Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I grew up back East where it was green and rained a lot. Sometimes I could see the horizon, mostly I saw trees. I was a Girl Scout and camped every summer. Tent camping, not cabin camping.

After my first go through college, I moved to North Carolina, which is wetter and greener than Michigan. I cut my photographic teeth on the Blue Ridge Parkway and tent camped in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Now I live in Utah, on the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains. It was quite a shock moving from where rain didn't count unless it was an inch or more to a place where a tenth of an inch of precipitation is an event. But still, not five minutes from my house, I can drive up a tree covered canyon with a stream bubbling near the road. Several of the finest ski resorts in the world are within an hour's drive. Albion Basin is an easy morning trip for flower photography. Last week I went on a photo expedition to southern Utah, to red rock country. To get to the red rocks, one has to drive through a whole lot of nothing. There are many abandoned farmsteads standing desolate in the middle of the desert and the remains of soddies crumbling into hillsides.

I looked at the parched, windswept abodes and wondered how anyone could choose to live in such places, exposed, solitary, naked to the sky.I need the comfort and security of trees. I need green.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Food in Southern Utah

leaves a bit to be desired.

Perhaps it's because it's not high tourist season yet, but I've yet to find a really good restaurant down here.

A couple of nights ago, upon perusing the menu, I decided that the most affordable of the hopefully palatable choices was the "four piece fried chicken diner."

Now I've got to admit that I felt four pieces would be overkill, but I have a cooler in the back seat, so I could save the breast for breakfast or lunch the next day.

Didn't quite work out that way. Here's a photo of the drumstick.

No, I promise you it's not the first wing joint, it's the drumstick, and it was proportional with the other three pieces.

I didn't feel the least bit greedy after I saw my dinner.

First time I've ever had fried cornish game hen.

Monday, April 20, 2009

On the Road

This is post coming from Southern Utah -- Red Rock country -- I'm on a photo expedition. The hotel tonight has wireless Internet connectivity and I have my Baby Dell netbook so...

Before I left, the Engineer lent me his favorite travelling woman, Bitch in a Box.

He named her that because she's such a cranky individual.

Tell her where you want to go and she tells you how to get there. Should you stray from her explicit directions, she gets all bent out of shape and announces in a termagant's voice, "Recalculating." She's persistent. She continues to snap, "Recalculating," and tell you were to go until you're back on the straight and narrow.

Sometimes she gets some interesting ideas in her chip. On one particular drive on a new road around a reservoir, she's convinced that the car is travelling over the water. That's what the little car avatar on her screen shows, in any case.

This afternoon, as we were driving along a narrow ridge line with tremendous, steep drop offs of both sides, she announced, "A better route is available."

I knew she thought the car was amphibious, but it seems she thinks it has wings too.

Glad I know it's strictly a land vehicle.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tax Day 2009 - 4:40 p.m.

Random Observations

What Not To Have For a Late Dinner:

A bowl of tomato soup and bruschetta left over from last week.

I got home about 9:30 last night after a meeting. The Engineer is out of town, so I turned on the news as I poked around the kitchen for some food. A commercial for grilled cheese and tomato soup came on. Ooh, tomato soup! I always have a couple of cans of Campbell's in the cupboard. Tomato and cream of mushroom are the only canned soups I keep on hand.

A grilled cheese was more than I wanted, but when I looked into the fridge, there was that one slice of bruschetta.

I make it with Le Brea grain bread and those lovely roasted tomatoes in olive oil and spices one can get on the olive bar at the local grocery store. Toast the bread, top it with tomatoes and sprinkle with parmigiana then put under the broiler until the cheese shreds start hopping. Yum! Reheats well in the microwave.

I had that and some cran-apple juice for desert (continuing the red theme) and a sour stomach all night.


The meeting last night was at Diva's Coffee and Cupcakes. It's a great spot to have a meeting as long as it's after 5:00 so you can park in the slots generally reserved for nearby businesses - otherwise, prepare for a hike. The building has been, in the eight+ years I've lived in this neck o' the woods, a flower store & greenhouse, an import gift store, a Chinese restaurant, an Italian restaurant, empty for a really long time and, now, Diva's. The part of the building that was originally the greenhouse looks like nothing so much as a gigantic, overturned plastic cup.

(image from Google Streetview)

I'd never been in the greenhouse part before last night. The acoustics were very interesting. My group was on the street side of the dome. There was a group of guys on the back side. I could hear their conversation better than I could hear ours. It sounded like they were sitting immediately behind me - made me jump the first time. Their group was making activity plans just like our group was. I was glad I wasn't with them, however, Golden Corral just isn't my idea of a class restaurant to go to for a group dinner.

Half an Ounce of Sense

I surely hope the cat is declawed, or this guy is going to be neutered before the shower is over.
(Yes, I'm addicted to

Seasonal Weather

April 15th and, once again, it's snowing. Those big fat flakes that look like the snow decided to have a party on the way down.
I'm leaving Friday on a five day photo expedition to the red rock country of southern Utah. This could make it interesting...

The Most Beautiful Blue-eyed Babe In the World
How's that for ending on an up note? (Please note, lovely cat is not out stalking birdies in the snow, she's snuggled up in warm, dry house. Smart kitty.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Once again, cooking on the holiday. But it was kinda cool. When I was at the grocery store, I saw some unusual cauliflower. Had to have it. Seemed very seasonal.

What do you think? Easter Egg cauliflower.

The one disappointment was, it tasted just like regular white cauliflower.

Ah well, we had traditional ham along with the colorful cauliflower, pear and walnut salad, corn, a potato, celery root and leek gratin, and chocolate cheesecake with fresh strawberries and whipped cream for desert.

If I'm going to feed company, I'm going to go decadent.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Living the Fantasy Life

The Engineer is addicted to television news. From the minute he walks through the door until he goes to bed for the night, at least one TV is always on to the news.

CNN is the network he watches most - partially because I walk out of the room if he turns on Fox News. It's not that I'm trying to deny him his right to watch hyperbiased conservative talking heads. It's because of the rude, rabid, venom spouting rants they indulge in. Even TV people aren't allowed to talk like that in my presence. One does not have to be abusive to those with whom one disagrees. Respect and politeness are necessary lubricants of civilization.

Anyhoo, getting past that little digression...

One of the oft repeated stories of the last couple of days has been of Somali pirates taking the captain of the Maersk Alabama hostage after the Alabama's crew threw them off the ship. A US Navy ship sped to the rescue and is now floating near the lifeboat holding the pirates and their hostage. The Navy is trying to negotiate the captain's release.

After having heard this story seventy-two times, with the same film footage every time, I turned to the Engineer and said, "Well, what's the problem? All they need to do is drop some Navy Seals in scuba gear into the water. The Seals swim underwater to the lifeboat, use their high power laser to cut it in half, grab the captain, slap a breathing mask on him and take him back to their ship. Then they toss out an inflatable dinghy for the pirates and tow them in to jail."

The Engineer gave me an 'uh-huh' look and said, "Sounds reasonable to me." Then he went and hid in the bathroom.

Do you think I've been watching to many action movies?

Monday, April 6, 2009

If I Drank Beer...

I'd be crying in it.

89 to 72 is pretty pathetic.

Ah well, there's always next year.

Go MooU!

Dear Spartans --

I want to add another t-shirt to my collection.
I'll be cheering tonight!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

High Class Fossil Jewelry

Last April, the Engineer and I went to the American Women Geoscientists Annual Wine Tasting and Silent Auction Scholarship Benefit. (How's that for a mouth full?) The Engineer bought me a beautiful ammonite pendant. I love it.

Last night, we attended the 2009, 20th Anniversary do.
The artist who had made the ammonite pendant had two more necklaces on the tables. one with a geode pendant, very nice, and one with a rusty brown polished stone. But then I saw the fossil I needed for this year.

It was a simple pendant stone with a silver ring and no chain, but something about it called to me, so I wrote the opening bid on the sheet. The Engineer wrote the fifth and final bid, and the fossil was mine. I can hardly wait to wear it.

What kind of fossil is it, you might ask?

A coprolite, cut and polished and ready to shine.

What's a coprolite?

Fossilized poo.

Just wish I knew what kind of a critter had produced it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Great Nibs Challenge

My friend, Jess of Bioephemera, and I both appreciate chocolate. We have grown well past the stage of eating anything brown and sweet to become chocolate sophisticates, Jess more than I, but still, we only make that Homer Simpson "Mmmmmm, pork," gargle and drool internally. No one hears us make it any more. (Well, I don't know about you, Jess, but it's still my nonvocalized response to fine chocolate.)

A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to buy some Amano "cocoa nibs". A true choclaholic, I bought two bags and mailed one to Jess. I went to Amano's web site to read about nibs before I opened my bag.

Here's their quick description:
If you aren't familiar with nibs, they are the roasted pieces of cocoa we use to make chocolate. What many people don't realize is how good they are to nibble on. You can use them in many recipes, such as mole. They are also fantastic in salads. One of my favorite things to do is put some on some arugula with an nice vinaigrette and dried cranberries.

Ooh, nibbling, I'm altogether too good at that. I ripped open my bag, inhaled the lovely aroma, and poured some nibs into my palm.
They look like nothing so much as the cocoa husk mulch I put on my raised vegetable beds to keep the cats from using them as giant litter boxes. Smell pretty similar too, come to think of it.


But, I'm brave, so I nibbled.

What can I say... They won't ever replace M&M's.

Now what to do with them?

Surf the web. I'm not a Martha devotee, far from it, but some site or another said that she had popularized nibs by using them on one of her shows. A little disappointing, I'd thought I was cutting edge buying nibs. Well, darn sure I won't use her recipe. But, what to do with them, so...

I am hereby issuing The Great Nibs Challenge to Jessica.

One month. Let's see who can come up with the best and yummiest thing to do with their nibs within the next month.

Winner gets bragging rights.