Ayup, Us Sandersons Always Wuz Sophisticates

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I can recognize my great grandmother, Julia Sanderson, and one or two of my great uncles (I think). Granted, it’s a bad print on a piece of paper. I think I met four of my great grandparents, Julia, my father’s father’s mother, Grandpa Carlson, my father’s mother’s father, and both of my mother’s mother’s parents, although that may be a miss-remembering. I’m digging through a box of photos from my aunt using my new scanner; the old one, of course, died when I tried to start scanning the pictures in the box.

Well, that was exciting!

WordPress updated itself and took out the theme I was using. Or, the theme I was using took out itself.

I gotta new printer yesterday, and it’s bigger than a breadbox. Quite a bit bigger. I also got a bunch of the biggest paper it handles, which I think is 13 X 19″ I figure I can print one or two blizzard scenes before I run out of ink.

Tater Salad 2

I made another tater salad yesterday for a friend’s wedding reception.

It started with me lusting after fingerlings at the Mpls Farmer’s Market. I found some nice purple taters at an end booth, which I bought with another basket (two for $5) and then wandered back to the booth with the bestest looking fingerlings in the Farmer’s Market (not the Annex). I was torn between the baby fingerlings (PIA to cut up) and the, err, more mature fingerlings, which would require considerably less whacking to cut to nice slices. Like any good size queen, I went for the big ones — one basket o’ white fingerlings and one basket o’ red fingerlings (again, two for $5).

At home, I asked someone for a stock pot to cook the taters in, and realized that I had a fucking lot o’ taters, and I either needed the bigger stock pot or cook less. I went for the bigger stock pot, threw in the red and the white fingerlings, some thyme, and set a timer for fifteen minutes and five minutes, when I wanted to throw in the smaller purple fingerlings. At the five minute mark, I threw in the purples. At the fifteen minute mark, I poked a big white fingerling, and reset one of the timers for five more minutes. At the twenty minute mark, I dumped them in a colander and cooled them under cold running water, until I could start slicing them up. I layered them with a mixture of colors, salt, fresh tarragon, thyme, dill, olive oil, vermouth, and leek cooked in olive oil. I had a small bowl o’ taters left over that went in the fridge. When I was done, it was time to brave a trip to the Uptown Lunds, sitting the heart of the Uptown Art Fair for the lemons I forgot to get and for the garlic that I had to get after I discover mine had gone south along with a rather rotten onion in the bottom of the onion bowl.

So, after braving the streets o’ Uptown, I smashed some peppercorns, an allspice berry that I plucked out of a hundred year old mixed pickling spice jar, and three cloves of garlic with some salt. That all went into a bowl, rinsed out with vodka. (Did I mention I’m not really in love with my vermouth? And that I can’t get Cinzano no more? Yes, I help buy umbrellas for every bar in Europe when I can.) A nice squeeze of Sriracha, mustard de meaux, the zest and juice of three large lemons, and over the taters it went. I finally remembered to cut up some parsley as well. Then I cut a bunch of garlic chives and separated out the blossoms, cut some leaves up and tossed on the top after adjusting the lemon and salt. I stuck the two-foot tall blossoms at the back of the tater salad — it was wedding reception, after all. (At least I thought it was pretty funny.)

My arrival, somewhat botched by Google Maps sending me on a wild goose chase and the Minnesota summer road construction season, late as it was due to the shopping trip, and not, I’m sure, to the glasses of cheap vermouth I downed while making the salad, nor err, resting my eyes afterwards. I came back with a wee bit o’ salad. I left the flower spikes littering the lawn. It wasn’t the Green Garlic with three heads, but it got a bunch o’ compliments, and it got et.

Cadillac Saw and a Rambler Blade

We had some weather come through Our Fair Cities last night around midnight. It’s been raining a bit lately, and the first thing Minnesota trees like to do after it’s raining and a good flat wind comes through is fall over. And so they did, although some claim it was the lightening that done it. Since I had offered to help cut up trees that one day at the Hennepin County History Museum, I knew that my chainsaw had oil, my reciprocating saw had a wicked pruning blade in it, and I’d found an extra 50′ of extension cord hiding in the basement. In short, I was ready to cut trees — well, except, of course, that I could really stand to put a new chain in the chainsaw, but we don’t hafta go there. I made a couple o’ offers, only one of which was excepted, for which I am quite grateful, and off I went to adjust the chain on the chainsaw, and load it all up in the trunk of my Baby^tm car so I could drive the two blocks to help chop up a tree that had not only knocked a fence down, but that had the temerity to fall on a garage!

When I got there with my chainsaw and my reciprocating saw, and my two extension cords, my friends’ neighbor was attempting to cut up a mulberry tree that had collapsed on top of the garage roof and just about filled up their yard. He’d ran out and bought a Ryobi saw, in that nice fluorescent green that they use, and he was manfully chopping off branches with a little bitty multi-purpose blade designed for cutting through anything, like iron pipe or wood with lottsa nails in it, but that would take a month o’ Sundays to chop off much of that mulberry tree with a four inch blade.

My reciprocating saw, which I bought from Sears on a Slickdeals price alert, also came with a small multi-purpose blade, but when I knew I was gonna cut me some trees down at the museum, I ran to Menards to find something with teeth — and long. Ain’t nothing makes a man feel gooder than a wicked toothed saw blade that’s long too. Well, OK, it also cuts through green wood real slick, although the first nail you hit would probably strip half a dozen o’ those wicked teeth off the blade, but until you hit that first nail, it’s like going into town on Saturday night. So anyway, we cut wood. In the full sun. On a hot day. In a back yard where this damned mulberry tree just fell over on account of it being wet, rotten, and hit by a flat wall o’ wind. (I think I used my chainsaw only once, to cut through a really thick branch.)

After about an hour of cutting wood in the hot sun in the back yard, I think I started to notice it was warm. One of the first clues was the sweat that started dripping into my eyes. Working as I do under an air vent in an air-conditioned office (for some values of air-conditioned — ittsa green building, which is really funny when you think about it ’cause ain’t none of it painted green nor green carpeted either — and for goodness sake, let’s not start talking about the toilets.) So anyway, we drank some refreshments, and I kinda hid under the umbrella for the last half hour of the tree cutting, but by then it was pretty much chopped up and off the roof, except for the big trunk which is laying across the yard. When I left, I left the long blade with the wicked teeth.

Who knew? Or, a dab o’ glue won’t always do ya

Who knew you could wear a hole in a crown? One of mine fell off when I was flossing over the weekend, and I carefully put it in a baggie. I called the dentist on Monday morning, and picked up an appointment later that day. I left work early and arrived at the dentist office a full half-hour or more before my appointment time. It was a cursed time to drive. If I waited much longer at work, the drive time would expand; but if I left early the drive time would contract. So, I left early and sat in the dentist office reading a Smithsonian and a Wesley Chu on my phone. When I got in to see the dentist, she tried the crown to see if it still fit — yes; then they mentioned that it was the tooth without the root canal land they’d want to start numbing it. Wot? No dab o’ glue and I’m off? A bit later after a cotton swab and a shot or two, after the crown was glued again, she drilled and filled the hole in the crown. All in all, it was not worse than being attacked by killer clowns, but less fun than just having the crown glued back on.

Green Garlic Tater Salad

For a wonderful and recent birthday party (not mine thankfully) I made a green garlic potato salad, that not only served a quite large group, but is guaranteed to keep vampires away at least for the life of the party.

Green Garlic Tater Salad

Green Garlic Tater Salad

Five pounds of russet taters cooked, peeled, and cut up however you fancy
Vermouth, dry, white and a lot more than showing it the bottle
8 stalks of green garlic, tender bits sliced or chopped (less would be quite enough for most people — cook lightly, or leave them in the lemon juice to pickle for a bit)
2 lemons zest and juice
1 boatload of salt or to taste
Fresh ground black pepper or to taste
Thyme, tarragon, and dill weed or other fresh potato-friendly herb
Sriracha and/or Tabasco to taste
Moutard de meaux

Cook the taters to your taste but not too much. Cool under cold running water until you can peel and slice them. Add olive oil and vermouth in generous amounts.

Zest two lemons, and then juice them. (If you want to mild the garlic, quickly cook it or add them to the lemon juice and let set for a bit to pickle.) Add salt, black pepper, and Sriracha and/or Tabasco. Add some mustard and mix to dissolve the salt. Pull the leaves off the thyme and tarragon, and coarsely chop along with the dill. Chop up the tender white bits of the green garlic. Mix it all together with the taters. Taste for salt, vermouth, olive oil, and peppers — ideally it should taste like the potatoes and garlic are having a party in your mouth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Throw some of the left over herbs on top as garnish. I put thyme forests at each end, a path o’ tarragon between, and I ringed the pan with fresh red green-top radishes.

Wiscon 2015

I arrived at the hotel around three, which is early for me. I drove straight through from Minneapolis and did not stop after I got gas at the SuperAmerica on Lyndale just before I-94. After parking in the hotel, I went up with one bag that would not fit in the trunk and checked in. With the room key, I went back down and got the main suitcase, up to the room, and back down to register. Registration was fairly quick, and I went to the gathering, which is often over by the time I arrive. I drank a glass of punch, ate a chocolate chip cookie, and chatted with Neil Rest and ? for a bit. I think I wandered through the dealer’s room, where Beth was manning her table, and went up to the Governor’s Club bar somewhere around 4:30, which is when it opens. It was much quieter than usual, and Valerie from Chicago was not there. I remembered at some point to download the phone app and check through the panels, selecting mostly by individuals that I wanted to hear, rather than by topics. I could sort topics out on they fly. For some unknown reason, most of the people I wanted to see/hear were against other people that I wanted to see/hear. Plus, there were two “what the hell just happened” panels that I wanted to sit through. Friday and Saturday weather was great. Sunday, not so much, with rain through the day. Monday was cloudy, but I made it home with the top down, although I may have seen a few drops on the windshield.

I walked around the farmer’s market late on Saturday around noon. They were starting to pack up and leave. I’d hopped to find something to snack on, but didn’t.

I think three of us went out for ice cream on Saturday night, which would be the only thing, other than a sandwich and a double espresso at the Starbucks in the hotel, that I went out for. I lived on the appetizers, desserts, and breakfasts from the Governors Club lounge, plus a wee bit of party snacking. The consuite was a bit below the below, closing each night at 11:00, and not up to the usual standards. I didn’t even have a soda from there. I also managed to miss the Tiptree desserts — I blame the panels. I sat at Beth’s yarn booth a couple of times. On Monday so she could go to the one panel she was on, and one other time, for a reason I don’t remember.

The convention felt light, like it was shy a number of members. I revised my estimate at the Sunday dessert salon — but they may have had less tables — but by Sunday, the convention looked to be at similar occupancy levels. They had lots of signs up for volunteers in many more departments than I usually see.

John Chu was there, his short story, The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere, which I loved, won the Hugo last year. I was hoping he would be as elegant in language on a panel. He read a new story he’d just sold to TOR at the Finland party. He read an excerpt at a Clarion Reunion panel, and he was on a panel about alien languages. (He’s from Taiwan, and translates from Chinese.) On panels, he seems to think too quickly to speak, and his delivery stalls, stops, and restarts as if from excitement. His story has a staidness about it that I did not see from him, but he was fun to listen to nonetheless.

I managed to miss almost everything Kim Stanley Robinson was on, except for his reading, which was really a performance piece coupled with his reading, which I joined a few minutes after it started. He talked afterwards about the artist who did the recorded accompaniment, wanted trance to be the result. He wanted storytelling. I think they hit somewhere in between, and I was a bit off-put during the performance. In retrospect, it was probably better than I’m imagining, and my trance state may have come from some residual tiredness and the low light in the room. I did catch his guest of honor speech. It was about global warming and it was good, but preaching to the crowd. I missed his Monday morning panel because I was trying, unsuccessfully, to sell yarn.

I also wanted to catch Leslie Hall, but I only made it to one of her panels.

Link to post from one of the co-chairs