Saturday, August 30, 2008

in which I wonder how that staff meeting went

You may have heard about the publicity stunt posed by Lush Cosmetics. Several of their female staff stood in Westlake Center in Seattle wearing nothing but aprons that said "Ask Me Why I'm Naked". The stunt was to promote the minimal packaging used by the shop. 

But really, how do you bring this up in a staff meeting. "Which of you minimum wage staff is willing to stand outside naked on a chilly Seattle day?" 

Of course I have link to pictures.

in which I meet a Servant for the Public Good

Friends, acquaintances, and colleagues all know that I am a dog slut. I have to stop and say hello to every dog I meet. I work in the Pioneer Square area of Seattle, and there are lots of residences that it's quite common to see people walking their dogs. 

The other day, there were two ordinary looking gentlemen sitting outside of a cafe with a sweet looking black lab and I asked if I could pet her. One of the guys said yes, and so began puppy adulation while the guys continued their conversation. Then one of the guys handing me what looked like a baseball trading card, but it turns out that it was the dog's business card.

A business card for a dog? 

Yes, because the super friendly lab turned out to be none other than Henny, the Seattle Fire Department's Arson dog (and the guy who handed me the card was her handler, Lt. Baer). She's trained to sniff out "accelerants", chemicals like gasoline that are used to start arson fires.   

It must have been a day off duty, because Henny wasn't wearing her jacket and Lt. Baer wasn't in uniform. (I may be a dog slut but I won't bother service dogs. )

Here's a photo of her from her website

Saturday, August 23, 2008

in which I share a wonderful blueberry cobbler recipe

This recipe turned me into a blueberry cobbler fan. 

"Cobbler with Butter Cookie Dough Topping"
from The Best Recipe by the editors of Cook's Illustrated Magazine

The filling:
3 pints fresh blueberries or 36 oz frozen
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 to 2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
juice of one lemon (or 2 tbsp)

The Topping
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
8 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1. adjust the oven rack to middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Scrape fruit mixture into 9-inch deep pie plate and cover with aluminum foil. Place pie plate on rimmed baking sheet and bake until fruit begins to release liquid, about 15 minutes. 
2. Meanwhile, mix flour, baking powder, and salt in small bowl and set aside.
3. Beat butter and sugar in medium bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla until smooth. Stir in dry ingredients until just combined.
4. After 15 minutes, remove baking sheet with pie plate from oven, uncover the pie plate and stir fruit. Drop the cookie dough topping by heaping tablespoonfuls evenly over fruit.
5. Return pie plate on baking sheet to oven. Bake until topping is nicely browned and fruit is bubbly, about 40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes in pan before serving. (Cobbler can be kept at room temperature for several hours and reheated just before serving.)

in which I'm surprised that's comfortable

Eddie's favorite spot to the windowsill between the window sash and screen. I wouldn't think it would be very comfortable but he's so lanky that perhaps he fits between the sash runners?

Friday, August 22, 2008

in which I finally finish my big project

Not complex, but big. And it takes a special kind of person to start an afghan during record breaking heat. 

But here it is, the TV Test Pattern Blanket:

So when it cools down, I'll be covered. Literally. 

Thursday, August 21, 2008

in which I discover a most curious phrase

The book I'm currently reading is titled Weeds in the Garden of Words: Further observations on the tangled history of the English language.

On the back cover, with all the laudatory bits normally found on book covers is this curious bit of praise:
"A delight to read. Only Pinker can write this engagingly about language."--Professor Charles E. Meyer, University of Massachusetts, Boston.

That is nice praise. However, if I were the author, I think I'd be crushed by Professor Meyer's adulation because if I were the author, my name would be Kate Burridge, and not Pinker.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

in which we take a road trip to visit the Seattle Arboretum and sit in traffic for 90 minutes

What the hell was going on in the Emerald City today? It is Sunday, for Christ's sake (literally), and traffic through Seattle was as bad as it was during rush hour on weekdays. Seriously. It took use just as long to drive the three miles from exit 164 to 167 (downtown Seattle) as it did to drive the 31 miles from exit 133 (Tacoma) to exit 164. 

We ventured north to visit the Japanese Garden in the Arboretum. Unlike most other gardens within the Seattle Park system, this one does charge admission but it is quite lovely. I'd brought my camera to take lots of pictures to share but forgot to recharge the batteries. There was just enough juice in the batteries for the camera to give me a message to recharge the batteries before dying. For the curious, there are some pics on the garden's website

My newest obsession is Japanese gardens, so I'm trying to learn as much about them as I can. I have this great plan to landscape the front yard in the Japanese style using as many native plants as possible. (So the next visit is to the Kubota Garden, which was a private garden in Seattle done in the Japanese style but using native plants. I figure if it's a native plant, I have less chance of killing it. My brother teases me that I have a gangrene thumb, and he's not too far off the mark.)

Of course, the type of garden we visited today is not the kind of garden we could install at our house but it was very lovely and the koi were more than happy to splash around, showing off their lovely colors in exchange for koi food. (These koi are well trained to respond to people. All you have to do is stand on the bridge, and even if you don't toss anything in the water,  the koi will still approach from all areas of the pond.) I don't know how large koi can get but there were a few that were about two feet long. One of the bigger ones was completely gold, except for a round dark blue dot on the back of his head. There were many that were patterned in variation of white/gold/orange but also several that were dark blue/orange/white. And one that was just a most mundane mud grey but it was the largest koi I have ever seen. 

Unfortunately, the teahouse was closed so we couldn't visit that. It's separated from the rest of the garden by a living fence of some sort of shrub pruned so that it's just a few inches wide. It actually made a great fence, but I don't know how much of that was due to the characteristics of the shrub and how much to pruning. That is, I am pretty sure that the "faces" of the fence were trimmed but I don't know how much of the interior branches were pruned to keep it from being a solid mass of vegetation. Anyway, I didn't want to get tea so much as examine the garden surrounding the teahouse, because that's about the scale that our front yard would be.     

Still lots to learn, and next time I'll make sure that the camera has working batteries. 

in which I see two films in two days

Batman--the Dark Knight is well worth the full price admission. It's not a perfect film, but aside from a slightly clunky narrative bridge in the middle of the film, it's really quite well crafted with solid performances all around. 

Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull--we saw this at the discount theater tonight. It was such a stupid, mind-numbing boring waste of time and I want my money back. Cate Blanchette made a good villianess but even she couldn't save this film from tedium.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

in which I want the world to know I am merciful

I noticed Eddie the cat playing with something in the yard this morning. I wandered over to see what was going on and discovered he was toying with a baby rat. 

Moral dilemma. I fracking hate rats. Seriously. Nothing will reduce me to a quivering blob of hysteria faster than an uninvited house guest named Rattus rattus. But I really hate it when cats "play" with their prey. I know, I know, this is not abnormal cat behavior but it still bugs me. 

Oscar and I shooed Eddie away from the mini-rat and I asked Oscar to put it out of its misery (because I assumed it was injured and because being within two feet of said rodents gives me the heebie-jeebies), but Oscar was vacillating so I shot him a nasty look, walked over to the side yard to get a cinder block, walked back, and actually told him that apparently I was the only one that actually had any balls and prepared to drop the cinder block on mini-rat. Oscar stopped me and said I'd have better chance of success if the rat was on a solid surface instead of on the lawn. He had a good point (the whole point was to kill it quickly and end its suffering, not to botch the job and make it worse). 

I put the cinder block on the lawn and Oscar picked up the mini-rat (its body wasn't even an inch long) and positioned on the surface, and I hefted another cinder block to decrease the world's rat population by one...and then we realized the rat wasn't actually injured. 

As much as I hate rats, really really really hate them, I couldn't kill it just because I hate the species.  So I let it go. 

Fracking rat bastard.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

in which my pursuit of physical fitness is starting to get hard

100 pushups. Week 3, day 1, column 3 (don't be impressed. Remember, I'm doing wall pushups.)

For the first time, I wasn't sure if I could actually physically do the work out. I barely made it (and that was with gritted teeth), even with extended rest sessions between reps. And, boy, do I feel it. 

However, it might just be wishful thinking, triceps do feel firmer. And I know I've made progress. I think I've done more pushups in the past two weeks than I have in my entire life up until this point. 

in which I visit Pt Defiance park

Rather bored and lonely this afternoon, so I went to Pt. Defiance Park to visit the gardens. I wanted to see the Japanese garden, because Japanese gardens are my newest obsession.

Anyway, lovely day, lots of people. Here are some very amateurish pics (which for some reason uploaded out of order):
Lovely little waterfall in the Japanese garden
A view of downtown: the Bridge of Glass on the left with its large blue sculptures (which remind me of big sticks of rock candy but this is Art) and the Museum of Glass on the right (the silver conical building)
Gunnara plants with some lilies between them. According to the information plaque, the common name for Gunnara is "Dinosaur food". No joke!
Lovely path leading to the fuschia garden. The hydrangeas were a far more spectacular color than I could capture.
A view of the shrine in the temple style Japanese garden.
A little island in a pond with a nice water fall and lots of happy geese, ducks, and turtles.
The other side of the hydrangea path. Those big plants are Gunnara. 
Seriously, these leaves were about 4' (1.3 m) across. Dinosaur food indeed!

Pt Defiance is a lovely park. It's really a gem.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

in which I take the first of several steps toward fitness

I did it.

I registered for the Whidbey Island Half Marathon in March 2009.

Weather is always a crapshoot at that time of year. Please start sending good wishes for a race day free of precipitation.

in which I have an earworm

I woke up this morning with "Margaritaville" running through my head.

No, I am not hung over.

I hate it when songs I can't stand are stuck in my head. 

Friday, August 01, 2008

in which I wonder just how many cats are here

I haven't seen black and white cat all day. I know cats can hide in some really amazing spots, so he may just be hiding really well or...he may have gotten outside because I had the back door propped open for awhile this afternoon. 

If he did escape, at least his wound got treated.