Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Nice Day for a Run

Saturday, the weather decided to act like it was Spring and gave us a temperate day just in time for Ken (and my co-worker Dave) to run a 5K in Volunteer Park. It was a loosely organized race and I say that because they did not use chip timing, the course was erratically plotted and the start was approximate. But it was indeed a lovely day to be a spectator so Dave's wife, Sharon, and I kicked back and enjoyed the scenery until our husbands returned from their rapid traipsing of the entire park. The race was only 2.8 miles instead of the standard 3.1 according to the Garmin watch Ken had on. He was bummed because that drove his average time per mile up. I brought both the still and video cameras with me to capture the fun. I particularly enjoyed the Bubble Man who I have now seen at a few races. He makes amazing bubbles with common household products. I think I even saw him using a dish rack. No joke. (As I am trying to display both digital pics and video in this entry, Blogger does not seem to like my video format and I may be forced to use YouTube instead of the Blogger-flavored video upload.) Yep.

This is Ken's running coach, Richard, who came to cheer Ken on.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

River Valley Ranch: Photos

We celebrated Sarah's birthday on Saturday and shame on me for not getting these pictures up until Tuesday. Here are a few of my favs plus the full slideshow at the end.

Slideshow below. (Click on arrow to start.)

River Valley Ranch: Video

Baby Goats!

Ken Feeding a Baby Goat

Moments after Birth of Baby Goat

Why Sarah Loves Yaks

River Valley Ranch: The Narrative

Our friend Sarah is nothing but extraordinary and so are her birthdays. While I've only had the pleasure of knowing her for two of them, (last year we had a lesson in silk painting) this year we make cheese, milked a goat, held baby goats and saw one being born. Adding to the fun, Ken wrote and performed the rap I posted earlier.

I got to express my inner Japanese tourist by having not one but two electronic recording devices (digital camera & video camera) at my disposal. Like a gunslinger from the Old West, I had each device ready for action. Being new to the Handycam, I also got several six+ minute clips of the inside of my pocket. Yep, still learning where the off switch is.

There must have been 20 people there and after each of us introduced him/herself and how we each knew Sarah, the owner of River Valley Ranch (Julie) taught us how to make mozzarella. This was a special cow/yak curd she had prepared for us. Yak milk has a high amount of butter fat which makes cheeses taste amazing. It's also really hard to come by so it's expensive. But everyone formed their mozzarella balls in the boiling water bowl with wooden spoons then soaked it in an ice cold salt brine to finish. The result: Yummy fantastic. After Ken & Cheeba performed the aforementioned rap, we headed out to the barns but not before putting plastic footies on like we were going into surgery.

Warned to stay away from the cranky 2-ton water buffalo in labor, we tiptoed around her and into the barn to behold several stalls of baa-ing baby goats. So cute! We held them and let them suck on our fingers & zippers. Julie then demonstrated how to milk a goat and most of us gave it a try. It wasn't all that hard or weird. But to every one's surprise one of the goats entered hard labor while we were in the barn and in the course of 20 minutes, she birthed a male goat who Sarah later named "Oliver"--of no relation to our cat even though they are both black & white and can suck down a bottle of milk in 8 seconds. But it was miraculous to see the little guy come out in all his goatasticness.

And all the while we were out there, the weather changed from sun to hail to rain. Par for the course in Seattle these days. We also met a yak named Loretta Lynn and two Swiss cows who looked like they would burst out into song with "the Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music." Unfortunately it was getting cold so we said goodbye to our barnyard buddies. We slogged through the muddy pasture, past the angry mama water buffalo, back to the house where we petted some 3-day old baby bunnies and topped it all off with a piece of goat milk cheesecake.

It could have been the methane from the manure getting to me, but I must admit there is a charm to the farming life. Whether it be getting back to basics, getting to look into the eyes of animals or enjoying the sweet rewards of fresh cheese/dairy. Thank you Sarah, Mika & Julie for an amazing, transportive experience.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sarah's Birthday Rap

Our friend Sarah celebrated her birthday today. I'll write and post pics about the actual event tomorrow, but first here's Ken's rap written and performed in honor of her big day. It's hilarious.

Birthday Grrl
by Ken “K Dog” Moore

Time to celebrate, it's a day to rejoice
you can see in my face and hear in my voice
Today there's somethin extra special in the air
(I know you can smell it just pretend it ain't there)
I hope you find my little ditty entertaining,
just keep in mind that I'm a rapper in training…

Now lemme say hello to the goats I know
all you other sexy water buffalo.
Sarah's friends are wild, got the whole dang zoo --
talk about a varied and illustrious crew!
But Mika's so mellow, he's a fortunate fella,
so proud of Sara, loves her like mozzarella
For her stellar personality and joie de vivre,
the gal can throw a party like you wouldn't believe.
She takes charge of life like no other,
grabs the bull by the horns and the yak by the udder...

I'm talkin Sarah Waller, wontcha gimme a holla,
birthday grrl - I'm the twenty-ninth caller.
You’re such a shiny pearl in this crazy world…
let’s all give it give it up for the birthday grrl!

K-Dog on da mic, with Cheeba on da beat box.
We'll make you shake like you goin through detox,
But maybe that's the wind chill, 20 degrees,
who believes it's late April and about to freeze?
It's still snow stormin, it's outta the norm
and now there's not a lot of evidence a global warmin'
It's like Al Gore man, an inconvenient mystery:
we got the coldest Spring in our history!
It can snow, it can hail, and you know I won't bail,
I'm gonna go postal and deliver the mail -
I got a letter full of love on this special occasion
for my favorite producer on my favorite station
With a passion for the public and the radio,
she ain't shady no, she's a lady… yo!

It’s time to talk about animal "husbandry",
don't ask about the freaky etymology...
It's a pastoral setting but there ain't no wedding,
all they got in common is some heavy petting.
You can grab a goat's teat & give it a squeeze,
I mean please, you tryin to tell me this all about cheese?!
We'll let's meet Loretta, I wanna get to pet her,
a baby yak's love's bound to make me feel better
This is what you get when you live with intention,
let's give this gal an honorable mention
’Cause in all of our eyes she gets the Nobel Prize
for living every day like it's Super Sized.

I'm talkin Sarah Waller, wontcha gimme a holla,
birthday grrl – worth a million dollars.
You’re such a shiny pearl in this crazy world…
let’s all give it give it up for the birthday grrl!

[PDF of lyrics HERE]

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Favorite Quotes of the Weekend

"I'm not righteous, I'm just right."
In response to Ken's challenges of my facts, specifically that I thought Limback Lumber would be open only limited hours on Saturday. Ken said he'd bet a figurative 'thousand dollars' that I was wrong. A quick call to them revealed that they would close early at 3pm. He then claimed I was being righteous.

"Let's make a list of ten things to ask the Dalai Lama. Start with 'have you ever roller-bladed?'"

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Hello Dalai!

Photo by Mike Siegel/Seattle Times

Photos by Alan Berner/Seattle Times

The Dalai Lama is in Seattle for a jam-packed 5-days to promote a series of panels and events focused on compassion. Ken and I saw him yesterday at the Key Arena session, focusing on raising children compassionately and calling attention to organizations that work with foster families, orphanages and parents to concentrate on this goal.

What is impressive about the Dalai Lama is that he truly embodies the humble, compassionate ideal that you hear and read about. Though the Dalai Lama may not say anything earth-shattering or conceptually new, the fact that he exists to say it and live it seems to be where the magic is for me. Just seeing his earnestness as he bows to all his fellow panelists & the audience and his exuberance as he navigates the questions and dialogue is cleansing to the soul. Watching and listening to him is like looking at the world through the eyes of a child, only this guy is 72. Can you imagine looking at the world with such optimism and non-jadedness? Even in my 30's, so much already colors my perception of people and situations before they even have a chance to play out.

He spoke in short sections during the panel, giving his opinion where needed and punctuated the beginning and the end of the panel with thoughts about how to live with compassion. From former speeches I'd seen, I would have thought his English skills were slightly better. But as it was, he seemed to understand a fair amount and did speak the majority of his own answers but had a very skilled interpreter (pictured above) to assist him. There was one panelist who I thought was rather inconsiderate of His Holiness because while he was rolling out a question in his methodical, thoughtful manner, she kept saying "yes..." every few words. It was to signal that she understood what he was saying but it effectively interrupted him each time and after the 3rd or 4th time, I wanted to throw something at her.

My last observation about the Dalai Lama is that he is well accessorized. As you can see in the pictures above, he wore his traditional saffron-colored robe with a matching bag and visor. I love the visor and I am so glad someone at the Seattle Times got a picture of that. I feel fortunate that we were able to get time mid-day on a Friday to attend and come away with inspiration to think beyond our own trappings and realize that just by approaching a person or situation with openness and compassion, it is so simple yet so powerful in paving the way for a positive outcome.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Eating Dangerously

Fugu is the potentially lethal Japanese delicacy also known as puffer fish. Incorrectly preparing this fish can contaminate the meat with a neurotoxin stored in its liver that can kill an adult in less than 24 hours. Because of this, strict regulations exist on who prepares it, where it's sold/served and it's incredibly expensive--all of which keeps this dish off most people's tables.

But if you had two very adventurous Finnish co-workers in town who informed you that one of the only restaurants in the US that serves Fugu is in Seattle and they have reservations to eat it tonight, well, wouldn't you at least want to watch? I did. (Sorry I didn't think to get any pictures though.)

They ordered a multiple-coursed meal of Fugu which arrived in many different forms: sashimi, sushi, steamed, the skin, in sake and deep-fried. I watched intently as they each took their first bites but my cohorts didn't complain of any tingling or numbness. I was much relieved since I was already chowing down on my usual California Roll, Edamame & Agadashi Tofu.

But when the waitress brought the deep-fried pieces to the table and offered some to me, I asked her if it was still dangerous. She replied in broken English that it was fine and I should try. So then I thought, oh it must not be poisonous if it's cooked. So I had two small nibbles. But then my boss, who's been to Japan and eaten Fugu before, said, "No, it has nothing to do if it's cooked or not--it's how it's cut."

I tossed my piece of Fugu back onto the table next to the deep-fried shrimp heads as my coworkers rolled their eyes and kept eating. I sat worrying for several minutes if the tip of my tongue felt ever so slightly tingly or if it was from the scalding hot tea I had just gulped down. Damn, who needs that sort of pressure when eating?

Evidently the Fugu that can be obtained here in the US is highly regulated and is flash-frozen before it gets to restaurants that serve it. To even handle this fish, you have to have years of training and a special license in a state that hasn't deemed the fish illegal. So the chances of us eating tainted meat were very, very slim but still...

Those Japanese--they are crazy and I outta know.

More about Fugu & Shiki the restaurant in Seattle.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Buttons & Battlestars

I'm blogging right now because Ken is sewing a loose button on a pair of my pants so I am avoiding having to learn how to sew buttons by looking busy. See, Ken brings all the essentials to our relationship: can cook, can sew, can kill giant bathtub spiders, can take out the garbage, can clean a litter box. I don't know what I would do without him. Perhaps wallow in a house that smells like cat poo & trash with wild arachnids running about as I consume meals of fruit rollups & turkey jerky while wearing button-less & unhemmed PJs. Let's hope it never comes to that.

Regarding the earlier Nerd Alerts:
This has everything to do with my new (obsession) favorite show, Battlestar Galactica. The re-imagined series on the SciFi channel spawns from the 70's/80's original but with a depth, sensuality and a technical superiority one usually finds in movies. While this is their 4th and final season, I am relatively lucky to have discovered them recently so that the stories & character arcs from season to season are very fresh and vibrant in my mind.
I recently learned that one of my favorite characters, Lee "Apollo" Adama played by Jamie Bamber, is coming to Seattle during the Emerald ComiCon in May. But get this...he charges an autograph fee. As a classically trained actor, going to a convention brimming with comic-reading, costume-wearing, sunlight-avoiding, fanboy, Wolverine-wannabes is probably not what he had in mind when he graduated from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. But come on, Jamie, that is pretty lame. Wil Wheaton of Star Trek the Next Generation will also be there and he's not charging for his John Hancock. It's just disappointing, that's all. When it's just about the money, it cheapens the whole experience of meeting him, don't you think? Now surely there will be lots of folks who love the show and will gladly pay for his autograph. However, I will not be one of them.

Nerd Alert

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

All Done!

Before: After: More pics of the entire process... Designer: Diane Thomas, Do-It-Yourself-Designs Cabinets: Huntwood through Rock'n'Wood Counters: Caesarstone through Rock'n'Wood Floor: Marmoleum through Contract Furnishings Mart Electrical: Cottage Electric Plumbing: Collier Plumbing Painting: Miller Paint, CC Paint Company Tiling: Dal Tile, Brad Notman--Ceramic Creations Appliances: Albert Lee Additional Help: Shirey Handyman