Sunday, October 30, 2011

Go West, Young Woman!

I enjoy the west coast of the US. It is so different from here; the coastline itself is lapped by cold water instead of the warm water that kisses toes here on the Gulf.
And as far as colonization goes, many western ports are far older than my home shores.
We spent a few days in Seattle, WA.
This landmark was walking distance to our hotel (The Marriot in the Alaska Building). The Farmer's Market had pretty produce - fat raspberries and blackberries alongside unseasonably pretty tomatoes. I sniffed those and knew they'd received help to get the color. The berries were solid, though, and I wanted them - bu we were on our way to a restaurant with friends and had to pass.
We got to Washington on Saturday night. The weather was cool and a little damp and the ride to the hotel lives in my head as a swoosh of lights reflected from wet leaves as the cab climbed a mountain and I looked down into the valley. I was hot and had the cab window down so I could feel the wind on my scalp and cool my face.
Our first night was in a hotel in Bellevue; we moved the next day to Seattle to the conference hotel. Charlie grumbled about "the longest hotel check-in ever" but we got a HUGE room. We had an entryway, bed space and living space with windows covering two walls. If you ever have to stay in the Marriot Courtyard Downtown in Seattle, stay in a room ending in 10 or 02. HUGE.
We ate at fabulous restaurants. Best meal? The Metropolitan Grill.

I love beef carpaccio. It is usually served with arugula and sliced parmesan reggiano, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. This is Wagyu beef carpaccio and, my darlings, it was fabulous. Wagyu is the US version of Kobe in which (I think) Kobe and Black Angus are bred to bring the marvel that is Wagyu to plates. For my entree I had the paired filets; one of Nebraska beef, one of Wagyu. After tasting each I just wrapped the Nebraska beef and ate my wonderful Wagyu.
It is, simply, unbelievable. Mine was cooked medium rare, more on the rare side, and seasoned with a sprinkle of salt, grilled over mesquite wood.It was tender and perfetly beefy without the 'dull' taste some beef can have. My family has raised cattle for beef for what seems like forever so I am particular about my beef - this was better than anything from the Beaty Ranch.
I am running out of steam since in addition to a love for Wagyu I have brought back a sinus infection (or something) which is kicking my butt. I feel like the boxer who was losing the bout who shouted "no mas! no mas!"
No mas snot  y coughs, por favor.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

History and Me

I think I may have noted somewhere that I majored in History at FSU. I had planned on teaching community college; nice classes of people learning Western Civ that I could regale with the stories of the 6 wives of Henry the 8th, court gossip, old scandals that help today's students remember the important parts...That's not where I ended up but my interest in social/intellectual history colors my view of the world even now.
That facet of my personality made this week's trip to DC even more exciting than usual.
I was going with colleagues because of a Microsoft Foundation grant we are operating, which meant meeting at DC's Microsoft HQ. That, in itself, would have been plenty exciting for most people. What I was focussed on were my two wishes: an aftershock from the earthquake that had rocked DC a few weeks earlier and the opportunity to gather with a group related to the Occupy Wall Street protest.
My few days were dwindling away and I feared I wouldn't get either wish - I comforted myself with the fact that I had finally tasted Iberico Ham at Jaleo and that it was all I had hoped it would be - silky, melt-on-the-tongue cured ham that I will eat again.
On the last morning, the USA Today paper had an article about Occupy DC along with its location. At Last!
The protesters were at Freedom Plaza on the corner of 14th and Connecticut Avenues. My hotel was on New York Ave, a long trek away for a fat woman with a bad ankle. Oh, yes - the ankle I twisted on the same foot as the toes I had broken! I had twisted it again the previous morning when we climbed to the Russel Building to meet some Senators. I was determined to get there and really needed to walk off a few of the calories I had so eagerly consumed in the previous days.

This was the first picture I took. See the foot under the bench? That belongs to the woman holding the sign. She had it facing the street when I first saw her, looked over her shoulder and saw me and understood my turn-the-sign-around mime efforts and did so.
I've been saying for a long time that people need jobs that pay a living wage. I'm not talking communism/gimme, I am talking about paying people what their labor is worth. The CEOs are skating off with not just the biggest piece of the pie, but the VERY biggest piece.

This poster vilifies some CEO who got a big-ass bonus while foreclosing on homes - not really sure about the details but my contention has always been, even before this crisis, "how many islands can you own? How much do you really need to have a luxurious life?"
I think a lot less than they have now. I am not in favor of direct wealth re-distribution (i.e. take the rich folks' bank accounts and divvy them up) but restructuring the tax system so the middle class pays less, the rich pay more, and business and industry can't have a profit margin greater than 20% of payroll after you subtract operating expenses. People used to be able to have one breadwinner in a household and still have enough money (in all cases but the poorest) to own a house. I know abut the exceptions, this is a sweeping generalization.
My focus was on the piece of Occupy DC that concentrated on the economic side of the nation's problem. There were lots of other parts of the protest, threads to make a whole tapestry. The people against the Tar Sands pipeline, many elderly and wealthy-looking, were present along with the anti-war folks (which included quite a few veterans) as well as others; all of whom made up the consensus of the whole: Government should be about US, not the corporate interests who can line the pockets of Congress.
I came home Friday night. It was my eleventh wedding anniversary, 17 years total of being with the exactly right man for me.
My beloved Charlie had a vase of a dozen of my favorite roses, secured by a small box on the base to prevent any cat-astrophe, waiting for me. The cats twined around my ankles and sang "give us treats!" while I read my anniversary cards. I hugged and kissed my darling and decided that I had had enough "going" for a few days and would indulge in a little "staying" for the next few days in my perfect little corner of the world.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Autumnal Aire

Doesn't that just sound sweet and heady? Like music with high notes from flutes and zithers, the scent of ripe pears, the beginning of citrus blossoms gracing the air...
It was like I went to bed Thursday night wearing a stinky fur coat of humidity and awoke free and weightless Friday morning.
I forget the joy of the first little bit of fall we get here. It seems to my memory that there is far too little of that; that we just barrel down the seasonal highway from being mugged by heat to feeling like our eyelashes are so cold they'll break.
Friday morning I finished writing a grant, the glass door to the deck open so the cats could flow in and out like the breeze. I worked at the breakfast nook table so I could see the activity in the yard through the three big windows.The temptation to "help" me work is usually so high that an open door to the garden isn't enough to draw away my furry distractions. Everything smelled and felt so good to them this morning that I worked in peace.
We went to dinner with the Son, Darling DIL and GrandBeauty to celebrate the pending arrival of a new family member in March. The Beauty is not quite 2 years old but displays (naturally enough!) remarkable intelligence. She was very good at dinner, no shrieks, many charming behaviors.
Look at those pigtails! She is eating organic gummies as her appetizer and shared some cheese with us as well as some of her Mama's Spaghetti Carbonara.
After dinner, the men went to the cars to put away leftovers and we three girls went into the street for Octoberfest.
Jacq had been so good we let her run unfettered. DIL pointed out that Jacq was running with her nose up, questing the air like a cat or dog, enjoying the wind on her face and the fragrances of fall in a Florida City.