pinball

Can you find Jim and Stacey in this photo?

Star Trek old school

Star Trek old school game. These dudes are ripped.

Star Trek pinball

Wee Enterprises.

Star Trek pinball

You get three balls to live long and prosper.

pinball players

Players.

pinball

From a movie-themed game.

pinball

Jim gets a K.

pinball

Happy Popcorn.

pinball

LOTR game was popular and had two towers, a Balrog and everything.

pinball

Is Gandalf wearing high tops?

pinball

Run!

pinball

Bobby Orr Power Play! It pits the Chicago Blackhawks against the Canadiens.

pinball

Or maybe just vs. the whole country of Canada.

pinball

Another self-portrait.

pinball

Slapshot!

Jim gratified his ten-year-old self by attending the inaugural Michigan Pinball Expo today. I came, too, and shot over his shoulder. I’ve never seen so many pinball machines. They ranged from old school with gas-station rotary numbers, to the latest “Ironman” and “Lord of the Rings” games. Some owned by collectors and loaned for the event, some for sale. $15 at the door gets you unlimited free play. Pretty cool.

Fishflies adorn the house

A new decorating scheme? Only an ephemeral one.

Oh, Stacey, you’ve redecorated! What is that fancy paint finish called…oh…wait…is it…moving? Yes, the fishflies are here, my friends. Forming very large arrays. Hitching rides on hapless runners. Flocking to streetlamps in the night and dying in big smelly heaps. Crunching under your car tires as you drive over their piled up corpses. As bugs go, they’re really rather benign. They don’t bite. They don’t even fly all that much. And they don’t come in the house much – at least not without being noticed. ‘Cause they’re large, you see. The easiest way to remove one is to pick it up by its wings, which are about the size of the pads of your thumb and forefinger, and find it a new location. The only thing really creepy about them, besides their numbers, is they way they all face the same direction on any given surface. Like they’re praying. Or in contact with a great leader. Best not to think about it.

fish flies on the house

While they often cluster on white or light-colored things, they seem to like the blue house just fine.

fishfly/mayfly

A sunlit fishflie on the siding. They come in dark brown, ivory or even green.

array of fishflies

They tend to form very large arrays.

fishfly and sock

This photographer was arrayed in fishflies herself while taking these pictures.

fishfly

They have lovely long tails.

fishfly

...and lacy wings (also used as handles).

yellow crocusesLook! Look! Spring IS coming.

My crocuses seem to be nightly devoured by rodentia, but they..ahem…spring back…almost instantly!

There are leaves on the trees, and the hostas are preparing to take over the world.

purple crocuses

daffodil

I thought I was retiring the hat for the year last week when I went on a run in 70-degree weather…but then this morning it was 25, so there may be a hat photo or two to come.

Ice on the lake in January

Ice on the lake in January

Ice on the lake in February

Ice on the lake in February

Inflatable snowman

Inflatable snowman

The actors welcome us back

The actors welcome us back

John came for Valentine's Day

John came for Valentine's Day

Whassup doc?

Whassup doc?

I'll pose, but I won't smile.

I'll pose, but I won't smile.

I mean it.

I mean it.

Jessica the Perky

Jessica the Perky

the hat

the hat

Ah, remember the hat?  It is still my winter running hat, and photos of it adorning my head are still sent to a select group of people by cell phone every time I run in it.  For the 5:30am run/yoga/runs, I do wait until I get back home.  A few selections are below.

big snowman

Big snowman at Barnes School (where I do yoga Tuesdays and Thursdays)

wreath

My front door with its (leftover holiday) boxwood wreath.

christmas in seattle

Christmas in Seattle

balaclavaclad

Balaclavaclad in Michigan

with backpack

Yoga mornings I run with a backpack for my mat, block and strap.

new year's day 5k

New Year's Day 5k in Chicago with Stephen!

jessica

My new Michigan running buddy, Jessica!

(You can also download an iPod version here.)
The boys and I went on nearly the perfect end-of-summer vacation last weekend. A cabin on a lake, a run through vineyards and orchards, wine tasting, good food, gorgeous sunny weather, no bugs, a hammock, a fire pit, early morning coffee in the hot tub watching the mist roll in over the lake. I’m tellin’ ya, it was over-the-top, ridiculously, stereotypically, cheesily grand. Just like the video, which is the sappiest thing in the world and which I will watch all winter whenever I’m feeling blue. Here are a few more photos, too (click to enlarge).

Stephen basks on a rock near Lake Michigan

Geraniums in the late afternoon light.

Sunset over Bass Lake

Baby beets after steaming and peeling.

Baby beets after steaming and peeling.

Aw, man, how can these little babies be so flippin’ gorgeous and tasty, too!  Honestly I was just cooking, on a holiday, in my pajamas, and my salad made me clamber outside to the deck and pray for the thunderstorm to hold off so I could photograph my food.  I mean, come ON.  Lovely, lovely creatures, beets.

Sliced with their steamed greens.

Nestled in their steamed greens.

Topped with lightly pickled red onion, blue cheese and ground pepper.

Topped with lightly pickled red onion, blue cheese and ground pepper.

garlic pulled and waiting to be loaded in the bin

garlic pulled and waiting to be loaded in the bin

Jim and I went to pick garlic at my farm today.  Came back with sunburn, gifts of zucchini and garlic, and bellies full of hamburgers (with roasted garlic).  Danny used the plastic lifter to uproot the rows of garlic, and we just had to pull them out and clean them up.  Lifter broke on the last row, though, so I attempted to wield the pitchfork.  Not my strong suit.  Still, with a dozen or more volunteers we managed to harvest 120 bushels!  The small bouquet in my kitchen smells divine.

(And no, the rip in my jeans was not because of mishandling the fork.  Instead I caught them on a wire on a greenhouse table, about thirty seconds after Michelle warned me about the wires on the greenhouse tables…)

See also: my previous trip to Maple Creek Farm and what I did with their strawberries.

staceys ventilated jeans and the pitchfork

stacey's ventilated jeans and the pitchfork

"farmer" jim

bouquet of garlic

stacey's bouquet

The glorious fruit! (Click to enlarge.)

The glorious fruit! (Click to enlarge.)

I love strawberries!  But before this summer, I don’t think I’d had good ones since we used to have a big ol’ strawberry patch when I was growing up.  I had a love/hate relationship with it, as I despised the chore of picking, but, even in my crazy picky-eater childhood, I always liked strawberries!  Now, a blessing of living in Michigan, I can get them fresh in the beginning of summer.  My farm even grows them, so after sampling them in my weekly share, I had to dash off to the Royal Oak Farmers’ Market to buy myself a whole flat of them.  I made ice cream, a tart and a cobbler.  I ate them sliced and in yogurt and in salads.  I froze some for later.  And I made jam.

My flat of fresh, organic berries.

My flat of fresh, organic berries.

Ooh, strawberry jam on a scone with a cuppa…nothing finer.  Strawberry jam proved to be slightly trickier than I had imagined, though.  Ain’t no pectin in strawberries, see?  You know, the substance in fruit that makes jams and jellies gel?  One generally compensates for this by adding some other fruits that are high in pectin – lemon, apples.  My recipe called for lemon juice.  I followed it to the letter, except that I cut it in half (and thank goodness, because I don’t know anyone with a pot large enough to accommodate the whole recipe).  I dutifully measured my sugar (the other component that makes jams set) and added my lemon and I sliced and boiled and skimmed and sterilized and sealed and got…strawberry syrup.  I let it cool completely.  I waited a day.  Runny as a melted popsicle.

Juuuust fits in the pot.

Juuuust fits in the pot.

Grocery-store pectin to the rescue!  For emergencies such as these (or for starting out with a more foolproof recipe) pectin comes in powdered forms, derived by chemical processes from various citrus fruits.  I opened my eight jars of jam, poured their contents into a pot, cleaned and sterilized all the jars, boiled up my jam again with a bit of pectin, potted, sealed, reprocessed and waited for the moment of truth.  They set.  Not firmly, mind you, but enough to be spreadable and sit atop my bread, rather than soaking into it.  I lost a jarful in the process, but, nevertheless, I am the proud mother of seven half-pints of delicious, homemade, strawberry jam, and if you come visit me I’ll make scones and tea to accompany it!

Bubble, bubble.

Bubble, bubble.

The jars process in a water bath.

The jars process in a water bath.

A cobbler diversion

A cobbler diversion

The moment of truth.

The moment of truth.

Like summer in a jar.

Like summer in a jar.

Died and gone to heaven.

Died and gone to heaven.

Oh, science  is fun.  I have been craving pretzel bread lately, but had yet to look for a recipe, when, lo, this recipe appeared in my Twittersphere.  The former journalist turned blogger-baker had done my work for me, researched recipes, and come up with one of her own she liked better! I had some smoked salt (brought back from Italy for me by John and Michael many moons ago) and the basic ingredients so I went to town.

Here’s the science bit.  The pretzel rolls are like bagels, you boil them and then bake them, to give them that chewy exterior.  Flour Girl’s recipe has you boil them in water with sugar and baking soda.  I suspected, but was unsure, that it was for color (something about acid levels and sugar means browning).  My accidental experiment proved the hypothesis.  I forgot the baking soda when I boiled the first two rolls.  Then added it after they came out, before I boiled the rest.  Presto!  Parti-colored pretzel rolls.

And they taste mighty good, too.