Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I couldn't have done this in Portland!

I sit in the eating area of the kitchen this morning, missing Portland like crazy.  Sigh.  There are a million things I should do, a number of things I want to do but nothing I'm doing.

Randy The Contractor was to have been here this morning to begin on the new wine room.  Owing to the vagaries of scheduling he'll arrive early Saturday, instead now.  (I guess I've committed to serve breakfast first.  Wonder how he'll feel about blueberry muffins?  Or do you think he's more a bacon-and-eggs-for-breakfast person?)

So, I'm sitting.  Part of me says, "Oh, just suck it up and go for a run.  It's only 78° with 84% humidity...certainly it won't be THAT uncomfortable."  But the knowledge that, yes, it really WILL be that uncomfortable keeps me inside.  Good thing, too.

I hung a hummingbird feeder several weeks ago and have loved watching the teeny-tiny birds drink from the ersatz flowers with their lovely long beaks.  I noticed bees swarming the feeder yesterday and spent time Googling how to stop that.  (I found a couple of ideas, one of which seems to be working.)

When we first bought the house, there was a very pretty feeder hanging from one of the Live Oak trees (they really are called Live Oaks, would there  be something named a Dead Oak tree?).  I promptly filled the feeder with what, I'm sure, were delectable seeds - and watched the squirrels dangle from the chain hanging the feeder.  They cleaned it out in hours. I decided to let THAT idea go.  But then I explored the storage shed in the back yard and found a wrought iron shepherd's crook.

Now, this shed was NOT one of the selling points for this house.  In fact, the day the moving van arrived I asked one of the helpers, a local man, if he wanted it (he did) and how much he would charge me to take it away.  See how eager I was to be 'shed' of this 'shed'?  (like the play on words? I did.)  He never returned to take the shed.  So it sat. When erected originally, the foundation was 9 concrete pier blocks.  Over the years the rain has washed away what soil they were resting on, so it leans. Every so often I'd wander over there, (for it sits in a part of the backyard I don't see and, as it's hidden from the street, I wasn't going to worry about it) and force the doors closed.  Frankly, each time I leaned on the shed to force the door to close, I feared it would fall down/apart.

But back to the shepherd's crook...I brought it out of the shed and assured Art it would be the perfect solution to the squirrel-eating-bird-food problem.  It's worked so well.  The first day or two, squirrels shinnied up the wrought iron pole, hanging by tails, and reaching, oh, reaching s-o-o-o far, but not far enough to grab seeds.  I was reminded of Scrat, the character in the intro to Ice Age.  You know, the squirrel-like animal who chases the acorn across/down/through the ice?  Ultimately, the squirrels gave up on that idea and now wait on the ground below the feeder for scraps from the birds.

Goodness, but it's taking a long time to get to what I couldn't do in Portland...I was finishing the paper and feeling ever so sorry for myself when I noticed the squirrels  playing tag - at least that's what it appeared to me they were doing.  And then, the hummingbirds returned for breakfast.  But then two almost red birds appeared.  They looked as I imagine a cardinal would, but not as red.  They're more a mottled red.  So I photographed them.  They began to almost preen for me.  Impressive.  Then two beautifully colored blue and white birds appeared.  They've been around for several minutes now yet every time I approach the window to take a photo they dart off.

Oh, and photos?  Yes, they're all being taken with my iPhone for while en route to Portland last month, my tiny bottle of non aerosol hair spray spit its contents all over the camera, a lovely Nikon D60 that was nestled safely in the bottom of my carryon.  (My daughter and her husband had phones and cameras stolen from checked bags so I wasn't going to risk that.  Hmmm, at least then I could have claimed the insurance value on the camera.)  Do  you know what happens to a camera bathed in hairspray?  Yup, it stops doing camera-like things. They tell me the camera has effectively been coated with lacquer and that it would be cheaper to just replace the camera.  Sigh.

But now I'm no longer as sad as I was earlier AND I've discovered another activity I couldn't do from the kitchen in Portland.  AND I'm off to the library for a book on ornithology!

I leave you with a photo of last night's dinner, a cold Provencal white bean salad with a glass of Rose of Sangiovese from Memaloose Winery in the Columbia Gorge. Grapes were grown in the Idiot's Grace Vineyard.  I love that name, don't you?  Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dinner was cooked on the barbeque - during a thunderstorm

Not sure that was my best move, but it worked.  I mean, it's not like I was struck by lightning or anything, right?  Although there was that moment when the tree in the yard exploded...wonder what that was?  Ok, I kid.  I DID use the barbeque last night for EVERYTHING we ate, but that was more because the temp had dropped below 95 and it felt bloody balmy outside.

Who remembers what I was doing for dinner last night?  Yeah, me neither.  Ack-shu-lee, (and here I'm channelling Conor when he was 2) we used the previously prepared quinoa/corn/feta stuffing originally intended for peppers.

Wanting to round out the presentation (a lost, lonely mushroom seemed too pathetic) I quickly sauteed some kale with garlic and olive oil. I added a generous pinch of salt (really, it was more like a full-on grope, not a pinch) some pepper flakes and left it to do it's cooking part while I wrestled the mushrooms onto the grill.
I offer the photo above, presented in lovely soft focus, just to prove I did cook everything on the barbeque. What's that you say?  Many men, my husband included, do that regularly?  Hah!  Note, there's not a drop of barbeque sauce nor is there any ketchup!  LOTS of vegetables, though...

The mushrooms required wrestling because they were clearly overloaded and threatened to fall apart.  There must be an easier way to deal with mushrooms.  Any advice?

It just seemed a moment, well, 7 minutes, before the mushrooms were ready, the bread was toasted (maybe a bit burned in that one spot...) and the kale was ready.  I plated outside and presented the following to my handsome husband.  He was suitably impressed.  Lucky him! 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Well, that didn't take long...

Target, apparently, doesn't like thinkers.  Do-ers, yes, follow-ers of rules, most definitely.  But it would appear new ideas, suggestions for different processes, a streamlined version of things marks one as 'not a good fit for Target.'  Well, that's what I heard this morning when I arrived, armed with a fistful of great team-leading, team-building ideas culled from last week's Global Leadership Summit.

Now, don't misunderstand; I was miserable, make that miserable daily at Target but I guess I wasn't expecting to be terminated for thinking.  Interestingly, I was able to sit and chat with the manager who delivered the news.  Frankly, it was the first conversation we'd had in my 10 week tenure, so  what does that suggest?  That I'm shy?  Probably, right.

No, Kimberly suggested Target is not a good fit for many people then confided she is also leaving the store management team.  She's looking for a 'secretarial' job (her words, not mine) to get back into an office setting and out of retail.  (I understand that notion well.  I'd be hard pressed to embrace working weekends, holidays  and evenings.)  The question now, what do I do with a closet full of khakis and red shirts?

I guess I could create some sort of kitchen persona who wears khakis to cook.  Think I'll just return to cooking and writing about cooking.  In fact, I have already.  Up for dinner this evening will be Grilled Portobello mushrooms stuffed with a quinoa, corn and feta concoction I whipped up the other day for peppers.  The peppers were nestled on a messy bed of sautéed onions.  I think I may replicate that for the mushrooms as well...although, now that I think about it, an equally messy bed of sautéed kale with garlic and lemon will be lovely. 

Photos will appear later tonight.  Sigh, how I enjoy being in the kitchen!