May 26, 2013

Dolce far niente, part three

Sunday morning comes with a welcome call from my Sweet Ever Lovin' at about 6:15. She was taking a train from New Haven to New York City, while I was waking up and getting ready to walk Blaze.

I think we all have our morning routines, and I don't think any of us like it when they are upset. Not me, not the dog, not the cats. Thank goodness I am not traveling that much these days, and neither is Doreen. so the new chores don't become routine. And that is a good thing.

After the walk, feeding the pets, I was able to make a nice cup of coffee and a good piece of toast.
I took both outside to relax on the front porch with the newspaper. Well, both of them.

Sunday morning is the time when I get ready for the rest of the week, victuals wise. I roast coffee and bake bread. Today was no different. I roasted coffee and baked bread.

Reading, baking, roasting are all a good Sunday. Dolce far niente indeed.

I have beans soaking for dinner, planted some hot peppers and basil in the beds I prepared yesterday and am now drinking a glass of wine.

I really hate it when Doreen is out of town, but when she is I take advantage of the time to do next to nothing.

I think I will call it "Dolce far Piette"

Dolce far niente, part duo.

Walking Blaze in the dark is nice, even if I was feeling a little slow. Since it was so early, I decided to do some Nordic Walking (walking with sticks) to get my blood pumping.

I walked only about 1.5 miles, and was slow - over 13 minutes per mile. But I figured that was fair because I was up so late the night before.

I thought about washing the car, riding my bike, writing a little, or thinking great thoughts. For most of the day, I did none of that. I worked a little in the garden, I tried (unsuccessfully) to take a nap, I finished the book I was reading (Hunger, by Knut Hamsun) and did a little gardening.

But later in the day, I went to pick up Trouta and meet family at The Yard House out in the west side of town.

We met my sister Jeannette, my niece Josienne, her husband Jared, their two kids Julius and J Noel, my nephew (Jeannette's son) Quinn and his Novia Roxy and their daughter, my cousin Beth, Roxy's cousin Cecilia (who works for a friend of mine) and her boyfriend Jason.

We had a great time there, and when we were finished with our (very long and fun) late lunch we ambled over to the City Center city center. We had some cupcakes and watched the kids play, with many, many other kids. I swear you could have opened the United Nations there. I am not sure how many native languages were represented, but it was more that two. Or three. or four,. or Five...

I finally made it home and read some more (I just started a George Orwell book called Burmese Days) and went to bed

Dolce far niente

My sweet ever-lovin' is out of town for the long weekend. As my brother Matthew said, those college reunion people in New Haven have a sense of humor.

She had a hard time getting to the Northeast - her plane was essentially 14 hours late (flight cancelled, waitlisted until the next morning, last person loaded before the flight took off) but that is her story, not mine.

My story is more prosaic. I worked on Friday, and then came home and had a relaxing hour or so before I met an old friend for dinner at our local Indian Fusion restaurant (Indika). We had a good dinner, talking smart and enjoying the food. We started at the bar with a martini (Bombay Sapphire, Dry, Up, Olives) and switched to a New Zealand Sauv Blanc. Can't go wrong there.

The food, as usual, was very good, and the waiter was very patient. For some reason, I have friends who like to try the patience of waiters. I always have to tip extra because of that. But they were very good to us. 

We had two appetizers, and the split on order of their tasting menu. Clever! we didn't eat too much, but it did give us a chance to finish two bottle of wine. The food spanned the range from goat brain marsala (I feel smarter already) to beet soup.

After the dinner we walked across the street to the Avant Garden. You really do have to love the name of that bar. I have walked by this bar many, many times. It is an old house with a courtyard in the back. We stumbled into a Pirate Party, where you had to pay something ($10? I don't know) to get into the house. The weather was nice, so we stayed outside.

The courtyard was nice, the beer was cheap (well, Robin paid, so it was really cheap for me) and we were having a nice conversation with the Detering Family Side Show set up. This was a small, probably unrelated, four member busking troop.

And they were really quite entertaining. Were they the best jugglers in the world? No! Were they the best fire eaters in the world? No! Were they the best knife throwers in the world? NO!!!

But when you combine them all together, it was quite entertaining.
It all added up to a late night.

And as fate would have it, an early morning. I was dragged out of bed early by a strange constitution and a dog ready to walk.

Dolce far niente, indeed.

May 20, 2013

Brazos Bend

Brazos Bend State Park is one of our favorite day trips in the Houston area.

We had a good excuse to go this trip, because our friends Rick and Tony were here from Seattle:

From Brazos Bend with Rick and Toni

It is a fairly short drove down from the city, but it feels worlds away when you get there:

From Brazos Bend with Rick and Toni

It is probably best know as a place near Houston where you can always see alligators in the wild:

From Brazos Bend with Rick and Toni

but there is also a large population of interesting birds:

From Brazos Bend with Rick and Toni

From Brazos Bend with Rick and Toni

From Brazos Bend with Rick and Toni

From Brazos Bend with Rick and Toni

We also saw turtles:

From Brazos Bend with Rick and Toni

From Brazos Bend with Rick and Toni
and baby alligators:

From Brazos Bend with Rick and Toni

and a Water Moccasin:

From Brazos Bend with Rick and Toni

From Brazos Bend with Rick and Toni
It was a good trip.

May 10, 2013

This is a test, with some coffee photos

I am still trying to make my pad into a laptop.

There are some flaws with this.

For example, I cannot see a way to integrate these photos (below) into the text. Also, spell checking (when I use my little bluetooth keyboard) is cumbersome.

But the advantages are many - mainly in terms of weight and ease of access and fast booting.

I am going to post this from the Blogger app, and then try to edit it from a web view. You will know it was successful if the text below is intersperced with  the photos.

Here is am image of my favorite cup these days. An Espresso Parts coffee skull and portafilter and wrnech crossbones.

My grinder is the often maligned Malkoening Pro-M, but I have had pretty good luck with it.

Tamped and ready to go.

Here are some high speed (1/2000 second) shots of the coffee coming out.

And the cup.


As Blaze has gotten older, she has simultaniously gotten pickier and fatter. She was never an overweight dog, generally weighing in at something under 55 pounds. Now, she doesn't really like her food, so she isn't eating as much, but she is also not moving around so much so she now weighs over 60 pounds.

Which is sad for me, as sometimes I have to carry her upstairs since her knees are bad.

May 5, 2013

Sunday in Houston

I hate it when Doreen travels, but I suppose I have to make the best of it.

Today was a beautiful day:

and I started it as usual with a nice shot of coffee:

Those of you who know espresso know that one of the most important pieces of equipment you own is your grinder. I have a Mahlkoeing Pro-M All Around grinder.

Here it is in action:

and here are the results:

I do roast my own beans, and every Sunday I bake bread for the week:

But as I said it was a beautiful day.

I was about to go for a bike ride. Sadly, Blaze is too old to accompany me:

but I don't think she would like a pb&j sandwich anyway:

(Who am I kidding? She would love one)

I got almond butter with apple jam and fresh strawberries on white, grilled, at the attendant's recommendation.

It was very delicious.

You can see that here:

I ate it on a bench at the Menil Museum

as I said, it was a spectacular day.

I love this museum

and I love these bridges:

This is Milford street in the Museum District:

There is a high rise apartment going up at Graustark and Richmond:

But then I came home:

The only thing that would have made the day nicer is if Doreen had been with me.

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May 4, 2013

Doreen on her bike

You will notice she only has on bike glove. I lost the other one...

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A crazy house for the 'hood

This house:


is being built about a mile away from us in a neighborhood very similar to ours.

It is hard to see from this photo, but the house is not square on the lot. It is at something like a 30 degree angle to the lot lines, which are due north-south in this part of Houston.

I am sure some idiot Feng Sui expert gave them advice.

Who advised them to use this architect is beyond me.

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Cats are funny

Doreen is in Boston this weekend, leaving me alone to take care of the house, the cats, and the dog.

And it has been a chilly weekend. SO this morning I way lying on our window seat with a poncho that Doreen bought back in Ecuador because she thought I needed something to throw over me.

And I did.

Our cat, The Kitten, Little Guy, or Little Gallo (he never got a name, poor thing) came up to sit with me, and then decided to get under the poncho.

Then he saw there was a hole in it.

so he had to peek his head out.

and of course, he realized that he didn't want to stay under the poncho

he had to come out

and find a better place to sit

which was on my legs

So what could I do?

I let him wander about

and find a place to sit

that he was happy with.

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