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Archive for July, 2008


At Last, Some Stitches

Dear Ellen,

I love your post regards the character of our country and how we are maturing. I think you nailed it.  And speaking of a person of color running for President.  I got to meet him this past week.  He came to our command to learn about defense of the homeland.  I got to be at the table for the briefing.  He shook everyone’s hands and looked you right in the eye when he did it.  While I like a stronger handshake, I imagine he’s been schooled in not clenching (and hurting) people’s hands as he campaigns.  He made it clear he was there as a Senator, learning more to be able to do his job better, though at the end when he thanked us and committed to continued support, he did acknowledge that if he were to get a promotion, the briefing and discussion would be very valuable.  He asked good questions…and made connections quickly and with solid relevance.  His reputation as a quick study seemed validated.  Finally, there was no flash and bang — and no sense of any political agenda.  He really seemed to care.  Seeing that Karl Rove is now advising McCain and the very positive impression I had of Obama in person, I am leaning very much in the latter’s direction.

I can see the light at the end of the unpacking tunnel. By the end of the weekend I think our place will look pretty darned good. Little Knit BitI even allowed myself to take a bit of time last night to cast on for a pair of socks. I was very tired and watching Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, so I managed to confuse the increase and straight knit rows and had to rip out and start over. As a result, I only have a nub of a toe started, but it’s something on needles! (I only have one UFO at this point. A great cardigan on which I only have 1/2 a sleeve to knit and then the finishing. How is it that I stalled at that point? Oh, yeah, I moved from Norfolk to Portsmouth.) There’s not much there, but I now have something to just pick up when I have a few minutes. None of that browsing the patterns (or deciding to make one up), browsing the stash, settling on needle type, et al. I don’t know exactly what I’ll do with regard to stitch pattern after the toe, but I’ll make something up when I get there. And, by posting the picture of my progress, I can also show off my Celtic Swan hand-forged sterling silver needles!

We go to a barbecue with old friends this afternoon…and will head home early so Max isn’t traumatized by the fireworks. Ruby can hardly wait for them.

Love, Jan

Happy 4th of July

Dear Jan,

Do you feel as old as Wilson and I do now that our lives are over 20% the age of our country? When we were kids and the bicentennial rolled around, it sure seemed like 1776 was a long time ago. Suddenly our country is seeming like a baby, or maybe an adolescent.

I like to think of us as a teen-aged country. We are impetuous and often don’t understand the risks in what we do. We think we’re immortal. We’re full of energy and creativity. We get into fights and throw tantrums easily, but we love with a passion that is hard to achieve in older worlds. I love teenagers. And when I think of our country as a teenager, I love it more.

I think we are are getting beyond the egocentric phase of young children and starting to share our toys better. It is so encouraging to see two states with legal marriage for all*, a person of color running for President, and more and more women CEO’s (and admirals!). I’m hoping that after this rancorous period of win at all costs and if the person is from another party they must be the Enemy, we are moving into a period of unity for common good and an ability to discuss issues instead of standing on ideological soapboxes (both major parties terribly guilty on the latter count).

Happy Birthday, USA, and though you are charming now, I am looking forward to knowing you as you continue to mature!

Love,

Ellen

11.jpgP.S. Bohus sighting – it has taken 6 hours to get here, not counting the 3 hours of knitting, ripping, reknitting, reripping, and re-reknitting of several rows – details on Ravelry if you want to know more.

*I actually think the best answer is civil ceremonies for all, including heterosexuals, with church weddings being purely religious constructs – a topic for another day.

A taste of New Orleans

Hi, Jan,

I’m back from a packed 4 days in New Orleans. Almost all of my time was taken up with the food technology conference I was attending, so I didn’t do much roaming, but I did get a taste of the city. Especially when going out to dinner with key suppliers – I had the opportunity to dine at the John Besh restaurant, August (twice), Emeril’s Delmonico, and the Scott Boswell newcomer (post-Katrina), Stella!

You know, with the exception of Stella!, I wasn’t knocked off my feet. I think Emeril takes the native cuisine up a few too many notches and loses the charm – especially when everything from the wine to the steak knives are branded “Emeril!”. My grilled salmon was nicely prepared, but nothing special.

August wowed me with a spicy duck dish – perfectly cooked, medium rare breasts rubbed with something akin to 5-spice powder and served with a yummy Mascarpone-embellished polenta. But the rest of the meal was just good, and when I returned for a private party, the food was unremarkable. Again, a properly cooked piece of fish, but that isn’t out of the ordinary these days. For someone rated one of the top 10 chefs in the US, it was not hitting the mark. It may be that Besh has a good excuse, though, as I understand he is devoting most of his attention these days to getting the mom & pop restaurants that were lost in Katrina back in business. I shall work on recalling his duck, and maybe someday I’ll get to try him again.

The nicest meal was the Stella! 7 course tasting menu our hosts had selected. The food was quite good, but what took it to the next level were the perfect wine pairings. And the chef was actually in house and came around to see us. He was so pleased to be serving us and even told us how the idea for the heirloom tomato composition (a layered gazpacho in a shot glass – red/yellow/green) came to him at 2:00 in the morning and he got up and made the gazpacho right then. There was a lovely truffled gnocchi with crawfish and a Kubocha squash puree with dark chocolate in it that were both great. The wine paired with that one was kind of too sweet – until you tasted it with the puree, and then it was perfect. I’m not a fetishist of wine pairing (I think red can go with almost anything!), but when it really works, it is pretty fun. The fish and meat and cheese were nice, but I didn’t really perk up again until dessert, which was a banana’s foster french toast concoction along with an awesome wine made from shriveled grapes from a windblown part of Sicily. It smelled and tasted of apricots and was lovely with the vanilla and banana flavors of the dessert.

1.jpg2.jpg6.jpg Finally, the last afternoon, I took a long hike and got some shots of what I thought were iconic New Orleans.

3.jpg4.jpgOne of the most fun things I saw was a wedding party dancing down the street to the music of a marching jazz band. Check out the garland trim on the bride and groom’s parasols. What do you say, Karen, look like a style you want to embrace for your wedding?

5.jpgI was on my way to the Quarter Stitch. Here is the lovely owner, Juliette (Juliet?), packaging my purchase like it is a birthday present to me. It’s not – I am going to knit a little something for my progeny from 2 of those 3 bundles, but we won’t say more about that now. She told me, by the way, that the Malabrigo mill had a major fire during TNNA. The company site reports on the damage. We should watch for news on how to help them get back on their feet – if anyone sees anything, give us a holler.

7.jpgWith a food trade show (samples, samples, samples) plus supplier dinners, you really never have to buy a meal, but after yarn shopping I knew what my last objective was. Yes, beignets were eaten. After several days of wild concoctions from either flavor or ingredient vendors on the trade show floor or haute cuisine from the big name NoLa chefs, there was something so perfect about dough, grease, and powdered sugar. (Maybe it was the price – $2 including tax for 3.)

8.jpgOh, and here is my airplane knitting – the very popular We Call Them Pirates. I’m calling this one Skullcap. It is for Wilson. Everyone will be afraid of him when he wears it, I’m sure. I got him to try it on and I think we’re going to add an extra row of skulls. He is a delicate flower (which is why he needs a pirate hat to look mean) and wears his caps low on his ears and forehead.

Well, it is almost nine and I’ve been up since dawn for an early flight, so enough for now. Good luck with that unpacking!

Love,

Ellen