Monday, May 26, 2008

first service (and everything else in parentheses)

yesterday, up before 7 with the sun leaking through the plastic shades. showered and walked to the coffee shop around the corner. (is there a corner without one here?) waited for jay-thomas to pick me up. we got to grace sometime after 8. the church is a seventh day adventist church, perfect situation - it's empty on sundays. it is perched on a gentle slope on capitol hill, surrounded by houses and deep green. i stood in the parking lot and talked with lee grooms, the church's administrator. in the lobby of the church were bulletins and sheets of information, some explaining how the diaconate ministry of the church worked, another giving ten ways in which people could responsibly care for the earth. (it is really time that people stopped rejecting environmental consciousness as a by-product of the sixties, or a the ravings of the fringe left - this is a stewardship issue, and important to any believing christian) church started at 9, and people continued to slowly file in till around 915. the first service was primarily older members, families with kids. the younger crowd comes to the 11 o'clock service.
michael gave the welcome and call to worship. absolutely everything is written out in the bulletin; it's a bulletin for novices. and when it comes to church it seems that this city is filled with novices of this type. the music has been mostly rewritten by the church's music guy, phil peterson. i didn't get a chance to meet him yesterday. he's recovering from an attack from a k9 police dog. apparently he was mowing his lawn at 2 in the morning (by all reports a very phil thing to do) and was bitten by the dog that had somehow gotten loose.
john's sermon was the first, possibly second, in a series on personal holiness. he made a number of caveats, "some of you may have been in situations where calls to personal holiness have been a destructive thing." (i can just hear my mother now, "hmmm.")
regardless of whether or not someone has grown up in the church or claims to be a christian, the issue of holiness is an essential one. it seems to me that a worthwhile distinction ought to be made between personal morality and godly holiness. the latter is what we are called to by scripture the former is a cultural construct in which we can attain our own self-righteousness. my brother mentioned to me that he felt like the key to life was being a good person, and trying hard not to be harmful. funny thing is, he said, i'm probably a better person than a lot of christians out there. and he's probably right. of course, that isn't the point. the reason that john haralson had to make certain caveats is that for too long the church in america has confused morality with the substance of christianity. in other words, to be christian is to be moral. the obvious problem with this is that there are plenty of people who are moral without being christian. and if someone can be a moral person without christianity than why bother with christianity. easy answer, you don't. this is the result of a confusion. the real issue, and the one that i posed to my brother is not, are you a good person, but who do you think Jesus was/is? anybody who presents christianity and makes it about morality and not about Jesus has the wrong christianity.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

23 hours

i have been in seattle now for nearly a full day. three things have struck me: the lushness of it's vegetation, the uniform un-uniformity of it's people, and the odd geometry of it's buildings. i feel as if i have left my home a long way off, and yet i feel at home.
last night i tooled around with two young guys from the church, jon and brian. we went to a sandwich spot for dinner in the capitol hill area, honeyhole. the two dudes were from santa cruz california and arrived in seattle, each for different reasons. brian for music, jon for grad school. as is the case with all well laid plans, grad school has been nixed and the music career has stumbled. after dinner we walked a good distance to jon's work, a coffee shop, to obtain free coffee. we hung out there and talked movies, music and girls. there was a light drizzle at times, so light the rain looked like snowflakes in the light of the streetlamps.
we had tickets for indiana jones at 1140 at a theater downtown. the movie began at two oclock stl time, and i had much trouble keeping the ol' eyelids open. if i were writing a review, i would give the movie a c. it was disappointing. i think it is very difficult to re-ignite franchises like indiana jones which operated in such a different cinematic mileau. for all of their excess, there was a kinetic energy to those movies. and they were real. this movie seemed to fall back on the ease of cgi, and cliched dialog.
russian dominatrix: (spoken in a thick russian brogue) "doctor jones you must decipher ze code."
indy: "it's written in an ancient script!"
"dr. jones, i sink you underestimate vat i will do to you if you don't do vat i vant. i always get vat i vant."
"this heiroglyph...its the from the temple of montezuma. it's a snake." indy raises his eyebrow and adjust his hat. "what's a snake? the amazon. and this...still water. it's the lake of dead. we have to go to amazon and hurry!"
i think i might have preferred to have seen indiana moans and the temple of poon. a "film" advertised on a downtown marquis nearby the theater. for you innocents out there, pretty sure that one was a porno. and i'm totally kidding. temple of poon. sheesh. what have i got myself into here?
i find some pleasure in the fact that smoking seems to be decidedly counter-cultural here. and in a way that is nothing short of brilliant, given that seattle defines itself as counter-cultural. however, if we ended up moving here i think it would eventually disappear from the list of my personal vices. for one, it's simply too expensive. i just can't fathom putting a line item for smokes into my fundraising support letter. i am not above such things however.
more later.

Friday, May 23, 2008

photo albums

okay. can't just randomly put pictures up on the blog, wouldn't work very well. so...check out the photos on facebook.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

a day in the life of a kitchen

the restaurant is only open for dinner during the week. chef gets in around 9ish. runs through the receipts for the night before and checks stock. around 10 o'clock a supplier shows up. general supply stuff, bulk items: trash bags, potatoes, towels. then two wine merchants. a short frenchman, and another fellow from sonoma. "that's in northern california." he tells me. i nod, never heard of sonoma, or northern california for that matter. spread out on one of the steel tables, in front of the bunn coffee maker with the morning pot still steaming are four bottles of french wine. from languedoc. two reds, a white, and rose. the latter is pronounced rose-eh. these are for sampling. life should be so hard. the little french man asked me "do you work here?" as i walked through the door. "he's my brother", i pointed to chef. "would you like a glass then." it's eleven o clock in the morning, what do you think? i snatched a long stem and held it out. he delicately poured some savignon blanc, twisting it at the last moment. "thank you." with my fingers on the stem and pinky resting around the edge of the base i swirled the wine, freeing the scent. i smelled the boquet like a bonafied asshole. (hmmm, is it me or do i detect some hints of guava fruit and cucumber - probably just me)
"is there a bar here, or is it table service." the man from sonoma asks. i glance up from my glass, where the wine is still swirling around the walls of the glass: "table service." i said it like i owned the place. "it's an out of towner question." i think he meant it's a man from sonoma, northern california, question. whatever. the little frenchman and the man from sonoma pack up their gear. plugging the bottles with corks. shake hands, and tell chef they'll see him later.
a bank lady comes by about some chamber of commerce business. another supply guy, this time a local produce man. and then some time after noon another wine man. this time no samples.
meanwhile chef preps a few items for the evening, including a stinging nettle veloute. "stinging nettles?" i asked chef. i saw patrons, faces swollen and purple, large welts on their tounge trying to swill down the last drops of his delicious poison soup. "ah yeah." that was his explanation. "wait, stinging nettles. they sting you. and you're making a soup with stinging nettles. i'm missing a key piece of information methinks." "cooking takes the irritant out." still, i'm skeptical. also, i don't own a restaurant, and have never been to cooking school. (just tasted it. yeah, it's good.) chalk one up for the "i don't know what i'm talking about" column.
after the nettles comes a trip to the store. first to the cash and carry and then the co-op. cheese lady jane says, "hi chef" as we walk in. i nearly said hi back to her. chef talked shop for a second, and scored a sample of some new blue cheese that had just come in. she sliced off a few thin shavings and handed them over. it was beautiful. the cheese was soft and nearly melted in my mouth, the salt and sourness of the vein worked well against each other. d-lish. i still tasted the savory sourness in the corners of my mouth nearly an hour later.
back at the restaurant chef smashed some lemongrass, releasing their essential oils. this, he said, was for a broth in which he would brine the pork belly. once he had roughly chopped the lemongrass he added it to water, wine, orange juice and onions in order to make the brine.
set out to thaw: lobster tails and halibut. one last thing to make, the braising sauce for the halibut.
at roughly one o clock chef brought out some cheeses from walla walla, three goat cheeses: fresh chevre, herbed chevre, and a larzac with grape leaf ash slashing through the middle. the latter had a sharp bite to it, reminiscent of the blue i had earlier. we made little sandwiches with some of the fresh bread baked at the restaurant. i, for one, was famished. and it took the edge off. sometime near 230 we walked a few blocks to a new york style pizzaria. a decidedly different culinary mileau to be sure. and refreshing. you know. college kids. stoners. the joint during work and pbr after type crowd. chef, his assistant, and i munched on a large, foldable pepperoni liberally sprinkled with spicy basil, red pepper flakes and "parmesan (cough cough) cheese."
here's a picture of chef: more later.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

walla walla = water water

my brother and i made the trek yesterday as soon as i got off the airplane in boise. what seemed uneventful at first become a tad adventurous when the windshield wipers stopped working mid downpour. the trip to walla walla took four hours, through narrow passes and over the blue mountain range. we caught up on our dysfunctional family, and generally shot the shit.
we arrived at waters winery sometime around 5ish, and after a quick wine sampling and a tour of the place we settled down to prep work. we were preparing a five course meal for some hotshots out of napa valley. white asparagus and fried egg yolks - course one. mix green salad with herbed chevre and asparagus tips - second course. third, wild salmon and a spicy asian slaw. fourth - grass fed beef on risotto. final dish was just a cheese plate of local cheeses. periodically throughout the process of cooking and serving the meal, justin, the owner of
vapiano winery, would bring a bottle of some good wine for us to try. nothing less than a hundred dollar bottle. quite a bit of wine was drunk along with the excess food left over.

Monday, May 19, 2008

off to seattle

today we are hopping on an airplane and heading off on the first leg of our trip. first to phoenix, then to boise, then to seattle. tomorrow i will be helping my brother put on a private dinner for 7 at a winery in walla walla. then we'll spend the night at the winery. pretty stoked about that.
i'm a bit afraid about the flight with the kids. worried that we are going to be that couple with the screaming babies. oh well.
also, a little goodie for the peoples. if you want a bootleg copy of the swell season show at the pageant on may 6th (it was fantastic!) go here.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

radiohead: scotch mist

the show was pretty great. i think it's one of those things that will grow in my memory at time goes by. anyway, for your viewing and listening pleasure. enjoy.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

a respite from the storm

for those who are stressed out. for those who didn't make it to bon iver some time ago. enjoy:

Saturday, May 3, 2008

greetings to the family. hope you enjoy this, eva has a special message for yaya, papa john, jenny, todd, jackson and jaymo at the end. love ya and thanks for helping make eva's birthday special.