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Last week, the news of the day just got to me.

Scandals, graft, partisanship, falsehoods.
Wildfires, earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes.
Cruelty, abuse.
Tariffs, taxes.
Chaos.

It was just too much. The siege breached my defenses and I fell into a major depression. Dark. Caged. Compressed. Inescapable.

Wait . . . did I say “inescapable?” Scratch that, for I did, indeed, find an escape.

Continue Reading »

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Vintage Wine

The first time I read Ray Bradbury’s 1957 classic, Dandelion Wine, it was an assignment for school. I was a little older than Doug Spaulding, the novel’s 12-year old protagonist at the time, and to be frank, I didn’t really care for the book at all.

That was a crisis for me, as Bradbury was one of the three novelists who I really, really enjoyed (along with Roger Zelazny and C.J. Cherryh). I’d gobbled up Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles and read every collection of his short stories that I could find. Continue Reading »

It’s hot out there. Uncomfortably hot. Freaking hot. Evil hot.

Here’s something tasty. Something easy. Something cool.

With a few common (and one not-so-common) ingredients, you can use this easy-as-you-please recipe to create a luscious, sweet/tart/creamy/flowery treat to enjoy in the long, hot evenings.

No-Churn Lemon Ice Cream

Makes 3 cups (which is like one serving here, but you can stretch it out if you’re feeling generous).

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 tablespoon rosewater (see Notes)

Procedure

  • In a medium bowl, combine sugar, salt, lemon zest and juice. Stir to incorporate.
  • Add milk, cream, and rosewater and mix until the sugar and salt are dissolved (when you no longer hear a gritty sound as you stir).
  • Pour the mixture into a shallow nonreactive pan; I use an 8×8-inch CorningWare baking dish, but a metal pan will work just as well.
  • Cover with foil, and set in the freezer for 2 to 3 hours. It should be crusty at the edges but still soft in the center. Stir to mix and break up the ice crystals.
  • Return to freezer for another hour and repeat until the mixture is frozen through.
  • Serve and enjoy.

Notes

  • A garnish of chopped almonds works very well with this.
  • The addition of rosewater is technically optional, but I strongly recommend using it here, as it adds a floral top note to the treat that makes a big difference.
  • Rosewater and orange blossom water are staples in my spice cupboard. They’re inexpensive, but versatile, adding a certain je ne sais quoi to dressings, cocktails, desserts, even dishes like steamed vegetable and mashed potatoes. Like lavender is to Provençal cooking, these subtle, fragrant decoctions are essential to traditional Levantine treats, like my baklava.

k

 

Yesterday, I received my Voter’s Pamphlet for Washington’s August primary election. At the federal level, we’re voting for a senator. There are a total of thirty candidates vying for the seat, so it’s a packed primary.

Packed with what, I cannot say in polite company.

Continue Reading »

No writing was done this week because, Portia.

I know, I know, you’re sick of all these cat-related posts.

Well, tough.

Portia is a rescue from Seattle Area Feline Rescue (SAFR), a no-kill shelter down the street from me. My intention was to meet a little calico they had there, but when we arrived, there were so many great personalities among the cats available for adoption, we had to spend time with several. Portia—originally named “Porsche,” but there was no way that was going to stand; we quickly changed it to a properly Shakespearean homophone—was by far the one who clicked with us, and so she’s who we brought home.

And so, our 35-year streak of having only black or black/white cats remains intact.

She’s settling in. So are we.

Writing will recommence.

k

This is not a political post.

Judging by the title, you can be forgiven for thinking that it was. But nope; this is definitely not a political post.

It is, however, about purges.

Continue Reading »

Miki and Dad

This past Father’s Day was not the type of day I’d envisioned, wanted, or was pleased with. Sick with a head cold, one hand wrapped up in gauze from a deep sheet-metal cut, facing major changes to my work and domestic patterns, I spent the day at the veterinarian’s office, saying goodbye to our seventeen-year old cat, Mouse, euthanizing her after she’d suffered acute kidney failure.

Not a good day.

But it did get me thinking, specifically about my dad. Apropos.

At heart, my dad was a taciturn country boy. He was born in the small, rural town of Point Reyes Station in west Marin County, California. His parents were a truck driver and a housekeeper, his grandparents were gardeners and charcoal burners and boarding house matrons, and the town he lived in was quiet, remote, and full of independent, practical-minded, deeply conservative folks.

Dad’s rustic, back-country upbringing during the 1920s and ’30s was the source of many eye-popping tales of cultural dissonance. I’m pretty sure Dad told us kids some of his stories purely for their shock value. He took pride in his pedigree, his gruff, hardscrabble roots, and much of his identity was tied to a story arc anchored on the picturesque shores of Point Reyes and Tomales Bay.

With this as preamble, it’s not surprising that Dad’s philosophy about pets was . . . different than mine. They were animals, like livestock. He would tell of neighbors who put unwanted whelps in burlap sacks and disposed of them in a cruel and despicable fashion. When it came to the cats and dogs who shared our home, he cultivated a facade of casual disinterest. They were just animals, he’d say.

But it was a lie. Continue Reading »

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