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Posts Tagged ‘travels’

Cleaning out my desk today, I came upon a stack of poems printed on loose sheets that had slipped under the paper I used to line a drawer.  They aren’t old favorites, so I feel like I’m discovering them again for the first time.  Here’s one of the more delightful.

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inkwells

Happy new year indeed. I recently started using the glass quill and petit inkwell that the lovely Y.S. and A.L. brought me from Italy awhile back. The quill is utter brilliance — small fissures spiral around to converge at the tip, so that no matter how energetically you dunk it in, the ink flows in steady rivulets for a smooth, decidedly non-blotty line. The design also leaves you having to dip less frequenly, since the aforementioned fissures also hold some ink in reserve.

In any case, I was writing on night and upset the little inkwell, making a big black puddle on the coffee table. Fortunately, it was only a small fraction, and I was able to salvage some more using a straw (probably, if I recall correctly, because plastic and ink are slightly attractive chemically?), though I was still able to write from the remaining puddle the rest of the night. Regardless, the running-out-of-ink concept dawned, and I scrounged around for any and all places that might carry inkwells (not exactly popular nowadays, it seems), and gathered this lovely collection from a musty dusty box that the Paper Source clerks on Fillmore unearthed from some forgotten corner.

Oh, and the title comes from Lord Byron: “Words are things, and a small drop of ink, falling like dew upon a thought, produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.”

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cakewalk

innardsSo finally–! My entrée into the world of cakes, after a long interlude on the back burner.  We went to LA for Labor Day, where my lovely aunties had a surprise birthday party at Fraîche ready in waiting for Daddy. Anyways, I found the recipe for this chocolate pistachio & marzipan petit-four cake at Smitten Kitchen, and baked it for Daddy’s birthday, very covertly schlepping it down by plane.  It only occurred to me partway through that a three-layer cake was probably a little daunting for my very first cake bake, but it was actually simpler than I thought and turned out spectacularly.  And it was perfect — nice pistachio cakes separated by layers of chocolate ganache, homemade marzipan and apricot preserves.

The not-so-laborious odyssey, chronicled

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echinoidea

uniHere’s another curio from my trip to LA — uni soup during the HKSA Foundation dinner at the Bonaventure.  I find it rather interesting that the wikipedia page on sea urchins mentions that “sea urchins are harvested and served as a delicacy” but declines to elaborate any further gastronomically.  Anyways, apparently they’re in the Echinoidea class of critters, which also includes sand dollars (saw these at Monterey Bay and was tickled pink), sea biscuits (really — sea biscuits?!!) and heart urchins!

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a red sun rises…

redsunI spent a lovely weekend in LA, and news of the wildfires near Montecito broke just shortly before our flight down Friday morning. 22,000 acres and over 800 houses (though apparently not Oprah’s) have burned in LA, Santa Barbara, Riverside and Orange counties: not exactly delightful. I did, however, finally discover that there’s a lot of heft behind the words that J.R. Tolkien wrote for the elf Legolas: “A red sun rises…blood has been spilled this night.”  Smoke, for some reason (this reason apparently being that particles, smoke invariably far more strongly so than even normal LA smog, scatter sunlight on its path to your eye.  This path is longer when the sun is lower in the sky, so we see more of the red wavelengths that are longer and thus less affected by particles; and the effect is enhanced by smoke and smog), turns setting or rising suns red.  Given that, for the large majority of the human timeline, battles have come hand in hand with fire and smoke, it makes sense that a smoky sky (and a red sun) would signal battle and its attendant bloodletting.  Something new. Every day.

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water-locks

lockI saw (and sailed through) my first water lock last month while visiting Chicago (another first-time experience).  It was quite a trip, even though the water level change was only about 18 in. (by contrast, the Pedro Miguel lock in the Panamal Canal has a lift of about 31 ft.; the canal lifts ships up a total elevation of 85 ft. across all its locks).  Apparently, while most locks are constructed to make water transport across varying elevations possible sans detour, the driving force behind the construction of the Chicago Harbor Lock was instead a deep and vehemently expressed concern of other towns on Lake Michigan that reversing the flow of the Chicago River (completed in 1900 via the construction of a 28 mi. canal, followed later by two more artificial rivers) would “drain all the water out of Lake Michigan.”

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Aeroplanes are always an ordeal, but some of the pleasant little discoveries this trip included this little orchid zen garden in the Red Carpet Club and writing letters in the twilight slant of light coming from the window.

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