Saturday, December 01, 2012

Ride Before the Storm

I woke up with a sore lower back...a sign of advancing age and, sadly, weight.  Nonetheless, I was able to motivate myself to ride my bike after popping 3 Advil and pumping up the tires.  The total trip ended up being 16 miles (26km).  I wanted to ride tomorrow instead but there was still a risk of major windstorm at that time (which the computer models abandoned by the time I got home),

Thanks to fairly brisk winds (20 - 30 mph/ 17-26 knots/32-48 kph), it seemed more like 30 miles (48km) after fighting headwinds and lateral winds.  Sometimes I felt like the sail on Sweet Bluesette.

Here are some pics:

The Oregon Coast range kept us in sunshine for the morning.

Stay on the sunny side, always on the sunny side.
The leading edge of the oncoming front with cirrus clouds followed by cumulus and cirrostratus.
Farewell sun, we hardly knew ye.
Some mushroom activity next in a grass sidewalk strip next to a non-descript industrial building.
The larger stools were close to 12 inches (30cm) in width.
Drink from the cup and you could wind up in the land of Willy Wonka.  Or dead.
The state and national flags were at constant attention on this ride.
Rock creek always floods early and often during the winter.

Rose hips and snowy berries with a man made pond beyond.

Goodbye, Mr. Blue Sky...those E.L.O lyrics went through my head as I saw the last of our blue sky off to the east.

I came home a bit chilled about 30 minutes before the rain started.  I took an afternoon nap with a nice warm blanket to get part way back to normal.  My lower back is still complaining, but it was a nice ride nonetheless.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Few Tweets to Check Out

These tweets are of the American Goldfinch (in winter plumage) variety.  I saw them today in my back yard and snuck out to take pictures.  Enjoy.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

About that Twitter Feed to the right

Ladybug took over the SnabbyCat Twitter feed since my tweeting was minimal and she pretty much tells me if any interesting tweets come up thus relieving me of yet another onerous task.  Anything before August is my fault and anything after is hers.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Two more dinners

As it likes to do, real life provided some interruptions to our 5 weekday dinner shopping week.  I also wanted to break up any food blogging with non-food blogging which met with only partial success.

Up first was Lamb Chops with Pistachio Sauce and Vegetable Sauté.  This meal had the distinction of being, by far, the most expensive dinner of this series.  The lamb chops were $28 alone and you can't buy a small bag of pistachios, so more $$$ all for that little cup of sauce and a bunch of pistachios nobody wants to eat.  This is not likely a repeat meal.  I bought a Widmer Marionberry Hibuscus Gose beer to go along with it.  It had a reddish hue to it, and was pretty good, though not as good as their Hefeweizen.

On the plus side, the recipe yielded so much that I was able to eat lamb chops and veggies for the next two lunches.

Minor chaos and leftovers ensued for a couple of days, then I got a chance again today to continue the meal plan.  This dinner was London Broil with Crispy Potatoes and Peppers.  Unlike Martha Stewart, we don't consider potatoes to be a viable vegetable, so I harvested some unknown variety of lettuce from our garden (it was a sample pack) and prepared it with a balsamic vinegar with a sprinkle of an Italian cheese blend.  I also added a pepperoncini (also from the garden) to the potato mixture.

It turned out fabulous and it went well with a can of Fort George 1811 lager from Astoria, Oregon.  It was gratifying to see Ladybug devour a full plate of food (sans beer).  Chemotherapy makes enjoying a lot of things difficult, so when it happens it is a small treasure.  She is even laying claim to the leftovers!

We still have one more dish on this 5 day plan, then we are going to scale it back a bit both in terms of calories and preparation time.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Wenatchee Complex Fires

People tend to think of Portland and Seattle as havens as rain and, for 9 months of the year, they are correct. However, the entire region goes quite dry in July, August, and September.  Seattle missed their dry spell record by 3 days this year and Portland has had just 0.04" since July 20th.

On the day Portland had 0.04", it was due to a line of north-south thunderstorms that were not forecast but popped up anyway.  We were at the Audubon Society of Portland with our little pal, Nicholas, who we were giving a birthday hangout day to (middle child syndrome can be a pain).  It got a bit dark and gray here with thunder, lightning, and a bit of rain in Portland for about an hour.

By the time it reached central Washington and Chelan County, the moisture was not reaching the ground but the lightning was.  In the rain shadow of the Cascades, it was the perfect storm for grass and forest fires.  Hundreds of lightning strikes with wind and no moisture dotted the area with fires.  As they coalesced, the Wenatchee Complex fires were the result.  The picture below was taken at the top of Badger Mountain in East Wenatchee looking west towards downtown Wenatchee and the hills the surround it and beyond.

For more brilliant pictures from the area, check out Landon Michaelson's blog right here.

I found a blog on the current conditions right here.

I would like to thank my cousin and my aunt for the updates and I hope for the best for their friends in the area.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What IS the deal?

Well, there is a LOT that is the deal.  I will get more into it over time.  Suffice it to say it takes me a while to really, really think about things.  I can never tell when something is going to finally click but, when it does, I do have some things to say about life, the universe, and that thing over there hiding between the news and reality.

More importantly, I hope this blog finds you moving generally where you want and need to be.

Pasta with goat cheese and roasted asparagus

This was okay...I am not sure it was much of an improvement over Mac & Cheese, though the fresh chives made a difference.  We were supposed to chop the asparagus and embed it with the pasta, but I honestly liked it better on the side.  Luckily it called for such massive amounts of asparagus that I've been snacking on it all evening.  I am looking forward to aromatic output. :D

Here is the recipe.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Dinner, 09/10/2012

For those who have been following Facebook, you know that we have been experimenting with some old issues from Everyday Food magazine allowing us to make some food that is healthier and more home made than we had been previously cooking (or buying and eating).  Basically, they provide a five day menu complete with shopping list. All you have to do is buy it and make it.  Most meals take from 15 to 45 minutes to prepare.  Dealing with chemotherapy and work, it seemed like a way for us to get better food and eliminate some work.  Week one is in the books already (if you request it, I have recipes and pictures I can repost to the blog here).

Now, we are on to week two.

Today's meal is Prosciutto-wrapped Cod with Lemony Spinach

Here is the recipe.

We had some line caught halibut from Alaska caught by a friend, so we replaced the cod with that.  Thanks to repeated forced incidents with canned spinach as a child, I was not a big fan of cooked spinach, but the lemon seasoning really helped with that here.  The saltiness of the prosciutto soaked into the fish to enhance the flavor.  This was not my favorite of the series, but it was enjoyable.  I doubt the salt and fat content of the prosciutto puts this far into the healthy category, but hey, it is better than pizza.

Van BC, Days 5 & 6

In the northwest corner of Vancouver, there is a peninsula known as Stanley Park.  That was our destination on Day 5.  It required a train ride downtown followed by a bus transfer out to the park.  Once we disembarked, it took us a little while to orient ourselves.  Along the way, we looked across the inlet to see a port area dominated by lemon yellow piles of some natural resource...

It is a good bet that this was sulfur, although I don't know from where.  Nonetheless, it was a bright backdrop to a gray day and the mossy green autumn of the locale.  Once we consulted a map and found out "We Are Here"...

...we picked our path from a myriad of choices and headed west through the forested areas of the park.

Ladybug borrowed my highly visible bicycling jacket and thus outshined the Gorton fisherman while traversing these wide trails through verdant woods.

Now and again, there were vestiges of the old growth that likely covered this island at one time.  The western red cedar in the picture above towered over us and centered our eyes on the oncoming autumn colors displayed by these wonderful vine maples.  After a couple of kilometers of walking the width of the peninsula, we emerged on the English Bay side to the west.

Our destination, the Tea House restaurant, awaited us.  We were, fortunately, seated in the glass encased "sun" room which afforded us a view of the surrounding land and sea.

I was "crushing her head."

A look above our table revealed the greenery which added to our experience.  We started with tea and a cheese plate.  The cheeses were marvelous, but the relish plate was so impressive for Ladybug that she asked about it and has reproduced it fairly well a couple of times since.  It consisted of sauteed red onions and balsamic vinegar (with another thing or two I can't remember but she sure does).  In any case, a variant is now part of our repertoire.

After our hike, we were a bit peckish.  Ladybug ordered Spaghetti Bolognese with thyme and I ordered the Linguine Vongole with clams and prosciutto.  They were fabulous (though expensive and worth it).  For dessert, Ladybug ordered the a chocolate cake.  Want to see how lovely?  Here you go:

After such a delight, she was quite pleased.

Ladybug poses with a southwestern view of West Vancouver behind her.

Meanwhile, I stand in front of Lover's Trail.  We walked very sexily through there. :D

We passed by some inner wetlands on our way back to the bus stop.  My knee and foot were complaining by the end, but I loaded up on Advil and made it through okay.  We made our way back to the hotel, had an uneventful dinner there and retired for the day.

On our final day, we didn't have a lot of time.  Nonetheless, a trip back to the De Dutch was definitely in order.  On this day, we both ordered savory dishes with our pannekoek as displayed below.

On our way back to pack, we were warned about the dangers of people levitating above bicycles.

At the airport, Ladybug posed at a display of the First People of the area (possibly Haida...the memory fails) with the raven.

After getting a testy prescreening by an authority-mad US customs agent (chill pill, dude), we made our way to our flight.  This also happened when I came back from Japan nearly 20 years earlier.  Apparently our countrymen are trained to be unnecessarily rude and authoritarian.  Considering our tradition of openness and freedom, it is really an embarrassment.  I wouldn't mind seeing their handbook rewritten by someone with a brain.

Before long, we were on our way home, weary but happy at an eventful and fun trip.  I suspect we will do it again some day soon.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Vancouver BC, Day 4

(I realize that it shouldn't have taken me nearly a year to write a simple blog post, but what the hell.)

Today was tourist trap day. We started with breakfast at the hotel followed by the train ride to the waterfront downtown. From there, we walked down to the BC Transit SeaBus terminal to cross the Burrard Inlet to North Vancouver.

From there, we took the bus through North Vancouver and up a boulevard that reminded me of W Burnside St in Portland until we left the upper-middle income dwellings behind and climbed our way into the forest.

We made a somewhat quick stop at the Capilano suspension bridge.  It hangs 230 ft (70m) over the beautiful Capilano River.  Since it is a tourist trap, we paid our admission and Ladybug traversed the full bridge while my knee started complaining and I backtracked to take pictures.

We had a nice lunch at the Bridge House across the street (though they lost my order, so it took a while to arrive).  I also had the foresight to forget my credit card so we had to come back to claim it later in the day.

We proceeded after lunch farther up the canyon to the terminal bus stop at the Grouse Mountain cable car station.  From there, we bought our round trip tickets to the cable car which would lift us up to the top of the mountain and to the ski resort/tourist trap way above the Vancouver area and Fraser River valley.  There was a cement resort with a gift store and small eateries (which we ignored).

We instead followed the paved trail up the hill to the (closed) ski lifts and some wonderful vistas (see those in the album below).  The view were gorgeous.  The weird bear display just made me feel bad for the bears...animals in captivity are just depressing (just like people).  After having our fill of chilly weather and walking around a clear cut, we called it good and prepared to head down.  Since the cable car was the highlight, why not do it again?  I called ahead to our lunch venue to track down our card and ventured down the hill again via cable car and bus.

After retrieving the card, we walked across the street and continued our Capilano Suspension Bridge Park journey.  The tickets are good all day, so why not.  My joints were loosened and I felt good enough to not only traverse the bridge, but check out the other side with Ladybug.  In order to draw more people to the bridge, other attractions were created.

The Treetops adventure consisted of an elevated set of "forts" and catwalks a few stories up from the forest floor.  This walking tour allowed us to get a relatively safe overhead view of the forest around us.    It was a worthwhile venture.

After re-crossing the suspension bridge, we decided to take a look at the Cliffwalk feature.  Upstream from the bridge is a section of the canyon which has exposed rock cliffs hundreds of feet above the river.  The park erected a walkway suspended along and cantilevered away from the granite cliffs.  It was quite effective in allowing us to see things in a safe way that would have been hard to see otherwise (see pics below).

On the far side of the walk was a terraced short hike back to the main section with its shop, ice cream stand, horny squirrels, and lightly explained native totem displays.  We spent our time and spent the required Canadian money on these things, then headed back down to the Seabus.

We arrived in Yaletown and saw the steam clock and overpriced shops.  Above the train station was the Steamworks brew pub where we ate dinner.  With their eclectic menu, I was able to order a Mushroom burger with salad and Ladybug enjoyed an Indian Butter Chicken dish.  Afterwards, it was back to the train to head back to the hotel and relax and plan for our last full day.