September 2009

Becky’s Visit

Oh, tra la. My excitement knows no bounds. My beloved baby sister is here for her first visit in ten years or so, and better yet, she’s brought Charlotte with her. I’d not spent much time around Charlotte, especially not since my doctors got me off those meds that were screwing my brain up, so it’s not all that surprising that the more i see of her, the more i enjoy her.

I remember her wonderful coup in 2000 when she managed to get my sister and me into the brand new Denver International Airport immediately after the opening ceremony when it was still fully illuminated but no human besides ourselves and a handful of maintenance and security folks remained inside. Picture having all that space to yourself and with a knowledgeable guide leading you to all the best vantages. When we’d had our fill and were driving home just after sunset, Charlotte stopped the car about a mile away from the terminal so that we could get out, look behind us, and see it rising from the prairie, brilliantly illuminated from within and without and glowing like not an emerald city, but rather one of diamond.

Nothing so dramatic this time since i was the expedition leader, but I did get to take them up to meet Gloria in Santa Rosa, have a fine lunch at Rendez Vous Bistro (where the food is much better than their French), and drive them home down the coast. We spent an hour at Stinson Beach on a day when the air was so warm that the sand was packed with people and there were even a few folks in the icy water.

I think it’s against the law to fail to post a pic of your sister when she visits, so here she and Charlotte are on Stinson Beach on probably the hottest day of the year:


Becky (on the left) is the light of my life. I adore her. We marvel at how lucky we are to be so devoted to each other when we see so many other people at war with their siblings.

But it’s not surprising i love her since she’s so kind and thoughtful toward everyone. For example, she recently learned that a friend of hers in Denver wanted to make our mother’s famous pie, for which i had painstakingly described the preparation in my recipes (see The Pie). Anyone but my sister would have just sent her friend an email containing a link to my recipe. But no, Becky is so loving that she went to all the trouble to copy the entire recipe and then painstakingly edit out all the entertainment and background material before she passed it on, leaving only the minimal necessary information and sparing her friend the ordeal of slogging through the quagmire of my prose.

How could anyone not love a sister so thoughtful?

And yes, despite Becky’s background as a journalist, her own prose is not the “nasty, short, and brutish” stuff that Stella Gibbons accused journalists of writing in Cold Comfort Farm, but i have to admit it sure is to the point.

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The menu for tonight’s dinner for Ian, my visiting Canadian anthropologist/linguist/lexicographer friend, who deserves a good American home-cooked meal, having spent years in a thatch hut in the wilds of Borneo with the Penan while learning their language and writing a dictionary and grammar for it.

Seeded Sourdough Baguettes from Noe Valley Bakery. When i went down to the bakery this morning to pick up the bread, the staff were wearing their new tee-shirts, “Born and Raised in Noe Valley.” I was laughing so hard over this that i was back home before i realized that if it had been “Born and Risen in Noe Valley”, it would have been just as funny and grammatical to boot.

A salad of dry farmed Early Girl, Golden Globe, and Purple Cherokee tomatoes on a bed of baby spinach and adolescent arugula, dressed with a vinaigrette of Stonehouse Lisbon Lemon extra virgin olive oil and my own raspberry vinegar.

Wild Coho Salmon poached (while the groundskeeper’s back was turned) and served cold with caper mayonnaise, garnished with brined and lightly pickled red onion and Dasher cucumber.

Fresh Cranberry beans simmered with Chantenay carrots and generic yellow onion, lightly augmented with epazote from the Castro Farmers’ Market that i dried myself.

A stir-fry of okra, red and green Jalapeño, and red onion (I’m putting enough Jalapeño in this that there’ll be no complaints about slime.)

Willie’s Crisp made of blackberries and the last of the season’s yellow nectarines, optionally dressed with quark from Oakdale Cheese.

And speaking of epazote, yesterday afternoon i’m Segwaying to the Castro Farmers’ Market to get the cucumbers, and in the next block down speak to a woman on the sidewalk. She’s curious about the Segway and i give her a trial lesson. Turns out she lives around the corner from me on 21st Street and is headed to the market herself, never having been to it. So i fall in beside her for the remaining three blocks, touting the market up one side and down the other enroute. As we arrive, i excitedly point out my epazote vendor and say, “I never saw anybody with it before, but she usually has fresh epazote.”

My new friend replies, “I grow it in my garden.”

Game, set, harvest.

Speaking of gardens, here’s a friend of mine in Stephen’s:

Strelitzia reginae

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