September 27, 2008


After a very busy week, E and I went out to dinner last night and I fell asleep before 10 PM. I just woke, after ten and half hours of sleep and I feel rested for the first time in quite a while. (Granted, my fatigue is nothing compared to Lucky_Girl's.)

I'm looking forward to a weekend at home where we do chores around the house, I get to fit in two good runs, and we finish the last winter garden box. We have no social plans and after a week where I went out to lunch on 4 days and we had guests one night, I'm more than excited about the tranquility. I'm glad I saw all of the people I saw this week. I feel very up to date on many of the colleagues I rarely see. But I'm also exhausted. I've always been an introvert who faked extroversion, but I'm finding that as I age, I'm becoming more of an introvert because the extroversion is more exhausting. Perhaps it's because I spend at least half of my typical work day either on the phone talking to people or in meetings talking to people?

One thing I'm really excited about for this weekend (other than finishing the last winter garden box) is putting in some more time with my new book, The California Master Gardener Handbook -- it's a compendium of all the home gardening info that the University of California Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources saw fit to print -- all 702 pages of it. Last night I read all of the entries for the winter vegetables we have planted so far, and a little on the few we're going to plant in the last box (Yay Gourmet Garlic, artichokes, and more onions!). I definitely need to read the sections again, but I was happy to find that so far we haven't done anything too terrible.

A couple of weeks ago, I finished my first gardening book: Square Foot Gardening. It's accessible, and since I literally knew nothing about gardening, I learned quite a bit and used the reference sections heavily. But some of the information is in direct contrast with the commonly held wisdom (not to mention the instructions on the seedling inserts and seed packages). And, I suspect the spacing he recommends often is not enough. For example, Tomato plants just need more than just 1 square foot of space. Period. Also, he suggests one-size-fits all watering techniques, which, with our warm summers, I found we needed to completely ignore if we didn't want our plants to die.

However, I think his goal was to make gardening seem easy (which it is if you don't mind the failure inherent in experimentation) to get more people to try it with simple techniques that eliminate complexity and optimization in favor of simplicity and more modest success -- since I wish more people talked about their gardens at lunch instead of television, if this was his purpose, it's a noble goal!

September 24, 2008

The Pace of Life

Where did 2008 go? The days blow by me so fast and it's almost the holidays...

I had my quarterly review yesterday. I did not get fired. I did get the comment that sometimes I am too quick (or, under too much time pressure) and I don't totally think about the words in my contracts before I turn them in for review. That's true. I will be working on that one.

Unlike work, where sometimes I am too quick, when I put on my running shoes, I am not ever "too quick." I am still working on increasing my speed. Yesterday, I decreased my 3-mile speed check time by 47 seconds. This was a huge jump and I was excited. An average speed decrease of 16 seconds per mile!

Only 3 minutes and 12 seconds to go, or only 1 minute 4 seconds decrease in my average time per mile. [grin] Yeah, that's a lot. I have my work cut out for me.

September 21, 2008

Winter Garden

The end of the summer garden is upon us. Yellow pear tomato and the crook neck squash have died. The remaining plants look healthy enough, but there just isn't as much fruit as there used to be.

We are inspired by our success in the okra-from-seeds experiment (just look at how tall the largest one to the right is -- crazy that last may it was a little tiny seed we put in the dirt):


Of course, E noted that the shorter more root-bound okra plants we planted 3 to a pot produce just as much fruit as the larger one, which has the pot to itself, but that when we got to 4 to a pot, production per plant is negatively affected. So, if you are growing okra from seeds in Northern California, it looks like you need an unencumbered radius of 4 inches around each plant for optimal production.

The cucumber is a perfect example of the evolution of the garden. It was a great producer and it's still producing fruit, but you can tell by looking at it that it's on its way out:


What could we possibly do now that the summer vegetables (alas, we only picked 4 tomatoes this weekend!) are on their way out?

Well, what else could we do? Yesterday, we biked over to the nursery and I was inspired by the idea of lots of lettuces and cool-weather vegetables, so we decided to try our hand at a cool-weather garden. But first, we needed a place to put it.

E, do you mind if I dig up all the grass between the second driveway and the walkway?

E grinned bemusedly as I purposefully grabbed brother's pick and said, No. I don't mind at all. Go right ahead.

In case you were wondering, using a pick with a 3 foot handle to dig up grass and turn soil is a ridiculous workout. I suspect that had something to do with E's grin. On Saturday, I cleared maybe 20 square feet. When I was finished, I was ridiculously sore. I had a *blister* and my fingers were swollen. I felt creaky, but good. Today, when I returned to the task, I ripped the blister open (childhood memories from gymnastics came rushing back), and re-used the same muscles from yesterday against their obvious displeasure until I was able to convince E he should finish the last bit (thanks E!).

So, yesterday, after evaluating my efforts and measuring the area with respect to the redwood we had, we moved the herb box to the left of the walkway and this is what it looked like:


Today, we went back to the nursery and acquired several plants to supplement the seeds we got yesterday. E made it *very* clear that winter vegetables from the garden are lame compared to summer's rewards and that he's only helping out as an act of love (thanks E!). The only winter garden plants he's excited about are the beets (planted from seeds) and brussel sprouts (we bought seedlings). The remaining plantings of a lettuce mixed pack (6 plants of various types of leaf lettuce, I can identify butter lettuce, romaine, and the other 4, well, I've definitely had 'em before but I have no idea what they are called); a six-pack of spinach; a six-pack of arugula; and parsely did nothing to impress him. The carrots and radishes (planted from seeds) are equally unexciting to him.

Despite his lack of excitement, he built two boxes for raised beds, and cut and pre-assembled the pieces for a third if/when we decide to dig up the additional grass it would cover.

And so, I present our winter garden:


I am very happy.

September 20, 2008

Rios Broccolli-Cauliflower Bisque

So, a while ago, I mentioned to R that I couldn't get soups into the consistency I wanted them to be. She said I should use the blender, nay, not just any blender, a good blender.

Turns out, daddy got us a *good* bar blender. You know, good enough to crush ice into bar drinks that would make daddy proud. So, I actually had a good blender, I was just foolishly trying to purée soups in the cuisinart.

Ever since that conversation, I've taken her advice and blended some deliciously creamy and perfectly even purées in the blender. E, food consistency obsessive that he is, has considered this a marked improvement in our kitchen's output.

Last week, R visited briefly, and left behind some fancy cream cheese remnants. One, an orange concoction, still sits chilled in our fridge, waiting for its demise. The other, a cream cheese and herb blend, however, made its way into a delicious mid-week bisque (we used the cream cheese in place of cream). In fact, E and I enjoyed it hot the first time and chilled the second time -- it was a hit both times and we were surprised at how filling it was, given its very healthy ingredients. I hope you will enjoy it as well.

-1 head cauliflower, chopped
-2 small bunches broccoli, chopped
-1 yellow onion, diced
-1 box chicken broth
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-clippings from the herb box of fresh lemon thyme, rosemary, marjoram, and sage
-3 T of cream cheese herb blend
-3 T butter
-black pepper to taste

1. Melt butter in a large stew pot over medium heat.
2. Sautee onions and garlic in butter for 2 minutes.
3. Add cauliflower and broccoli and stir, cover with broth move to medium high heat, stir, cover and allow to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring regularly.
4. Add minced fresh herbs, stir, and continue to simmer.
5. Check tenderness of vegetables, if they are still hard to break apart with a spoon, add water and continue to simmer until tender.
6. Using a slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to a blender and blend on high until pureed. Return to pot and remove remaining vegetables with slotted spoon for their purée cycle.
7. For the last batch of vegetables, add the cream cheese and 1/2 a cup of water, purée until perfectly creamy.
8. Return creamy purée to pot, stir until evenly mixed throughout.

Allow to cool until it is able to be eaten, add black pepper to taste (or even hot sauce) and enjoy!

September 18, 2008

Tomorrow Morning...

I haven't made it out the door once this week for my AM runs. I wake to hit "snooze," "dismiss," or, I just plain don't hear my alarm.

I've rescheduled for the PM, pushed to the next day, and today, I did the one-two punch of rescheduling for the PM this morning and then pushing to tomorrow this evening when I got home with a tight window before sundown and a serious case of the lazy.

Despite what appears to be a lack of commitment, slowly, but surely, I'm actually regaining the speed that I lost over the last 6 months of leisurely distance training. I've dropped 48 seconds from my speed-check 3-mile loop over the last several weeks. I'm getting there.

But, of course, I'm not gaining speed to get there nearly as quickly as I projected.

I never do.

Occasionally, when I speak with my running (or non-running) friends about my life and my running schedules, I hear people refer to me as "disciplined." Let's be clear -- I'm not disciplined, I'm an optimist. If I was disciplined, I wouldn't sleep past my AM runs. I wouldn't reschedule. I wouldn't opt for delicious mexican food and margaritas the night before a long run when the original plan had been vegetables and yoga.

But I do. Because, I'm an optimist -- I set goals that are unreasonable unless you are a machine, and then, in my non-mechanic way, while living a non-mechanic life, I try to sort-of, kind-of, meet them. From this process, I have learned, all it takes is effort, and from the far-away view, you look disciplined.

So, tomorrow AM, I'll be getting up to run a very slow, easy 6 miles before a day of work followed by a healthy meal of vegetables and yoga before bed. Why? Because I completely bailed on today. Today's 6 miler this AM? Didn't even happen, despite last night's early bedtime and super-healthy meal. But tomorrow? Tomorrow is another day. And, I'm an optimist.

Speaking of bailing and being an optimist -- Today, I bailed on this weekend's scheduled race, where I had foolishly set a goal of running a 1:50 half marathon. My recent speed training sessions have convinced me that I'm not yet ready to hit anywhere near that speed. Plus, my sister had a cooking-bathing combo injury (not kidding!) and so I'd be running solo, all for a trip without E. So, I bailed on the race. I'll be doing a short 6 and a medium 14 miles solo this weekend. Slowly. At nothing close to the race pace I'd hoped for. See... not disciplined. But, I have learned that compensatory actions, over the long haul, add up.

As a testament to that, week-by-week, ever since my last marathon, when I acknowledged I needed to put in some more effort to be quick, I've been getting faster. Even if it isn't anywhere near the speed gains that I'd hope for, there are gains, and I appreciate them.

In short, as I call it a night in this evening of laziness and think optimistic thoughts for tomorrow and this weekend, I'd like to point out that every inch is an inch, my friends -- and, the big secret is, most people mistake distance for discipline.

September 14, 2008

I am sad

I felt so much of a kindred connection to the late David Foster Wallace. He, more than any other person I've ever spoken with, read, or met, understood the tension I felt with my demons.

There is darkness in the world. To deny it is an act of intellectual dishonesty. And yet...To fight it can be so, so, tiring. I've met a few who have understood the depth of the demons. Most of them have given up the fight. The kindred spirit I felt in DFW was that he knew his demons at a level that made me feel less alone, but he still fought. And now, he fights no more.

Against my own demons, I do my best to insulate myself from their self-absorbing horror and to live in the moment. To embrace the Zen philosophy which encourages one to avoid any and all value judgments aside from those in the present -- enjoy this food, this breath, this run, this friend, this moment. I suspect DFW never found the calming framework that worked for him. The one that could play the role that Zen, Yoga, meditation, writers who celebrate the beauty of life instead of demons, the wonder of a truly open and vulnerable relationship with a life partner like E and good friends that are too many to name, and the remnants of childhood christianity and various other philisophical and emotional signposts have formed for me. This makes me sad.

When I read DFW, I could not help but recognize and give presence to my demons. He got them. They tormented him and spent time with him and love him, certainly more than they did me. Or, perhaps, he was more in love with them than I was, and he cared for them more -- gave them more space and time. I think he loved his demons of human darkness in accident, addiction, pleasure, unluck, and un-restrained-ego, amongst others. They are powerful. They cause much drama. They move much in the world, in fact, they may actually rule it, and yet most refuse to acknowledge their existence. If you are the type of person that understands this reality and faces it, you are destined to feel lonely. These are the demons that occasionally (once a year or so) attack me, and make me feel very alone.

Never, other than while reading DFW's infinite jest, and staring down at the abyss below Foresthill Bridge after a high school friend committed suicide from it, have I ever felt that anyone understood just how alone I occasionally feel in the face of human darkness. I felt alone that night on the bridge and moved on. I never felt that anyone understood just how alone I occasionally felt against my demons until I read Infinite Jest. He knew how I felt on that bridge. It's an ugly feeling and he wrote about it intellectually, analytically, as I would have if I had more time to spend with the demons (but who would seek that). I'm very thankful that R was there with me that night on the bridge to listen to me talk through my demons even when she didn't share them. I am blessed to have such supportive friends.

And now, in addition to the high school friend I lost. I've lost the companionship of DFW in the world. I am sad.

Again, I beseech you and yours -- if you are down, slow, depressed, feeling that there is no other option, or anything along those lines -- GET HELP IF YOU NEED IT.

That is all.

September 13, 2008

Large Hadron Collider Rap


Yes, I am a dork.

Link thanks to Transmogriflaw
Almost time for bed

I got home about an hour ago.

I've been powering through an in-person negotiation for a relatively big deal for one of my clients over the last few days and putting everything else in my life on hold.

This means working 'til 1 Am on Wednesday and getting up at 5:30 for a 6 AM call to start Thursday. Sending a redline at 8:15. Trying to cram in a full day's work in 3 hours. Going in person to negotiate from noon 'til 1 AM and making E call a cab to take him to the airport for a 10:50 flight, because I just couldn't get home to take him in time.

When I finally did come home, I was welcomed by visiting friends who had to let themselves in via hide-a-key. I said hello briefly and then sent a few work emails.

I slept briefly, but on edge. And then I woke. Energized and over-stimulated.

I wondered in amazement at the perfect timing of guests -- they eat breakfast, and brought doughnuts! Ordinarily, I don't eat 'til lunch, but given that I kind of skipped the food at the negotiation, and the lack of sleep... yeah. Thanks R!

Today was more of the same. After less than 5 hours sleep, wake to try to finish another day's worth of work in 3 hours. A pre-negotiation conference call. Negotiations on-site for 13.5 hours. And finally, we have the final document. We toast with bourbon (Yuck!) and the parties shake hands. We'll see if the boards actually approve it...

Finally, I'm home. Tired. But still needing to wind down (and hence blogging).

I don't have spells like this very often. But, when I do, I'm amazed at my lack of need for sleep in the face of the adrenaline. I really do love my job. I love being trusted with so much power (even though half of the time the companies I represent don't realize just how much I could do to help or hurt them).

It doesn't hurt that E is gone this weekend. So, I get the best of both worlds -- Tons of distraction from E's absence by work that I enjoy, which when he's home, I often resent because it takes me from him.

I suspect that when the buzz of the fun in-person negotiations to help a small company close (I hope!) an important deal wears off, I'll be less thrilled about the remaining hours of make-up work I have this weekend.

But, right now, at 4:20 AM on a Saturday (which means I worked straight through Friday night). I'm very happy with my career choice and I like my job. Like I said, I don't have to do this that often. But, when I do, I learn a ton, I feel very useful, and I enjoy myself.

I think that says quite a bit about both me, and the type of person who would be happy in my job.

All you potential transactional attorneys -- take note!

September 7, 2008

Light Summer Risotto

Risotto, 'round our house, is a treat. This means, if I'm going to go through the motions of making it, I'm usually throwing in the indulgence ingredients (bacon, prosciutto, butter, cheese, beef-broth-braised-mushrooms, etc.).

So, tonight, was a new treat for us. I modified a recipe from Vegetarian Times Cooks Mediterranean to make a basil-lemon-feta risotto. Of course, the recipe was all off from my final concoction -- it called for home-made vegetarian broth (Puh-leeze! I use chicken broth in boxes from Safeway. It's good. Salty and good!). It did, however, call for carrots in the vegetarian broth, and I thought -- mmm... carrots! In the risotto! Let's do it. It also called for ricotta salata. I had Bulgarian Feta. Close enough.

So, in short, I improvised, modernized, and edited this recipe to make it my own and both E and I were wonderfully surprised with how flavorful, healthy, and *light* this summer risotto ended up being! It's a new favorite of ours and very different than most of the risottos I make -- lighter, more fun!


Lemon-Basil-Feta Risotto

-1 T peppercorns
-1/4 lemon rind, grated
-1 cup arborio rice
-2 T butter
-1 yellow onion, diced
-1 handfull baby carrots, diced
-1/2 cup gin (I had no appropriate white wine, and this substitution actually worked well!)
-1/2 cup basil, trimmed from the herb-box, chopped finely
-3/4 cup bulgarian feta, chopped finely
-1/2 box chicken broth

1. melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat
2. sautée carrots and onion in pan 'til onions are clear (5-7 minutes)
3. Add rice and peppercorns, stir to coat with butter 'til shiny.
4. Add Gin. Boil off alcohol and ignore the wacky smell.
5. Add enough broth to coat the whole thing, stir over medium heat until evaporated.
6. repeat #5.
7. repeat #6 until the rice is al dente.
8. Stir in chopped basil, feta, and lemon rind and allow to sit and set for 10 minutes.
9. Serve immediately. Enjoy.

September 5, 2008

Why it's always hard for me to vote

I think tax policy is one of the most important issues that politicians address. Unfortunately, I'm more or less alone. Tax is boring. It's not sensational enough to be interesting to the entertain-me-or-at-least-shock-me mindset of the majority of the voting public unless you can point to the rich getting much, much richer or the poor getting much, much poorer. However, boring as it is, the positions we, as a society, take on the types of economic activity that we reward really do shape not just the economy but also the types of activity that will occur within that economy.

First of all, the current U.S. tax system is very convoluted and stupid in many places.

One example is the marriage penalty (and the most recent fixes that reward low-income married couples). The country should not provide economic penalties or rewards to people who decide to enter into a legal union, and certainly not both at the same time depending on the tax bracket they are in. Right now, financially, lower-income couples are incented to be married to save taxes and higher income couples are incented not to be married to save taxes. This will revert to penalizing everyone who is married in 2011 unless it is changed. Of course, this is a long-standing problem and not too many people are fired up about it -- very few people decide not to get married for tax reasons, so neither of the candidates address it in depth (e.g. Obama tweaks with it, but neither has come out and admitted that it is stupid and married folks should pay the exact same as they would pay if they were single).

The AMT is stupid, too. It was passed in 1969 to target high earners with too many deductions, but wasn't pegged to inflation. The politicians have to pretend that they are going to apply it to all who would be hit to make the budget look better, but then, every year around December 31, they get together and admit that, oh shit, what was a high-earner in 1969 is actually middle class now. We probably shouldn't tax them all under the AMT 'cause then they may not vote for us, how 'bout just some of 'em? A few more than last year, but not all of 'em. So, you never know how badly you will be hit with the AMT 'til the last second. Ridiculous! How 'bout picking a number and sticking with it? How 'bout pegging it to inflation to adjust annually? It's not rocket science.

Regardless of the current mess of the U.S. tax system, I think it is important to consider how it may change with the new president, and whether, we as a country want to be encouraging and discouraging the types of behaviors that their tax plans will incentivize.

I've read enough about Obama's tax policy to know that I do not agree with several of his plans and think they will be bad for the economy. First, and foremost, I think increasing capital gains tax to 25 percent (from its current max level of 15) is likely to freeze up capital and decrease liquidity in the markets. And given the lack of debt that is currently being made available as the banks and lenders sort through the subprime mortgage mess, we really need liquidity.

It is harder for companies to get the debt they need to do deals these days, which means it is more likely that good companies in a strategically disadvantaged positions will lay people off or shut down rather than getting acquired. It is harder for individuals to get the debt they need to buy homes right now, which means the housing slump will continue because people who would be good buyers and pay their bills are unable to buy homes that are sitting on the market (often in the hands of folks who couldn't afford their mortgages in the first place and now find their home-values plummeting). Anecdotally, I have even heard that it is even harder for individuals to get consumer credit these days. All of these changes mean less money flowing through the economy, which, of course, contributes to a recession. I think a low tax rate that rewards capital investment by taxing it at a lower rate than other forms of income makes sense -- it encourages the exact type of behavior that we, as an economy, need to be encouraging. Now, and, in general.

McCain plans to leave capital gains rates at the current levels. But his plan isn't exactly my favorite either. He wants to cap the estate tax with a $5 Million exemption and a max rate of 15. Obama wants to cap it with a $3.5 Million exemption and a max rate of 45. Here, I think Obama's policy makes more sense, although 45 may be a bit too high. Regardless, from a policy perspective, wealth transfer by inheritance is not the type of economic transactions we should treat favorably (and thus, encourage). Inheritance requires no innovation, labor, creation of efficiency, or any of the things that are good for our economy. In what world does it make sense to say that people who invest wisely, save, and then sell their investments to either make other investments or spend it in the economy should pay the same tax rate on the wealth they generated by making wise and disciplined investments as those who happen to win the sperm lottery?

In my opinion, the biggest difference between the two plans lies with McCain's proposal to decrease the corporate tax rate to 25%. I know, I know, it looks like I'm taking the side of big corporations here. But, what I'm really doing is looking at the international world and acknowledging that we are out of sync. Microsoft now runs the majority of its revenue through its Ireland headquarters, as opposed to running it through Redmond. Why? The same reason many major companies have relocated fiscal operations there -- its very favorable corporate tax rate of 12.5%. Ireland moved from one of the worst economies in Europe (18% unemployment, close-to-third-world-country infrastructure) to one of the best, and most experts largely credit these changes to their change in corporate tax rate.

In fact, when you include the double taxation regime of state corporate tax on top of federal corporate tax, in many states, the combined US corporate tax rate is higher than Japan, the country with the supposed *highest* corporate tax rate.

What types of companies leave high-corporate-tax ratet countries in search of better corporate tax rates? Profitable ones. The types of companies that have many employees. The types of companies creating innovative products that sell well.

In short, I agree with McCain's policy on this issue and think that targeting a level of 25% is reasonable, pragmatic, and necessary to be somewhat competitive in the world economy. I think a federal level of 25% addresses the reality of the issue, but still leaves the U.S. in the high end of the tax rates paid across the world. In fact, France, currently #5 in the world at 34.4% is discussing lowering its rate to 20%, which, if it went through and McCain's suggestion went through would leave the US comfortably in 4th-20th place worldwide, depending on the state.

Finally, as for the only tax issue that most people care about -- personal income tax and its effects on those in various brackets -- the Candidates' plans follow the party lines. Obama is a democrat. He's for more government-sponsored social services, decreasing taxes on those in lower income tax brackets and increasing taxes on those in higher income tax brackets. Predictably, his plans target the top 1% of earners very heavily and the top 0.1% of earners the most. McCain is a republican. He's for decreasing taxes overall, decreasing government sponsored social services, and, of course, his plan results in tax decreases that are higher for the highest income tax brackets and lower, proportionately, on the lower income tax brackets.

Neither of the candidates' plans in this area will really affect my life. The Tax Policy Center at the Brookings Institute estimates that we'd pay approximately 2% more of our earnings in federal taxes than we currently do under Obama's plan and approximately 3% less under McCain's plan. Those variations are too minor to matter when compared to the uncertainty in the economy (and thus our earnings in general) and the uncertainty in our current tax regime (all of the Bush tax cuts are scheduled to expire in 2011 -- no one even knows what we'd pay after that, the AMT is retroactively patched every year, but if they decided not to do that we'd be hit with way more than a 2% increase, etc.).

So, the personal income tax issues, while complicated, often stupid, and not well thought out, are not a hot-button issue for me. Neither of the candidates are addressing the personal income tax system as a whole. Neither of them are addressing the issue of the budget deficit.

And, on the issues I really care about, each of them has taken at least one position I support and at least one position I oppose. On balance, I think McCain's plan makes more sense for the economy, but I'm not in love with it. I fear Obama's combination of capital gains increases with a refusal to lower the corporate income tax rate could have very negative effects on the economy.

Of course, U.S. presidents do all sorts of important things in addition to approving tax plans, not the least of which is appointing Supreme Court Justices, so I'll have to balance those issues against the economic issues as well. Seeing as how I'm a mixture of a libertarian, a social progressive, a believer in meritocracy and a fiscal conservative, you can imagine how difficult it always is for me to vote...

September 4, 2008

Short weeks are awesome

Take Tuesday off after the Monday holiday and you've got a 3-day work week. Brilliant!

To celebrate, I offer the best picture from the fireworks this weekend:


Also, I present the dinner I fed to my sister and E last night:

Okra Tomato Eggplant Casserole

- 1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch X 1/2 inch strips that are the width of the eggplant
- 1 pound okra, sliced into 1 cm rounds
- 3 heirloom tomatoes, diced
- 1/4 cup fontina, 0.5 cm cubed
- 1/4 cup aged goat cheese, 0.5 cm cubed
- 1/2 cup grated dry aged cow's milk cheese (I used Grano Padano)
- 1 red onion, diced
- olive oil

1. Pre-heat oven to 400F
2. Salt eggplant in a bowl and let sweat while you prep the other ingredients
2. Rinse eggplant and combine all ingredients except the cheese and tomatoes in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and mix until everything is coated.
3. Bake at 400F for 25 minutes
4. Add tomatoes to the top, bake for 10 minutes
5. Increase oven temp to 500F, cover with the cheeses and bake until browned.


September 2, 2008

Southern Vacation

Per the usual, we spent a long labor day weekend with E's family in the South.

We leave the big city and head up to the northern hills, where we enjoy waffle house, barbeque (the noun of the South, not to be confused with our weekly summertime verb of California), sleep, the languid pace of life that the southerners do better than anyone (other than the Italians), relaxation by a lake, trips on the pontoon boat and deep breaths in the face of the heavy green mountains surrounding the lake and capped by a light blue sky, and, of course, fireworks, but more about that later.

In short, after close to a decade of visits, I look forward to this weekend as a guaranteed respite of heavenly relaxation and reading each year. This time, I finished a gift from Arvay, If you lived here, I'd know your name. I suspect she had ulterior motives. I'm in love with the Alaskan mindset now. I want to visit. I think I may even want to stay. How awesome is it when a book can make you feel like that?

But, I digress. The weekend...

E, of course, also looks forward to this weekend each year. We get to see his family and his best man and his wife. They cook southern food for us (Yes! Bacon!), take us to his favorite restaurants, and often, they take us on some southern adventure -- for example, this year, we rafted the Natahala.

All of these things are fun for me and I always enjoy them (although, for the most part, my joy pales in comparison to the Southern boy's), but rather than try to explain, in words, why this weekend was so great, I will instead post some photos which do a much better job than I could describing the highlights from E's most recent firey reunion with his best man:




E's best man bought fireworks in Florida and brought them up for the weekend.


The fireworks in Mexico were more dangerous but less awe-inspiring than this display.


Part of me wants to say that Fireworks shouldn't be this cool. The pictures certainly only look... interesting.


But, how can you argue with the amount of fun the boys had?


Fireworks are cool! Enough said.

Also, I barely did any work this weekend in lieu of the running, yoga on the boathouse, sleep, boat rides, food, and fireworks.

Happy Labor Day!