Monday, July 27, 2009


Whew! It's been a busy week -- so busy, in fact, that I haven't had time to post any updates here. I don't know how serious bloggers can live full lives and keep up to date online. Any time I add an event, no matter how insignificant, to my social calendar, my blogging falls way off.

Pictured above is my dear friend Sherri. Last Thursday night we went to dinner at Pie 'n' Burger in Pasadena, then to an event at the Los Angeles Public Library featuring Novella Carpenter in conversation with Evan Kleiman. You may recall I mentioned Novella a few weeks back when I quoted from her delightful memoir, Farm City, in my post about making a BLT from scratch. Sherri, who is an even more avid urban farmer than I am (she has chickens!), and I decided it would be fun to see Novella in person and see what she has to say.

Neither one of us had been to Pie 'n' Burger in a while, and we both enjoyed a good, greasy cheeseburger. When it came time for dessert, we knew we had to order ollalieberry pie, one of the joint's specialties that's only available for a few weeks each year.

This is what arrived. Chilled berries held together with some sort of viscous pink gelatin.

What the hell IS that stuff? Bleeccchhh. I ate most of mine, being the curious and compulsive sort, but Sherri set her fork down after a couple of bites and refused to eat any more. We both agreed the crust was excellent, though. Nice and flaky.

I wasn't allowed to take pictures during Novella Carpenter's event, which is understandable but a drag. I can tell you, she was a good speaker, a terrific storyteller, and very funny. Evan Kleiman recalled being picked up by Novella when she went up north to visit her in Oakland. "She was driving an old Mercedes with all the interior panels missing," said Evan, "and there were these big dirt clods everywhere --"

"That was shit, Evan," Novella interrupted.

She did a good job of expanding on her book, not merely retelling its story for a live audience, and it sounds as if the farm has grown quite a bit since she finished writing Farm City. She calls chickens and rabbits "the gateway animals" for people ready to leap into urban farming; she herself now has miniature goats, and her Power Point slideshow proved them to be just about the cutest critters ever. Her talk was recorded for a podcast that will eventually appear here, and you might want to check back in a few weeks to see if it's available -- the whole evening was very entertaining. Sherri and I both got books signed after the event, and Novella is delightful in person. If you're interested in vegetable gardening or raising a few farm animals, I recommend both reading her book and seeing her live.

On Saturday morning I went with Sherri and another friend, Dory, to a quilt show.

Yes, while the rest of Southern California was at Comic Con this weekend, I was at, essentially, Quilt Con. It was at the Long Beach Convention Center, which is a pleasant and VERY LARGE venue. By the end of the day, we'd seen everything and my dogs were barkin'. Many of my pictures are a bit blurry because the use of flashes was discouraged.

The convention was divided into two parts: there was a quilt show, with probably a hundred or so quilts on display just for folks to ooh and ahh at, and a trade show. I'm a sucker for sunflowers, and this was my favorite quilt on display. Late in the day we visited a wonderful booth for a shop in Wisconsin called Primitive Gatherings, and we got to chatting with the owner, Lisa Bongean. It turns out she made that sunflower quilt! It was fun to be able to tell her she had the best booth at the show as well as the best quilt.

Another sunflower quilt I liked, this time in stark black and white.

I loved the rich, dark colors on this quilt.

This is a close-up of the quilting on a white whole-cloth quilt. I think people often dismiss whole-cloth quilts as uninteresting, but they usually feature the most intricate, beautiful quilting you'll ever see.

Sherri loved this quilt with three turkeys on it. Dory also saw a couple of quilts on display that were for sale, and she wanted to find out how much people were asking for them. Not only could we not find out the prices, but we could not find a single person who could tell us where to go to get the information. Many of the quilts were for sale, but no one seemed to be working very hard to sell them.

This is just a shot to give you an idea of how big and crowded the convention was. Not too different from Comic Con, although there weren't vast numbers of people in costumes and probably 95% of the attendees were women.

Saturday night I went to my place of employment to participate in a trivia contest. I thought our team, which we dubbed You'll Eat It and Like It, could seriously kick some trivial ass.

Here are Norman and Lucy. We fortified ourselves with chocolate chip cookies, bottled water and wine. The store was also serving beer, and so many people showed up that the beer ran out and the store manager had to run out and get more.

Here are Sean and Teri. Teri used to work with Norman and they're good friends; she's not used to hanging out with the rest of us, but she seemed to adapt well to our snarky ways.

We did pretty well -- we led for a while but ended up coming in third place. We won two L. Ron Hubbard pulp novels, which seemed like a booby prize to me. I was amazed at some of the stuff we knew: Sean easily identified some bizarre lyrics ("You're a vegetable, you're a vegetable, you're just a buffet, you're a vegetable") as belonging to a Michael Jackson song, and Lucy immediately identified the opening line of the novel Twilight. My main contribution was that I was able to name three characters from the TV show ER. Hmmm, not exactly intellectual territory here -- oh, well, it was Trivia Night.

On Sunday Sean and I drove up to Santa Barbara to visit with his family. His mom's cousin and his family were visiting from Connecticut, and we all met at Sean's aunt and uncle's house for a late lunch/early dinner. Lorie and Hamp live on Tunnel Road, which is one of the places deeply affected by the big fire in Santa Barbara just a couple of months ago. The fire burned part of their yard, in fact.

This used to be an outbuilding next to their house. When I say "next to their house," I mean it was only about 20 feet from their back door. Firefighters fought the blaze in their yard and managed to keep it from burning their main house down, but they couldn't save this building, which was a big shed that Lorie and Hamp had thought about converting to a guest house or workout room.

Here's another shot of it.

To give you an idea of how close the fire got, this is their back door. The fire burned their back porch off. They've since laid down new soil, but the ground was all blackened right up to their door.

This is Hamp grilling up some bratwurst for appetizers. He is one of my favorite of Sean's relatives. He's a carpenter who does kitchen remodels, and he used to be a Navy SEAL. He's from North Carolina and is one of the most relaxed guys I know. He reads all the time and can never, ever remember the titles of any of the books he's read.

This is Sean's sister Dawn with her son Nick, who just turned 9, and their cousin Keith's daughter Chloe, who just turned one. Dawn sure liked holding Chloe -- I think she misses having a baby. Keith had taken Chloe for a walk on the beach earlier and she'd gotten a bit of a sunburn. The skin around her mouth, though, was still pale because she'd been sucking on her binky the whole time.

Lunch/dinner. As with my family, food is of paramount importance at any gathering. Clockwise from 12 o'clock: baked beans with 3 kinds of beans, green salad with a goodly amount of avocado, a loaded baked potato from the potato bar, grilled tri tip, and ramen salad. That last item was my contribution and it was darn good, if I do say so myself. I was a little afraid to tell Lorie, who's a bit of a gourmet, what was in the salad (2 packages of Top Ramen, among other things), but everyone seemed to like it and I guess that's what counts.

Chloe taking a late afternoon nap, which we all wanted to do by the time we were done eating.

1 comment:

Mr Maskrado said...

I'd offer to take the Hubbard pulps off your hands, but if they're the ones I saw sitting on your desk, I already have two copies of 'em.