially due to improper organization on my part* and partially due to extenuating circumstances*. Nonetheless, it was a great time among friends new and old.

For a comprehensive list of the food and drink served, check out the menu. I will, however, call out a few of my highlights. Firstly, it warmed my pea-picking heart* to see that we had 3 different people include their own homemade butter in their recipes! Butter, along with salt, is always what I tell people about to help explain what this party is all about. I'm so glad the enthusiasm is spreading. (Speaking of butter, here's a picture of me making mine. Excuse the somewhat staged nature of the photo. Ma framed it to showcase her fancy new kitchen.) Along with folks getting on the butter bandwagon, I wasn't the only person to make my own salt this year. Keith's efforts put mine to shame with loads of nice clean salt. (My efforts were carbon neutral, though.)

A few great dishes that are highly worthy of calling attention to:
*Linda's zucchini/mint/[something else green] bisque served cold with goat cheese and tomatoes. In fact, I'm about to go ladle up some leftovers right now!
*Keith's dehydrated onions: as simple as it sounds but way better. Great for munching on before hand (and luckily he left us enough to keep for hikes, etc. too!)
*Goat's milk yogurt dressing: salad dressings have always been an issue in the past. This year, Ma came across local goat's milk yogurt and fashioned it into a great dressing for her summer squash salad. Then River threw together an impromptu dressing for his green salad that turned out great as well.

Yes, it was another great celebration of the season and the place we live. Thanks to all that joined in the fun. To the rest of you, I hope to see you here next year.

(Oh, and some photos from the feast: Ma's description of her dishes, the spread, the chilluns wait patiently to eat while the grown-ups goo and gaw over it all, plated goodness, post-feast mingle time.)
Thursday August 21 2008File under: food, Anacortes

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A Day on the Farm

There seems to be a trend of late of getting to know your food and the systems which brings it to your plate. Books like Omnivore's Dilemma and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and movies such as King Korn are informing people about processes that are often quite hidden in today's boxed and packaged food world. Along with this trend is an awareness of foods that are produced locally and available at farmers' markets and coops.

Being a somewhat trendy guy myself*, I've done hopped on that band wagon. Besides the yearly local foods party (coverage of this year's party soon!), I found myself curious about that which happens before I buy my potatoes, celery, and onions at the farmers' market. So as research for this year's local foods party (and to help out some friends with the hectic pre-market harvest), I travelled up to Moon Dance Farm in Acme, WA to set how the onions get from the ground to the market.

First thing I noticed about Moon Dance Farm was how it wasn't at all what I expected. No vast acres of land planted homogeneously or heavy machinery, just a hugely oversized garden with tons of different plants from corn and greens to flowers and plants that I didn't initially recognize. Then there was the setting - mountains in the [not so distant] distance and trees surrounding everything. It really was a breathtaking sight.

But I didn't have much time to bask in amazement of it all because there was work to be done. We picked many types of onions, squash*, beans, peas, carrots, radishes, turnips, and so much more. After the picking came the sorting, cleaning, and bunching. I never would have guessed how much effort that takes; as much as, and sometimes more, than the harvesting itself. But when you are left with well cleaned veggies, boxed up and ready for market, it is a true feeling of accomplishment.

Yep, harvest day on the farm is enough to fill your head with understanding of the process, your back with appreciation of a hard day of work, and your heart with connections to the land around you.
Sunday August 17 2008File under: food, misc

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FC 45 - Ready Set Stand

I again turn over this week's comic to the capable hands and mind of Annie out in Arlington VA. Rumor has it that she had help on this one from Katherine in NYC. (Isn't it great that we get such community involvement!)

While talking over this idea, we had a lot of fun with all the possibilities; different events that could be included, different medal criterion (to each according to his needs), etc. I'll admit that the final layout Annie decided on has me a little confused ("potatoes"?), but I get a good chuckle out of it anyway. I hope you do to.

(Oh, and I think the Olympics are great and China is doing a good job hosting them and there isn't a subversive political aspect to this comic.)
Friday August 15 2008File under: comic

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Compost Experiment

This week, I ate at the ever enjoyable Pizzeria Pagliacci's (a guy should be able to indulge himself on his birthday, right?). Besides having some awesome pizza and salad, which was not a surprise, I was served a frothy root beer in this "plastic" cup. It seems like any other plastic cup, even more sturdy, but it advertises as being made completely of corn and totally compostable.

Not that I don't trust one of my favorite pizza places, but I gotta see this for myself. Does the marketing definition of "compostable" agree with mine? Do you first have to send it through a shredder? Does it take non-normal composting temperatures to break down? Are we talking glacial timeframes here? Hopefully my little experiment will answer all my questions. What I've done is tied a string to said cup, dropped it in our compost (and buried it good with corn leavings etc.), and plan to check on it every 3 months or so. Any guesses? When we shovel compost onto the garden next year, will we notice any [pseudo-]plastic? I, for one, look forward to finding out.
Wednesday August 13 2008File under: environment, misc

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Ten Year Reunion


The 10-year high school reunion is an institution, a rite of passage, a tradition. It appears in movies and is something you have in common with everyone "of a certain age" you pass on the street (even if it is only comparing notes on why you didn't go, why you didn't hear about it, how your high school sweetheart looks so happy now, or whatever). This myth - lore, expectation, curiosity - led me to greatly look forward to my 10-year reunion. I'm pleased to say that it didn't disappoint.

While some of the cliches applied (there was a drunkard or two that made a fools of themselves, and a few people that had "swelled"*), in general, I was pleasantly surprised at so much. Lots of people showed up, way more than I was expecting (across the 3 events, I would say about half of the graduating class was represented). Most people looked really good. The conversations were much less stale than I might have thought (quickly getting the location/marriage status/job stuff exchanged and then finding a commonality; not nearly as much reminiscing as I feared). But possibly the most pleasant surprise was most people's seeming willingness to leave behind cliques, old grudges, etc. and eagerness to re-meet the people with whom we all share a common past. And while often unsaid, the openness, acceptance, and inclusion displayed signified to me an appreciation and camaraderie the stemmed from that shared experience.

My only real disappointment* was the lack of more than a few notable faces. As I pointed out in my earlier post, "the more, the merrier" couldn't be better applied than to a class reunion. Those who chose not to go made the experience that much less complete. During the showing of the senior class video* when a non-attending classmate was featured, you could hear murmurs from the crowd. Why isn't Siri here?, I wonder what Jeff is up to., or I was really hoping that Aron would be here.. Alas. While not the same, perhaps those questions will be answered at the 20-year. See you in 2018!
Sunday August 10 2008File under: Anacortes, misc

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FC 44 - The Biz

Deanna comes through again with another awesome split-panel, bear/telephone comic*. I only hope that I didn't botch it all up with my coloring and whatnot.

In thinking about this comic, I also started thinking about Picky Oony the Worm. When I ran the idea by a few people, I got the impression that Mr. Oony was quite a bit less well known that Mr. Wuzzy. Have you heard of Picky Oony the Worm? (If not, I'm running to the nearest children's book publisher and starting myself a franchise.)
Thursday August 7 2008File under: comic

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The Cycle Continues

It was time to shave. And since I can't shave without doing something stupid/fun, and since I can't do something stupid/fun without taking a picture, and I can't take a picture without posting it, here you go.

Note to fellas: How come I am the only one creating and posting ridiculous beard pictures?
Wednesday August 6 2008File under: beard

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Ms vs. Twins

One of the upsides for working for a big company is the little perks now and then. Photoworks (now an American Greetings Company) recently made available a couple of Mariners' tickets that I handily snatched up. Baseball games are fun. Baseball games for free are even more fun.

Despite the $4.25 bottled water*, no ground crew dancers*, and the one place that servers soft-serve ice cream in a little plastic helmet being closed, excitement and fun conquered the day, helped along by an epic rally by the Ms late in the game led by a Raul Ibanez grand salami.

Yep, an epic comeback, a gorgeous night at the stadium, and free tickets make for an evening that is alright by me. (Lack of a drunken college roommate yelling in Japanese at Ichiro did lessen the excitement, however).
Tuesday August 5 2008File under: misc, Seattle

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FC 43 - The Little Things

You guys are stuck with me as an artist again this week. Hopefully we'll get another guest artist in soon. But for a change of pace, I cast the mouse aside and picked up a pencil, just like the pros do. Granted I came back through and spent twice as much time touching it up and coloring things with the computer as I did making the initial drawing in pencil, but the bulk of it was comic making just like our forefathers did.

This comic was inspired by a feeling evoked on a trip to Fred Meyer* this week. I won't ruin the comic for you if you happen to be reading this blurb first, but I will say that I was reminded of life's little pleasures. Speaking of life's little pleasures, what would be on your welcome to heaven billboard?
Thursday July 31 2008File under: comic

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