Monday, June 29, 2009

Values -- from a prejudiced point of view.

I thought that the Experience Music Project Building was OK until I saw it from the Space Needle. Now I just think it is stupid. However, I found out that the Science Fiction Hall of Fame was in the same building, so that makes it mostly OK. I prefer folk music and Star Trek. Life is not perfect.

And speaking of not being perfect, we stopped by the house I grew up in Bellevue. Well, it isn't there anymore. It has been torn down and replaced with a McMansion, which is true for 1/3 the houses on the street. I found out that it was sold last summer for $3 million. I think the buyers were ripped off, since any house worth $3 M should be on more than 1/5 acre and further than 30 feet from the next house. (But that is probably because I live in a smaller city where acreage is available for a reasonable price, not an arm and a leg and your firstborn and their children. And $3M is the one of the most expensive homes in the area.) It is also the ugliest house on the block. (my friend agrees). Still, they could have bought the house next to it for 1/3 the price, since it is still the original construction from the 50s. The other McMansions are worth $1.5 to $2 Million. (You can get all this info online at the King County Assessor's website.)
Bellevue has always been a rich city, and for me a city where the important things were what you looked like, what you owned, and how much money you had, not who you were or what you accomplished. Since I had zits and my forte was my mind, I was not popular. (My brother's friend came up to me one time and said "Marion, your eyes are like pearls...and your face is like the rest of the oyster." I can now give him points for originality, since his is one of two remarks I remember from that era. By the way, Billy, thank your parents for not rebuilding their house into a McMansion! But your crack about going out for Halloween as a zit, while memorable, lacks a little panache.) (Yes, you said both of those.)
Back to Bellevue...back then, 60's and 70's, not everyone had a car at 16, and most of those who did drove junkers that should not be driven out of town. We had to make our own beds. We earned our money for records (they cost $4 and a lot of us didn't have that much money at one time!) We had record players. The stereo systems were owned by our parents -- of course, size was a problem. We did not act up in school and did our homework, although the smartest were not the popular. We did have a work ethic. Bellevue Square consisted of individual stores, including Petrams Five and Dime. There was a horse pasture next to it, across 8th street.
Now, the surface values are worse than ever. The horse pasture has been gone for 40 years, and gas stations can't be found near Bellevue Square, which is now a covered mall of who knows how many square feet, with a four story parking garage. The Five and Dime disappeared long ago, I guess no one is interested in cheap. The best illustration I have is one time when we stopped for snack food at QFC before driving home and looked at cars in the parking lot. The pattern was: Lexus, BMW, Porsche, Lexus, Mercedes, BMW, Dirty blue Chrysler minivan (that was ours). Later that day, after arriving home, I checked out my grocery store's parking lot: Ford, pickup, Chevy, dirty blue minivan (not ours), dirty blue minivan (ours).
So I guess what bothers me most about my house being torn down is not the lack of ...reverence... for my childhood (I wanted out of that house really badly), but the kind of values that are emphasized.
The neighborhood just isn't kid friendly anymore.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Greek Meatballs

Just went on a road trip with a friend whom I haven't seen in 15 years, and she hasn't been to Washington in 30 years. We spent a couple of days in Seattle (We photographed the biplane on Lake Union from the Space Needle; furthest zoon on my Kodak EasyShare Z712 IS), a day in Leavenworth, and a day in Spokane (she went to school at Whitworth.) I discovered that she is into cooking and entertaining, so I made Greek Meatballs for her. Here is the recipe.
Greek Meatballs:

1 pound ground beef (I used 94% lean, so I could add olive oil; most packages at the store seem to be 1.4 pounds anymore)
1/2 to 1 onion, chopped small
At least 4 cloves of garlic, minced
10 saltine crackers, ground (Or breadcrumbs and salt)
olive oil
1 egg
pepper and salt to taste.

you can let it stand and absorb flavors or form into balls and cook in olive oil right away.

sauce: puree in a blender:
1 can minced tomatoes (I use del Monte Italian recipe because it is at Costco)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup red wine

When meatballs are brown, add sauce and simmer 25 minutes to all day; it is like spaghetti sauce in this way. You may have to ladle extra oil out before serving.

Serve over rice.

Notice the almost complete lack of amounts? Means that quality varies. Last time there was about 1/4 cup of parsley and mint, which were fresh, for a doubled the recipe. The book I got it from calls for "1 breakfast cup of bread crumbs" and never defines breakfast cup. This feeds about 5-6, depending on the number of teenagers.
This is adapted from keftethes me domata saltsa, page 87 in "The Home Book of Greek Cookery" by Joyce M. Stubbs. It calls for adding red wine vinegar to the meatballs, and onions and sugar to the sauce. When I do this by memory, which is all the time anymore, details like that get forgotten!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Red Roses

My older daughter can sure pick roses. I'm not sure what this one's name is, but she picked it because it is red. Last week we had a couple good windstorms, and all the petals are still there. The dates on the pictures are, from top bottom, May 28, May 30, June 8 and June 8. You can see that it rained last night. The blooms are easily 6-7 inches across, and when I cup my hnd over them they do not fit. They are fairly long lasting, the earliest are just now beginning to show a little brown on the petals.
I don't normally cut them to put them in vases inside because I would also bring in things like aphids and earwigs.
Those are right at the bottom of my list, above slugs, but not by very much.


I am not a great gardener. It would not be a surprise to know that I hate pulling weeds and that I like planting, I'm not up on which fertilizers to use (organic or chemical), but I like results. One of the results of this is that my winter garden looks, well, crappy. My winter mulch is the leaves that blew in over the winter (There are a lot of sycamores in the neighborhood) and if I don't get them cleared out in time, the tulips get a little stalky, as they try to find their way to the surface. The stems are somewhat thin because they think they are dealing with actual dirt that is going to support them.

This year, because of the wedding occuring on February 14, I did clear out all the mulch so it only looked a little bit crummy, and the tulips were much happier. If my daughter had the sense to get married on Memorial Day Weekend, all the family that came to my house would have been greeted by these flowers instead of the bare sticks that had not yet blossomed. In fact, the roses looked particularly bad because I was not supposed to prune them for another month at least!

The top picture is ranunculus, and is surviving in spite of my best efforts to neglect it. The next picture is alyssum, and it looks great because we had just transplanted it. The next is a yellow rose bush that the previous owners put in. It is just perfect for that location, it always gives me a mass of yellow blooms and then there are always about 6-8 for the rest of the season.
The next is a sunset rose (as I remember) that my oldest daughter picked out. The buds are almost orange, when it opens it is yellow, and then it acquires a pink edge while the yellow fades to almost white. So if you look closely you can see the same bush with 3 colors on it! I keep trying to get a good picture, watch this space for updates!
The pink flowers are smaller than a rhododendron and bigger than an azalea. We are not supposed to be able to grow these well on this side of the mountains, but constant watering and out of direct sunlight after noon help it to survive. Whatever it is.
And last, my favorite is the dogwood. The bush looks like a flame some autumns. The leaves are a dark coppery red green then, and I discovered, do not lay flat for the Ironing Leaves Between Waxed Paper Project. The branches look like hands outstretched so you can put something in them. It also looks dead for the longest -- except the umbrella catalpa on the year when we cut all the branches off.
All my plants have enjoyed this spring, a lot of them have over a foot of new growth. This is a good 20% for the Rose of Sharon, whom I shall photograph in a month when it blooms. The dogwood used to be shorter than me, now I need a ladder to prune it properly. Fortunately it doesn't like a lot of pruning.