30 June 2008

Crazy from the Heat

"What dreadful hot weather we have!
It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance."
- Jane Austen, English writer (1775-1817)

UPDATE: 1:38pm
Today at work our air conditioning is not working. So that means it's hotter inside the building than outside. Good stuff. We went for a lunch bike ride and it was great weather, right around 80 degrees. Now we are sitting here sweltering & sweating and trying to get some work done (or some blogginess). Ugh.


I know exactly how she feels. Two straight days of record high temps in Seattle, and I'm wilting like limp asparagas and sweating like I have a faucet in my head. Now, I realize it's only in the low 90's, but that is still way over the seasonal temp for this part of the country - and most of us don't have AC out here. Wouldn't need it but a couple days a year. That's one reason I chose to stay out here when I moved from Colorado back in 1996. I didn't miss the 100+ degree summers at all. Nice, balmy 75-80 degree days and blue skies are perfect for me. (I get crabby if it climbs over 85 degrees). It was nice to have it fall on a weekend though - I should have gone swimming. 
KJT - Seattle (2008)
Photo Sunset in Salisbury, England (1996)

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27 June 2008

Puppy Malaise

"To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace."
- Milan Kundera, Czech writer/philosopher (1929—)

Under the weather. Kaiser, our 17-month-old Springer Spaniel is not well. We can't seem to figure out what is wrong with him. We just got word back from the vet that all the tests we had run are negative, which is good, except that we still don't know what the problem is. 
We are hoping he doesn't have canine hip dysplasia, which is a hereditery disease that can cause lameness and arthritis. It seems more common in Spaniels than some dogs, and usually shows up before they are 18 months.
Kaiser seems very lethargic, and he is having trouble going up and down the stairs. He is also very tentative getting on and off the couches and beds, and doesn't seem to want to go for walks - which is a complete 180 degree reversal from his personality even a couple months ago.
We're thinking we may try acupuncture next...
KJT - Seattle (2008)

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23 June 2008

R.I.P. Funny Man

"Just because your tattoo has Chinese characters in it, doesn't make you spiritual. It's right above the crack of your ass. And it translates to "Beef with Broccoli." The last time you did anything spiritual, 
you were praying to God you weren't pregnant. 
You're not spiritual. You're just high."
- George Carlin, American comedian (1937-2008)

George Carlin (12 May 1937 - 22 June 2008)
KJT - Seattle (2008)

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22 June 2008

It's the Journey...

"I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. 
I travel for travel's sake. 
The great affair is to move."
- Robert Louis Stevenson, Scottish writer (1850-1894)

I've long had a saying, "It's the journey, not the destination." Meaning that the big part of my love of travel is the travel itself, not necessarily the end result. In French it's known as L'âme de la gitane - the gypsy soul. Most of the time I'm also pretty happy with the end result, of course, and sometimes it turns out to be an actual paradise...

After spending several hot, sweaty days in Bangkok we took a quick flight down to Ko Samui, an island in the Gulf of Thailand in the South China Sea. We had a small bungalow just off the beach, the water was a deep sapphire hue, and the swaying palms gave a nice respite from the high sun. We dabbled with different Thai dishes, various curries, fresh caught fish & squid, hot & sweet soups, and coconut water. We swam in the ocean, walked the white sands, and rented a sea kayak to nose around the myriad reefs, small islands, and currents of the gulf. We went back into the heart of the island, Na Muang Park, where we hiked through jungle, crossed rivers, swam under a waterfall, rode the backs of elephants, played with monkeys, and then returned to a leisurely dinner overlooking the bay.
KJT - Ko Samui, Thailand (2007)

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19 June 2008

El Aniversario

"A wedding anniversary is the celebration of love, 
trust, partnership, tolerance and tenacity. 
The order varies for any given year."
- Paul Sweeney, American writer

We rented a villa on a cliff overlooking the bay. It had five different levels, nine bedrooms, a swimming pool on a wide balcony, a pool table, and came with a cook and a bartender/housekeeper. We invited a small group of our closest friends to fly down and celebrate with us. It was June, the rainy season in Mexico. We were lucky during the days, the sun was out and it was hot. Every evening the clouds and wind would roll in from the west and there would be fantastic lightning storms out over the bahía de banderas. We would all sit out on the balcony in the warm rain, drinking margaritas, Mexican beer, mojitos, and watch the white sheets explode out over the water and slash down to strike the surface. It was beautiful and terrible. The days were spent snorkeling, shopping, deep sea fishing, swimming, and just lounging about. We would read for a bit, and then the housekeeper might ask if we wanted a drink or a shrimp quesadilla and perhaps some guacamole? "Splendid idea," we'd say. 

On the afternoon of the 19th, we all went out to Le Kliff and Stacie and I were married in a semi-traditional Mexican ceremony. She wore a beautiful pale pink sun dress and I had on hemp cotton pants, a Mexican shirt and sandals. The short, succinct ceremony was on a promontory out above the water of the bay. Afterwards we all traipsed up to the restaurant above and had a gigantic feast. Lobster, shrimp, chicken, and pork along side fresh flounder, snapper, tuna, salmon and scallops. Margaritas and Sangria in bowls the size of your head. G got drunk and made an ass of herself. We all laughed. She played the fool quite well, and wandered off with a taxi cab driver. Back at the villa, we were all in our cups, jumping into the swimming pool, cracking more beer, laughing, playing, and watching the storm show out over the dark water as the warm rain washed us clean. 
Best week of my life.
KJT - Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (2004)

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18 June 2008

St. Michael's Mountain

"I believe in nothing, everything is sacred.
I believe in everything, nothing is sacred."
- Tom Robbins "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" (1976)

Paris > Rennes > Pontorson. Trains are the only way to travel.
We headed out from the City of Light, pilgrims to witness the splendor of Le Mont Saint-Michel: a small stony island in the tidal flats of the mouth of the Couesnon River, on the coast of Normandie. An abbey was built on the island around the year 700, and repeatedly added-on and built-up over the centuries. It had been used as a monastery, a site of pilgrimage, a fortification during the 100 Years War, a prison, a church again, and finally a tourist trap. We booked a hotel in Pontorson, whose only claim to fame is that it is the closest train station to the abbey. We missed the last bus out to the Mont so had to share a taxi. We wandered through the snake-like lanes of the abbey, stopped in at several cafés for cocktails, and had a quick dinner of agneau de pré-salé (salt meadow lamb), a delicious local specialty. We stood out on the high parapets and gazed over the countryside. In years past the Mont had been connected to the mainland only during low tides by a narrow causeway. During high tides it was completely cut off. The tides could come in at an alarming 6 1/2 feet per second and vary by 46 feet between low and high. A permanent land bridge had been constructed in 1879.
We watched in amazement as the water rushed in, and what was a vast field moments before was transformed into a churning, frothy sea. It was well past dark when we decided to depart. We began walking back along the causeway with our thumbs held out. Very soon a car pulled over and a nutty Italian couple leaned out the window. Eliano & Cinzia asked us in an absurd mix of broken English, bad French and frenetic Italian if we needed a ride. We laughed and jumped in. The trek back to town was a chaotic journey as we all tried to communicate with one another and succeeded only minimally. But they were great fun and we asked them if we could buy them a drink when we arrived back in town. We stopped at a small café and continued the ridiculous attempt at conversation over wine, Ricard, and Sambuca. They lived southwest of Rome and were on their honeymoon. We laughed long into the night and made plans to see them again when our journey took us south into Italy.
KJT - Le Mont Saint-Michel, Normandie, France (1998)

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16 June 2008

Two Pints

"Hold to the now, the here, 
through which all future plunges to the past."
- James Joyce, "Ulysses" (1922)

We had the weekend off from studying at La Sorbonne so I decided, spur-of-the-moment, to make a much needed solo voyage. I filled a small backpack, pulled out the credit card, and bought a round trip ticket from Paris to Dublin on Aer Lingus. I was soon on the way to Ireland, the land of my grandmother. On arrival I made my way to the south bank of the River Liffey, to the Temple Bar neighborhood. I checked into a somewhat seedy hostel and proceeded to sample as many pints of true Guinness from not only the St. James's Gate Brewery, but also from as many pubs as were within walking distance. I proclaimed them all to be superb, and found 
that a wee nip of Jameson was the perfect accompaniment 
to a "pint o' the black." 

The next morning, after a quick breakfast of coffee and Advil, I caught an early train headed west. After some hours and a bit of a nap, I found myself all the way across the country in the City of Galway, sister city to my beloved Seattle. Nestled up against the River Corrib and Galway Bay, the city is beautiful and vibrant and known as Ireland's Cultural Heart. 

Once again I found an economical hostel, this time a dorm-style room with six bunk beds. My roommates were all fine Irish lads and lasses, who upon learning my first name welcomed me as a long lost brother and quickly shortened it to "Kev." During another evening of pub roaming, I found myself saddled with a new nickname: Two Pints
As the lines at the bars were all quite long, I had taken to ordering two pints of Guinness at a time. That way I could drink the first while becoming further acquainted with my roomies, and the second I could nurse as I stood in the long lines awaiting a refill. An old trick we had perfected in my college days. Prevents one from running dry and the frightening possibility of becoming parched. They proclaimed it genius, and the moniker was given. Sláinte! (Cheers!)
SIDENOTE: Today, June 16th, is Bloomsday (Lá Bhloom), celebrated in Dublin (and elsewhere) to commemorate the life and work of the great Irish writer James Joyce, and especially his magnum opus "Ulysses," whose protagonist is named Leopold Bloom.
KJT - Galway & Dublin, Ireland (2000)

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15 June 2008

Simple Pleasures

"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, 
"what's the first thing you say to yourself?" 
"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully.
"It's the same thing," he said.
- A. A. Milne, "The House at Pooh Corner" (1928)

I received some duck eggs. Fresh duck eggs. A good friend 
(and photographer extraordinaire), Earl, raises chickens & ducks. He and his wife, Doreen, were gracious enough to gift us some eggs from both fowl. If you've never had fresh, real farm eggs, either from a chicken or a duck, you are truly missing out on one of life's simple pleasures. The taste is wholly incomparable to the eggs you buy in a grocery store. And the duck egg - that is in a different realm all together. Bigger, with a larger, creamier yolk, it is a gift befitting a king. I like eggs in any and all manner of preparation, but these fresh duck eggs I needed to eat simply. I poached two of them this morning and lightly dusted them with ground sea salt and fresh ground pepper. At the same time I made some grilled sourdough toast and a few pieces of bacon. I ate the eggs first, mopping up the yolk with the toast and finishing with the bacon. Simple, elegant, delicious. 
A finer breakfast I've not had in a long while. Rounding it out was a rich espresso prepared with a pinch of cardamom.
KJT - Seattle (2008)

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A Day at the Beach

"Never think that war, no matter how necessary, 
nor how justified, is not a crime."
- Ernest Hemingway, American writer (1899-1961)

We took a train from Paris to Caen and stayed in Bayeux at a 16th century residence that had been converted into sort of an upscale hostel (oxymoron?). We had croissants, baguette, Camembert cheese, hard sausage & wine for dinner. We laughed about the bidet. I constantly bumped my head on the five foot door frames. Our footsteps echoed in the stone staircases. The next morning we went out to the beaches of Normandie. Omaha, Gold, Juno... we walked the sand, skirting the surf, and hiked up to the cliffs. The air was chilly and the sky grey and overcast. We visited the cemetery and memorial at Colleville-sur-Mer. Endless rows of white crosses and markings. We were somber and didn't say much to each other. We walked to the edge of Pointe du Hoc, imagining the brave rangers who had to scale this terrible, broken rock some 60 years previous. The battlements, barbed wire, and shell holes still exposed - an indictment and a testimonial. A tragic trophy. All the wasted lives lost. All the children who were never born. All the inventions never dreamt. All the medicines, books, movies, and paintings lost to that terrible human invention - war.
KJT - Pointe du Hoc, Basse-Normandie, France (1996)

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14 June 2008

Viva Ziya!

"Young is the one who plunges into the future and never looks back."

- Milan Kundera, Czech writer/philosopher (1929—)

UPDATE: Ziya Zappa, RJ and KM are now back at home and (hopefully) resting comfortably. The new kid had quite a momentous and terrifying birth. I'll not go into details, but it's enough to say we are all thanking whatever higher power we believe in for smiling down upon our friends. They were, however, given the green light from the doctors so all seems well. May their days be filled with wonder and joy, their nights filled with peace and love, and their lives long, interesting, and full of adventure.
Cheers, friends!
KJT - Seattle (2008) Photos by the family

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Friday Farmer's Market

"Let the stoics say what they please, we do not eat for the good of living, but because the meat is savory and the appetite is keen."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, American philosopher/poet (1803-1882)
"I am not a glutton – I am an explorer of food."
- Erma Bombeck, American humorist writer (1927-1996)

Stacie and I walked down the hill to our local farmer's market last night. We took Kaiser along to sniff and nose about. We browsed for something spectacular for dinner. We already had quite a full larder of vegetables, so unfortunately we had to bypass some wonderful offerings. We decided upon fresh homemade egg pasta: one package of Duck Ravioli (with carrot, onion, spinach, Parmesan & herbs) and one package of Goat Cheese and Veggie Ravioli (with bell peppers, zucchini, ricotta & bread crumbs). We also picked up some sourdough bread, some organic radishes to put on our salads, and a cup of fresh made marinara sauce. For a future lunch we also grabbed a package of homemade Jalapeno & Cream Cheese Tamales, and a small brick of Chile Chive Onion Gouda cheese.

Along with spinach salads we shared both pastas, the goat cheese & veggie ravioli with the marinara, and the duck ravioli with a tasty sauce of melted butter, sautéed garlic, lemon zest & lemon juice, oregano & basil. I caramelized a large onion to add to both dishes. Along with the fresh bread and a bottle of Dunham, it was truly a transcendent dinner.
KJT - Seattle (2008) 

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12 June 2008

Alpine Repast

"Landscapes have a language of their own,
expressing the soul of the things, lofty or humble,
which constitute them, from the mighty peaks 
to the smallest of the tiny flowers hidden in the meadow's grass."
- Alexandra David-Néel, Belgian-French writer, explorer, spiritualist (1868-1969)

We had been searching for peanut butter through three countries. We had seen (and consumed) lots of Nutella, some paté, butter, honey, jams and preserves, but had found no peanut butter. Until we stumbled into a small shop in Zurich. There on the top shelf, a bit dusty and lonely looking, sat a small jar of that golden goodness. We bought the jar, some salmon paté, a couple beers, and a thick loaf of dark, German bread. We then took a Swiss train high up into the mountains, next stop: the Principality of Liechtenstein. We changed trains in Vaduz and continued up on a slow local. We disembarked, took a right outside the train station and began to climb. The road cut back and forth across the steep hillside. After some time we veered off of the road onto a well-worn path. We followed that through a thicket of trees, over a couple more hills, and were treated to a sight straight out of The Sound of Music. A lush, green Alpine meadow studded with yellow wildflowers dropped away to a small village of lovely chalets. Beyond the village the earth rose up again to tower in the clouds. The peaks cresting above the valley (the Gorfion and Augstenburg) were still ringed with snow, but the air was warm and fragrant where we were. We hopped the fence, laid down on the verdant hassock and opened up the beers. We toasted the beauty of the scene. Breaking the bread, we slathered the peanut butter on rough hunks and ate them voraciously. Alternately we scooped out the paté, and with the beer ate a very passable lunch under the noonday sun.
KJT - Malbun, Liechtenstein (1998)

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11 June 2008

The Big Easy

"There is a house in New Orleans
They call the Rising Sun
And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy
And God, I know I'm one..."
- The Animals, "House of the Rising Sun" (1964)

It was late. We were all quite "in our cups" as I liked to say. We had made the introduction of the Mint Julep, the Ramos Gin Fizz, a Hurricane, and numerous beers. We'd been imbibing since dinner 
(red beans & rice/crawfish po' boys) - and it was now well past midnight. We had roamed from one bar to the next inside the French Quarter. Our only criteria: live music. And we'd found a smorgasbord. All evening we'd been treated to the best the Crescent City had to offer: a rich musical gumbo of funk, jazz, blues, cajun, and second line sounds all liberally seasoned with as much trumpet, sax, tuba, trombone, and stride piano as we could stomach. Now, as we stumbled along Decatur street some distance from Jackson Square, we could smell the Mississippi just over the levee. We were making a roundabout way back to our hotel as a vague light in the eastern sky was slowly erasing the dark. Suddenly P stopped short. "Wait," he hissed. "Listen." In the distance we could just make out the high, thin wail of a lone brass instrument. "BONE!" P cried. "I hear trombone!" He had a huge, Cheshire grin and a wild, manic light in his eyes. He raised his finger and pointed. "This way..." He turned north and began to follow the music, being led by the pied piper once again. We looked at each other, shrugged and then followed willingly, realizing that this night would not end with the dawn...
KJT - New Orleans, Louisiana (2003)

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10 June 2008

Ziya Zappa May

"Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible."
- Frank Zappa, American composer & musician (1940-1993)

Welcome to the world! Cigars are in order.
My good friends, RJ & KM, had their baby boy last night (June 9th, 2008) at 7:01 PM. "Ziya Zappa" weighed in at 8.4lbs and he was 20.5 inches. Ziya: gender=masculine, derived from Arabic (diya) meaning "splendor, light, glow." Congrats to both of them, especially KM for going through 28 HOURS of labor. Good grief!
I raise my glass to all three of them, Sláinte!
KJT - Seattle (2008)
Photo by Stacie, from Havana (2004)

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09 June 2008

Georgetown Art Attack

"The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls."
- Pablo Picasso, Spanish artist (1881-1973)

My good friend, Dorik (Double D), is having an ART SHOW this Saturday, June 14th, 2008 from 4 to 9 pm. 
It's at Earl Harper Studios in Georgetown (Seattle). 
Should be a good weekend. 
It's the Georgetown Art Attack on Saturday night, 
and the Georgetown Music Fest Friday and Saturday.
Harper Studios is located just south of downtown (sort of near the stadiums - well, south of Spokane Street) on Airport Way South, two doors south of Stellar Pizza. Address is 5531 Airport Way South, 
Studio B, Seattle, WA 98108. Phone is 206.763.9101.
He'll have paintings for sale, there are numerous bars, coffeeshops and cafés right there, live music, food, fun, etc. 
Hope I see you there...
KJT - Seattle (2008)

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El Jefe & the Hounds

"The more people I meet, the more I like my dog."
- Unknown

Stacie, Kramer, and Kaiser, the trinity that keeps me going.
KJT - Seattle (2008)

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08 June 2008

Istanbul, Not Constantinople

"I love the burning odors
this glowing region heaves;
And round each gilded lattice,
the trembling writhing leaves;
And beneath the bending palm;
the gayly gushing spring;
And on the snow-white minaret,
the stork with snowy wing."
- Victor Hugo, "The Turkish Captive" from Eastern Poems (1829)

In a small boat, we crossed the Bosporus and the Golden Horn from western Istanbul into Anatolia: Asia Minor. We were no longer in Europe. Looking back across the Sea of Marmara, the sun glinted off the tall minarets of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia. It was late afternoon and the adhan began to echo through the narrow stone alleyways and winding passages. The muezzin's hypnotic call-to-prayer, beautiful and haunting, reminded us just how far outside ourselves we had traveled.
KJT - Istanbul, Turkey (1998)

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07 June 2008

Havana Dreaming

"The Floridita was open now and he bought the two papers that were out, Cristol and Alerta, and took them to the bar with him. He took his seat on a tall bar stool at the extreme left of the bar. His back was against the wall toward the street and his left was covered by the wall behind the bar. He ordered a double frozen daiquiri with no sugar from Pedrico, who smiled his smile which was almost like the rictus on a dead man..."
-Ernest Hemingway "Islands in the Stream" (1970)

We started off the evening at the Floridita, where Hemingway used to get his daiquiris. We then walked from café to café in the warm, fragrant air. The exotic sounds of the guajira, son, and changuí music danced and intertwined with the clink of glassware and the low murmur of tableside sonnets. The warm Caribbean wind brought the smell of the sea to the outdoor courtyards and patios. The mojitos, beer, and cigars left us with a heady feeling of tranquility and peace. These were the Halcyon nights of our honeymoon.
KJT - Havana, Cuba (2004)

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We Are Not So Dashing

"Certain people, of whom I am one, thrive in an atmosphere of uncertainty. It is not that we have the gambler's spirit, that we challenge chance for the sake of the game. We are not so dashing. If we take risks, we take them because we are lazy. We delegate our responsibilities to fate. In any situation, the more you are obliged to leave to chance, the less you are obliged to do yourself. Being for the most part inefficient, incapable of foresight, and rather irresponsible, we like best those situations in which a great deal has to be left to chance."
- Peter Fleming "Brazilian Adventure" (1933)

KJT - Prague, Czech Republic (2005)

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The Pursuit of Satori

"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." 
- Jorge Luis Borges, Argentine writer (1899-1986)

The sea was calm out on the bay. The smell of salt, the cry of gull, the gentle rustle of leaf. I was to be married in a few days time, and my heart was light. I looked out on the serene waters and felt the morning sun on my face. Sitting down with a good book, all was right with the world...
KJT - Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (2004)

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