Monday, August 27, 2012

Pesto Festo 2012

This has been going on for a lot of years. Like any tradition, it's hard to remember how it got started.

There are a few highlight years. One year back in the 1990s we had it at my house on 15th Avenue & Gail & Ian brought long-stemmed garlic harvested from the Denman Island Farm they had been on. Mave & Keira were there then.

Then there were the two mechanical breakdown years. The food processor burnt out and Ian went out to get a replacement. The next year THAT processor burnt out and Gail went out to buy a Very Sturdy Replacement.

Gail said there were people begging to join this elite gathering. She said she had been telling them to start their own Pesto Festo. Then we thought maybe we could Sell Tickets to people wanting to come to cover our costs.... Other ideas flowed from that of course. Erica suggested the single seating restaurants approach with a set menu.... and so on.

Each year there are talks of management and labor. I was having a fit about quality control on the preparation of the watercress. George & Ian hated de-stemming the watercress. I found a quicker way,  & they didn't obey the new protocol. I became a Pill & a Nag about it until I realized I was having No Success.

Michelle & Gail are the Major Tasters & Blenders. This year we had two food processors so things went really quickly, but we also had a shocking amount of de-stemmed surf left over. I don't know if we ran out of jars or lids or energy.  But for sure we got too many flats of leaves. Oi!!

Well, this was before the left-over stage. There was a big bag of basil, a similar one of cilantro,  one of of watercress, and a small one of dill.

But the scale of our processing has evolved to THIS look!!

As usual, I got caught up in majik.... the chair, the jars, the tablecloth....

This is a double ikat weave with multiple colors [sic] quite unusual. Before dinner we talked about the possibility of a red wine spill, which did happen. I hope the spill-treatment worked!

Cast of characters:

George on the de-temming crew.
Teyah... oh, lordy, how to spell, I know that's only close! She worked all over.

Ian with a bit of sausage and one of the aprons that made the rounds. De-stemmer & host.

Michelle, filling jars, also taster & blender.

Gail in a favorite apron that I made, & stamped on with great kitchen tools, & gave her. Hostess, taster, blender, etc.

Mave, who dropped in & stayed. We taught at Charles Dickens School together for a year.  

Lesley, Jay, Max & Reed dropped in & provided diversion. This is Jay & Reed.

Lesley taking a break.

Leslie with Max eating beans grown in Leslie's garden. We ate them for supper.

Erica in the traveling apron with Reed.

Leslie, 4 days into the South Beach Diet. She said she was feeling a bit tired from it & with it! She knew some teacher-folks from the BCTF in common with Mave.

Mave's daughter, Keira, came for dinner. She's doing a master's at UBC in counseling psych, so she & Leslie had sharings about that.

And Yolande, french teacher to both Gail & me, photographer, Artist in Our Midst cohort with me, she stopped in briefly after we bumped into her on the Drive.

And I... my jobs were de-stemming & washing & spinning & bagging some of the batches of leaves. I also made 4 loaves of bread for the gathering.

Our dinner: ravioli with basil pesto, linguini with tomato pesto, salmon, eggplant baked with ginger, string beans, salad, & done before the rain, which was good because we ate outside on the back porch.

Our sustenance during the work: bread with duhkah, sausage, cucumbers, marinated mushrooms, and various trial blends from the kitchen.

And did I mention wine? Some People started wine Right Off The Bat, while others were More Restrained, or Very Restrained [Leslie]. But wine and beer were a lovely part of the day.

Merriment was had by all.
That's it for the day.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Missing Ellie on Maui

Two weeks on Maui without Ellie. August 3 to 17.

Her absence was why I was there this time.

Finding the journal of her reading for 10 years on the bookshelves in 205.

Honoring her role in playing matchmaker for George & me.
Hearing her say, "Don't write him a letter, email him for heavens sake!"

This last winter I read the story of Alva Myrdal by her daughter. I got a much larger picture of Ellie from that book.

What a lovely person she was.

I really missed having her there this time, to talk about our latest books, the adventures of our children, & the extraordinary ordeal, even, that took her to the end of her life.

She'd be up for all of that.

This my very favorite photo of her. I asked permission one morning on the beach to photograph her. I had my best camera & she gave me her best beautiful memorable smile when we were resting after the walk.

We talked about wrinkles & how we like them on others, but not on ourselves!
We laughed about that.
I love those wrinkles and soon I will ask my children to photograph mine. They are just beginning to look interesting.

Friday, August 17, 2012

I've been in Maui for two weeks. George & needed to check up on the condo, visit with my recently widowed Uncle Gene,  and sit back & think for a bit.

It was hard leaving Vancouver mid-summer, but I really enjoyed our time in Maui.

I worked on & finished a small piece for an old school friend of mine. This is a Vera scarf, bought with Mary Beecher at filene's basement in 1954 or so. The scarf is made of batiste cotton, very fine & very absorbent. For years I used it as a nose-blowing kerchief when I had colds.

My mother & hers loved Vera scarves. So buying a few of her scarves was at the time a small right of passage into adulthood. This is my last one.

I wrote on it, embellished some squares on the scarf with transparent fabric, quilted it & edged it.

It was a gift of love, though I managed to embarrass myself by not giving enough care and attention to the mailing, packaging & general 'presentation'. Oh dear, silly careless impatient me.

Much of my time in Maui was given to Gene.

His wife, Ellie, died on July 18. He's doing pretty well considering Ellie was his cook, his extra eyes & extra ears, chauffeuse, check-writer, companion, & friend.

She had an illness with atrial fibrillation and all manner of complications arising therefrom for the last 4 years. It was hard for Gene watching a second wife fall apart physically, after his first wife, my mother's younger sister, died of Alzheimer's in 1994.

He now has a competent housekeeper who has a PhD in Portuguese literature. Her name is Arife. She's keeping him on his toes and he's gradually getting used to her reasonable demands.

We had many meals together, lots of talk and sorting stuff out, the next stage.

Gene's son, Jon Bliss, & his wife Dede came for a week of our time there. We had a great time together and much laughter, joking, family history & story-telling.

And then we saw quite a bit of Sal & Jobst who are in the midst of their house being built. Both are startled by how much grader it is than they had imagined. We were twice at the building site. The electrical is in and the incredible system of solar batteries are on line now.

BEAUTIFUL setting, lots of wind too. Porch by the ladder is sheltered from prevailing winds. Floor plan is a box with two smaller boxes added on. So in a way from the air the shape is a block W.

That's it for now. I have to board my plane from Portland to YVR soon.