Sunday, March 30, 2008

Four Seasons in one day

That was yesterday- I went out to the Obama kickoff in Beaverton, and afterwards, there was hail, followed by rain, followed by warm sunshine and then finished off with a cool breeze- and that was within a space of just two hours.

Then, the whole weather spectrum repeated itself again.

Sigh. For that reason, I booked a trip to Hawai'i. I have never been to Hawaii, and wit so much cold rain and wind it would be nice to have a change of pace. Even if it does rain a lot, at least it would be warm rain and warmer temperatures, and rains won't last as long.

Last night, we finally had ( a proper) Easter dinner. I made herbed lamb roast, boiled potatoes, and spring greens- combination of spinach, chicory and chard. I boiled the potatoes whole in their jackets, in salted water and thyme. I let the water boil out and shook the pot to get the skins to split, and dressed them with olive oil and freshly ground pepper. The lamb roast was a total cheat- it was from Trader Joes refrigerated aisle. Sure, I cold have went to supermarket, bought the lamb, and butterflied and seasoned it with herbs myself. But getting it already done from Trader Joes was actually cheaper ( I did not have to pay for bone or excess fat weight) and the easier in terms of labor. It cooked in about an hour and 10 minutes, for 2 1/2 pounds. The springs green were simply different bundles of greens, slightly bitter and needing a good braise.
We had a bottle of a lovely wine, Counterpoint, a rich, dense Cabernet Sauvuginon.

The meal was perfect for spring weather like this - richness from the meat and wine, but balance by lightly dressed potatoes and braised greens acting as a sort of tonic. It could fortify you against shifting weather and cold winds, and give you coolness against sudden shafts of sunlight.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Spring Snow

So, I woke up quite early this morning and decided to go for a run to wake up for the day.
There was plenty of rain and it was quite chily, but I reallyy did not notice all that much. But by the time I changed clothes to go to work, there it was:

Spring snow!

And lots of it, coming down in fat, fluffy, wet flakes, disappearing as soon as they hit the asphalt. It was very surprising, very pretty, but quite cold and wet. The contrast of the snow with the flowers was incredibly beautiful.

I just hope that the air is warm enough to not kill any budding fruit.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Brunch!

The day started off cold and rainy..which of course the standard in early spring here in Western Oregon. Did the service thing, then went out to Brunch with a friend at a charming place called Toast. This place is a smart, small place serving lovely food at great prices. We had Bendict Oh, which was eggs, benedict style with winter greens, homemade sausage, and a lovely, delicate Hollandaise sauce. That, along with coffee and a couple of cocktails ( one non-alcoholic) along with a charming amuse bouche: tiny renderings of their scones. Lovely!

We were rather lucky and came in just before the cafe closed for the day. And when it hit 2 o'clock, there was a gleefull cry of "It's two!" by the kitchen staff and the owner. Then, the owner came up and gave a toast, of sorts, to the resturant. It was a lovely, p[erfect touch, very much keeping with thoughts of renewal, and cherry and plum trees blossoming.

So, for two people, an elegant and imaginative brunch ( the blue plate special was rabbit confit with eggs and potatoes rosti) coffee, drinks, sweet servers, and a lovely little bag of their muffins- all of this for $30. I have paid more for much, much worse.

Please support this cafe by dropping in at least once a week, even if you are on a diet. There is an excuse to eat a lovely brunch and bike away the calories!

A perfect Easter brunch, chatting with friends, and hopefully supporting a new business.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring soup 1- Miso Ramen

The calender says 'Spring', yet there is lots of cold, chilly rain and hail. You would like to stat eating those cold, delicious tonic hings,but really, it is rather chilly.

Here is something easy to digest, very delicious and very easy to make: miso ramen, Hokkaido style.

Miso-Ramen no Hokaiddo ( 2 servings)

4 cups water
3 ozs ramen
4 tablespoons miso
2 bunchs scallions, chopped
5 dime sized slices of ginger, or 3 teaspoons grated ginger
6 ounces cubed tofu
2 cups fresh spinach leaves
1 cup frozen corn or drained, canned corn
2 teaspoons of seasame oil or butter

Set the water to boil. If using frozen corn, add it in ( otherwise, save the corn for later.) Add half the chopped scallions and ginger. After a minute, add the miso and half the spinach. simmer until noodles are done. Put tofu into bowls and divide soup into bowls. Garnish with remaining spinach, scallions and either sesame oil or butter.

Options: you can replace the tofu with seafood or chopped cooked pork.

IF you live near a lot of blossoming trees this is a great way to make a quick hanami viewing dish. With some good sake and some rich little custard bun or bean cake, this makes for a very satisfying and tasty meal.

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1st Day of spring....

And yet more rain and chilly air. But there is lots of blossoming cherries, now, as well as plums and apricots. Even in the most trashed out looking place, there is a tree with delicate, fluffy, pink tinged blossoms. I will try to upload some pictures to show off the prettiness of Spring- even in the most unlikely of places!

And as the Great Speech- it was as I thought. Obama gave a great, heart rendering speech, and people were either impressed or not; people will vote for him or not. Well, here is something regarding renewal and promise:

1) People saying that Obama lost already because of this flareup- yeah, sure. If people don't want to vote for Obama because his pastor, were not going to vote for the guy,period. How he was raised, the middle name, and yes, let do be frank, his skin color, were all deal breakers for many people already.

2) People screaming ( on the blogosphere) that they will vote for McCain if Barack Obama is the nominee: Gracious. So, you will vote for an honorable, but not terribly knowledgeable nor even keeled person who policies are sure to hurt your future pension and drive up the national debt further? Good luck with that nose holding.

3) And as for the rest of us: are you ready for the challenge of reclaiming our country from talk show hosts ( most who have never work a day in their lives)who thrive on suffering an pain as spectacle? are your ready to not live your life according to panem et circensesway of seeing government, where you are disengaged from the government and yet expect to government to deliver everything without consequence?

If you are, stop engaging in crap as usual. It's bad for the spirit, and it is bad for the country.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Yet another democratic soap opera episode

So. Later on today, Barack Obama will present a speech regarding race, religion, philosophy, his recipe for crumpets, and why buttered bread always falls buttered side down.

Sorry if I sound snarky- but congrats to the media for taking this campaign to a nice, race based, vulgar place. It sells papers,it sells tv shows, it sells radio shows and it keeps the focus of the United States diverted, while the misguided war in Iraq will cost us 3 trillion dollars. Pastor Wright is the latest black frightmonger from the media, since nothing else- Farrakhan, Rezko, Muslim-african relatives, past coke use, kindergarten papers- has stuck.

Yeah. It sells. Black boogeymen always do. But interestingly, I wonder if people will care beyond this week. Seriously. Because this will happen: Obama will give a great, heart rendering speech, people will cry - and his support will stay the same, maybe even improve if the speech is really, really beautiful ( as high, hard bar to pass, since his speeches are incredible.)

In other news- no recounbt for Florida. Yikes! What now!

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Gospel, Modern

On this fine Palm Sunday, let's reflect on what it means.

It's a commemoration of the arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem, where he was greeted with Palm Leaves and Hosannas. Usually, the lesson of Palm Sunday is accepting the joyous Gospel that came to Humanity.

Thousands of years later, that Gospel has been used in all sorts of ways. Currently, much of Christianity in this country is used as a sort of 'winner take all' fantasy religion. Just go into any Christian Bookstore and take a gander at what is all on sale: lots of books with plenty of soft focus photographs, all telling you that G-d wants you to be happy, and rich, and thin. There is even Christian Romance, a subset of which is Amish Romance (!) in which innocent and badly educated women learn to find God, along with their perfect man.

Very few books in these stores address faith, or social justice, or not being rich, or truthfulness or the inherent contradiction of materialism along with being a Christian. That is termed Philosophy- of which you must go to a regular bookstore.

It seems so strange- how all congregations don't address the problems of our modern world- commercialised and cheapened sexual relations, the need for profiteering yet impoverishing war, the fact that over attachment to material success in our country has caused real problems. And then there is the issue of race relations.

In the time of Jesus, there was no such social concept. You were a member of a tribe or a nation. Your skin color was your skin color- no indication of your worth, since 90% of everyone living lived hand to mouth, lucky to live to a ripe old age of 50. But there were class divisions, and the real threat of Roman Imperialism which could be a hard yoke to live under. You were most likely a serf or a slave or a client to some lord. There was a panoply of religions, but none that address the inherent worth of being a human being- an independent person who is worthy of the love of God. There was no need for sacrifices, for offerings, for acts- simply being a human made you a child of God- and therefore, a brother in Humanity.

A revolutionary way of seeing the world. Compassion, love, empathy and justice became the standard to live up to.

Now, has America lived up to that standard? In particular, has the American branches of the church lived up to that standard? The answer is - sometimes. In particular, many Catholics and Baptists for the forebears of civil rights in this country. And yes, the self same Churches has also endorsed slavery, were silently implicit in the promotion of racism, sexism and anti-Semitism, promoted corruption by not disciplining their own members when they did wrong.

We need a new interpretation of living the Gospel. The Gospel is the Ultimate Truth, Ultimate Reality. The soft, feel good garbage sold at the Christian Bookstore is nothing more than a distraction.


Speaking of Pastors, here is a video of Obama denouncing some remarks by his pastor:

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Thursday, March 13, 2008


So, now Lt. David Patterson will be Governor of New York- which had me thinking one thing:


Remember that show? God, those were the best reruns on tv. I bet Comedy Central will be replaying that series hard!

But seriously, what a turn out. New York's first African American Governor, by such a strange circumstance and turn of events. Charles Dickens- or Susan Harris- could not have written a stranger, more convoluted story!

Geraldine Ferraro quit the honorary position on Hillary Clinton's campaign, and went home to Long Island. I hope she does not think that Patterson is lucky to be both black and blind.

Rainy again- but then again, it is late winter in western Oregon. But what else would you expect? Sigh. But the blossoming cherry and plum is so very lovely- and you do look forward to upcoming spring!

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Who needs 'Desperate Housewives'?

Golly gee whiz.

So, Eliot Spitzer, His Honor The Governor of New York, esq, has been implicated in a prostitution ring, with the distinct possiblity that there may have been money irregularities.

Oh, my.

What is there to say? How stunningly, shocking, totally stupid. Just...astonishing.

This man, this incredibly foolish man, was the product of the best of NEw YOrk Public Education system, a man who could have been our first Jewish President- and all gone now, for what? Call girls?

It makes me sick to my stomach. I want to cry for him, and his beautiful wife. I want to slap the everloving crap out of him.


And in act two of the psychodrama that is USA politics, here's something classy from Geraldine Ferraro:

"If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."

Stay classy, Geraldine, stay classy. For a better discussion of this comment, click here. Just lovely.

Who needs 'Desprate Housewives? Who needs Lost?'

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Don't insult pigs

One of the most important lessons we have as human beings is to determine ho wwe will present ourselves to the world. Whether we are peasants working a smallholding or a fantastically rich prince, or somewhere in between, we must be the person we are meant to be.

This week, Obama narrowly lost Texas and Ohio, two huge primaries that could have sealed his nomination for President. As I wrote earlier, well done for Hillary's campaign. Now, some of Obama's followers are calling for him to get the gloves out and start swinging.


Some have said that not to play in the mud with the pigs because you would get dirty and the pig would enjoy it I say that it's an insult to pigs to talked about it in such a manner. Pigs are clean, thrifty, useful animals. To compare the Clinton's campaign to pigs is clearly insulting- to pigs.

Obama was set back, but only just so. Obama does not need to get out boxing gloves, nor does he need to get down into the mud or out Clinton Clinton.


Obama needs to get out a sword, and Out- Obama Clinton (and McCain). Consider: he does need to set out vision of how his temeprament can help direct the country in it's current economic crisis and the spiritual and economic cost of this ill considered war. And he needs to direct a clear vision of where to take this country in the 21st century. A vision can be a powerful sword to cut through the nonsense that clogs our discourse.

And to that point, Obama needs to simply be...himself. Yes, he must defend himself- and simply make himself more transperent ( if that is even possible: The Rezko scandal, such as it is, is simply no more than a bad real estate deal, not a judgement call on par with voting for a war simply as a political calculation). Be clean with who you are. answer the stupid Rezko question, then move on to what you can do with the country. Show no fear, and don't be afraid to call out out and out lies.

Obama supporters, consider this: The Hillary CLinton campaign was supposed to have this closed several weeks ago. And yet, for all of the money, the connections, the Hollywood stars, the race-baiting, Muslim baiting,the fear mongering, the lies and deceit and hypocrisy, the whining, the complaining, and yes, the pant-suit wearing, Hillary is barely hanging on by the edge of her fucking teeth. This person was supposed to be the most powerful person in the Democratic party, and she is having to fight dirty for every single score. It says something about Obama, and his supporters, and what we and him believe in.

That we don't fear the future. That we are a country of multitudes. That miracles are everyday in this country, and that we have the ability to rise above being afraid of the wolf at the door. That we can- that we musttreat each other better, and more kindly, if we are to go on.

The Clinton campaign has nothing but anger and fear and a love of executive privilege to dole out favors. NO.

Don't fear the future. We are a country of multitudes, and together, we can face all threats, both economic and and to the body politic.

Yes, we can. Yes, we must.

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Cedar Hills Crossings Vantage Point

So, after a very long sleep ( I went to bed very early on Friday, and woke up late on Saturday) I biked down to Cedar Hills Crossing. I love this particular mall- no, really, after saying I don't love places in Portland, I do love this place. There's a huge New Seasons(upscale grocery), a Powell's ( an excellent bookstore), a Movie theater, shops and walksways, and very good chain resturants. If you are lucky enough to live in the surroundig neighborhood, this is your town center. In fact, it is designed so that it functions as such, just all is missing is a green and city buildings- which is right down the street on Hall Boulevard. Sure, it's an example of the privatisation of public spaces, but by golly, it's great to hang out there! You can get a coffee, and just sit on the benches inside or outside, and just watch people, eavesdrop on coversations,or just be, reading a book.

I saw 'Vantage Point' a very interesting, rather bloody little thriller. No spoilers- except I thoght it would be like Roshomon but instead it was a retelling ofthe same assasination story. There is a little twist that you see from a million miles away, and here is the theme of how we experience destruction through a lense, but no matter- it's a good enough little hriller. With William Hurt! And a beautiful and utterly wasted Sigourney Weaver!


Thursday, March 6, 2008

Wow! We count!

So The Oregonian ran an article today that throws light on the importance the of smaller states in the Democratic Primary- you know, the other 40 states.

Oregon Primary has always been important, but it will one of many that will help decide this nail. I think it is a good thing that this is not decided yet. For too long, the media, which is based in Los Angeles and New York, based their view of he world in the immediate environment- and every four years, there is a reluctant trudging into the heartland, while Middle Americans are held up to scrutiny, to ridicule, to dismissal. The primaries are over quickly and so we go on.

There is something fine and good, something truly noble, about this long contest. I like the fact that Hillary Clinton is rising the crappy sexist mud thrown at her. I like the fact that someone like Barack Obama- the very product of America, a man who can represent multitudes- is seriously considered as a President. I like the fact that this time, around, we are taking our time, and asking questions, and sometimes, just going out of ourselves.

That's the specialness of this Campaign, and why Oregon and Wyoming and Mississippi and all the rest of us count. Because we do.

**Scuttlebut is saying that Michigan may a caucus. Oh, my.

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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Tendrils of Spring

It was chilly and the ground was hoary with frost this morning, and my breath left clouds as I ran for the bus. But then, there was a breeze from the sea and then the day warmed up with sunshine, and it was perfect, just perfect. There are the crocuses and the buds of the narcissi. And you can just catch the scent of these powerful little flowers- they remind me of lilies of the valley and jasmine, but more haunting, more sweet. The scent tickles your nose, just so, and then it is gone.

This is how Spring comes in Western Oregon, in delicate tendrils that weave itself together in the daytime. Then, there is a subtle unraveling at night. The daytime fabric becomes stronger, more sure the longer the sun makes an appearance, an dthe night time unravelling less and less and less until we have a delicate coevrlet of green budding trees and soft pink and white cherry blossoms.

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Hillary is a Buckeye Girl!

Finally, finally, finally Mrs. Clinton wins a couple of contests! Now, it's not like she did not win anything in the other 11 primaries so far- just that Obama has been the decisive winner. Now, I am sure all the pro- Obama blogger and web head will examine every single point from every single angle (and yes, I am talking to you, Andrew Sullivan !) but lets look at a couple of things:

1) Come on. This is Hillary Clinton, here. Even if she did not win Ohio (and lets not forget Rhode Island) Hillary has every intention finishing in June. This garbage about whether she should drop out ? Media created, in order to sell programming on TV.

2) Respect and props. Clinton really got her crap together, shaking up her campaign and really getting people out there for her. She got fresh reserves of money, and will not spend it so arrogantly and foolishly again. That shows flexibility and an ability to rebound. I like it. No, really.

3) Maybe her votes are due to sad old white people who simply cannot bear the thought of someone who looks like Obama becoming President. You know, so what? Seriously, so what? That's reality, and that has always been a reality. Those same people will happily vote for McCain ( even though he thinks that they are scum) come November. And I think that they are relatively small in number.

4) The press is now moaning more about Tony Rezko 'relationship' with Barack Obama. Okay, people here is the thing: Unless here are x rated photos of Barack Obama and Tony Rezko in bed together, doing unspeakably filthy things to each and enjoying it, then bad real estate dealings will start to be rather stale- especially since so many Americans are caught up bad real estate dealings of their own! ( If you do find those photos, go ahead and email them to me)

Yeah, I am still an Obama fan. But a winning has to be broken up, and the real gloves have started to come off now. Obama has returned to his more wonky speeches from last year, but now it is combined with his inspirational stylings. And he is learning to take the press with it rather tedious unimportant questions. ( yes, the Rezko matter is rather tedious, just as Whitewater was tedious and utterly unimportant. What is not tedious and unimportant is that this war is gonna cost us 3 trillion dollars .)

This is no SNL skit. I think this is the true beginning of the Campaign.

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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Love of Place

Portland is a place you must force yourself to love. Oh, it is a very easy place to like, to be sure. Portland is very likable, indeed- relatively clean air, a mild, cool climate, relatively clean streets, affordable fresh food and bike paths- all ingredients for likability and livibility.

But one does not love Portland. One loves New York City, or Chicago, or Boston, or New Orleans or San Francisco or Seattle. Hell, you can love Minneaopolis or yes, even Milwaukie ( a most beautiful and historic Midwestern city).and of course there is Paris or Berlin or London or Toyko, for that matter. But you don't speak of love and Portland in the same breath. You blather about coffee and beer and small strettcars, but you don't speak of Portland in great, heroic terms- or in intimate, tender whispers.

What is it about Portland that inspires such lack of passion? After all, it does have it's moments of quiet beauty, the people can be friendly and the food is rather good.


There is such a strange love of ignorance- being educated is not seen as a plus nor an enhancement to one's life. There is very little of a true spiritual and intellectual life here. I am not talkng about necessarily being a Christian/Jew/Muslim/Buddhist/Theophist/your choice here, nor am I talking about being a member of the Communist/Democratic/Republican/Klingon party. What I am talking about is the utterly indifference to a creed, a code, a feeling about oneself, one's place in the world and towards other people. Yes, people are indeed friendly, but it is an indifferent friendliness. There is no sense of an overarching connection to people in your community, or in your city. You are left alone to do your own thing- as long as other people don't have to be inconvienced with your existence.

IN Brooklyn, you are never left truly alone. The population pressure of such an crowded place makes it impossible. In Seattle, people will talk you, at length and bredth- and that's just the cafe barista. In London and in Paris, people will take you by the hand and help you negoatiate the City while hooking you up with performing artist to read your plays and a cold bedsit to work and sleep.

Here, my experience has been to work hard with lazy housemates who felt paying rent and utilities was an infringement of their rights as citizens. Now, before you say but that is the case in all places do consider whether parents of said housemates would lok at you as if it was an infringement of their rights to take these scumbags back into their basements.

So, yes, Portland, lovely and likeable. But worthy of love? Not really.

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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Hail, the true foreteller of spring

Hail, and then sun, and then more hail, coming down hard and fast. Meanwhile, I had to recover from a rather mild bit of drinking on Friday. It was only two drinks, but I am still recovering from a bout of flu ( yes, flu) and so today it felt like twenty drinks.

I always think of hail as the true harbinger of spring in Oregon, bright hard pellets of water and the accompanying cold, frosty air. That, combined with the pale, delicate flower buds on the trees and the peeking crocuses winking out of mud. That is the true sight and feel of spring- icy cold, frosty air, damp and sweet with the scent of new flowers.

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