Monday, October 31, 2011

Backyard Visitors

The other morning I looked out my window and noticed one of our trees was wagging its tail. Wait, that doesn't make sense. After a few seconds, the tail moved and became a whole cat, one of our frequent backyard guests.

I'm not sure where all these cats are coming from. At least three of them seem to live at the house on the other side of the fence.

I've decided to keep a record.

I'm not sure of the gender, so we'll pretend this one is a girl. What's obvious, here, is that she's a spy, scaling trees and fences to deliver delicate information to her case officer. The other day I saw her slip a manilla envelope into an old man's briefcase.

When she's not slinking around Browne's Addition, she's likes to stay up late drinking martinis, listening to jazz, and reading Russian literature (she somehow remembers all the character names).

Anyway, only five more weeks left in the semester! Unbelievable.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Joe Cam

 My classes were cancelled last Tuesday, so I hopped on the 66 bus and went to Cheney with Joe. 

Cedric came too. He looks a little angry with his designated pocket.

 But he was happy to finally see some leaf-changing.

This is Joe five days a week. 

Always being followed by the paparazzi. 

The library.

On the way to his office. Sorry anyone who didn't want to be in these pictures.

His office is a giant room full of cubicles. But he's got a window seat!  Here he is typing on a computer that's not actually on. Nice try buddy.

Joe wouldn't let me steal this awesome yellow filing cabinet. Steelcase. Michigan. Awwww.

Joe Slocum.  Why, yes, this is flannel.


Last one, I promise. Just smile and we can stop.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A New View and Vegetable Remains

My day started with a black-billed magpie. See him there? I've been trying to get a shot of one since we've been here, but they aren't in our back yard very often, and when they are, they fly away as soon as I get to the window. 

This one hung out for a couple minutes, at least long enough for me to grab my camera. He was probably scoping out the yard's potential for food storage. I read earlier that Magpies like to hide their food in various places in the ground (caches). Unfortunately, their favorite food is meat, so a lot of their caches end up rotting before they eat them. I'm sure they are looking forward to winter. 

Anyway, while he was still perched on the corner of our neighbor's house, I took the opportunity to ask him for some advice.

"Good morning, Magpie," I said, taking a picture of him through my living room window. "What should I do today? I have a five day weekend, you know."

And since magpies can't talk (did you know that?), he decided to show me. Before I could take another picture, he flew away.

"You really think I should leave the house?" I yelled after him, but he was gone.

I thought about how he was wrong, how leaving the house meant putting on presentable clothes, but I realized it's not every morning a magpie comes and tells you to get out. Plus Joe was off finishing his schoolwork, and the apartment was a little too quiet. 

So I drove up a giant hill on Monroe street and found fall!--huge, colorful trees in a neighborhood where the leaves aren't immediately blown into the curb and bagged by city workers.

The neighborhood (and fall) ended at a cliff: 

It was higher up than it looks.

The sounds of passing trains are so frequent here, which is a big change from Marquette, where I never saw a single train (except for those on the ore docks).

I'm not sure what's going on with this tree. It looks as if someone tried to create some kind of stump art.

I like this one.

Right as I was pulling up to the side of the road, I saw something we didn't know was here until Joe spotted one on his bike ride a few days ago: A QUAIL! They are just as comical as the ones we saw in Arizona last year, heads jutting forward as they glide away on their twiggy legs. Sadly, I couldn't get his picture because I didn't want to risk driving off the side of a cliff.

Oh look, there's a bit of fall. Looks like the pine trees have them surrounded. They probably won't make it out alive.

Time to get in the truck and head back to town.
After taking the magpie's advice, I went back to Browne's Addition and made some homemade vegetable stock. Whenever we cut up our veggies for the week, I feel so wasteful throwing away all the broccoli stumps, carrot ends, pepper insides, and celery butts, so I threw them in a pot with some herbs, olive oil, and pretty much whatever else was in our spice cupboard, and let them simmer all evening. Here's our old stove, simmering away:

The stock turned out pretty tasty, and Joe went a little crazy for the mush of vegetables that was left in the strainer. After eating a good portion of them, he went back to work. Look how hard he's working. Look at his hand! That isn't the camera folks; he really is writing that fast. 

Oh, and check out our ninety-nine cent chairs! I spray-painted them a couple weeks ago. When I'm surrounded by white wails and endless beige carpet, it's only a matter of time before something gets painted.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Oh, it's raining? Couldn't tell.

I wouldn't know it was raining if I hadn't walked over to our window and noticed the sidewalk was wet. I can't hear it. I can't even see it. But, according to the damp ground, it is raining right now.

This will not do. Time to get serious, Washington. Do some damage. Make your presence known. Stop lazing about: Oh, maybe I'll change  few leaves here and there. Maybe I'll sweat a little water out to semi-hydrate this place. Maybe if you held it in longer and stopped giving it up anytime you felt like it, your indecipherable mist might gather itself into some real drops of rain.

This is not an exaggeration. This is Washington. But I have a plan. I'm going to coach Washington into weather severeness. Like a personal trainer, I will guide Spokane through a twelve-month course on perfecting extreme meteorological conditions. Next fall, even pine needs will turn red and yellow and orange. Next fall, we'll have days when we can't leave the house because it'll be raining so hard. It will be so deafening that we'll have to wear ear plugs. 


Friday, October 21, 2011

It was a long week, one filled with grading and classes and more grading. But I'm about to begin a long weekend, so I think I'll be able to get ahead for once.

And, on Wednesday, I got this in the mail:

Try not to mind the creepy girl lurking in the background. It's a little strange getting my contributor's copies from River Teeth while we're in Spokane. My essay that's inside was inspired by my first visit to Washington at least five years ago. I wasn't in Spokane though. I was on the other side of the state in the Hoh National Rain Forrest watching an intentionally homeless bicyclist start a fire for me, my Aunt, and my cousin.

This was one of those essays that forces itself out of you--one that rolls around in your head at night until you finally just get out of bed and write it--so it makes me happy to know it has a home.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Some Unrelated Comments on October 18

  • When I walked into class today, one of my students paid me the compliment of letting me know I looked tired. But that's okay: someone else said they liked my outfit, so it all evened out. 
  • After a very low productivity weekend of sneezing and coughing, Joe and I are mostly recuperated. Tomorrow I do the grading I wanted to finish last weekend.
  • I keep hoping for some sudden change of heart from Spokane, for some of the trees to burst out in a perfect imitation of midwest fallness, but I don't think they have it in them. I passed a tree the other day that seemed to be changing from green to translucent.
  • Joe had night class tonight, so I ate the rest of our homemade potato soup and--don't tell anyone--over half a loaf of sourdough. I had to, right? Before it went stale. The sad part is I didn't even cut it up. So it wasn't one of those situations where you just keep grabbing another slice on your way by the cutting board. I just dropped the whole thing on my plate and tore into it like coyote eating roadkill.    
  • Every Tuesday and Thursday I leave North Idaho College in Idaho and drive west to Spokane. Since it is evening, this means that I am always driving into a setting sun (which is always too low for the visor to block). Tonight the sun was so large that it seemed like if I drove far enough, I might actually enter the sun. Nope. Just Spokane.

Cranberry Orange Oatmeal

I've become obsessed with oatmeal. It's so easy, and it keeps me full for so long. I also love to see what all I can throw in there. This is definitely my favorite so far. Originally, the stewed cranberries were to add in our creme brule, but I used the leftovers for the oatmeal. If you used these measurements, you would probably have enough cranberry sauce for 4-6 servings.

You'll notice I don't really give you directions on how to make the actual oatmeal. Just do what you normally do, or read the back of the box and add the cranberry sauce to taste. You know what you like.

2 cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Gran Marnier
1 tablespoon lemon zest 
Oatmeal (instant or regular, prepared to your liking/consistency)
Handful of walnuts

  1. In a medium sauce pan, combine the sugar, cranberries, Gran Marnier, and lemon zest, and let stew over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.    
  2. When the sauce has thickened and the cranberries are soft, add a couple spoonfuls to your prepared oatmeal.
  3. Top with walnuts.

That's it. So easy!  Not sweet enough for you? Throw in some brown sugar! Yeahhhh.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Today is our one-year anniversary. And, because we are both sick, we spent the day sleeping and eating homemade potato soup.

Even though we've only been married a year, we have been together for five and friends for seven or eight. Joe has always been a caring and encouraging friend who isn't afraid to get a little goofy. We spend a lot of time laughing and way too much time high-fiving. But hey, the guy loves a good high-five, and I love him enough to give them to him, even if we are in public.

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