Find out, right over here. Also, brrrrrrrrr, Seattle! If it ain't gonna snow, we might as well go back to gloom and rain, right?
Sure, our current streak of un-Seattle-like cold temperatures is a tad uncomfortable, but you won't hear avid home gardeners like me complaining. In fact, you could say that the prospect of a couple days of nighttime temperatures dropping into the teens fills me with glee.
Why? A wintry death to goddamn motherfucking slugs, snails, and other pests is exactly what Maritime Pacific Northwest gardeners need!
Our mild climate may be great for year-round gardening, but it is also perversely hospitable to various vermin whose populations build up over time absent the occasional hard freeze. But thanks to this year's extended cold snap, next year's slug and snail infestation should be considerably reduced. So welcome, freezing temperatures, and fuck you, slugs! I look forward to celebrating your icy deaths with an early lettuce crop.
Is it, by any chance, 54 degrees and drizzling there, Chicago? Because here in Seattle, it's sunny-bright and cold as hell, with a freezing wind chill on top of it. Feel free to go check the temperature here on the internet and make fun of me, Chicago. I'm happy I'm innocent of how actually, really goddamn cold it gets there. For us in Seattle, right now it's seriously cold, and that beaming thing in the sky is scary. (Luckily, it's almost dusk.)
At any rate, it's a good day to stay home and make soup, so here, in a Slog encore, is the recipe for the Thanksgiving Day Fiasco Butternut Squash Soup (details of that story may be found over here), as told to Christopher Frizzelle. (This soup is so easy to make, I told him how to do it on the phone while he was walking to the store, then he transcribed it for Slog in a hilarious and sweet way back in 2006.)
Thanksgiving Day Fiasco Butternut Squash Soup
• One butternut squash
• One large onion
• Chicken broth (large can or carton) (organic is better)
• Salt and fresh-ground pepper
• Organic sour cream
I took you home and cut you. I scraped your cute insides out. I put some olive oil on you. I set you in a pan filled with a half inch of water and put you in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Then I browned a huge onion and some butter in a stock pot, with lots of salt and pepper. When I took you out of the oven after 45 minutes you were all hot and mad, but you were pretty soft, so I took a spoon and scooped you out of your skin and put you in the stock pot with the browned onions, and then I poured a giant can of chicken broth over you. Then I just let you bubble for a while. Bubble, bubble, bubble. Simmer I guess is the word that people who know what they’re doing would use. I’m not a cook. All of this made me so nervous. I got all these instructions from a friend, and I was sure I had some of them wrong. Chicken stock? I kept thinking. Bock, bock, bock!
After a while bubbling in that chicken broth you went real soft. Your orangey hunks become a chunky puree. I gave you some more pepper, and some cinnamon, and if I could have found the nutmeg I would have given you some of that too. I tried you with a spoon. God damn! I could have just eaten you like this, but I was feeling fancy, I was in the mood to go all the way, so I got out the blender and blended you. In batches. With the help of a mug, since I don’t have a ladle. Once you were smooth, I poured some of you into a bowl, with a plop of organic sour cream in the middle, and I ate you.
It was snowing. You were so good.
It's maybe supposed to snow, a tiny bit, here this weekend. Until then, just SUN AND BRRRRRR.
I couldn't tell what the eager, naked Japanese man wanted from me, but I was a visitor in his country—the international rules of etiquette dictated that it was my responsibility to try and figure it out.
There were maybe a dozen of us, all naked and squatting on short plastic stools in front of a wall of spigots. This was my first visit to a Japanese sento, but I knew I was expected to wash thoroughly before moving to the soaking tubs in the next room—where men sat in hot water, white washcloths draped over their heads, emitting a chorus of low, grumbling sighs like a pack of water buffalo who'd just finished a large dinner.
I had been living in a small town in Japan for a few months and was getting used to being a gawk magnet—schoolgirls wanting to take pictures with me, fellow diners not-so-subtly watching me eat in restaurants. Now I felt slightly more naked than everyone else.
The man nodded enthusiastically and twirled his finger in the air. He wanted me to turn around. I complied, a little nervously, and he—to my surprise—began gently scrubbing my back. Then he turned around so I could return the favor. The awkwardness evaporated, replaced by a feeling of almost fraternal tenderness. As we walked to the soaking room, it occurred to me that bathhouses like this one, where most Japanese families washed until the 1960s, are more than just a place to get clean. Stripping down and bathing together can be re-humanizing.
It reminded me of my first adventure in public bathing as a teenager at the Oregon Country Fair, a hippie/vaudeville festival whose outdoor showers and large sauna can accommodate more than 100 bathers at a time. My initial shyness on walking in and putting my clothes in a cubbyhole was quickly replaced by a newfound curiosity about the human form—not just the classically beautiful bodies a 16-year-old would normally spend a lot of energy trying not to stare at, but all the bodies, big and little, saggy and taut, scarred and tattooed, young and old, hairy and sleek, pink and brown and mottled.
In her 12th-century treatise on medicine, the nun, composer, theologian, physician, receiver-of-visions, and all-around polymath Saint Hildegard von Bingen uses a strange word: virgichtiget. It's not in the Oxford English Dictionary (nor Google Translate), but Saint Hildegard repeats it throughout her Physica to describe how parts of the body and mind might feel arthritic, pained, weak, or generally fucked up. "One who is virgichtiget," she writes, "and from it has been made a bit mad, with a divided mind and crazy thoughts, should take a sauna bath."
Keep the Philippines in your thoughts today, and prepare to do what you can for the relief effort once this nightmare is over:
KIRO's Morgan Palmer posted this WSDOT feed of high winds on 520 taken a few minutes ago. It's blurry, but it's still terrifying.
So if you're heading east or west, you should know that the 520 floating bridge is closed. They closed it a few minutes ago. Some drivers have had to abandon their cars. It's apparently a big mess. On the bright side, Seattle Weather Blog says the winds probably aren't going to get any worse:
Barometric pressure slowly rising in Seattle. That means peak winds are right now.
— Seattle Weather Blog (@KSeattleWeather) November 2, 2013
Be careful out there, kids. It's really fucking windy.
Seattle has been wrapped in a thick gauze of fog for the past few days and I think it's starting to soak into my brain—I'm brain-fogged. Normally, sleep feels like a punctuation mark between moments of waking life. These days, it feels like the opposite. Consciousness is just an interruption of the real business of sleeping.
In honor of my lethargy, meet fog which, in about every other common-ancestor language, sounds like a word you can't say on the evening news:
"thick, obscuring mist," 1540s, probably from a Scandinavian source akin to Danish fog "spray, shower, snowdrift," Old Norse fok "snow flurry," fjuk "snow storm." Cf. also Old English fuht, Dutch vocht, German Feucht "moist."
"long grass," c.1300, probably of Scandinavian origin, cf. Norwegian fogg "long grass in a moist hollow," Icelandic fuki "rotten sea grass." The connection to fog (n.1), via a notion of long grass growing in moist dells of northern Europe, is tempting but not proven. Watkins suggests derivation from PIE *pu- "to rot, decay."
And Fogarty—as in John Fogarty of Creedence Clearwater Revival, who wrote some swampy/foggy music—comes from the Old Irish word fogartch, meaning "banished."
So "fog" might have some etymological roots in rot and decay. Strangely enough, the Oxford English Dictionary records the first written use of "fog" in 1380, in a poem called Cleanness that is attributed to the same person who wrote Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Cleanness, in the tradition of old stories with deceptive names, is really about dirtiness and (according to Wikipedia because I can't read
Old old English) "the delights of married love." The OED credits it with a ton of first-written-instance words: clustered, clat (to rattle or strike noisily), ringing, tarn (a small mountain lake), and so on. Anyway, the passage from Cleanness is:
He fares forth on alle faure, fogge watz his mete,
& ete ay as a horce when erbes were fallen;
Þus he countes hym a kow þat watz a kyng ryche
Whatever the hell that means. (Some guy eats everything, including fog, and thinks he's the king of the cows?)
The only person who seems energized by the fog is celebrity meteorologist Cliff Mass, who has somehow found the energy to type in all caps.
I can not remember EVER seeing such an extreme temperature range over our region at one time.
It seems that our fog is a kind of meteorological stasis and will be sticking around until another weather system shows up to defibrillate our atmosphere—and our brains—back to life.
Wake me when the party starts.
It's mid-October and I'm still eating garden tomatoes, although they're mostly all ripening in the rain-free clime of my kitchen these days rather than on the vine. And yes, the basil in my garden has not completely rotted away either.
The pole beans are mostly played out, the remaining raspberries are a soggy, moldy mess, and the zucchinis are long gone. But mustard, arugula, carrots, lettuce, leeks, and herbs are still going strong. And of course, kale. Always kale.
How's your garden?
It's chilly in Seattle today and the leaves are getting down to the business of senescence and death. But their changing of the color-guard always seems strangely inconsistent. Even from my back window, I can see some turning yellow from the top, some from the middle, some from the north side, some from the south side. Why? How do trees "choose" where their leaves will begin changing?some joker at the University of Illinois only says: "Fall color change can initiate anywhere on the tree: top, bottom, south-facing, west-facing, north-facing, or east-facing." (Thanks, but I got that part already.)
I don't know any botanists, so I asked my new brother-in-law, who is the next best thing: a rocket scientist. He pointed me to some other joker at the University of Illinois who has a more satisfying answer:
As Jen mentioned in Morning News, Saturday was Seattle's wettest September day on record. Sea-Tac Airport measured 1.71 inches of precipitation on Saturday, surpassing the 1.65 inch record that was set on September 22, 1978. To put our recent string of downpours in perspective, Seattle only averages 1.52 inches for the entire month, September typically being our third driest month of year. So far, Seattle has recorded 4.80 inches this month, making it our third wettest September on record.
Of course, one can't say if this unusual pattern is due to climate change or natural variation. But the climate change models do predict warmer, wetter weather for the Pacific Northwest. So get used to it.
2. Do not hold up pedestrian traffic to open or close your umbrella. Not even for a second! I know, I know, it's raining, but get the fuck out of the way.
3. Do not use your smartphone while carrying an umbrella. What!? Seriously?! Yes. If you're looking down at your phone—texting, e-mailing, whatever—you're not paying attention to your surroundings and you're not making sure that you won't be smacking someone in the eye with the pointy bits of your umbrella. If you want to carry an umbrella, you've got to sacrifice your tweeting.
4. Don't shake the water off your umbrella around other people. C'mon, man, that's just rude. (YET IT HAPPENED TO ME ON THE BUS THIS MORNING.)
UPDATE: Here are two more great tips, thanks to our wise commenters.
5. Save the space under an awning or bus stop shelter for someone who does not have an umbrella. You already have something covering your head, so let someone who doesn't get out of the rain for awhile.
6. Please don't put a wet umbrella on bus seats. The buses are already miserable enough when everyone's cranky and soggy. Don't make things worse by leaving puddles on the seats, too.
And here's another idea: I propose that the city hand out buttons for people to pin on every person who hits them with their umbrella. When someone collects 10 pins, they lose umbrella privileges for the season. If it's a tourist who collects 10 pins, they are BANNED FROM SEATTLE FOREVER.
Have any other suggestions for the umbrella carriers, Sloggers? Hopefully we can get through the wet season without someone losing an eye.
As you may have heard, we've been planning an outdoor reading party for this Wednesday at Louisa Boren Lookout Park. But now they're saying it's going to rain. And reading in the rain is no fun. Anyway, the regular reading party starts up again two weeks later, on October 2 at the Sorrento. So just plan for that.
Flooding overpass at CU campus in Boulder… pic.twitter.com/83Y9GsNpu3
— Michael dettinger (@Mdettinger) September 12, 2013
You might be in need of your bumbershoot right now, as it is POURING RAIN (hey, look at our beautiful Bumbershoot guide! There is so much good stuff in here, I don't know where to begin... okay, read about how much Larry Mizell, Jr. loves the Breeders! And this very special edition of Never Heard of 'Em by Anna Minard WITH Heard of 'Em by Dave Segal on Gary Numan [of the song "Cars," not the band the Cars, apparently]! Okay, then just keep going because it is all great—kudos to music editor Emily Nokes for making it so!).
As the end of August approaches and the rainy weather has started to return, my garden has entered its phase of peak productivity. My tomatoes are ripening so quickly it's time to fix a bucket of gazpacho, my green beans are beginning to produce in bulk, my carrots are sweet and crunchy, my fall pea crop has started flowering, my leeks are ready for harvest, and my kale is... well... kale around these parts seems to be unstoppable, regardless of the season.
And that's just what's visible in the photo above.
Of course, not everything is going so robustly. My cucumbers, what few I managed to harvest, are already played out, pulled, and in the compost bin, and my zucchini is taking a breather after I pruned them back hard to deal with a bad case of powdery mildew. But lettuce, herbs, and sundry alliums are all doing fine, and I may even get myself a halfway decent broccoli crop this fall, despite the clubroot and the aphids. And, of course, raspberries. The second raspberry crop is going gangbusters. Yum.
So... how does your garden grow?
Here are some reasons why the NYC blogger Annie Atherton thinks Seattle is re-ascending:
1. I can’t leave the house without hearing Macklemore, who I feel has achieved a sort of un-hateable, young-Will-Smith level of admiration.
2. I can’t read the newspaper without coming across someone supporting/suing/being bought by Amazon. It was featured on the cover of Fortune this summer, while Costco was named “Happiest Business on Earth” by Bloomberg Businessweek.
3. The bestseller Where’d You Go, Bernadette is one, big satire of the city and it’s about to be made into a big movie by people who made 500 Days of Summer and The Hunger Games. Author Maria Semple used to write for Arrested Development and other big things.
4. Postal Service just toured for the first time in fo-eva. Pearl Jam is about to tour for the first time in…a pretty long time.
5. TV series The Killing presents a delightfully sinister skyline (a far cry from the twinkly lights of Grey’s Anatomy).
6. Sex-columnist-turned-activist Dan Savage kicks ass with the It Gets Better campaign.
The Capitol Hill Block Party has begun! The gates are open and the first bands, Radiation City and Stickers, go on at 4 pm on the Main Stage and the Vera Stage, respectively. Read all about every artist playing the festival here.
Friday tickets have SOLD OUT online, but there may be a few limited tickets available at the gate. Get there quick! Saturday and Sunday tickets are still available online, but they're going fast. You've been warned.
We'll be running around like mad to cover all the music, the parties, and the puke all weekend on Line Out! And, new this year, we have a live Twitter feed of all the Stranger writers who are at the Block Party, too.
Here we go! It's gonna be awesome.
Block Party starts in approximately five minutes!!! (Well, at 3 p.m., but that'll be here momentarily!)
Here is the list of the bands I want to see that I made when reading my colleagues' excellent descriptions as we were sending the guide to the printer: Bellamaine, Big Freedia, Bleached, Constant Lovers, Country Lips, Girl Talk (what's with the first comment on that article?!), The Intelligence, Katie Kate, La Luz, Rose Windows, Scream Queen, Star Slinger, Tacocat! And, I guess, the Flaming Lips, why not (even though Anna Minard... well, read it yourself and freak the hell out)!
Thinking of escaping the summer heat? A new report lists the country's most "chill cities," based on daily high temperatures, humidity and nighttime low temperatures.Portland is second, and San Francisco is third.
It's no surprise that sunny Southern California's weather means the region isn't represented in the top 10 list, but San Francisco came in at No. 3 and San Jose ranked No. 5.
Seattle topped the list, which ranks the largest U.S. metropolitan areas for summer comfort.
Yes, it's a freakish outlier, and no doubt our recent heat wave had a lot to do with it, but I just harvested my first ripe tomato of the season! What better way to celebrate Independence Day than by enjoying independence from tasteless market tomatoes?
It was from one of my two Stupice plants, of course, the reasonably tasty ultra-early variety that does reliably well in Seattle's unreliable climate. There isn't a hint of red on any of my other fruit, so it will likely be a couple weeks more before another one ripens, but I'll take what fate gives me. Also thanks to the heat, my ambitiously planted Brandywine set its first fruit this week, so there's a decent chance I'll get at least of few of those beautifully ugly beefsteaks.
I'll also be enjoying some first of the season squash blossoms this evening. My zucchini grew explosively during the heat, producing its first batch of flowers. But they're all female, so if I don't eat them as blossoms they'll all likely just shrivel up and die from lack of fertilization.
On the downside, my parsley and cilantro seedlings didn't survive the heat. My earlier parsley sowing was dug up by the dog, and my overwintered parsley bolted. So I now have zero parsley in my garden for the first time in years. It will gnaw at my soul to buy some.
How does your garden grow?
This person is NOT happy about the heat.
And, if you're picky, here is a list of Seattle restaurants with air-conditioning that are also recommended by us.
Stay cool, friends!
Today's hot weather (hey, we even got our very own excessive heat warning, just like Arizona!) is totally survivable—make homemade popsicles, put an ice cube on your head, make sure you adequately water your pets and children. But I hadn't put much thought into the the heat tolerance of our local transportation infrastructure until we received this press release moments ago:
SDOT Traffic Advisory: Brief interruptions on the University Bridge today for cooling
The Seattle Department of Transportation crews have begun flushing the University Bridge once an hour to keep it from getting too hot. The bridge will be closed to traffic for about 10 minutes each time. If the bridge gets too hot, it will likely expand which could then result in maintenance problems. The crews expect to continue this operation until the early evening when temperatures decrease.
The more you know!
Several days of soaking rain, followed by a week or so of 80-plus-degree weather is exactly what my tomato garden ordered. My tomatoes had already been doing quite fine thanks to our relatively warm spring, but they're going to love the next few days. I've yet to see any fruit set on my Brandywine, but if the ten-day forecast holds, I'm guessing my gamble of planting a finicky heat-loving beefsteak variety will ultimately pay off.
While my Brandywine has been fruitless (though vigorous), my Stupice, Sungold, Sweet Million, and Ultimate Opener are all bursting with fruit. None of it is remotely close to ripening, but the possibilities are tantalizing. I'm guessing I'll get my first taste of vine ripened tomato before the end of July, with a bountiful harvest beginning a couple weeks later.
Elsewhere in my garden, we're still harvesting tons of peas and raspberries, plenty of fresh herbs, and of course, kale, kale, kale. What's left of my February lettuce sowing will surely bolt in the coming week's heat, but my mid-spring sowing is far enough along to take up the slack, and my third lettuce sowing is coming along nicely in a partially shady spot. Alas, I've eaten the last of my spring Walla Walla onions, but some young red onions look tempting. Carrots, zucchini, beans, and (cross my fingers) cucumber are doing well.
How's your garden going?