Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Coffee and friends

We've had great chances to catch up with family and friends on this trip.

We enjoyed a tasty and artfully served cup of coffee (and cocoa) at Herkimer Coffee on Greenwood in Phinney Ridge, Kim's old neighborhood.

Best part of it? Meeting up with Kim's old housemate Sarah!

Today we met with another friend of Kim's, Brandy, who came over to Winslow on the ferry. We had a great time walking around the town, and then brunch at Streamliner Diner. Kim looks like a giant here, but she was just standing on a step above Brandy!

University of Washington tour

We had a very enjoyable tour of the campus of the University of Washington on Monday. It is a beautiful and impressive campus.

Pictures? How about the library? Suzzallo Library is a beautiful building, appended with reasonable taste by the Allen Library building.

Welcome banners at the front door.

And the breathtaking reading room.

Our tour guide Zach was fun and gave a great introduction to the campus and student life.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

More PNW Christmas

Now THIS is a Northwest Yule log. Not a log, a TREE. With chantarelles. Made from meringue. There is dessert here and they are NOT kidding.

Close up on the meringue.

And rare, gorgeous alpenglow on Rainier. This picture does not do it justice. Purple and red sunset light on the snow covered giant.

Merry Christmas, one and all.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas from Erland's Point

Merry Christmas, Happy Solstice, Joyous Saturnalia from the Claspy family to you!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Southern Thanksgiving

We had a fantastic time in the southland, a family Thanksgiving chez Vesey. Here are a few photos.

Wednesday evening, Bill and Jane making pumpkin pie. Jane on the crust, Bill on the filling.

Get out of the house! A walk on Thanksgiving morning.

Aperitif, Kir royale. Yum!

A pre-dinner duet from Jane and Gabi.

The Veseys taking a breather on the hike up Stone Mountain.

Looking for frogs at the Botanical Gardens.

Reclining woman with child, a Henry Moore at the botanical gardens.

It was a great trip!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bathroom update: close ups

There are of course many things for which I am thankful this Thanksgiving, but one particular thing is the bathroom project that has kept me happily puttering away in the basement, sawing, hammering, plastering, plumbing and playing at being a mason.

The room is now completely enclosed, making wide shots pretty difficult, so I thought I would post a series of close up photographs. These could carry the title "Materials" as each one focuses on a different type of building material.

Tile and mortar:

Gypsum, paper, copper and lead: (technically "lead free solder" but that doesn't sound quite as romantic)

Gypsum and paper:

Pine and steel:

And one attempt at a wide shot.

This is the entrance to the bathroom, taken from my shop. The shower is just behind the door, the toilet and sink will be to the right as you enter the room. Still to come- door trim, several coats more of mud on the walls, paint, grout for the vertical tiles, and the last step will be installing the toilet, sink, and shower door. And those will all have to wait until we return from Atlanta, where we join the Claspy clan for a southern Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Bathroom tile

I spent Saturday evening laying the tile in the new bathroom and it went pretty well. I arranged them such that cutting would be at a minimum. Grout will follow in the next day or two now that the thinset mortar has cured.

Sunday I began putting up the drywall, starting with the outside walls. Once the grout is done on the tiles, I'll do the ceiling in the room, then the walls. So this should be the last time the framing is visible!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Maggie's recital

Maggie had a recital today and did a fantastic job with Martini's Gavotte. Here she is performing it!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bathroom update

The bathroom addition project in our basement is chugging right along. I've got the walls roughed in, as well as the new circuit and electrical fixtures and most of the plumbing. The shower floor pan is in. Two more water supply lines to run, then it will be time for the rough inspection, after which I can lay the tile floor and start buttoning up the walls. We still need to purchase tile, vanity, toilet, door, shower door and wall paint. It is slow going, steady but sure!

Fall Weekend Family Fun

We had a wonderful weekend visiting with Pam and Doug. They are on the return leg of their six month trip to the eastern most point on the continent, having left home (western Washington) mid-June. Airstream trailer in tow, they will have logged nearly 15,000 miles when they arrive back home.

Weather cleared enough for a nice country walk with Haley at Squire Valleevue. The leaves were gorgeous and dog and kids enjoyed being out!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


We had a great weekend trip to Durango, Colorado. It was short- we arrived early Friday morning and left Sunday morning- but we really enjoyed seeing the town, and of course, seeing the wedding of two good friends.

On arrival at the tiny Durango airport, we secured our rental car and headed west into town. Our hotel room wouldn't be ready for a while, so we had a bite for breakfast at Jean Pierre's, a stop at the grocery for water and snacks, then pointed the car west for Mesa Verde National Park. On arrival, we got the official and required photo taken pronto.

The weather was just perfect- in the 60's and not a cloud in the sky. We agreed that the sun is more intense here in the high desert, and that the clear sky is more clear than we know it at home. And vistas go on forever. There were a few places in the park where one could look out over a vista and surely the horizon was hundreds of miles away.

The park is really a gem. We enjoyed seeing the Anasazi dwelling ruins, but also just seeing the high desert in all its glory. The low, sparse vegetation was in full color, providing a truly gorgeous drive on our way in and out of the park.

While we were visiting one of the ruins areas in the park, I even managed to find my next professional employment opportunity!

Friday evening on our way to the rehearsal dinner (to which everyone was invited!) we searched out and found the bakery Bread, just north of downtown Durango. I'd read one of Lance Armstrong's tweets about the place and their cookies, and we were not disappointed. Both chocolate chip and ginger snaps were out of this world. Besides, I also got one of their "bikes not bombs" cycling caps, and a handful of stickers as well.

Saturday morning I spent fishing in the company of Duke and Rowdy, which was quite a pleasurable experience. Arriving back in town, Kim, Sidney and Shannon joined me for a beer and lunch at the Irish pub in town, after which we cleaned up and suited up for the wedding. Held at the Lodge at Tamarron north of town, the wedding and reception were truly lovely.

Sunday morning we returned to the Durango airport and headed home.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fishing with Duke and Rowdy

This past weekend we spent three days in Colorado at the wedding of a friend of Kim's from high school. It was a real treat to have an excuse to fly in to Durango.

Saturday morning I spent a few hours fishing the La Plata River near town. Since I had such a short time I arranged the services of a guide through Duranglers fly shop. I arrived at the shop early Saturday morning and was greeted by Duke, my guide for the day.

Allow your mind to conjure an image of a Colorado backwoodsman. The image that appears in your mind's eye will be very close, I wager, to the reality of Duke. Somewhere in age between 45 and 65, face obscured by a long, grizzled beard and felt fedora mounted atop his head, Duke was every bit of what one could hope for in a guide- knowledgeable not only of the location, and indeed he knew every inch of the river we fished- but also affable and willing to offer tips and opinions. Duke's golden labrador Rowdy joined us, so I really had two guides for the price of one.

We spent the morning working our way upstream, fishing pocket water in this lovely freestone creek at an elevation of nearly 8500 feet. Duke had warned me when I arrived in the morning that the cold weather- mornings in the mountains this time of year generally have 30-40 degree temperatures- would have the trout "rolled up in their sleeping bags" until the sun rose enough to reach down into the canyon and get the fish active. He couldn't have been more correct- I didn't catch the first fish until nearly 11 o'clock.

I love seeing brook trout- and at this time of year they are particularly lovely with their highlights of red from spawning- but it would have been even neater to catch a cutthroat. Was not to be, at least not on this day, on this mountain creek. It was a beautiful day to be out, and I was happy to catch even a few trout.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Tenure Party!

On Saturday our friends Kurt and Kristin Koenigsberger threw a wonderful party for Kim and Rob Spadoni in celebration of their promotions and awards of tenure. The two are pictured above planning to rule the world... or at least Guilford House.

Many thanks to the K's, as well as to all of those who came to help celebrate.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Christmas Carol Train

All Aboard!

Earlier this year I read a news article about a promotion that Disney studios had planned to publicize a new, animated version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol. The gimmick in this case was a train tour through the whole country with "whistle stops" at many towns where attendees could get a glimpse at the making of the film. The event was added immediately to my calendar.

On arrival in Cleveland, the train pulled up just across from the Cleveland Browns stadium, near the Port of Cleveland freight docks, the Amtrack cars fully decked in advertisements and with quite a few people waiting in line to enter the cars. They had each car filled with Dickens, Christmas Carol, and movie related paraphernalia. The first car held "portraits" of the characters in the film, as well as actual costumes which had been sewn so that the animators, using CGI technology, could render them accurately.

This car also had several glass cases with items from the Dickens House Museum in London, including some manuscript letters and early editions of the Carol and other of his works,
including a few issues of Pickwick, and a quill pen and ink bottle that had been used by the master himself.

Another car had intricate model works for the "set" of the movie- Big Ben being built, Scrooge and Marley's counting house, and nephew Fred's house.

At the end of the tour, we got to "morph" our own faces into characters from the film. Kim chose Marley, I chose Scrooge himself. Look for an interesting Christmas card from us this year! Finally, we were treated to a ten minute sneak preview of the film in 3-D. It was neat to see all of these things, particularly the treasures from the museum.

And yes, old Mr. Fezziwig was there!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Maillot Blanc

Just like Andy Schleck this summer at the Tour de France, Anna now wears the maillot blanc (awarded at the Tour for the best young rider), at least in our family.

In the last few months, she has asked for a road bike so she could ride with me. Who am I to discourage such a request? So I found an inexpensive, small frame bike for her to start out on, a Dawes Sheila. The only thing Canadian about it, I think, is the shape of the leaf on the sticker. But it seems to be a sturdy and reasonably lightweight ride for her to start out on.

We've taken two spins so far, one down to the lake and back through University Circle, which wasn't as pleasant as it sounds due to rough roads and a lot of traffic. Today's was a much more pleasant 12 mile loop to the east of home and back again.

We're both looking forward to many more rides together!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Peach Pie

August is peach season here in the Great Lakes region, and with it comes a long-standing family tradition of peach pie. My parents would frequently make a trip west to Huron, Ohio to purchase fresh peaches from stands near the orchards where the fruit is grown. This year, we settled for getting our Ohio peaches from the grocery- great whopping specimens too.

This weekend was cool and rainy which kept me off my bicycle and in the kitchen. In addition to whipping up my first-ever batch of mayonnaise from scratch (thank you Julia Child), I bit the bullet and did a pie crust from scratch. Following Ruhlman's ratio (3 parts flour, 2 parts fat, one part water- for which I used 300 grams flour, 200 grams Crisco, 100 grams ice water), directions from Julia, and memories of my sisters' exhortations on the topic, I whipped up a batch without a hitch and pressed it into a pie plate. I kept waiting for it to fall apart, to crumble, to fail, but it did not.

While I was doing this, Kim peeled and sliced the wonderful, juicy peaches for the filling. Following my maternal grandmother's recipe (below), I whipped up the custard addition for the filling and into the crust it went.

It baked to perfection, although we were glad we had put a cookie sheet underneath the pie, as it did bubble over. After it was done, we let it sit for several hours. Since it was such a "food" weekend, we took ourselves to see the fantastic "Julie and Julia" (I heartily recommend Julia's memoir "My Life in France" if you have not ready it), after which we cut into the pie. It was exceptionally soupy, but sliced well and tasted even better, like a plate-sized portion of family history. Here is the second slice (the first inevitably looks miserable!), fittingly served on Grandma's dishes.

Fresh Peach Cream Pie
  • 5-6 fresh ripe peaches
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 C. sugar
  • 2 T. flour
  • 3 T. cream (or 3 T. milk and 1 T. melted butter)
Slice peaches into crust. Beat yolks slightly and add sugar, flour and cream. Pour egg yolk mixture over peaches.

Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes, at 375 degrees for 25 minutes (about 1 hr altogether.)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

But I will have more

Samuel Pepys' diary is well known among those who are interested in seventeenth century English history. It offers a candid and lively view of London during the middle of the century. I find Pepys' descriptions of his daily flirtations with women friends (and occasional flirtations with his wife), his obsession with his fortune, and his fascination with music particularly fun to read.

An enterprising person has created a website for his famous diary, on which Pepys' daily entries can be read on a daily basis, and upon which equally enterprising and knowledgeable people comment. I've found myself reading the RSS feed each morning and following Samuel's London comings and goings.

Yesterday's entry was particularly interesting to me. He begins the entry by saying

Up, and comes Mr. Foley and his man, with a box of a great variety of carpenter’s and joyner’s tooles, which I had bespoke, to me, which please me mightily; but I will have more.

I was not aware that Pepys had a predilection for tools, but how I feel his pain!

I was also not familiar with the name Foley as tool manufacturer, but one of the beauties of the Pepys' Diary site is that there are many notes and annotations to the entries, including one for Foley, which explains that he is a member of the Foley family which built a manufacturing dynasty in Worcestershire.