Monday, June 30, 2008


Found this cool application which takes whatever text you put into it and turns it into a word cloud. I went with the John Hollander piece.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


This little goofball is my nephew, Dan. The photo is one of about a thousand that my family compiled for a digital picture frame for my parents at Christmas. So I don't know when this particular photo was taken, though I'm guessing it was somewhere around 1995. Well, today, Dan (much taller and only slightly less goofy) was honored at a ceremony where the honor of Eagle Scout was bestowed upon him.

He's been a Scout for about 12 years and -- having voiced his desire at age 10 to become an Eagle Scout -- spent a noteworthy amount of time and effort in scouting activities. For his project, he built a bocce court at a local park for the town's Recreation Department (the same one formerly headed by his grandfather, who also served as his Eagle Scout mentor).

Dan keeps plenty busy in addition to his scouting. He's been a gourmet and able chef since a very early age. When he was 12 years old and came to Connecticut to spend a week with us, he came prepared to manage our meals. He brought a couple of his favorite recipes, and we spent some time going through my cookbooks to come up with ideas for more.

One of our first expeditions was to the grocery store where this pre-teen wunderkind convinced me to buy saffron -- a spice so expensive, you buy it not by the ounce but by the gram. By the end of the week, we'd enjoyed dishes like Banana French Toast and Thai Fish, and he'd hand-written his own cookbook for us. Oh, and we did also fit in some fun kid visit things like the zoo, the aquarium, the children's museum, and 4th of July fireworks.

Dan just recently celebrated his high school graduation, and will be going to college in the mountains far away from home to study forestry. We'll miss him, but his new vocation might well land him back in New Hampshire where there are plenty of trees to be found.

Congratulations, congratulations, and congratulations, Dan. We're triply proud of you!

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Got a decision you just can't seem to make? Let random strangers from the internet make the decision for you at i can't decide. What a riot.

Here are the results so far for my quandary:

The choice I posed to the faceless masses was moot, as the CCGC had already been chosen -- despite my predilection for the MWP. The best part of this website? It gives me an ID number, so I can return to check on further voting. Sweet!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

wingin' it

I fancy myself a decent cook. I can whip up my regular dishes effortlessly and with consistent success, and have even adopted my mother's habit of not using measuring utensils (which frustrated me to no end when I was a kid and learning how to cook). I also have a moderately high success rate when following new recipes. Sometimes, I just throw things together based on what's left in the fridge/freezer/cupboards before the next shopping trip. This tactic once resulted in the now-famous and incredibly delicious (if I do say so myself) Esparagas* Tzatziki Tshiken.

Last night's inspiration was a recent trip to Stonewall Kitchen, and the decision to revel in the joy that is salmon. This became a two-course fish delight, where our regular salad course was replaced with an appetizer. Very unusual, but it was all about the fish. Dinner for two, coming up!

Herb Salmon Pâté
(enough for at least four servings)

o 1 can Kirkland Signature salmon
o 2 tablespoons Market Basket cream cheese (pre-whipped)
o 3 generous pinches of Stonewall Kitchen Seafood & Veggie Spice Rub
o Nonni's Garlic Parmesan Panetini

Step 1: Mix salmon, cream cheese, and spices together with a fork until blended.

Step 2: Spread onto panetini, and eat! Easy and delicious!

Note 1: I suppose, if you want to complicate things, you could use a food processor. But why increase the number of dishes to wash?

Note 2: This would also be nice on pita corners or any number of crackers. My newest favorite is Rosemary and Olive Oil Triscuits. Yum!

Tangy Grape Salmon
(two servings)

o 2 Kirkland Signature IQF salmon fillets, thawed
o 1½ teaspoons Stonewall Kitchen Blue Cheese Herb Mustard (separated)
o 1 cup red grapes, sliced into halves
o 2 cups carrots, peeled and cubed**
o ½ cup Rice Select tri-color couscous

Step 1: Bring a couple quarts of water to a boil on the stovetop, drop carrots in, cover, and continue on low boil.

Step 2: Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Place salmon in Pyrex dish. Evenly spread one half-teaspoon of the mustard on each fillet. Layer grape halves over top of both fillets. Cover and bake for 15 minutes.

Step 3: Meanwhile, prepare couscous per the instructions (I use EVOO instead of butter).

Step 4: Change oven settings to high broil, remove Pyrex cover, and move salmon to top rack, directly beneath heating coil. Broil for 3-4 minutes. Remove from oven, cover, and let stand for a couple minutes.

Step 5: Once carrots are tender, drain and add one half teaspoon of the mustard, stirring to coat evenly.

Note 1: This mustard is very tasty but quite strong, so be certain not to use too much of it or it may overpower the other flavors.

Ted is the in-house food critic, and he gave this dish a 7 on a scale of 1-10. I liked it, but am usually more critical than he is. Next time, I will use less mustard (which is how I came to offer the advice of Note 1), and I might squeeze some lime on the salmon. I also might be inclined to use the Seafood & Veggie rub on the carrots instead of the mustard.

Tonight, I'm going to experiment with chicken and Stonewall Kitchen's Maine Maple Champagne Mustard. Mmmm, my mouth is watering just thinking about that! I'm off to our store to do some work, and then to the grocery store to find a good veggie to go with dinner. Spinach? Broccoli?

* This is not a misspelling. It is the translation for "asparagus" from the Greek.

** Check out this website for t-shirts. Rock on.

Monday, June 23, 2008


This ribbon is part of’s Alzheimer’s awareness campaign. A $10 contribution to Alzheimer’s research is made every time the ribbon is clicked. Please click.

Thanks, Dreama, for tweeting/blogging about this.

Friday, June 20, 2008


If you're still catching up, click here to see Episode One. Click here to see Episode Two. And now, for your viewing pleasure and general enlightenment, I give you Episode Three.

Joy Nash rocks.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

bob explains poetry

“It is absurd to think that the only way to tell if a poem is lasting is to wait and see if it lasts. The right reader of a good poem can tell the moment it strikes him that he has taken an immortal wound -- that he will never get over it. That is to say, permanence in poetry, as in love, is perceived instantly. It hasn’t to await the test of time. The proof of a poem is not that we have never forgotten it, but we knew at sight we never could forget it."

- Robert Frost

Friday, June 13, 2008


You know how some people drink to ease the pain? Here's my drug of choice tonight.
“Variations on a Fragment by Trumbull Stickney
by John Hollander

I hear a river thro’ the valley wander
Whose water runs, the song alone remaining.
A rainbow stands and summer passes under,

Flowing like silence in the light of wonder.
In the near distances it is still raining
Where now the valley fills again with thunder,

Where now the river in her wide meander,
Losing at each loop what she had been gaining,
Moves into what one might as well call yonder.

The way of the dark water is to ponder
The way the light sings as of something waning.
The far-off waterfall can sound asunder.

Stillness of distances, as if in blunder,
Tumbling over the rim of all explaining.
Water proves nothing, but can only maunder.

Shadows show nothing, but can only launder
The lovely land that sunset had been staining,
Long fields of which the falling light grows fonder.

Here summer stands while all its songs pass under,
A riverbank still time runs by, remaining.
I will remember rainbows as I wander.
Like when your blood is drawn at the doctor's office, and the technician encourages you to look at the picture across the room and tells you a story about a lovely boat trip so you don't focus on the sharpened steel piercing your skin, puncturing your vein, and sucking out your life force. The pain is still there, but the distraction makes it less noticeable.

I've loved this poem for years. Its complexity catches me up for long hours. It's easy to get lost in it. Just what I need.

new restaurant

The new Agave Mexican Bistro just opened in town last weekend, so Ted took me there for dinner tonight. It is safe to say that this was the highest end Mexican restaurant we've ever patronized. Maybe it's the introduction of the word "Bistro" as opposed to "Roadhouse," "Restaurante," (or just plain "Restaurant"), or "Bell."

Renovation of the classic building is stunning. Every detail is beautiful, and the layout covers numerous turns and nooks on two floors. There's a section with huge windows that open for a near-sidewalk cafe feel, though without the bugs (thanks to screens). There's a waterfall on the back wall of the upstairs bar. There's a fireplace in the back on the first floor. There's huge leather seats, wrought iron light fixtures, deep wooden window sills, and a universally friendly staff.

And then there's the food.

We started with the Queso Fundido, which is a fondue-like dish of cheese and ground chorizo sausage served in a hot stone bowl with flour tortillas. The concoction bubbled until we ate the last bit of it. Wow.

Then I had the Carne Asada Burrito. Though this is a fairly common dish available even at places that aren't called "Bistro," I'd never had one before. It was grilled steak in a flour tortilla with the usual burrito trappings (re-fried beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and onions), served with a drizzle of sour cream on top and delicious salsa verde. There was also rice with more beans on the side. Heavenly. And easily two meals. I was assured by our eager waiter, Josh, that it reheats well. It came home with us and will be my lunch tomorrow.

Ted enjoyed a combination called Tres Compadres, which was a mix of grilled steak, chicken, and shrimp with sauteed veggies, rice, and avocado. Although he's currently unavailable to tell me his assessment of the meal, I'll go out on a limb and say he enjoyed it. I base my assumption on two factors. First, he didn't offer me a single bite. Very unusual. And second, the only thing left of the plate when he was done was the avocado (he doesn't like it, but I do so it went into the doggie bag with my leftovers).

We each had margaritas -- he a traditional lime one, me a new-fangled orange one.


I had two.

But it was so good.

We also happened to notice some nearby patrons being served fresh guacamole. And I mean fresh. The waiter was combining the ingredients at the table and mixing them with a mortar and pestle!

All around, a rave review from us. A tad on the expensive side. About $100 for the two of us. But the three drinks alone were about $30, I'm getting a third meal out of it, and we left a 20%+ tip. (Do you think I've justified it enough to go again?)

Afterwards, we waddled walked around town a bit, past Strawbery Banke and into Prescott Park. Somehow, we found a garden we hadn't managed to walk through in previous jaunts. It was just wonderful. Three fountains, low craggy trees, a modest picket fence, benches, and flowers everywhere. The entrance was graced by one of the biggest Rhodies I've seen since Rhododendron Glen at the Arboretum in Seattle. We sat on the brick edge of the center fountain, and I dangled my feet in the cool water. We waddled wandered back to our car and headed home.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


A virtual friend of mine tweets that the song "Poison" by Bell Biv DeVoe has commandeered his consciousness, and it sets about this weird cascade of music stuff for me.

Step 1: The songs instantly wows to life in my head, and there it's been ever since.

Step 2: I add it to my "Video of the Day" widget on my blog.

Step 3: I chuckle that the title of the video I'm replacing is "I Don't Feel So Well" (which would make sense if one were poisoned).

Step 4: I remember that the Muzak at our store has been repeatedly playing "Mr. Telephone Man" over the last couple weeks (and it's as stupid and insidious now as it was in 1984).

Step 5: When I want to ensure that "insidious" is precisely the word I want to use, the online definition gives me, "a subtle poison."

Step 6: The song in my head gets louder.

Thanks, Paul! That was actually kinda' fun.