Sunday, October 29, 2006

Thursday, October 26, 2006

what in the dickens?

I say this all the time lately, the phrase rings from my lips at least 10 times a day now. I think it's the most hilarious thing ever and can't stop expounding this timeless expression with a guttural southern drawl. Zack thinks is decidedly uncool and cringes when I break it out around his buddies, especially when they're talking about important manly things like football. Apparently "What in the Dickens!?!" is not an appropriate response to a comment regarding the grabbing of a facemask and the penalty from whence it was awarded. I thought it quite apropos and sharp with wit, as did some of our guests.

Actually, I think the phrase is supposed to be "what the dickens" not "what in the dickens" but I don't really care. I like to spice it up with my own flare. My good friend Kate used to say 'don't' when she really meant 'do' and I always thought it was so cute. I'd say something like: 'man I love chocolate sauce on potato chips'. And she'd say: 'yeah, so don't I'. Cute huh?

I can't say much of anything right now because I've lost my voice completely. There is a slow, steady trickle of snot caressing my lower-left nostril and when I talk I sound like a raspy beached whale. Awesome. I am feeling better though so this is not a complaint, just an observation.

I feel like I've been complaining a lot lately. Damn, what happened to the lovely, lightly positive girl that used to glow about inch worms and find easy beauty in the simple joy of living a day? Does that sentence count as a complaint? It's time to find my way back from the dark side and tap into The Force.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Shiz, ya'll! I've been a busy ladybug this week getting over the Sickness and working my touchie to the bone. And it's only Tuesday, Ack!

Here are some pictures from the road trip this summer when the days stretched before me like wings of freedom riding the current of creative energy and outside adventures.

Westward Ho (805)

This is what Summer at high altitudes looks like.

Westward Ho (830)

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Westward Ho (832)1


Westward Ho (834)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

sicky sicky boom boom

It's Sunday and I'm sick. This happens to me every year right about this time. Doctors have told me year after year that I should really think about getting my tonsils removed to spare me the agony of my annual battle with streptococcus. I thought, after moving to Arizona where the weather is perpetually mild and the change in seasons barely perceptible, that I might not get it this year. But of course, I was wrong. And, this has to come during the week where I have a million and one important things to do for work all of which require me to walk and talk and generally not snot or cry on people.

So here I am sitting inside on an absolutely beautiful, sunny Sunday huddled up in a ball on the couch with my purple blankey, vaporizer at my head, hot tea in my mug and cough drop wrappers artfully flung on the carpet around me. I am yearning for the Mustard Seed's Throat Soother tea. It is the only thing that I've found to provide any actual relief from swollen glands and a burning esophogas. So far today I've tried Chamomile, Yerba Mate, Herbal Mint, Echinachea, and Passion Fruit tea. It's weird but I really don't believe that Phenol, Menthol or Benzocain or even Airborne (now in Pink Grapefruit!) can provide the same kind of relief that Mullien, Slippery Elm and Marshmallow root does when brewed together in a steaming cup of tea.

In seeking relief, I've also been sucking on popsicles left and right and was aghast to find out the changes that have been made over at the Fudgesicle Plant (that's pronounced fudgeSicle, not fudgeIcle). It used to be that the original Fudgesicle was shaped in the classical form with rounded corners and two grooves on each side to catch the melt-off. I more than a little disheartened to find that the Fudgesicle has now been reduced to a ridged, rectangular chocolate box on a stick neither curvy nor groovy. It still tastes just as luscious and lovely but it's really not as pretty or ergonomically conducive to licking.

And, to top all off I've got the woman's curse and I don't get to go to the Galactic concert I've been looking forward to all week. It's positively been ages since I've seen any good live music and in my emotional and feverish condition I'm just about ready to cry about it.

Is that enough self-pity to top off your weekend? I promise a much sunnier disposition and a brand new Cactus-of-the-Week tomorrow.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

dandelions and mudpies

When I was a kid, growing-up in the suburbs of Atlanta, I spent countless days playing in the backyard. I was fascinated with rollie-pollies and would search relentlessly turning over rotting logs and stones to find the little grey bugs. I loved the way they would curl-up into an impenetrable ball and if I was patient and very still the rollie-pollie would unfurl and crawl around, feeling safe in my palm.

One of my most favorite activities was dreaming-up culinary masterpieces in my plastic kitchen. I had a complete set of primary colored plates and plastic cups. I would crouch low to the ground and scavenge around the yard for acorns, shiny round stones, and pine cones. With these I would make salad and mixed vegetables. I would mix the red Georgia clay with potting soil and just a touch of water to form delicious meats and cheeses. Sometimes I'd add a handful of grass for consistency. I loved watching the mud cover blades of grass, turning the waxy bright green to reddish brown.

I'd mix all these things up on my tan plastic kitchen complete with stove and fridge. My mother actually moved the kitchen outside to the patio as she tired quickly of finding pine cones and dirt in the play room. The kitchen was way better outside anyway. Back there I had the world at my fingertips, a rich and colorful bounty to harvest every day. Buddy, our old German Shorthaired Pointer, would laze in the sun occasionally meandering over to my laboratory for a pat on the head or a dog treat from my apron. I remember crawling into his unused doghouse, which for years smelled like fresh-cut lumber, and scavenging for spiders and insects.

On top of the table, covered with a cherry print vinyl tablecloth, I'd place a vase full of artfully arranged grass clippings and dandelions. I'd spread out my epicurean delights on the blue and yellow plates, garnishing dishes with honeysuckle blossoms and clover. Desert was most often the plastic cupcakes with detachable rubber frosting. After dinner was served and my guests, usually imaginary friends and farm-hands, had gone home I would tidy-up the kitchen. Sweeping the concrete and rinsing dishes with the garden hose gave me satisfaction of a job well done. When everything was back in it's rightful place, I'd retire to a bed of pine needles under a tree. The umber needles smelled like contentment and swallowed me with their warm comfort. Sometimes Buddy would join me, and there we'd sit with a book, lounging for hours getting lost in stories and soaking in the sun.

Some things never change...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


I am loving California this week. The weather's been gorgeous, sunny with a slight warm breeze. I love the smell of the ocean it's clean and salty, it's fresh and rotting, it's organic, it's life. I love running on the beach, stepping on seaweed pods and feeling them pop under my sneakers. I love the way my skin feels after that run, all salty and sandy and crusty.

This was the view from my breakfast table this morning
Pismo Pier2

One thing I really love about this area is that it combines two of my most favorite things in life--the ocean and farms. Just a few miles away from the beach the landscape changes drastically into fertile hills like this:
SLO hills

I want to live here.

Tonight's Sunset...
sunset seagull

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Last night I was on a very late connecting flight from Las Vegas to San Luis Obispo, CA. I was tired and teary and more than a little relieved when the seat next to me remained empty as the plane door was closing.

As is the case on most airplanes, it was freezing. I thought ahead and was wearing a sweatshirt and a jacket but I was still cold. Somehow I contorted my body into a little ball hugging my knees. In this position I managed to fall half-asleep.

At one point I felt a light touch and almost instant warmth from an airplane blanket. I looked up to see a gorgeous caramel-complected flight attendant smiling down on me as he adjusted the blanket to cover my ankles. It was a small gesture, but his gentle kindness was touching. It's funny how such a simple act from a stranger can warm a cold and lonely disposition.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Cactus of the Week

This week, we're starting a new feature series here at brinki-dink...Cactus of the week! Introducing... The Prickly Pear!

I'm starting with the Prickly Pear cactus (also known as the Nopal cactus) because it's my favorite. Why, do you ask, am I so smitten with this cactus?

Funny you should ask. The Prickly Pear is a beautiful, varied, and also quite practical cactus. Unlike many cacti, Prickly Pears have branches (or pads) that are fleshy and round like a pancake. The young pads can be harvested, skinned, sliced in strips and boiled. The strips are often served with meat or eggs. Nopales also produce a really beautiful purple fruit that is edible as well. Don't try to pick one of these off the top of a cactus with your bare hands though! It's covered in tiny microspines that don't phase animals like the desert tortoise, but which will embed themselves into human skin and hurt like the dickens!

To make Nopal fruit edible drop them into boiling water for a few minutes and squeeze the juicy fruit from the skin. Push the pulp through a cheese cloth to remove any rogue microspines. The juice can be boiled down into syrup and made into jelly.

Engleman's Prickly Pear. This is my favorite of all the Prickly Pears, it's also the most common. I like it because it grows real tall with wide flat pads. This fine specimen was at least 9 or 10 feet tall.

Beaver's Tail Cactus. This one is really common in AZ and can be identified by the nubbly nubbins instead of prickles at the areoles (yes this is the nipple, if you will, of the cactus). Fine hairs cover the pads of this cactus making it a soft and silky to the touch.

Bearded Prickly Pear--not as fuzzy as it looks! This cactus blooms beautiful pale yellow flowers.

A Purple Prickly Pear

All of the cacti featured here can be found living it up at the Arizona Desert Botanical Gardens. These pictures are a little washed out because it was SO SUNNY (go figure!) this weekend when we were there. I definitely recommend this lovely weekend outing to anyone in the area.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Check it

....or else

Sunday Mountain Butterflies

Red Mountain

Wings on Green

Four Peaks


Clouds through the Window

anotha day anotha flower...

Four Peaks and Red

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

the kingdom of Sweden

I just got done practicing my fiddle and my fingers are raw. For those of you who have never tried your hands at playing the violin, it requires short nails. As soon as little fingernail starts peeking out above the rim it separates the fingertips from the fret and you loose touch with your fiddle, you lose your range of motion.

So, with music on my brain this afternoon, I was looking at Fiddler magazine online and I came across an article about the town of Jamtland* in the Kingdom of Sweden. I love Kingdoms, not that I'd actually wan to live in one. But, the whole Rapunzelesque idea of living in a pastoral Swedish Kingdom sounds very romantic to me. I've heard they make excellent cheese in Sweden.

Speaking of which, Sweden is home of the Smorgasborg. My grandfather (my Boompa) was of Swedish descent and I remember actual Smorgasborgs at my Grandparents' house when I was little. I didn't really make the connection until now, but it's something my parents carried on as well. Actually, I'm sure my family is not unique in our admiration and execution of the Smorgasborg; Americans seem to be quite fond of large buffet-style food-eating events. Turducken** anyone?

Back in the day (aka the 19th Century) Jamtland was full to the brim with fiddlers. Interestingly enough, at that time in Swedish history, the Church believed the violin to be an instrument of the devil. All of these fiddlers running around town developed their own tradition of folk music there and to this day, the tradition continues.

Every year the town of Jamatlan puts together a folk music course where fiddlers pass on traditional tunes. It's all played by ear so they've got to pass these things on to the next generation. I would totally love to attend this Fiddle course one year. How fucking awesome would it be to romp around the fields, living out my fiddling milkmaid fantasy with tulips in my hair and lingonberries in my pockets?

*The 'a' in Jamtland is supposed to have those two little dots on top of it. A Rickard Naslin CD goes to the first person who posts the name of those dots in the comments section.

**Valerie, I know you want it!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

sunday night blahs

It's Sunday night and I'm tired. I'm thankful that, this week, I'm not hopping on a plane and living out of a suitcase. Tonight I feel lethargic and lazy and kind of let-down.

I think my SNB (Sunday Night Blahs) might come from the disappointing dinner I made tonight. I tried my hand (for the second time) at the Zuni Roasted Chicken and Bread salad and it didn't quite meet my expectations. This salad is all about roasting the chicken right and getting the correct balance of garlic and tang and crunch and chew in the bread. In trying to roast both sides of my chicken, I effectively took the skin off, so that was a bummer. And the bread was, well, it was good but not fabulous. So, after quite a few hours in the kitchen and a lot of high hopes and expectations, we ended-up with a fairly ordinary chicken salad dinner. Blah.

The other blah was that I spent a whole bunch of time and money and printer ink putting together these beautiful invitations for a work function I'm organizing. After meticulously loading 75 abnormally sized invitations into my printer, I realized that my invite noted the wrong location. Blah.

Maybe I'm just tired.

Z and I spent most of the weekend at the Arizona Wildlife Rehabilitators' Symposium. We learned all about javalina and eagles and bats and owls. It was a hoot. Ha! I have a million and one things I want to share with the internerd about some of the advocacy issues and neat animals facts we learned.

But, since I'm feeling so cloudy and blah, I think I'll just post a couple of pictures from last week.

On the way to Chase Field last weekend for Gonzo's last game with the Diamondbacks.

Indoor ballparks are weird!

The Diamondbacks officially have the least masculine colors in Major League Baseball. All hail the mighty teal and purple!

A rusty car in downtown Phoenix

Santa Barbara beach. What I wouldn't give to be back sitting on the beach right now, drinking a Firestone Pale Ale and listening to the waves crash against the sand.


Monday, October 02, 2006

by nostril

I love the smell of eucalyptus. I stepped of a plane this morning in Santa Barbara and the heavenly freshness of eucalyptus enveloped my head, opened my sinuses and calmed my nerves. How can one place smell so heavenly? When I grow up I'm going to plant a eucalyptus tree right outside my bedroom window.