Friday, December 24, 2010

A Christmas Poem

Home is where the heart is
Home is where it stays
Home is where I want to be
Home on Chritmas Day

A day to feast and drink
A day to fill our plates
A day to be with loved ones
A day to celebrate

To celebrate the memories
of those who are away
To celebrate this holiday
To celebrate, and pray

To pray for journeys safe
Pray for bounty great
To pray to  end this poem
So our bellies we can sate.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Little Holiday Poem

a little poem
for us to say
we're most sincere

we wish you all
this holiday
peace and joy
and seasons cheer.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Birthday Poem for Bird, Her 11th

A Bird celebration
filled with temptations
chocolate cake
and no vegetables green

And a poem with some clues
which perhaps you can use
to guess gifts
which you haven't yet seen

One will pretty your locks
it comes in a box
and is used
when in front of the mirror you preen

For the other we'll need
some cloth to proceed
and buttons
and a sewing machine

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thai in Seattle - None Worth a Damn

Why are there no good, authentic Thai restaurants in Seattle? Portland has the amazing PokPok.  (White guy making Thai food that tastes better than it should.)  LA has Thai food that tastes (almost) like delicious Bangkok street food.  Seattle has a lot of great food, but not a single Thai restaurant that is worth its "nam pla" (น้ำปลา).

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Birthday Poem for Peggy

Another year passed
It seemed like a blast
At least for your sons 
and your daughter.

Living life loose and fast
Each day like the last
But what to expect
from an Espinoza and Trotter?

But this too shall pass
When they run out of gas
bringing peace 
to their mother and father.

Autumn, Into Winter

The maple in front is bare of leaves.  It's 36F outside, with the occasional snowfall to remind us of just how cold it is outside.  It's perfect weather for homemade mac and cheese and a nice holiday ale. Can one go wrong with a recipe from the amazing Martha?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mom's Birthday Poem

Giver of life
Giver of smiles
You gave us what's needed 
To face life's trials

Teacher of lessons
These lessons of life
That help us to manage
Life's occasional strife

Forgiver of errors
Forgiver of sins
And when we screwed up
You forgave us again

Happy Birthday Dear Mama
Happy Birthday to You
I miss you so much
And I love you lots, too.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Blackberry Preserves

We considered Bumbershoot, mostly because I wanted to see Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros, but blackberries are nearly done and I had to make a batch of preserves (I almost spelled it "perverses", which may have been appropriate) for gift giving and my own morning toast.
For this batch, I used Pomona's Universal Pectin, which allows one to use a little less sugar to jell the preserves.  Two batches, started both with 4 cups of crushed blackberries from the Ballard Farmers Market.  Added to that 2t of calcium and 1/4 cup of lemon.  The only difference between batches 1 and 2 is that I used slightly less than two cups of sugar in #1 and slightly more in #2.  Haven't tasted batch #2 on toast yet, but these particular berries were not sweet, and I'm thinking that a little more sweetness than what I had on my morning toast with batch #1 would have been a good thing. Each yielded about 3 pints of purple deliciousness.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Seattleites Ice Cream Fetish

Wondering what it is with Seattle-ites and their ice cream fetish? There seems to be be a line in front of every permanent or mobile ice cream shop calling their product "artisan" or "handmade", with the obligatory flavors of fruits in season and salted something-or-other. Maybe we're all fattening up for our long, cold, wet winter. Personally, my fattening agent of choice is bacon. (Which doesn't seem to be working, as I tend to be freezing for eight months of the year. Maybe it's all that exercise....)

Oh, and Molly Moons is way overrated.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


For TP...

Our friendship defined
By a series of firsts
Not second at all
In fact the obverse

The first founding member
Of the L-G-M-H-A
And among the first Fish
Whom on dry land flopped and flayed

You made your first million
You were first to be wed
You were first with four kids
The first to homestead

Your collection of firsts
Are all pretty nifty
But the one least begrudged:
You're (almost) first to hit 50.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Garden Poem

Tomatoes are green
Blackberries too.
A bad season for gardening
This much is true.

But the sunflowers bloomed
most but not all.
And the hops made a comeback
For the beer brewed in fall.

The basil did well
and we're seeing more bees
The sage, thyme and rhubarb
They thrive like zombies.

Monday, August 2, 2010

No Weapons

No weapons. Still some sanity in our National Parks. For now, anyway.
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Indian food, hecho de mano. Featuring peas pullao, raita, baingan barta, and aloo gobi. We make our own garam masala. Lots of influence from the cookbooks of Madhur Jaffrey.

Not bad for a Chicano / Asian-American couple, eh?
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Monday, July 5, 2010

Wood Food

The antique benches and not-quite-antique table were treated with Briwax while enjoying the ecstasy and heartbreak that is the 2010 World Cup.  Is there any greater spectacle than the World Cup?  Is there anything worse than polishing furniture?

Sick Hops

My Cascade hop is one sick plant.  Suspecting nitrogen deficiency and spider mites.  Time will tell if I have enough to brew a batch come harvest time.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Poem for AJ

At the time of your birth
We were somewhere not near
We were in Munich, abroad
Quaffing good beer.

We didn't have email
I couldn't call on a cell
I called your dad from a payphone
He had good news to tell.

In the 18 years since
The world has all changed
In 18 more years
Your life's arranged.

The sum of this is
That you're now a young man
The future before you
A big, wide expanse.

You can choose to blaze trails
To live a life without peer
But this sort of life only comes
If you work hard, persevere.

Graduation is fine
But you're in a big crowd
Now stand up and stand out
And make us all proud.

Friday, June 4, 2010


...are such a beautiful thing.  Even observing those of perfect strangers in front of some transit terminal, they are nearly as good as my own.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Mother's Day Poem

on mother's day we celebrate
this lucky, special, twist of fate

that made you what you are to me
you gave me life, you let me be

you're my mother, I'm your son
my lucky fate, that you're the one!

it's not enough, but let me say
have a happy mother's day!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sugar Snap Peas, First Roses, Seedlings MIA and The Great Slug Wars

More sugar snap peas in the ground, two weeks after planting the first wave.  I have a single shoot coming up.

Every rose bush has a handful of roses in bloom.  Late, maybe it's the temps in the 40's.  Brrrrr!

Parsley planted several weeks ago has still not made an appearance.  Chervil...maybe.  Or maybe those are nascent weeds!

A f*cking squirrel at the tops of every one of my sunflowers.  Or maybe it was a pill bug.  I don't like to use poison in the garden, but I did put a little slug and snail bait.  It's supposed to be safe in veggie gardens.  Normally I'd have regrets about this sort of thing, but, but, but, was my sunflowers!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Another Poem

i wanted to write
an epic poem
i imagined creating
a beautiful tome

but to say what i want
words needed are few
simply, and honestly
i adore you

Germination (!) & Planting

germinated seedling is a beautiful thing, especially when it's the arrugula I planted just one week ago.  A couple of radish seeds dropped into the ground the same time as the arrugula are also peeking out of the ground.  No sign of the chervil or parsley.  Pumpkins are also MIA.

Dropped some Lilly Miller Mammoth Sunflower seeds into the ground, front and back.  Hoping for a good show at the end of the summer.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Strawberry Rhubarb Preserves

For those clueless victims and their ilk who claim that the government doesn't produce anything worth a darn, I present the following:

USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, 2009 revision

It's an excellent reference which I used for my second attempt at home canning:  rhubarb strawberry jam.  I followed a recipe from this site (the one with 2 lbs each of rhubarb and strawberries along with six cups of sugar).  Yield was 9 pints.  It's a little time I'll try a recipe with pectin.  (Which I didn't have to use for my blackberry preserves. I have much to learn.)

The rhubarb came from the monster rhubarb plant in our garden.  (Photo below.) She's a beauty, eh?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sunflowers Breaking Dirt

And finally, the sunflowers are emerging.  It was about 44F and rainy today at noon.  If I were a sunflower, I'd turn right around and reemerge when it felt more springlike outside.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Plants Emerge and Kimchi Breath

The sweet peas are poking out of the ground.  Finally, the chard has made her appearance as well. 

Cold outside--I can see my breath.  And it's not from the kimchi.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Time for Gardening

Parsley, chervil, more beets, more arrugula, and some Cinderella Bush Type French pumpkin are starting their respective journeys from seed.

Finally cut back the hop to it's four strongest vines.  It's at about two feet. 

Our first rose of the season. 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Birthday Poem for Tigerlily

You're so much to so many
at 12 years of age.
What are you to us?
To find out, turn the page...

A good student, a teen
a basketball guard.
Your writing reveals
that you're quite the young bard.

You once liked taxidermy,
fresh eggs leave you befuddled.
On top of all that,
you pretend to hate being cuddled.

A daughter, a sister,
and to some a young niece.
At some time or another
you had a pet cat with fleas.

You're all of these things;
your future grows brighter.
To us you'll be always,
a sweet girl named Tiger!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Birthday Poem for my Tia Lola

Wife, sister, friend and hija
Mother, grandmother, and my Dear Madrina
It's a pleasure to be
in your fold

Since I was a child
I think of your smile
Beautiful then and still lovely at
80 years old

You cook chile rojo
Y frijoles sabrosos
Causing noisy, fragrant effects
I am told

Your well deserved reputation
In this great Peña nation
Rolling Thunder, so big
and so bold

So many lives touched
Loved by many so much
But there's something that's still 
left untold

So now I bring you to task
Because I just have to ask
i¿Why in the hell you chose this...
name Arnold?!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Road Trip, Chile Rellenos

Road trip from ELP to Denver.  An early dinner at the Church Street Cafe, a 300 year old historical residence in Old Town Albuquerque.  No self respecting restaurant in New Mexico would serve bad chile, and in this sense the restaurant did not disappoint.  But the chile rellenos were a disappointment.  I don't understand why it's so hard to find a good chile relleno in an otherwise decent Mexican restaurant, especially considering that they're so simple to make.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Girasol Citrus Planting

Sunflowers went into the ground front and back.  Citrus won't look like this, but when you've experienced the joy of a good sunflower in your garden (like this one from 2005), then you must have sunflowers in your garden every year!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sowing Seeds

A great weekend of sowing seeds:

  • Two rows of swiss chard, a row of beets and some mixed lettuce planted in the NW bed.
  • Two rows of radishes and a row of arrugula (roquette, rocket, "white pepper" in to me) in the north bed.
  • House of Blues Sweet Peas from Dragonstonefarm Seed along the west and north fences.
  • North Shore Sweet Peas from Renee's Garden on the south fence.
Garden was prepped one week before with 3-4 inches of compost and natural fertilizer.  Lots of rain and cool temps with occasional sun breaks.  I hope it stays just wet enough until the plants reveal themselves above ground.

Must get some sunflowers in the ground.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Garden Update

The hops are poking out of the ground, Phyllis the Amaryllis is putting on a show (two full flowers), and that ugly tree in our front yard is now closing shop after showing off her springtime blooms over the past three weeks.

It snowed a little yesterday. I think that it was the only snow I saw this season in Seattle.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Seeing Red in Riyadh

The people here are polite and friendly; the food is amazing.  I'm told that the finest dates in the world come from Saudi Arabia.  My own small sample would seem to confirm that.  But for a country that celebrates friendship and good food to such a degree, I don't at all get this paranoia about relations between men and women--part and parcel and a natural extension of the experience and celebration of our life on this earth.  Family, friendships and food...there is nothing more to this existence IMHO.

Apparently red objects associated with Valentines Day are banned here, leading up to a black market for these same objects because men will be men, and women will be women, and no amount of religious piety can overcome basic human needs and desires.  I guess it's easy to make light of the situation, but in Saudi it's real, and it sucks for lots of unmarried young men who think of women 95% of the time and for women who want to be treated like equals 100% of the time.

I don't believe that this is a Muslim thing, because there are plenty of Christians who believe that a womans place is in the home.  All religions are distorted by extremists.  I guess Saudi is what happens when the disagreeable guys are ahead.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Shisha, or Hubbly-Bubbly

There are no bars in Saudi; there's no (legal) consumption of alcohol.  But there is shisha, AKA "hubbly-bubbly" which is what men do instead of going to the bar.  Women not allowed, but they certainly are on the minds and a part of the discussion over an evening of smoking, eating dates, drinking coffee and tea, and then having a grand meal.  It's like having beers with the guys, with all the laughs, bad jokes and silliness that we boys enjoy but without the alcohol sloppiness.

Evidence here.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

"In case of any 'Danger Alarm' (God forbidden)..."

Is there a more elegant way to discourage smoking?  "It is prohibited in the Holy Book, do not hesitate to stop this bad habit."

Matrimonial Classifieds from the "Arab News"

"...parents invite suitable alliance for their son, 27 years, 5'8", B.Tech (IT), wheatish and good-looking, ..."

"Wheatish".  A new word for me, and another way to say, "I'm not dark skinned!"  Hey, black is beautiful!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mama Noura

Mama Noura has ruined it for me.  Well, not completely.  I haven't tried their falafel yet but when I do then the destruction of any desire I might have for Arabic food in the US will be gone, gone, gone.  Why?  Because once one has had the best, nothing else will do.  The fresh squeezed pomegranate juice alone made it into my top five list of drinks for 2010, pretty impressive for a drink sans alcohol!  (But it is early in the year, and once I depart from this place I do have the intention of taking a large sample to sort out which really are my top five.  I'm guessing that it'll be three sublime beers, maybe a nice red wine and this amazing pom- juice from Mama Noura!)

Here are some pics from Mama Noura.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Omm Ali أم علي

Day one, Riyadh.  Omm Ali for dinner after an amazing lunch of some familiar Arabic foods.  I've eaten these foods before, but (like Thai, or Japanese, Chinese, et cetera) they taste somehow different (better) when eaten in their country of origin than they do in the good ol' USA.  Maybe there is something to this idea of terroir.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Galumpkis)

Best cabbage rolls I have ever made.  All the more special because I made them with my own two hands.  Simple recipe, and they are beautiful--especially if one uses Savoy cabbage.  Here's what dinner looked like on this pleasant evening:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Phyllis, will she or won't she?

I feared that Phyllis the Amaryllis was a-goner, but I noticed a teeny, tiny little green nib revealing itself yesterday, and today it had 1/2" of new growth!  Hoping that she delights us as she has these past couple of years.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Holidays Are Over

The Christmas tree and outdoor lights came down today.  It seems not so long ago that we were decorating the house, filled with anticipation about seeing family, enjoying nice foods and indulging in holiday cheer.  It's over now, and I'm hoping for another year of good health for family and friends, and looking forward to doing it all again next year.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Storm Windows

Two more new, wooden storm windows hung today.  Filled the gaps on a couple of windows with pile weather strips.  Those windows that we took delivery of when the weather was warm and balmy have taken months to finish.  Six of seven windows completed.  Not so long ago it seemed that I'd be working on these things for a hundred years.  Isn't that how large projects always go?  One keeps plugging away, and suddenly you're...done.  Or nearly so.  It was worth it.  Sweat the small stuff.