Thursday, October 27, 2005


Mary and I went to Carl and Jana's wedding this past weekend. I've known Carl since 2nd or 3rd grade (that's currently under debate), but it was nice to see him tie the knot. We haven't been close since high school (mostly due the the fact we haven't been in the same city for more than a couple days since then), but I always get a kick out of seeing him.

Neither Mary nor I had ever been to Chicago before. We found a B&B called the Nyberg B&B which happened to be real close to both the church where wedding took place, and our friends Paul and Luaren.

First, the Bed and Breakfast. It was a neat old Victorian house, the hosts were nice, but they didn't seem very into the whole "hosting" thing. They were never around for breakfast (a continental one), and the house was oddly set up. For one thing, the house was full of odds and ends (antiques and art and the such). It all looked like someone had paid some kind of money for it, but most people don't usually cover every surface with a trinket/figurine/chair/painting. Anyway, it was a bit odd. Which is fine for Mary and me - we were sort of expecting it, but I don't know that I'd recommend it to others. Mary may have hit upon the real purpose of the Bed and Breakfast - a tax write-off for the home-owners.

The wedding was very nice - good singing (as long as you didn't listen to me), a touching ceremony, all that stuff. Carl looked sharp in his tuxedo, and Jana wore a beautiful dress. About the only other thing I can say about the ceremony was that weddings mean a little something to me now that I'm married. I didn't understand them before, but now I do.

The reception was at a cool old barn that was relocated in the mid 1990's as a community center. The bar was in the silo - which was lit solely by a dozen large white candles - very neat. We stuffed ourselves with too much food, listened to some good live folk music - and some of us did the folk/square dancing. I was happy to see Carl and Jana getting to spend a little alone time during the reception - hopefully the remember some of it.

The rest of the weekend was spent bouncing between various places in Chicago and Paul and Lauren's condo. We had a great time hanging out with them (it'd been since our own wedding that we'd seen them). Paul let us drive El Nino (his old car) which was fun - though not as much fun as the Porsche GT we saw outside of the pizza place.

We also got to meet the twins (Elise wasn't feeling real well but put on a good show, and Mark impressed us with his agility jumping off the padded blocks), and reunite ourselves with their cat (whose name escapes me at the moment). Friday night we even got Paul and Lauren out for an adults-only evening - which it sounds like they hadn't had in quite a while.

Of course the trip was accented by all sorts of good food. Sage on the first night with Paul and Lauren provided some good food and nice wine, in a very casual atmosphere. While wandering around the local neighborhood, Mary and I lunched at Coobah, an awesome restaurant serving eggs benedict to die for and a mojito that was the best I'd had this year. Sunday morning started off with a good breakfast at Kitch'n - a groovy breakfast place I'd hold up against any of the groovy places in Portland. While wandering on Michigan Ave, we stopped into the Signature Lounge for a drink and an awesome view of the city. Women - go to the bathroom there, the view is awesome. Men - our bathroom is tiny, windowless, and purely functional. I highly recommend their signature drink, a sidecar - it was awesome - almost as good as the mojito at Coobah. Paul picked us up and picked up a deep-dish pizza at Pizzeria Uno - another awesome meal. Lastly, on our way from the art museum to the subway, we picked up couple of tasty sandwiches at Au Bon Pain. The pastries were a little lacking, but the sandwiches held us through to Portland.

There was far too much to do and see in Chicago - we'll have to go back for more. If for no other reason than to check out some new restaurants.

Oooh, even better

Just saw a "Direct TV" ad.

Cute little black kid comes up to his dad and asks the him to read a story.
The dad is torn because he's watching TV. The dad realizes that he can pause
the football game on TV with a push of a button (Direct TV must have Tivo-like
capabilities). He amazes the kid with his powers over the TV. They then have
a great time starting and pausing the football game at will.

Wow, what a wonderful thing. What a role-model for all fathers.

Screw reading to your kids, just show them TV.

Global Knives

Odd coincidences.

I'd lost my global knife for a few weeks - I'd really missed it - it's our nicest small knife. I found it lurking in the bottom of the butter knife drawer. Glad to have it back.

And, I was just watching "Law and Order" - the murder weapon was a global knife. Odd thing for a poor family to own.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

More Fysh

Sadly, this is the best photo I have of Fysh on my laptop. She wasn't very photogenic, as we found out trying to take pictures. She was kind of like a little kid, always squirming and making faces. So this photo is rather apropos.

A more classic pose of hers can be found here, but she's small in the picture. She loved laying on the bricks of the patio - she soaked up the heat they gave off from baking in the sun.

Mary and I spent the afternoon sharing fond memories of Fysh: her chirping, playing with the catnip-filled eggplant, jumping after the flying feather toy, sitting for hours curled up in the same spot, baking in the sun all stretched out, her bare belly and near-bald hind quarters (when she had allergies), her reverse-sneeze, the way she drooled, her wild and crazy eyes, love of tuna, when she took walks with us around the block, how she always sat on paper, and so much more. We stroked her fur, hoping she'd just wake from the sleep it looked like she was taking. But in the end we could only say our good-byes.

A friend of Mary's came over (two friends actually) and made us tea and lunch and gave us something special to help lay Fysh to rest. That was very sweet.

We buried her this afternoon in a sunny spot in the side yard, on top of a flannel pillow case (she loved flannel pillows) and beneath the friend's grandma's embroidered pillow case. She's resting with her toy eggplant, a sprinkling of catnip, and a small bundle of flowers gathered from our yard. In a few weeks we'll plant a pretty flower to watch over her, but for now it is a simple grave.

Thank you all for your kind words.

Fysh 1995-2005

Fysh was hit by a car this morning around 9am and killed immediately. Mary found her just minutes afterwards. We loved her very much and will miss her always.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Rust Spots

Funny story.

Well, amusing story.

Last night after work I walked with a friend to my car. As we neared the car I saw him start to look around in confusion. You see, it was late and most people had gone home - so it was the only car around. But, Tim figured it couldn't be my car because he didn't see the huge rust spots in the roof.

Yes, I painted the Mazda.

Of course I didn't take before and after pictures, but you can imagine a 1992 Mazda Protege with about a dozen rust spots on the roof, a few of which were salad-plate sized. I can't find any stories on the web (well, interesting ones), but it appears that there was a change in the paint formulas in the early '90s that made the paint not so hot. If you keep your eyes open, you can see a lot of older cars with white paint that is peeling off in sheets. For whatever reason, our Mazda had the good fortune of rusting as well.

It's been rusting for two (four?) years now, and I'd kept on saying, "yeah, I'll paint it..." But never did. A real paint job would cost a few grand, and I wasn't about to drop that much money on a beater car. It runs well, and we'll keep it for a long while, but it doesn't need to look great.

I finally got around to doing the job. I was getting worried that the roof would rust through, and then I'd have to deal with an actual hole - which I knew I couldn't fix myself. I went to the hardware store and bought a can of primer (lovely grey) and a can of semi-gloss white paint. Figured the "Rustoleum" brand would do the trick as I was covering rust spots. A couple of hours of sanding later (that rust was thick) I was able to begin painting.

Mary had the brilliant idea of moving the shiny black car across the street from the house so none of the paint would land on it. As a result, we still have a black car.

I taped up the windows and various pieces of trim and began painting.

The semi-gloss matches the dirty-white color of the car pretty darn well. There's obviously a difference in the finish of the painted portion and the non-painted, but the color is pretty close. And, "no," I didn't repaint the entire thing. I only did the patches. I kept some of my lazy attitude.

Monday, October 10, 2005

A Moment of Silence Please

According to this CNN news piece, a fire broke out and burned down the Aardman Animations studio, which is (was) home to the "Wallace and Grommit" creators.

All their sets (except for the latest) are presumed destroyed.

A sad day indeed.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

'arry Potte

(That's supposed to be a Brittish accent)

I just finished book #6, the Half-Blood Prince.

I'm not a huge fan, but I've been entertained by the books so far (except for #2
being pretty much a copy of #1).

This book has to be the best of the series so far. It ends ... well, I won't spoil it because I hate that ... it ends with more stuff in the air than ever. The kids finally seem to be maturing somewhat, and the message finally changes from "adults don't listen to kids" to "adults sometimes listen to kids."

Anyway, decent book. Though you have to wonder, when the sh*t finally hit the fan in this book, the professors are pretty weak in magic, and the 6th year and yonger students seem to be able to hold their own with the Death Eaters (ok, slight spoiler). It all seems a little to rosy at that point (though Harry's interaction is appropriate).

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


PBS has a show on OJ Simpson's murder trial. It's pretty interesting. They're talking a lot about the race-card, both in the trial and in the public perception of the trial.

With almost no exception, the black folks were happy he was found not-guilty, and the white folks were dismayed.

One of the law students on the show summed it up nicely, "the LA police framed a guilty man." And reverend Sharpton also said something that also rings true, "OJ, when we clapped when you were acquitted, we were not clapping for you - we were clapping for Johnnie Cochran."

I think he was guilty. And for that, I think he should have been found guilty. But I can totally believe that the jury did the right thing in acquitting him because the police screwed up royally.

And while it's a shame that a guilty man is walking free, it seems fair for a high-profile case involving a black guy killing two white people to go free. Us white Americans are so used to things going the other way and are never outraged when it happens. It was good to see the opposite happen.

Hopefully the police have take more care in gathering evidence since then.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Cinnamon Rolls

Mary had the hankering for cinnamon rolls yesterday. And I'm never one to turn them down. My favorite are mom's (of course). She makes a simple cinnamon roll, with nuts and raisins and cinnamon sugar. And they're baked with a caramel glaze - no nasty frosting. But mom was a hundred miles away in Portland, so even with a best-case scenario, they'd be cold by the time we got them.

What's a guy to do?

I called mom and she was able to recite the recipe from memory - what a mom.

So I began my first excursion into the world of making cinnamon rolls.

I'd made bread before (though it's been a few years), and the rolls are really just a rich bread (eggs and sugar) with extras.

I didn't have any brown sugar for the caramel glaze, and it calls for a little Caro syrup. So I used sucanat, which I'd always been a bit wary of. It doesn't smell like brown sugar, and it's drier than brown sugar. But it's sweet and Mary has used it a lot. And instead of the Caro, I used some grade B maple syrup. I knew I was playing with fire because mom's turn out so tasty, and I didn't have the required ingredients.

I baked the rolls a little too long, the outside ones were a tiny bit too brown, and when I turned the rolls out on a plate (to expose the caramel yumminess), the caramel sauce was dark brown (as opposed to the normal golden color). I got a little worried until I tried it - YUM! An actual improvement over mom's recipe.

Now I'll share this improved recipe with you. Try at your own risk - they're super tasty, you might eat the whole batch.

For 2 loaves of bread, or about 3 dozen cinnamon rolls.

1/4 C water (warm)
2 pkg yeast

proof the yeast in the water for 5 min
with a touch of sugar

1.5 C water (or milk)
1/2 C butter, melted
1/2 C sugar
1 Tsp salt
3 ea. eggs
7-8 C flour

mix all together, kneading until it's done

let it rise until it doubles in size (1.5 hours)
punch down, shape, let rise again (45 minutes)
bake at 350 for 45 minutes until golden brown

if you're making cinnamon rolls, roll the dough out,
spread soft butter, cinnamon sugar, chopped walnuts,
and raisins.

roll the dough up into a log, cut into 2 inch rolls
and place in two 9x13 pans, *each* of which have a mixture

1/3 C melted butter
1/2 C brown sugar (sucanat)
1 T Caro syrup (maple syrup)

I'm making a second batch right now. I'm hoping the rolls turn out even better because I've already finished the first batch. And my stomach is rumbling.