Friday, July 31, 2009

blueberries, finally

Just down the road from where I work is the Charlotte Berry Farm. It's a fabulous place with rows upon rows of beautiful berries—strawberries, raspberries, blueberries—and a very friendly family who runs it. Pick-your-own blueberries are just $2 a pound! When 1/2 pints are running upwards of $5 a piece at the local market, that's a steal!

But even though I love berry picking and I love the berry farm and it's just a couple minutes away, I've been meaning to get over there since June. I completely missed strawberry season. Boo! So I was determined to get over there before all of the berries are gone completely. I planned on going today after work.

It poured all day. But I was determined to go there rain or shine after work. And go I did.

The rain turned out to be a blessing, because it kept all the people (and bugs!) away. I practically had the place to myself. It was completely healing after such a stressful and crazy week, to spend some time alone in the berry bushes.

With every cluster of plump berries I plucked came a delicate shower of water too. It washed away the tension in my mind little by little. It was just what I needed. I was there for an hour and at the end had picked 3 1/2 pounds all by myself. All those berries and all that therapy for just $7!

Go berry picking.

circus week

It's been a hot week in Burlington. I've had a circus at my house—extra cats, extra people—and it's been a circus at work too. I'm looking forward to a quiet weekend by myself, let everything settle, take a breather. Then next week we're off to Prince Edward Island to go to a wedding of an old college friend of mine. If you grew up watching Anne of Green Gables like I did, then you know how exciting this is for me. And it's the only real get-away that Col and I are taking before the wedding, so that's special too.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

pretty peas please

When the wind blows before a storm, it's hot and heavy. Basking in heat wind, you want to close your eyes and listen: because the trees are talking back. They moan at the force—they feel tired from the hot July sun, too tired and loose to stand strong—they bend to and fro. They say, "Leave me alooooone, I want to rest... grooooan." And if, with eyes closed, you listen, the leaves sound like a rushing stream, breaking and falling.

Really the best thing to do when everything about you is stirring and rushing—and you're feeling quite unsettled—is to sit and be as still as you possibly can.

Oh what a way to spend the afternoon: to sit out on the porch during such a rushing wind with a glass of white Bordeaux and a basket of peas in your lap. I sat there just now and shelled my peas as quietly as I could. Sometimes I closed my eyes. Soon the sun came out, but I know it won't last for long. Not with such a hot and heavy and foreboding wind...

The peas, we'll have for dinner. They'll go quite nicely with Hannah's roast chicken and corn on the cob. The plump peas are from my parents' garden, where we've been for the last couple of days. As are these beautiful flowers that I plucked just as we headed back home. They're quite pretty, aren't they?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I was a total nerd in high school. I was a math geek, a science freak, an art lover and even a book worm. But there were two subjects that I despised: social studies and geography. Frankly, I found them boring and forgettable. And maybe I hated those subjects so much, simply because I wasn't very good them.

Maybe it was just the delivery.

The irony being, I suppose, that now I utterly love maps and traveling (though I'm still pretty bad at identifying places) and I absolutely love listening to public radio on my drive to and from work. The best days are when I'm running a little late and I catch both NPR news and BBC news back to back. I wouldn't say that I'm a history buff, but that I've learned to embrace the hiSTORY part. I guess that's my bookworm coming through.

But that's why I feel compelled to write about this book Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, which I read last year for bookclub. Persepolis is more of a HERstory as they like to say. It's a memoir in 2 parts—a graphic novel—based on Satrapi's childhood in Iran during the 1979 Iranian Revolution. I just cringed as I wrote that last sentence. These books are almost impossible to ecapsulate in words. The illustrations are brilliant and grant access to a world that is inaccessible to someone like me via any other medium, be it a history book, full-length novel or any media outlet—even NPR. So I guess delivery does make a difference. You just have to read it (see it) to know what I mean. And how timely with so much media attention on Iran these days too. You read the book and then you hear the news and you can't help but wonder about the people. The real people.

Even better, they made a film from the graphic novels. (It was nominated for an Oscar - Best Animated Film - in 2008.) We watched it tonight for bookclub. We do that sometimes when we get tired of reading books.

Again I was blown away by the illustrations, the animations were brilliant. So much was said between the text—I felt like I understood. Like I knew a little more and was a little more hopeful. Art is so powerful in that way.

Satrapi says:
If I didn't know any people from other countries, I'd think everyone was evil based on news stories. But I know a lot of people, and know that there is no such thing as stark good and evil. Isn't it possible there is the same amount of evil everywhere?

If people are given the chance to experience life in more than one country, they will hate a little less. It's not a miracle potion, but little by little you can solve problems in the basement of a country, not on the surface. That is why I wanted people in other countries to read Persepolis, to see that I grew up just like other children. Read more.
So you have to read the book AND see the film. In that order. And then you'll probably want to go back and read the book again and then compare your own personal timeline to hers. It might make you sad, but it also might make you feel some gratitude and hope.

Maybe I won't turn on NPR tomorrow...maybe just for one day. I'll listen to music instead.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

sunday night dinner

We've started doing a family dinner on Sunday nights. It's a great way to end the weekend and start the week. And it's always pretty low stress because it's just family. Sometimes "family" is invited too. Usually we go to Emi & Kev's. There's even a ritual to it. Colin brings his frisbee so he and Kev can go play out back with the dogs. The aunties dance and play with Sapphie till her bedtime, then once the babe's asleep, we adults all sit down to a lovely dinner together.

Tonight, we had Family Dinner at our place for a change. It was good because I was in the mood for lots of chopping and Colin was in the mood for lots of vacuuming. I made: green salad, potato salad (tried out a new recipe, per Col, and he really likes this one—using Bubbies Bread & Butter pickles is key!) and grilled pizza with summer veggies. Emi & Kevin brought corn on the cob so we threw that on the grill too.

Oh, and for dessert, I made mint chocolate chip ice cream. I tried a different recipe that's all cream (no milk at all) and it was pretty fantastic, but I probably wouldn't do it again. Too rich! I served it our little espresso cups with fresh blueberries on the side. I wish I had've taken a picture cause it was so pretty. Oh well.

Looking back, it actually sounds like quite a production, but would you believe that just chop, chop, chopping away is the most relaxing thing in the world for me? I don't know who or where I get that from. I could just chop and mix all day.

And now the ice cream maker has officially made its debut this year (a little late, but just in time to make the most of all that fresh summer fruit).

Thursday, July 16, 2009

when it rains, dance

I guess you could say it's been raining a lot here over the past few weeks. I actually love the rain. One of my favorite things is waking up in the morning to the sound of rain falling on the street outside. The best is when a car goes through a puddle splashing the water all around. I love that sound.

Of course, to really enjoy the rain, you must have a stylish umbrella or two. And you must have a good attitude.

Hannah and I went to a parade last weekend in Burlington. It was for the Champlain Quadricentennial celebration. It was a big deal and they had invited a lot of fantastic performers from all over Vermont and Quebec.

It rained on the parade. Lots of performers had to drop out at the last minute, but the ones that did march down the Union Street to Union Station promenade definitely made up for it.

I mean, they were DANCING in the RAIN! They were dancing and singing and banging their drums. It was impossible not to get caught up in the energy. I mean, that's just so fantastic. They were exactly right. Why feel down about something that's totally out of our control? Why not just dance?

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the parade.

Bread & Puppet Billionaire Bail-Out Club:

Hannah learned some African dance moves:

This was one of my favorite performances. The man on stilts looked like an elegant spider wizard dancer.

The Bail-Out Club again:

Crazy bikers from Old Spoke's Home:

My friend Laura and her husband in their vintage Citro├źn:

Sunday, July 12, 2009

a reason to eat good food (as if I needed one)

Colin and I celebrated our 4 year anniversary last week. I made him dinner for the occasion. We found a wine that we really like, La Massa, from Village Wine and Coffee in Shelburne and I made this gnocchi & mushroom recipe I've been wanting to try for a long time. We have some really lovely wild mushrooms here in Burlington from a local grower, so I bought a mix of yellow and white oyster mushrooms and shitakes. They were gorgeous! We had a mini photo shoot before I threw them in the pan. We had them with fresh snow peas from the market. Dinner was really nice.

Yup, 4 years. That's pretty good.

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