June 25, 2010

Time Keeps On Moving...

The inexorable march of the clock keeps going, and it is amazingly powerful.

I am shocked to learn that it has been more than 7 years in our house for E and me, meaning more than 7 years of BBQ season, capped with more than 3 months as a solo practitioner, and no more than 1 hour since my last discussion with a client who needed my help (I have several right now -- the end of the fiscal quarter makes me quite popular)...

I can't help but think I need to spend more time in pause. Breathing. Taking time. Being alive. Before life takes me (as it eventually takes us all).

The end of the fiscal quarter is a good time to look frenetic chasing of time in the face if you are a transactional attorney.

Because... Wow. It turns out, I need very little. So I'm not acting out of need. And yet. If I don't breathe and pay attention -- it sure feels like I need very much.

June 22, 2010

Happy Solstice!

Summer is here and bringing its usual treats: lots of social stuff.

Last weekend's trip to Sonoma with E's family was gluttonous, relaxing, and wonderful.

A 1999 Barolo we'd been storing was an excellent complement to the meat and dessert courses we shared with E's family for the father's day celebration at Cyrus.

Our wine fridge is restocked, and I have new favorite winery in Sonoma: Passalacqua -- gorgeous grounds, excellent small production wines that you can only buy on site, friendly staff, discounts for wine club membership, and reasonable prices, what's not to like?

Next weekend, I'm off to Seattle to run the rock 'n roll half marathon with a friend I haven't seen in several months. It'll be her first half, and I'm excited to share it with her.

And, of course, the end of the fiscal quarter is doing what it does: burying me with work.

So, I'll probably be fairly quiet on the blogfront until July (when I hope to have ripe tomatoes!).

June 16, 2010

Book Review: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral

When I called to E to read him yet another passage from this book the other night, he replied with a grin,

You've got a complete girl-crush on Barbara Kingsolver

And it's true. I've sincerely enjoyed all of the other books of hers that I've read. I've heard the complaint that her writing can be a bit preachy, and that may be fair. But since I don't find her gospel particularly offensive, when she slips in that direction, I tend to forgive her. Also, her later writings (such as this one, in 2007) have a much broader perspective and lack the lecturing that may have turned folks off in her earlier works.

But this book was different. This one was autobiographical, so I wasn't just enjoying her writing, I was actually enjoying her life. And, it just so happens that this portion of her life is the story of a rural-rooted urban-educated woman undertaking a food and farm adventure that is squarely after my own heart.

As a gardener and food enthusiast with a desire for scientific and empirical explanations for decisions in those areas, I couldn't wait to turn the pages to see what she'd show me next about the complexities of the food system that feeds us (the local food business, the multinational agribusiness, and the details you learn from growing, tending, harvesting, and preparing the majority of your own food).

On the whole, it was entertaining, educational, and inspirational. I can't wait to apply some of the recipes to my harvest this year.

Plus, her turns of phrase were often so clever and entertaining that I'd grin to myself with pleasure. She chose *that* word to describe *that*? How wonderful!

In short, this book was a joy for me. If you think it may be for you as well, I've included some of my favorite quotes to help you decide whether you'd like to dive in:

Plants have the karmic advantage of creating their own food out of pure air and sunlight, whereas we animals, lacking green chlorophyll in our skin, must eat some formerly living things every single day.

The antipathy in our culture between the urban and the nonurban is so durable, it has its own vocabulary: (A) city slicker, tenderfoot; (B) hick, redneck, hayseed, bumpkin, rube, yokel, clodhopper, hoecake, hillbilly, Dogpatch, Daisy Mae, farmer's daughter, from the provinces, something out of Deliverance. Maybe you see where I'm going with this. The list is lopsided. I don't think there's much doubt on either side, as to which class is winning the culture wars.

Wendell Berry summed it up much better than "blue and red" in one line of dialogue from his novel Jayber Crow, which is peopled by farmers struggling to survive on what the modern, mostly urban market will pay for food. After watching nearly all the farms in the country go bankrupt, one of these men comments: "I've wished sometimes that the sons of bitches would starve. And now I'm getting afraid they actually will."

On Italy:
It's a culture that sweeps you in, sits you down in the kitchen, and feeds you so well you really don't want to leave.

Here's to summer and making good use of the tomato recipes in this book!

June 10, 2010

Gilroy Delights

For Memorial Day weekend, E and I headed down to Monterey for a weekend away. Along the way, we decided to stop in Gilroy (you know, the Garlic Capital of the World?) for lunch.

Previously, my exposure to Gilroy had been a trip to the outlets to buy clothes for my summer associate gig, and a stop at the The Garlic Shoppe with E2 on one of our drives back from a visit to my gran.

This time, E and I headed to the downtown. I knew there was a Caltrain station, so I figured it had to have an adjacent downtown, just like most of the towns on the peninsula with historic train depots.

We couldn't have been more pleasantly surprised. First, it was a gorgeous sunny day, and we enjoyed our walk around the quiet downtown while searching for a lunch spot. Second, we quickly found our way to the The Pet Peddler (how great is that name? E could not stop snickering...) where I exclaimed for the millionth time, I want baby chicks:


They also had adults, to help me understand that baby chicks wouldn't always be this cute:


From there, we found our way to the Lizarran Tapas (Pinxtos) restaurant. It was, quite honestly, some of the best Spanish food I've ever had (including in Spain).

We both opted to start with a bowl of Salmorejo, which the menu described as a cold tomato and bread soup (like gazpacho):


More like gazpacho and an entree of meat and eggs and bread all in the same bowl. But damn... so delicious.

From there, we shared a Spanish charcuterie and cheese plate (which was probably completely unnecessary):


And, as if that wasn't enough, we also shared a dish of grilled octopus over potatoes (E can't help but order Pulpo -- it's his favorite):


We were full after the soup, but we forced ourselves to finish all of the meats, cheeses, and octopus because it was just that good. It didn't hurt that we had the courtyard to ourselves:


While we were slowly finishing the last bites, we enjoyed a tour of the restaurant. It turns out, the building was the original Gilroy City Hall:



Which means the bathroom experience is very unique:



and the wine cellar is the old town safe:


The server asked us where we were from when he saw me taking pictures, and when we told him, he seemed surprised. He asked why we chose to leave the highway and come into the town. And frankly, we didn't have a good answer other than, uhh... because we were hungry and it was on the way to Monterey and we didn't want to eat fast food. But next time, we'll have a much better answer. We'll say that we stopped, on purpose, on our way to Monterey, because this restaurant experience is so good that it is worth the pause on the drive.

Oh, and of course, I have to share gratuitous beach pictures from the trip.

The view from Highway 1, headed into Monterey Bay:


The view from the restaurant in the Best Western in Sand City (highly recommended for a stop on your way out of town):


The beach below the Best Western's retaining wall on the North end of Monterey Bay (looking across you can see the harbor and Pacific Grove):


Entering the beach from the immense protection of the retaining wall:


California is a wonderfully diverse and gorgeous place.
So Busy

But, there's an update on our garden over at Tech Law Garden.


I've got grand plans to post about our Memorial day trip, soon...

June 2, 2010

Half the year in books

My goal of 20 books for 2010 is looking a little ambitious...So far, I've finished 7 books, and that includes the two I finished this weekend on our Memorial Day getaway (in other words, a few days ago, I was at a mere 5).

But, I think I'm going to try to pick up the pace, as I sincerely enjoyed myself the last few days. I love to read. And, I especially love to read books that my friends send to me.

The most recent thanks goes out to Arvay for her gift of Shanghai Baby and Zorro.

Yes, these are two very different books. But, Arvay knows me well, and I enjoyed both of them.

Shanghai Baby is a crazy tale of a foreign life lived by a young female author in a foreign city. The self-inflicted drama of the majority of the characters is unlike most of my experiences (or even observations), and the culture and backdrop are not my own, yet I found that it was told in a way that felt eerily familiar. It made me want to spend some time in Shanghai.

Zorro is Isabel Allende's mythical lyrical tale of adventure in the early 19th century that explains the origins of Zorro. It combines the Spanish missions in California, Native American magic, gypsies, fencing, pirates, secret societies, unrequited love, prison breaks, travel across the world, and more, all with linguistic flourishes that made me smile. It was a delightful escape.

I heartily recommend both books.