Monthly Archives: January 2013

Fish bones

Bowl

I took a small excursion the other day to stock up on kindling and fire starters to make my fireplace happy and productive, and to try to keep my loft warm. The temperatures have been in the mid to upper 30s at night, and that’s way too cold for the Bay Area the local residents, myself included tend to think. Having completed my purchase, I decided to take a stroll in a nearby small town, grab a cup of coffee, and to have a look around. I walked past a pet store and a cat bowl with fish bones caught my eye. Now if I were a cat and had a say in the matter, then this would be my choice of dining apparatus, so acting on my cat’s behalf, I went inside to inquire the price, which seemed reasonable. I chatted a bit with the salesperson who seemed glad for some conversation, as I was the only one in the store on this quiet winter weekday. So, as you can see from this photo, my cat Calvin is now the proud owner of a brand new red fish bone bowl (try saying that quickly three times). I must humbly confess though, I did not observe any joyful jumping up and down, or other excessive expressive celebrations on Calvin’s part, at having received his new bowl. The consumption of the dispensed canned cat food contents seemed to be the only concern as usual.

Have a blessed week, and perhaps some fish stew (without bones).

Matthias Leue

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Leeks, bacon, and more

Leeks

Leeks

Well, my Tegut bag (Miss Tegut I named her, you recall?) finally saw the light of day last Sunday at the local Farmer’s Market. She was filled with some fresh leeks (pictured above) and some petite French beans. The local supermarket then supplied additional ingredients, consisting of a pint of heavy cream and a bag of russet potatoes. In the meantime, some bacon that was still residing in my refrigerator, musing its destiny, was delighted at the arrival of the other items. Combining all the ingredients (minus the petite French beans which are for use in another dish), we have one of my favorite winter soups — potato-leak soup — a winter recipe from my mother. A fine way to warm your insides, in our freezing, bitter cold, California winters.

Have a blessed week,

Matthias Leue

Early January observations

LemonsOn my way to the market the other day, I passed a drugstore that had a pair of small Christmas trees sitting forlornly in front of it, but at a substantial 50% off, hoping to entice a buyer that had overslept. Mid-January might be a tad late for such a purchase, but I think the unwanted trees would perhaps still make some good kindling for the fireplace, which would be better than throwing them out. At least these two specimens were still green and standing upright. Further down the street, I saw a dried out tree flat on its back, just thoughtlessly discarded at the curb. This is the reason why I prefer live Christmas trees you can re-use every year. My acting Christmas tree prior to my current redwood tree, was a sequoia soquel (talk about a lot of vowels in that first word!) that unfortunately dried out in the process of transferring it from a broken pot into the ground, while I was laid up after back surgery several years ago. My son Patrick who was far away in Senegal at the time, later transplanted it for me when he came home, but the roots of the tree had dried out as had the rest of the tree. I had hopes that it would come back during the next spring, but it was not to be. I was sad when the sequoia died, it was a beautiful tree I had tended to since it was a six inch sapling.

Headed over to San Francisco where I had to tend to some errands I passed a store with a sign that read: “Santas looking for good homes: 2 for the price of 1.” The subjects in question where made of chocolate and stood a good two feet tall. A bargain for the chocolate lover no doubt. After my errand, and the Santa encounter, I stopped in a restaurant for a café creme. I sat inside by the window looking out at their outdoor garden seating, the sun filtering lazily between the buildings. A lemon tree on the side of the outdoor patio caught my eye. Having grown up in a cold winter climate, it is still amazing to me to see  lemons growing outside in January. Still green, the lemons hope to become lemonade one day, I would suspect.

Last note: ice on my bird bath/community drinking fountain this morning! Alaska, you may keep that cold air to yourself, if you please.

Have a blessed week,

Matthias Leue

Ducks and Monday morning musings

"My" two ducks

“My” two ducks

 

I took a short walk on Saturday to visit two of my fine feathered friends, a pair of ducks with colorful plumage who frequent a pond in a nearby park. They are always happy to see me. I wonder, do they recognize me by now? I’m pretty sure they can identify the bread inside the plastic bag I carry in my vest pocket. They were swimming their usual circles in their winter habitat, surrounded however by a good dozen or more geese who were being rather intrusive as far as bread crumb gathering and distribution was concerned. Two of them actually started an ongoing fight, despite the fact they both had a piece of bread in front of them. I have never been fond of geese (not even when cooked). They may look nice flying in formation, but they are a pushy noisy bunch, not to mention the mess they leave behind. What amused me is that the ducks climbed up out of the pond onto the small ledge in order to be in closer proximity to the bread crumb dispenser. They were duly rewarded, while the riff-raff on the pond was busy fighting with each other. When the bread was gone I was able to briefly stroke the dark-feathered duck as it went back into its nautical domain. It was also surprising to note, that the duck undercarriage when out of the water elevates the whole duck by quite a bit.

Yesterday was 3 Kings (Epiphnanias), and in the German Lutheran tradition the day afterwards is the time when the Christmas tree decorations are taken down, so that’s one of my chores for today, after finishing writing this blog. I guess that’s part of the holiday blahs and blues, putting things back into the box for another year. Thank God New Year’s Day was such a sunny and beautiful day. For Christmas, my potted indoor redwood tree served as the Christmas tree, and was decorated by my youngest son Patrick and his girlfriend Hannah who came down to visit from Portland. A fine job they did too, keeping most of the ornaments out of my cat Calvin’s reach.

As I look at the trees outside my window over the top of my computer screen, I see that they are finally losing their last leaves, the last deciduous hold-outs of the season. The forecast cold nights and rain later in the week should help them in attaining their proper January tree appearance.

Have a blessed week,

Matthias Leue

P.S. Can anyone help me to identify the bird species swimming along with the two ducks?

Paper or plastic?

Miss Tegut

Miss Tegut

As my groceries were traveling down the conveyer belt at my local Lucky’s supermarket today, I was asked by the checker if I had brought my own bag to put said same into. No I didn’t. I was then told they have no more plastic bags (there is a new law as of Jan. 1 that bans them), which of course is good. It was then made clear to me that paper bags would now be 10 cents a bag (they still bag your groceries for you in case you are panic stricken). So, paper it was. Its a good thing I bought a canvas bag at Tegut in Germany several years ago, which until now has been idly hanging on a doorknob wondering when it would be put to proper use and filled with good things to eat. My paper grocery bags until now had doubled as trash bags. So, Miss Tegut (I think it’s a girl bag, although I could be mistaken) will now accompany me to the supermarket on future visits and is delighted to be finally put into service.

And thus you are now privy to the exiting big supermarket adventure news of the New Year for Jan. 2, 2013.

Note: Yes, that is a carrot you see on the bag. One hopes that there won’t be a rabbit ambush on the way to the market.

Unpackingly yours,

Matthias Leue