Friday, September 30, 2011


Since we have been so busy recently, Mr. W decided that he didn't want to have our big Michaelmas dinner party and roast a goose. So instead I looked through the Cooking With the Saints cookbook and found a few alternate recipes.
We settled on Cotelettes d'Agneau Saint-Michel which is Lamb chops St. Michel with little artichokes tartlets. A little weird, but we were willing to try it out. He ended up buying pork tenderloin instead because it was more affordable.
I set the kitchen table for dinner since the dining room table has been taken over by Beatlemania. Sadly all my Michaelmas Daisies bloomed really early this year so I had none for a bouquet. I was only able to find some sedum, roses, and volunteer chamomile
For desert I made Michaelmas pie which has apples and blackberries. The legend is that when the devil was kicked out of heaven he spit on blackberry bushes during his decent Linkso now you aren't supposed to be eating blackberries after Michaelmas. And in slow food movement terms, this is probably the last opportunity to have fresh blackberries anyway.
These amber carnival glass dessert plates, which belonged to my Grandma A, look very festive this time of year. Oh, how I love pie! The cloves are pretty potent in this recipe so the ice cream is especially good to cut the tartness.
This rag rug table runner was handmade by a Montana woman who was friends with my best friends mother. She gave it to me as a part of my wedding gift.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It's been a hard day's night

I just knew we'd procrastinate! In March I posted about Mrs. Mc's and my plan to dress 4 of our boys as Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band. After we bought the fabric, it sat in my dining room untouched. With October and Hallowe'en fast approaching I decided I'd better get to work!
First was cutting out the pattern. I started with John's costume because it will be in size 4, the largest size of the pattern. I have to admit that I think cutting out the pattern is the worst part of sewing. It is super tedious and you don't have much to show for it afterwards.
Once I had it all cut out, I used a measuring tape to calculate the right amount of trims needed to do all the St. Pepper embellishments. I used those same calculations as a guide for Ringo's costume too.
I headed back to Fabric Depot, this time without children, and was better able to focus on cross referencing the list of necessary trims and what was available. For example, the real costumes had military patches from the Royal British Army. Such things aren't readily available at Fabric Depot in Oregon, but I found a patch with the words "Royal Spirit" and a fleur d'li and figure that is close enough for this Momma. I was able to find orange cording for John's costume, but no blue coding for Ringo's. I got just about everything I need for John's costume but orange fringe so I'll have to check another store for that.
But once I got sewing things moved fairly quickly. I started with appliqueing the orange grosgain stripes to the front of the jacket. I may ask my mom to sew the buttons becasue that is another tedious part I hate. If I end up sewing all 4 costumes, buttons just may be the death of me!
But so far, I'm having fun and hope these turn out cute for the boys.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Frenchy birthday tea

Earlier this year I was inspired by Victoria magazine to throw an outdoor tea party. One of the spots I envisioned was my mom's arbor for Mother's Day and another was my grandmother's patio. The timing didn't work out for Mother's Day, but I did put together a Peonies & Pearls birthday tea for grandma. I decided I'd still like to throw one for my mom, and planned for her birthday instead.
While reading another issue of Victoria on the flight to Ohio I learned that Pix Patiserrie is now serving tea. Since she traveled to France for her Girls' Trip this year, I decided to do a French Provencal theme for her birthday. But I've also been pretty busy throwing parties every week for the last month so I decided to use mostly prepared treats. In addition to being a nice short cut, it would guarantee perfect pastries too.
For the first course I went to Le Petite Provence for baked goods. I was just going to get croissants, but was tempted into getting jam and curd filled treats instead. I also bought mini baguettes for the sandwich course. I drove back down Division St. to Pix for the desserts. After reading the Victoria article I knew I wanted the colorful macaroons for certain. I also selected the Opera cake and the Pear Rosemary tart.The first time I was in Paris I was a poor college student and mostly survived my long weekend there by eating brie and ham baguette sandwiches from street vendors. So good and so cheap! I combined brie, French ham, and arugula for the sandwich course.I set the table with a cheery blue & yellow sunflower tablecloth my mom brought back from her most recent visit, and her white everyday dishes. The Provencal tea pot and the yellow pitcher used as a flower vase are also French souvenirs.My dad always gave my mother sunflowers for her birthday and I planned on continuing that tradition. That is until I saw a flier for a dahlia festival posted on Division St. It turns out in the middle of Mt. Tabor there is a small urban farmhouse, Old House Dahlias, where one can buy tubers as well as cut flowers. I knew I'd already missed the Canby Dahlia fest, so this was a perfect opportunity. When I arrived at her house, my mom was so pleased with the bouquet and commented that she had never received dahlias before. I think we may have a new tradition here. I arranged them with some sedum and Russian sage from her garden.Now originally my plan was to set up a little table for 3 under her arbor, but it was too rainy this weekend so I contented myself to her kitchen table and decided to include Mr. W and my sons.I also selected a lavender flavored black tea from her stash.
The green macaroon is absinthe.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

September 11, 2001

The morning of September 11th was the Democratic primary. I was excited to be able to vote for Hillary Clinton as senator since I had voted for her husband for president in my very first election. My polling place was in the elementary school around the corner from my apartment in Spanish Harlem. Like so many things in NYC, it was completely inefficient. The polling booths were set up in the gymnasium which was also where they had all the children line up every morning. It was a mad house with adults and children running and pushing everywhere. Needless to say I was late to work and still on the cross town #66 bus at a quarter to 9.
I had managed to score an individual seat on the left hand side of the bus. The passenger behind me asmswer a cell phone call, and like most New Yorker, spoke with a phone voice loud enough for everyone else on the bus to hear him. A plane hit the World Trade Center? What? The building was on fire? Sure enough, as I looked out my window towards the south I could see smoke at the end of the urban tunnel. As the bus headed east I could see more and more smoke at the end of each avenue; it was getting bigger and blacker. The bus had erupted in a din of conversation as everyone was one the phone or sharing hypotheses amongst themselves. One man was very upset because his daughter worked down there and got off the cross town bus as soon as he could so he could head down there to make sure she was okay.
When I got to work I went directly to my desk without greeting anyone because 1) I was late and 2) I wanted to get ont he internet to learn more about what had happened. At that point I didn't think it was a big deal, the rumors on the bus were that it was a small charter plane. I thought it was more of a curiosity than anything else. My co-workers quickly came to retrieve me and I learned what a big deal it really was. The entire office was in the conference room watching the scene on tv. By then the second plane had hit.
Holy shit.
How could this be happening?
I know it is what everyone says, but it was so surreal. Here I was, living in a city that wasn't my own, where everything that "matters" happens. NYers can be so arrogant and self important. And now I was here when something really important was happening. And I was watching it on tv, as though I were still in the PNW and not just a few miles uptown.
I don't really remember what happened next, it all seems like a blur. Trying to figure out what the hell was going on. What did this mean for my safety? Why weren't they using helicopters to get the people trapped at the top of the buildings out of there? Why didn't they have those planes we use to fight forest fires dumping that forest fire fighting liquid on the building to put out the fire? Where people really jumping? How bad must it be in there for jumping to your death to be the better option?
At some point we began to hear reports that there was a fire at the Pentagon. Was this a plane too? It couldn't possibly be a coincidence, could it? The television was mesmerizing. How could this be real? This seemed like it must be a movie. This can't possibly really be happening.
And then the first tower fell. Holy effing shit.
I will never, as long as I live, forget the blood curdling scream that came from my friend Mrs. B. I remember turning around to see who was doing it, thinking someone was being overly dramatic. What I didn't know at the time was that Mrs. B's husband worked in the south tower. So she understandably was freaked the eff out. I don't know if she assumed at the time that her husband was still in the building when it collapsed, but he was killed that day.
I was dumbstruck. I couldn't beleive the building had imploded like that. I am quite sure that I didn't realize how many people would have died in that. I think my naivete made me think that surely everyone must have gotten out. I just didn't want to imagine that the building collapsing would kill so many people.
Stunned, in disbelief, I was still trying to get a hold of Ms. H-G. Although she and her husband had left Brooklyn for Seattle two years prior, she had returned to try to finish up her degree at the Pratt Institute before I left. She was staying with me in my studio apartment and working nights at Bowlmore Lanes. I couldn't reach her on the phone. I was pretty sure she was asleep, but I wanted her to wake up. I needed a non-NYers perspective on what we were witnessing. And then the second tower fell.
To say that I was scared is an understatement. This was bad, very, very bad. Clearly we were under attack and being in NY was not a good thing. What must my parents be thinking? Oh my God, my parents! I quickly called them to let them know I was okay, so far from the damage in my office near the Lincoln Center. My poor parents. It was a terrible day for them. My inbox was full of email from my friends hoping to learn that I was safe. I was still unsuccessful getting through to Ms. H-G, the phone lines were all so busy.
Everyone in my office was leaving, a bunch of people were going to walk a few blocks up to the Red Cross to donate blood. I had never given blood, but if ever I was going to give blood, this was the time. When we all got to the Red Cross there was such a crowd of people there also hoping to donate that they began turning people away. The actress Kathleen Turner was among those who were turned away with us. There seemed to be nothing else to do but go home. So my friends Ms. S and Ms. N and I started walking north. We joined a mass exodus of people heading north. I felt like I was in a scene from a movie, like Gone With The Wind after Atlanta burns or The Joy Luck Club. I was walking away from a war zone.
I was still in a daze. We didn't know what to do. I don't know why going home seemed like it would be better, but where else would I go. I walked north on the West side with them until I needed to turn and head east towards Spanish Harlem. This would be the first time I was alone that day after the attacks. It was creepy. The thing is that September 11th was such a beautiful day. The sun was shining, it was warm, but not hot. And the wind was blowing the smoke off the island. If you hadn't been watching the news you might not have known. As I crossed Central Park I saw a couple women having a picnic with a couple of children. There was no one else in the park. Did they know what had happened? Should I tell them?
When I got home Ms. H-G wasn't there and I started to get worried. There was no way she would have been down there, right? She was asleep when I had left for work. It turned out that she freaked out after she woke up and spoke with her husband in Seattle. But because the phones were all so busy and she couldn't reach me she decided to go to my office and had missed me. Eventually we found each other and huddled in my apartment watching tv. At some point we decided to go to Krispy Kreme and bought a dozen donuts. That's how we survived September 11th. Krispy Kremes and watching Dude, Where's My Car over and over again. It was that kind of mindless bullshit that got our minds off of how scary it was in NY.
We could smell burning World Trade Center in my apartment for weeks afterwards. I wouldn't take the subway for almost a month until I felt assured that they had finally put the fire out. I had recently seen the movie Holland Tunnel in which and all I could think about was how dirty and yuck and filled with grease and debris the subways were it seemed like it would be no surprise if a giagantic fire ball swept through the tunnels. I guess I was still waiting for the other shoe to drop. Things happened in such succession that day. The other plane bound for the capitol crashing in Pennsylvania. #7 WTC collapsing late in the day.
Ten years later it is hard to imagine that that much time has passed since I lived in NY. Hard to imagine that life has gone on with little disturbance. I'm grateful we haven't been attacked again, but angry we used that momentum to invade another country. Frustrated that we are still involved in two wars with Americans and innocent civilians dying all the time. And yet, my life isn't impacted at all by the wars. Our government hasn't asked us to make any sacrifices and only a small part of the nation is bearing the brunt of fighting the wars. Perhaps if the draft were reinstated and children across all socioeconomic levels were forced to fight the nation would come to a quicker resolution to end the wars and bring them home.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mock House tour

Last night my mother and I toured the Mock House which was put on by the Architectural Heritage Center. Ms. G, who is the Director, reached out to me recently to invite us on the sold out tour. I was eager to do it and was grateful for the personal invite. Our relationship with the Mock House goes back a long time.
In the mid 80s, when my parents decided it was time to get the heck out of Irvington, we went on a tour of the Mock House when it was on the market. We went in the evening so it was a little bit spooky to me, especially when we were down in the basement, and when you could hear the rumble from the trains down on Island below. But of did I fall in love with that house. I remember there being spandrels above all the door ways on the main floor and my sister and I running around upstairs picking out which bedrooms would be ours, doing a "prom walk" down the staircase, and there was a pool! Granted that pool looked rugged and had been filled in, but at 10 a pool sounded like a terrific idea. Much to my dismay, my parents decided it was too much house (and maintenance) for us and decided to look for property on which to build instead. In the years since whenever I drive by I can't help but look at the house with longing and think of what might have been.
In the month before my father died, before I knew he was sick, I stopped by his studio on my way back to work and he told me about the new owner of the Mock House who was planning a restoration of the project and that he was going to help him recreate several of the missing Povey windows. Apparently many windows has been removed and sold off and my Dad had either repaired them for the new owners or was able to gain access to photograph them in their new installations. My dad was so excited about the project and I was excited for him; I hoped I'd be able to get back into the house with him to see the interior again. There are so many reasons why I lament my father died too soon, most of them personal, but the restoration of the Mock House was one that stands out for me because he spoke of it right before he died. In the months following his death, the new owner contacted me through the AHC to see if we still had the photographs of the windows. I earnestly promised to find them among his things, but as I have written about before, I just couldn't bring myself to do it.
So, when I read about the AHC's pre-restoration tour, I shamefacedly vowed to myself that I'd scan those slides and get them to the owner. And then Ms. G invited me on the tour.
When I first arrived at the house I was a little worried that my father's photos were nothing new, that everything I had was still installed in the house. The entry doors and transom have a waterlily motif. The entry floor of encaustic tiles is intact.
The panels for the foyer doors are missing. My father has some additional photos of them. They featured an urn or torch motif.The current wallpaper is a little crazy in the house and the hall "chandelier" is large and in charge, to say the least. To the left is a parlor with an amazing Eastlake style organ. Back in the hall you can see another little waterlily demi-lune window in the coat closet. I also enjoyed this little bench in the coat closet which I imagine to be original. In the Drawing room the demi-lune window with characteristic Povey dogwood flowers is missing its flanking window panels, only the beveled glass within the muntins remains. Here is a close up.The researchers had only a faint idea of what had been here based upon fuzzy old exterior photos of the house. I was happy to know that my father had the photographs of the originals in a new configuration. The windows in the adjoining room are also missing, it is possible that theses windows, which my father had labeled as "Mock House (Yeon- Warrington)", were at one point in this location. While I hate to see that this room's woodwork has been painted white I love that the spandrels still exists, the harp is a nice detail. The fireplace is also amazing with the beveled tile surround and unpainted overmantel.In the Dining Room there is another wonderful fireplace. This room has a painted ceiling, which the researchers believe to be original. The light fixture, while an awesome period piece, is not original to house as it would have had gas. Sadly the woodwork in here has also been partially painted, one can still see the panels of some sort of burled wood. On the back wall of this room there was originally a door which lead to the back yard had was flanked by two small leaded glass panels. The researchers has one black and white, interior photo which was hard to make out. When I saw that in their presentation I knew that my dad had those photographed as well. They are now installed in another house, one on top of the other.A small Sun Room with an encaustic tile floor adjoins this room. They believe the upper sashes in these windows were also leaded glass, the size of the blue and red windows doesn't quite seem to match up here. And I would imagine these panels would have had the same fruit motif in the little sidelights.There is another nice spandrel above the doorway.
The butler's pantry has lots of storage of varying periods. The kitchen has a late 80s early 90s remodel so I took no pictures of this space.
Probably the first bathroom added to the house on the main floor is this water closet on the side porch. To say it is rustic is an understatement! But I do admire that elephant trunk toilet bowl! The worst of the remuddling happened in the Drawing Room. It has been converted into a dim, windowless home office with a drop ceiling and a 60s avocado green bathroom complete with crackle tile and Formica counter tops. The kicker though? Look at the painted ceiling!!! Hello!? Everyone hopes that the other half of the ceiling is preserved above the drop ceiling in the office.Some photos of the stairwell and upper hall.The master suite with adjoining sitting room.This room would have originally been the turret which was remodeled into a Colonial Revival style bay at some point in the 20s.
The closet was converted into a bathroom and I literally laughed out loud when I saw this room. The tile is SO dreadful! Ah, it still makes me laugh!Bedrooms that could have belonged to my sister and me.This small room with added storage was probably the maid's quarters.An enviable little balcony with a view of downtown Portland and the West Hills. The balcony door also has leaded glass.This also makes me long for the house on Mt. Tabor that we are coveting. Note to self: Check with Mr. W to see where the bank is on looking at our finances! There is nothing like touring a great old home of similar age to make me realize that I need to own an old house and that one is pretty remarkable. I don't see how we could regret it.
I am so pleased to know that my father's research will aid in the restoration of the house, even though he won't be able to do the work himself. He was a great historian and a fine artisan. I miss him every day.