food experiment: fig salami

While searching for recipes for something else, I came upon mentions of (and recipes for) fig salami. I decided I would try this one from the Kitchn.

Here's the first part: de-stemming and cutting up a pound of dried Mission figs, and leaving them to soak with some rosemary, mulling spices, and orange zest in red wine.

A week later: fishing out the spices and rosemary, pouring off the wine, buzzing the figs in the food processor with salt and black pepper, adding chopped toasted walnuts, and rolling into four cheesecloth-covered logs.

Now we have to wait a month, while they dry out (in the fridge). February 21. Every time I open the refrigerator, it smells like red wine.


5-second roo

Lately, if Bram and I both howl, Cheyenne will join in. The Greyhound People call this "rooing."


Saturday Studio Visit

Yesterday, cleared (and not too cold) from the storm, over to Tim's studio. In exchange for Monica designing and programming his Web site, she got to select one of his paintings.

Their house is in another Stamm neighborhood is full of art and has a great mod-influenced aesthetic. Tim's got a small freestanding studio in the back yard.

Monica had gotten a preview and was most interested in one of his colorbands series. Tim pulled a bunch, and we both immediately went to two of them — and then spent about a half-hour, chatting and making small talk and trying to figure out which one to take. Tim's also a DJ, the studio walls are lined with vinyl, so a little old Cocteau Twins was our soundtrack.

Though our other choice was already framed, we decided on Malaga II:

The rest of the day at the monthly 7000 BC meeting — for the first time at the library, which has an awesome meeting room that looks to be perfect for this year's goal of having more working meetings.


Snow at Sunset

Today's storm — the third this week — turned out to be less severe than advertised. Pretty sure I heard rain overnight, and when I checked when we first got up, it looked like it had just started snowing. As predicted, it continued on and off, never turning into rain. It cleared … then came back with a vengeance, all gray skies and big flakes all blowing sideways. It was around sunset, we were each let go early. By the time I made it back for dogwalking, though, it had all stopped and the sun was breaking through. Made for some pretty amazing lighting with the bit of white snow that stuck around.


Indulge me for one more.


The Party Circuit

(Source: Richard Thompson's awesome Cul de Sacyesterday's shows how we got in this situation.)

Yep, Alice's spell worked. What was supposed to be around 1" of snow was 4" by the time we got up and about 2" more before the sun came out in the afternoon and started melting everything (about 11" in the Basin). And it's just the first of three storms that are due to hit us this week.

On the other hand … this past weekend. We had stuff going on! Actually went out Friday and Saturday!


Monica, along with pretty much all other state employees, was furloughed on Friday. The Neighbor — who we've kind of met (Monica more than me), but since her dog doesn't like ours and ours has just started to go with that and they now bark at each other across the street, we've barely talked with — decided to throw a furlough party. In the process of also inviting her friend The Author — who we kind of cyber-met a couple weeks ago — she realized we were all connected and decided to host a gathering where all sorts of people could finally meet, including her college friend The Other Author. Thing is, The Author had an event planned for that evening. So he invited us all to join his party. And The Neighbor just moved her party to the following night.

The Author and his wife are outside of town in a house with a casita designated for working visitors — writers, graduate students — and proved a place to write, hospitality, advice, and a party at the end of their stay. Their current guest, The Biographer, was wrapping a week's visit. A few years back, he'd considered writing about some artists he'd met in Northern California; hearing about their childhood art teacher and his tremendous influence, grew interested in him. So the book turned more into a biography of The Teacher (/Poet) and a look at what makes a successful and influential teacher. The Teacher, who lives nearby, was also at the dinner — the writer and his subject, together.

A dozen or so other attendees; I only realized over the course of the evening how intimidated I should have been, most of them published authors. It was a fun, welcoming group, also mostly transplants, and we enjoyed good conversation over wine and moussaka. After, it was a reading by The Biographer and then The Teacher, and some conversation between them, insightful and touching. We get spoiled here in Santa Fe by how star-filled our night sky is, but outside of town, finding our way to our car with only the starlight to guide us, we're reminded how much we're missing here.


GCNM's Adoption Clinic was Saturday at Teca-Tu. Normally monthly, it'd been canceled the last couple times; we hadn't made a few more before that, probably since August. A year had passed since Cheyenne first appeared at one and we were eager to show her off at her healthy 62 pounds. And it was quite an event, with 13 greyhounds (including one lurcher) at one point. Which proved to be grueling; after two hours, of the eight or so remaining, only two were standing.

Cheyenne's buddies that she stays with when we're out of town were there, but the aptly named Sweetie, a wonderful grande dame, is ailing and may not be around much longer. Her person was pretty occupied, so I wound up getting to handle her for most of the afternoon. The good news is that there's a new addition to their family: the also-aptly named Kissy, here moving in for the attack.

There was time for a few tacos, some resting up, and then off to The Neighbor's party. Where The Author and his wife were, but also a whole host of other folks. Again, mostly transplants (including another Nutmegger) from all sorts of backgrounds, we found a few common connections and had a great time with the appetizer dinner and good conversation.


Sunday brought chores, but also a quick visit out to the dog park before sunset. Nothing like last weekend — where Cheyenne kept finding new dogs to play with, and, and one point, decided to run alongside and overtake a bicyclist on the other side of the fence — but still wore her out pretty well.

(Actually from last weekend.)


Top Ten Comics of 2009

Once again, I'm cross-posting this from Raised By Squirrels.

Looking at this year's list, it's got a fair number of big names and big companies (who'd ever guess that I'd have three DC titles?) — to my chagrin. I think most of my choices are based mostly on the skill of the storytelling, since that's where my interest lies these days, and this is where I found it — but I'm going to make a concerted effort in '10 to seek out some more obscure stuff. Even more than last year, I'm cheating a bit in my definition of comics …

1. Batman and Robin by Grant Morrison and various artists — I'll bet that real followers of these characters will confirm that something about them is off, that everybody's taken on an outlook and speech common to Morrison's comics. But it's a fresh take on the Bat-world, delivering, as he promised, Lynchian weirdness mixed with '60s camp in a fast-paced page-turner that brings new characters into an established world to carve out a distinct identity for a new Batman and Robin. Frank Quitely's turn on the art in the first arc was a real treat, his character design and style really building the tone, his incorporation of sound effects into the art especially welcome.

2. Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory — A high concept: a character who can tell the history of anything he eats and is an agent of the FDA in a world where chicken is outlawed. But what sets this series apart is the craftsmanship. The art's all indie, but it's skillful storytelling; there's repeated panels, and there's wordy panels of voiceover, and they serve the tale perfectly; the tone is generally wacky, but shifts ably; and the bare minimum is presented, letting you fill in the details you're supposed to. These guys know how to put together a story in comic form, and have found and awfully fun one to tell.

3. Detective Comics Batwoman by Greg Rucka and JH Williams — Rucka's one of my favorite writers, but I never took to his superhero stuff, so I came to Batwoman with really no knowledge of the character and only the barest awareness of the 52 adventures that introduced her. Which doesn't matter, and may be a bonus — the way he's unspooling this story, intertwining past and present, is so inventive and the characters and little corner of the DC universe are so engaging. Williams' layouts are pushing even more boundaries, and the overall look and feel contribute so much to the tone. And when he switched styles for the flashbacks, I thought it was a different, equally talented artist. The last panel of this month's issue contained a surprise we all saw coming, but was so well staged and paced, I swear I heard the character's gasp for air.

4. Incognito by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips — the team behind Sleeper (one of my all-time top ten) and Criminal together in a series that totally plays to their strengths as storytellers. The pacing was a little odd, it may hold together better in trade, but kept confounding expectations and bending genres, combining crime and noir and superhero with an unexpected and important pulp component. I believe that these two creators are at their best when they work together, their talents playing off each other.

5. The Middleman Season 1 DVD — Not a comic, but based on a comic, this now-canceled TV show is pop-culture savvy, wryly self-aware, and a real guilty pleasure. It takes on of the tone of the comic (which I've read a bit of) and translates it ably to the screen for a story that's lighthearted but still smart; as an ABC Family production, I figure it had to offer something for both the kids and the parents, and it definitely skews to the latter.

6. Richard Stark's Parker: The Hunter by Darwyn Cooke — Pretty much destined for this list (and everybody else's) from the get-go, with one of the best writer/artists taking on a tale that suits him perfectly set in an era he's helped define for modern comics. The art style, the design, even the lettering, flawless. His real skills are demonstrated in how he adapts the prose, combining wordless passages, dialog, and extended captions into a mix that creates something new out of the material while honoring the source. I expect I'll appreciate it even more once I read the novel, currently sitting on my nightstand.

7. Sugarshock by Joss Whedon and Fabio Moon — Easily the most fun 24 pages of the year. Showcasing Whedon's skill for character and plot development through dialog, full of smartass one-liners that have become catchphrases in our household, this galaxies-spanning rock epic delivers at least one solid laugh a page. And, of course, looks beautiful with Moon's lovely brushwork defining the characters and their world with stylized flair.

8. Wednesday Comics by various writers and artists — It was uneven, and the unevenness showed more and more as this twelve-week series continued. But as we're all figuring out our digital future, it was an unabashed love letter to print, giving giant pages of comics every week, most of which made inventive use of the format. From the classic to the experimental, this delivered a visual, tactile, and — perhaps, most notably, for good or bad — nostalgic pleasure every week.

9 / 10. The Invincible Super-Blog by Chris Sims / Midnight Fiction by Richard Krauss — Looking back, these Web sites have had a decent influence on this year's reading. The ISB is a fanboy romp through the best — and often the worst (which makes for some of the best commentary, e.g. The Annotated Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter) — of the mainstream comics out there; several of the titles on this page probably would've been overlooked but for Sims. At the other end of the spectrum, Midnight Fiction — which I have to point out has given good coverage to just about every comic project I'm involved in — concentrates on small press, zines, minis, and webcomics. Krauss is a long-time comix creator and a terrific supporter of independent publishing, sharing his history and reviewing all sorts of self-published works; his coverage of minis has prompted me to purchase a bunch of things I never would've even heard of.

Honorable Mention:
  • Battlefields by Garth Ennis and various artists — I know that Ennis is over the top, that's kind of his thing; but he shows some restraint this difficult look at various fronts in WWII, making it even more powerful.
  • Captain Britain and MI13 by Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk — A clever take on what makes the heroes and legends of Great Britain unique. Not enough Tink, though it did have vampires in space.
  • Fantastic Four by Mark Millar and Brian Hitch — Brought back the crazy inventiveness of the Lee/Kirby years, or at least Byrne's take on the Lee/Kirby years.
  • Fables by Bill Willingham and various artists — Now that the whole Homelands plot that's driven the story from the beginning has been wrapped up, it's more clever and solid than ever.
  • Incredible Hercules by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente and various artists — Just got loaned the whole run to date, and it's a deft mix of Marvel and classical mythology that takes neither too seriously.
  • Invincible Iron Man by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larocca — Way too decompressed, but a terrific reinvention of the character.
  • My Cage by Ed Power and Melissa DeJesus — This daily strip is one of the best out there, but the storyline where Norm gets dumped by his girlfriend really shines.
  • Mysterius the Unfathomable by Jeff Parker and Tom Fowler— Further demonstrating Parker's range and inventiveness, with an illustration style out of the golden age of Mad Magazine.
  • Rip Haywire by Dan Thompson — Only really just started following, but the art hooked me immediately.

  • Cul de Sac by Richard Thompson
  • Diesel Sweeties by Richard Stevens
  • Hark A Vagrant by Kate Beaton
  • Scalped by Jason Aaron and various artists
  • Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá

    Where have you gone?:
  • Gutsville by Simon Spurrier and Frazer Irving
  • Guerrillas by Brahm Revel
  • Infinite Horizon by Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto

    Based on the first issue, destined for next year's list:
  • Daytrippers by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Bá
  • Stumptown by Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth
  • The Celebrations

    So, couple Saturdays ago, one of the stops was at NMFF where Chas had set up a photo studio, taking portraits of the club's fencers. Here's mine.

    The other photo I was hoping to get was from our earlier stop at Sanbusco Center. We were headed to Teca Tu and came across the end of a Santa Fe — Buy Into It Event. We were approached by Mayor David Coss; we'd recently read how he had lost his Greyhound, and he wanted to meet Cheyenne. There was an event photographer who got us all, but she hasn't gotten back to me.

    Snow arrived the Tuesday night before Christmas and continued on into Wednesday, totaling about 6". Bitter temperatures ensured that some of that stuck around for Christmas, though the sun did clear away a fair amount. M+D braved the cold for the Canyon Road Farolito Walk while we stayed safely inside with Mai Tais and prepared the evening's posole. They kicked off the holiday the old traditional way …

    by giving the dog a Santa to chew on. M had so many stuffies and treats that we took to calling her The Cookie Lady; Cheyenne took to following her around whenever she had closed hands.

    M+D arrived Christmas morning and we prepared a plate of sweets and of the pastries from Clafoutis.

    Yes, she did share.

    Presents of warm clothing and adirondack chairs that'll have to wait until it warms up outside. We got them some team hoodies …

    and somehow our dog managed to order a book for us.

    Relaxing, a bit of dog walking, then off to Stacy and Jim's for Christmas merriment and dinner. They were good enough to invite all of us over for a great time with some wonderful food.

    Monica had made Cheyenne a fancy holiday jingle collar — and one for Brenda Lee as well. At least they didn't have to wear antlers.


    Eased out of the holidays, then saw them off Monday morning for an uneventful return home. Back to work for us, though I cut the week short when I got some of the cold that's been going around the office. Meant a more mellow New Year's Eve than usual, but I'm about back to normal today. It's still a lazy day … but it might be time for a trip to the dog park now.