Friday, May 29, 2009

a weekend of wavelets...

Have you ever looked at the weekend forecast and seen something like:
Wind: from NNE at 12 mph

I typically focus on temperature and sunshine versus clouds, or the possibility of rain. This morning Chris was looking up the weekend forecast and for some unknown reason I asked if it was going to be windy. He told me the forecast read that the wind was being predicted at 12 mph. I told him that I'd never investigated how a 12 mph wind might differ from a 24 mph wind or a 36 mph wind and he told me that he hadn't given it much thought either.

Then he referred to the wizard...

Chris found a website that described wind scales according to the Beaufort Wind Scale. Very interesting indeed. Our 12 mph wind was eloquently defined as follows:
Description: Gentle Breeze
Effects Land / Sea:
Leaves and small twigs move, light weight flags extend. Large wavelets, crests start to break, some whitecaps.

Just a few other delightful phrases, before it gets too windy, from the Beaufort Wind Scale:
smoke will rise vertically
water is mirror-like
leaves rustle
can feel wind on your face

small trees sway

telephone wires begin to "whistle"

Enjoy your weekend.

Monday, May 25, 2009

gorgeous little things

unidentified gorgeous little thing--Block Island

My friend, Paul, is currently showing some of his drawings in the gallery space of a Mission District boutique, BellJar. Sasha Wingate, the owner of BellJar, describes her stock as a collection of gorgeous little things.

I've been thinking a lot about those words, gorgeous little things. As enticing as the descriptions grand, big, and spectacular sometimes seem, it's the little things in life that truly move me.

One of my most prized possessions is a gift Paul gave Chris and me a few years ago. He drew a small scale, simple, and peaceful image of a cozy looking pillow with a hardcover book resting upon it. An ideal gift for Chris and me--we love sleeping and we love reading. Every time I look at this sweet little drawing I smile.

gift from Paul

Gorgeous little things...

The yarn bowl I gave my mom for Mother's Day and the beauty of the way most of Be Sweet's 50 gram balls of yarn fit perfectly inside.

yarn bowl

cornichons--such darling little pickles

's Parisian Macaroons, especially the Rose Geranium variety!

Caffe Trieste's caffè con panna

Tiny sprouts of any sort. I planted a pot of basil seeds recently, while visiting my father. Today he left me a voice message:
Hey Nise, Dad. What did you plant in that pot in Globe? There's all kinds of stuff coming up in there. I watered it.
Sweet little green (and red) leaves emerging from the soil make everyone happy...


Moroccan tea glasses--why don't I own any of these?

Recchiuti Fleur de Sel Caramels

The tiny little frog that lived in my Point Reyes backyard. There was a stretch of time when he seemed to magically appear to greet me each time I entered the yard.

frog friend

Stella Pastry's mini biscotti--I miss the old days, when two beautiful sisters owned the bakery, but the biscotti is still good.

The matchstick sized carrots I once found tucked inside the bunch of baby carrots I purchased at the farmers market.


The cherry blossoms that bloom outside our bay window for Chris's birthday.

Small gestures like the note my niece, Mary, gave me on the train, the postcards my friend, Joen, sends me from near and far, and the phone call from Dr. McDow post-wisdom tooth extraction, not a call from his assistant, but the doc himself.

gift from little Mary

The demitasse spoon a young handsome man in Chicago stole for me after my mention of how much I adored the cute little spoons.

And the poems that say it all in just a few lines...

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast.

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold.

--William Carlos Williams


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

alone in the kitchen...

Are you up for a field trip? Visit Jen over at Modern Beet and see what she writes about solo dining. Enjoy!

Monday, May 18, 2009


New and triumphant green emerging on the resilient oregano--bravo!

The ashes (base of the plant) from which the healthy new green is emerging

I was wrong. My oregano is not dead. Like the Phoenix, it has emerged from the wreckage.

I returned from The Valley of the Sun, the Phoenix metropolitan area, yesterday evening. The heat in the Valley is intense. It holds you by the neck and makes great demands. It asks of you things you cannot give, but then you find yourself obeying, unaware of how you conjured up such strength.

Yesterday, as I ascended from the airless belly of the airport, I felt my slow shallow breaths halt as I sucked in my first sweet, full, and clean breath. I'd forgotten the beauty of the cool Bay Area air I'd left behind. I was back, and not just back, but back and better than I'd been before I left.

Today I feel strong, stable, alert, and focused. I've emerged anew.

Can we plan this sort of renewal or does it only work when it happens to us? It is a feeling of control derived from its absence. What does one do with such data?

Perhaps it is experiences such as these that embolden us to take risks, remain patient through struggle, and optimistically look for that light at the end of the tunnel--all the while, hoping to emerge with the strength and power of the Phoenix.

My 12 year old niece, Maizy
She was still in good spirits after waiting...and waiting
...and waiting in sweltering heat to hear Barack Obama
speak. People were passing out in line. It was quite crazy.
She did not complain once.

Me--Globe, AZ
This photo was taken by Chris during one of the two days we escaped
the Valley of the Sun to help my dad work on his project--what was once an
Italian brick oven bakery built during the turn of the century and what
appears to have been a boarding house for miners. Saying it needs a lot
of work is an understatement, but Dad has his vision and chips away,
bit by bit. Globe was about 10 degrees cooler than the Valley, not exactly
an escape, but a bit of relief.

The boys, Dad & Chris, at work in Globe, AZ

The graduate, my little brother, Alex (captured by his mom, Lynda)
He was the reason we visited the Valley of the Sun and the reason we were
able to see our president give an amazing speech during the ASU commencement
ceremony. Alex surrendered 5 of his 6 tickets to his family and we scored
two of those in-demand tickets. Thanks Alex!

Thursday, May 7, 2009


oregano post-Safer brand insect killing soap w/ seaweed extract

Safer brand seems to have successfully killed the aphids and my oregano.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

there must be a better way...

Asian pear aka #685

I prefer my produce sticker-free. The problem was that we had eaten up all of the fruit we'd purchased during our last trip to the farmers market and it was only Wednesday. The farmers market is a great place for finding sticker-free fruit, but it's not open every day. The market vendors would not return until Saturday, so I decided to stop at The Real Food Company, a neighborhood market on Fillmore Street in San Francisco, to purchase a few pieces of fruit. The Asian pear I bought was delicious, but those stickers--why do they irk me so? The sticker on my Asian pear, well, it wasn't even one of the colorful little stickers with a logo, fancy font, or cute fruit drawing on it, just a drab number inked on a rectangle in faded black.

It seems I'm not the only one with strong feelings about these little stickers. I took a look around and found many individuals with thoughts on the topic.

Some were annoyed and others were extremely bothered. There were those who were fascinated, some were even inspired. One woman thought Great! Art supplies for my daughter! A 19-year-old got resourceful and found a way to recycle. One gentleman was even willing to die to get rid of the sticky little guys, but this video was probably the most interesting, creative, and definitely the most odd explanation I found for the use of the fruit sticker. In 2005 the New York Times wrote that the fruit tattoo was replacing the fruit sticker and that tattooed fruit was being sold "nationwide". This is strange because it is now 2009 and I have yet to see a tattooed piece of fruit. It seems RediRipe has some ideas too. It goes on and on. what have I learned? There is more than one way to view the fruit sticker.

Enjoy your fruit!

Monday, May 4, 2009

urban gardening part III - carrots (originally posted on 4/10/2009)

oops--i accidentally deleted this 4/10/2009 post...just bringing it back.

Friday, April 10, 2009

urban gardening part III - carrots

Point Reyes Station's Grandi Building as seen from one of the wooden picnic tables in the Point Reyes Community Garden
(one of my favorite writing spots)

I was recently perusing the latest issue of Organic Gardening when I got to the final page of the magazine, that space after all of the advertising, where they usually leave you with one last tidbit, often something fun. On this page Maria Rodale asks What's your garden fantasy? I thought about that for a while.

I do have a garden fantasy.

I indulged in my own homegrown produce for about a year while we rented a house in Point Reyes Station, CA., a sun filled house with free rein to do whatever we pleased in the giant backyard. It was amazing, truly an experience I will never forget. My mom tells me that gardening is now in my bones. I think she's right.

We walked on to a property already possessing a tree w/ three types of apples, a pear tree, three types of plum trees, raspberries, a variety or blackberry vines, and a beautiful lemon tree that I visited almost daily. To that we added so much more that I stopped counting after we realized we were growing 50some varieties of fruits and vegetables in our backyard.

Gardening is addictive, at least it was for us. I was constantly tempted by the beauty of new seedlings and the grand promises and lovely descriptions of what could soon be ours printed on alluring seed packets. We planted in raised beds of all sizes, terracotta pots, random containers donated by our neighbor, and beds that we created by digging into our weed ridden backyard soil - we even built giant bean tepees and began composting with worms.

We were surprisingly successful considering we were complete novices. We had a blast. We harvested pounds and pounds of fresh produce, arugula, shelling peas, scarlet runner beans, ozette potatoes, oca, black russian tomatoes, garlic, lemon cucumbers, green beans, yellow crookneck squash, green beans, sugar snap peas, bok choy, lettuce, scallions, leeks, herbs, and an array of carrots, just to name a few. Unfortunately we left Point Reyes before our parsnips, cauliflower, spinach, spigariello, or radicchio could mature. I hope the new tenants like vegetables!

I loved just about everything we grew, but I had a special fondness for our shelling peas and carrots. Fresh peas and carrots, picked right before eating them, well, as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't get much better than that. The peas we grew were labeled Tall Telephone Pole Peas and they were gorgeous. The blossoms were delicate and pretty and the vines, with their swirling tendrils, grew up our back fence and toward the sky like something out of a fairytale. My carrots, St. Valery, New Kuroda, Scarlet Nantes, Purple Haze, and Oxheart (I still might be forgetting a few), were some of the easiest and most forgiving vegetables we grew. They were also delicious and we ate them in salads, pickled, steamed, sauteed, and just plain old scrubbed and out of hand. I never even knew so many varieties of carrots existed.

our kitchen table as seen from one of our kitchen chairs in our San Francisco apartment
(another one of my favorite writing spots)

It is now spring again, about one year after we began our first garden together. We are living in a small apartment atop Russian Hill in San Francisco, CA. Our outdoor space consists of a few inches of down sloping window sill per window, and some of those windows are painted shut. Nothing makes one long for their garden more than spring. Our local community gardens are jam-packed and we've been told that it could take years before they reach our names on their waiting lists. Here's where the carrots come in (literally).

I bought a large terracotta pot, soaked some New Kuroda (my favorite) carrot seeds overnight, filled my pot with a combination of potting soil and worm castings, and buried my seeds. Then I crossed my fingers and waited. Lo and behold, I didn't count the days, but the seeds seemed to sprout up much faster than the seeds I planted outside in Point Reyes. One night, much sooner than I anticipated, my husband spotted them and showed them to me. I was ecstatic!

When I am home during the time of day when our apartment catches some sun, I move the terracotta pot between my bay window and kitchen window to allow it as much sunlight as possible. The tiny sprouts all lean toward the sun and when I move the pot I rotate it so their backs are to the sun. Sure enough, the next time I take a peek, they've all repositioned themselves and are leaning toward the sun again. They are an indulgent bunch.

So, while here atop Russian Hill, I've adjusted my expectations. My fantasy is a small one. I'd like to see those 9 little sprouts become fully formed delicious carrots. That's all. Is it possible? I really don't know.

Some, my husband for instance, have much loftier ideas when it comes to garden fantasies. He's convinced we can somehow trellis pole peas in our bay window. He wants to bring those fairytale vines and tendrils indoors. I'm not so sure about this plan, but I like his high hopes. Perhaps I'll be reporting on peas next.

The herbs and succulents are also doing well and we've recently added a tillandsia (air plant) to the mix.

the aphids are coming! the aphids are coming!

oregano with tiny aphid on stem

i never used anything to remove insects from plants in our outdoor garden. i let the good and bad insects fight their own battles. obviously, i didn't plan on using anything on my indoor plants, but i'm not really sure what else to do.

bottom line--i don't want to share my apartment with aphids and little flies (i believe they are "whiteflies"). the gravel is not keeping the flies away (my herb gardener was wrong) and i fear they are multiplying, plus i've spotted aphids.

i searched around the web and did some reading and it seems Safer brand insecticidal soap is used by organic gardeners for such situations. i bought some yesterday and am giving it a try, but i'll be honest, it's making me lose my buzz for eating these home grown herbs. the product claims it is safe on fruits an vegetables, but will i be able to completely remove this stuff before i add my freshly snipped herbs to to a recipe?

i'm feeling a bit bummed and defeated. i really want to make this work. sigh.

Friday, May 1, 2009

you don't have to go to paris

This recent Mark Bittman post referencing items such as bread, salami and butter made me chuckle, but you don't have to travel to Paris to experience such unadulterated joy. It seems most people see Paris as they do bacon, in an everything is better with bacon sort of way. I wonder if the recent press Swine Flu is receiving will change this beloved perception of bacon. I hope not.

Is everything better in Paris?

I'm not so sure.

this photograph of Chris makes me chuckle too

Yesterday evening I met Chris at a wine bar (here in San Francisco, at the Ferry Plaza). We each ordered a glass of wine, shared the salumi plate, and had a nice conversation. No butter, but I couldn't have asked for better company. Who needs Paris...