November 22, 2017

Wordless Wednesday

Sunrise over Whidbey Island
Port Townsend, Washington

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November 21, 2017

You Will Not Have My Hate

You Will Not Have My Hate by Antoine Leiris
2016 Penguin Press
Finished on December 31, 2016
Rating: 4.5/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

On 13 November 2015, Antoine Leiris’s wife, Hélène, was killed, along with 88 other people at the Bataclan Theatre in Paris, when three men armed with guns and suicide bombs opened fire on the unsuspecting crowd at a rock concert. Three days later, Leiris, a young journalist, wrote an open letter on Facebook addressed to his wife’s killers. Leiris refused to be cowed or to let his 17-month-old son’s life be defined by Hélène’s murder. He refused to let the killers have their way. ‘For as long as he lives, this little boy will insult you with his happiness and freedom,’ he wrote. Instantly, that short Facebook post caught fire. It was shared over two hundred thousand times and was reported on all over the world. In his beautiful and moving defiance of the terrorists who had killed his wife, Leiris became an international hero to everyone searching desperately for a way to deal with the horror of the attacks. 

You Will Not Have My Hate is an extraordinary and heartbreaking memoir about how Leiris, and his baby son Melvil, endured after Hélène’s murder. With courage, moral acuity, and absolute emotional honesty, Leiris finds a way to answer the question, how can I go on? This is the rare and unforgettable testimony of a survivor, and a universal message of hope and resilience. Leiris is guiding star for us all in perilous times.

Oh, this is such a beautifully written memoir filled with lyrical prose for such a heartbreaking story. My husband and coworkers couldn't understand why I would want to read such a tragic memoir, but I felt compelled, almost obligated to hear Antoine's story. He shares so many thoughts about the tragic, violent death of a loved one, which includes the tender perspective of his young son's feelings of loss. I read this slim book in a single day. I could have read it in one sitting, but I needed to take a few breaks, it's so sad. The entire book could be shared as favorite quotes, but I'll leave you with just a few:

Melvil waits. He waits to be big enough to reach the light switch in the living room. He waits to be well-behaved enough to go out without a stroller. He waits for me to make his dinner before I read him a story. He waits for bath time, for lunch time, for snack time. And tonight, he waits for his mother to come home before he goes to bed. Waiting is a feeling without a name. As I read him one last story, it brings all of them at the same time. It is distress, hope, sadness, relief, surprise, dread.


On Friday night, you stole the life of an exceptional being, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you will not have my hate. I don't know who you are and I don't want to know. You are dead souls. If that God for whom you blindly kill made us in his image, each bullet in my wife's body will have been a wound in his heart. 

So, no, I will not give you the satisfaction of hating you. That is what you want, but to respond to your hate with anger would be to yield to the same ignorance that made you what you are. You want me to be scared, to see my fellow citizens through suspicious eyes, to sacrifice my freedom for security. You have failed. I will not change.


"I've come to read the electric meter."

I should have remembered the letter warning me of this visit. Helene stuck it to our fridge, and I walk past the fridge several times a day. But recently I have been blind to the world.

"Can I come in?"

I thought that if the moon ever disappeared, the sea would retreat so no one would see it crying. I thought the winds would stop dancing. That the sun would not want to rise again.

Nothing of the kind. The world continues to turn, and meters must be read.


November 19, 2017

One-Pan Mediterranean Baked Halibut & Vegetables

Photo Credit: The Mediterranean Dish

I love seafood, but until recently I would rarely cook anything other than grilled salmon, crab cakes or shrimp tacos. It's not that I didn't know how to prepare fish, but that I was living in a landlocked state for more than 20 years and the availability of fresh fish was sorely lacking. I never bothered to explore new recipes since I was quite happy with my three or four favorites. But now that we've moved to the Oregon coast, I am very excited to start sampling new recipes and new types of fish. 

I saved this halibut recipe from JoAnn's blog post earlier this summer and have now made it for dinner a couple of times. We love fresh halibut but it's pretty expensive, even locally, so we wait until it goes on sale at our local market. I'm sure there are lots of great recipes to use, but so far this is our favorite. The first time I made the dish, I followed the recipe exactly as written. Last night I decided to try it with asparagus instead of green beans (and forgot all about the onions). I served it with naan, but it would also be very good with this easy recipe for risotto. Winner, winner! 

One-Pan Mediterranean
 Baked Halibut with Vegetables


Zest of 2 lemons
Juice of 2 lemons
1 cup of olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. freshly minced garlic
2 tsp. dill weed
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 - 3/4 tsp. ground coriander

Fish and Vegetables:

1 lb. fresh French beans
1 lb. cherry tomatoes
1 large yellow onion sliced into half moons
1 1/2 lbs. halibut fillet, sliced into 1 1/2-inch strips

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the sauce ingredients together. Add the green beans, tomatoes and onions, tossing to coat with sauce. You can do this in batches, if necessary.

With a large slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a large baking sheet (21 x 15 x 1 inch, for example). Keep the vegetables to one side or one half of the baking sheet, making sure to spread them out in one layer.

Add the halibut strips to the remaining sauce, tossing to coat. Transfer the halibut to the baking sheet next to the vegetables and pour any remaining sauce on top.

Lightly sprinkle the halibut and vegetables with a little seasoned salt.

Bake in the 450 degree oven for 15 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to the top oven rack and broil for an additional 3-5 minutes, watching carefully. The cherry tomatoes should begin to burst under the broiler.

Remove pan from the oven and serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

My notes:

You can use asparagus in lieu of the green beans, but watch your cooking time, especially if the asparagus is very thin. 

This is delicious with or without the onion. 

Serve with naan or risotto.

Please visit Beth Fish Reads for Weekend Cooking.
Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend.

November 17, 2017

Looking Back - Alexander's Bridge

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.

Alexander's Bridge by Willa Cather
1977 University of Nebraska Press (first published in 1912)
Finished in April 1997
Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

Bartley Alexander, an engineer famous for the audacious structure of his North American bridges, is at the height of his reputation. He has a distinguished and beautiful wife and an enviable Boston home. Then, on a trip to London, he has a chance encounter with an Irish actress he once loved. When their affair re–ignites, Alexander finds himself caught in a tug of emotions — between his feelings for his wife, who has supported his career with understanding and strength, and Hilda, whose impulsiveness and generosity restore to him the passion and energy of his youth. Coinciding with this personal dilemma are ominous signs of strain in his professional life. In this, her first novel, originally published in 1912, Willa Cather skillfully explores the struggle between opposing sides of the self, a facility that was to become a hallmark of her craft. 

My Original Notes (1997):

Cather's first published novel. Good, but not as good as My Antonia or Death Comes For the Archbishop. The characters weren't as developed. The lyrical and beautiful descriptions of the landscape weren't as prevalent. A good book, but not great.

My Current Thoughts:

I only have a vague recollection of this novel and I no longer own a copy, so it's not one that I envisioned re-reading.

November 16, 2017

Olympic Peninsula Trip - Day Five

Thursday, September 21, 2017
Amanda Park, Washington to Forks, Washington
Distance: 75 miles
Campground: Riverview RV Park
Cost per Night: $44.16
Duration: 3 nights
Weather: 56 and sunny

This was basically a travel day. We had a slow and easy morning before we finally packed up and hit the road. 

The weather couldn't have been nicer for our drive along the coast. We stopped at a trailhead just off of Hwy 101 and I wandered out along the path to the bluff. (Rod stayed behind since the truck bed was full of our camping gear and the parking lot was fairly busy.) I spotted 4 or 5 minke whales, which was a great treat. I've never seen this type of whale before and at first I thought it was a school of dolphin and then I wondered if maybe they were orcas. They were much more energetic than the gray whales that we see cruising along the Oregon coast.
The minke whale is a black/gray/purple color. Common minke whales (Northern Hemisphere variety) are distinguished from other whales by a white band on each flipper. The body is usually black or dark-gray above and white underneath. Minke whales have between 240 and 360 baleen plates on each side of their mouths. Most of the length of the back, including dorsal fin and blowholes, appears at once when the whale surfaces to breathe. (Wikipedia)

The trail to the bluff was almost completely deserted as I walked among large Sitka spruce and lush ferns. Many of the trees were covered with large burls. I've only seen this on trees in the Pacific Northwest, but apparently it can occur just about anywhere in the world.
A burl results from a tree undergoing some form of stress. It may be caused by an injury, virus or fungus. Most burls grow beneath the ground, attached to the roots as a type of malignancy that is generally not discovered until the tree dies or falls over. Such burls sometimes appear as groups of bulbous protrusions connected by a system of rope-like roots. Almost all burl wood is covered by bark, even if it is underground. Insect infestation and certain types of mold infestation are the most common causes of this condition.
In some tree species, burls can grow to great size. The largest, at 26 ft (7.9 m), occur in coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) and can encircle the entire trunk; when moisture is present, these burls can grow new redwood trees. The world's second-largest burls can be found in Port McNeill, British Columbia. One of the largest burls known was found around 1984 in the small town of Tamworth, New South Wales. It stands 6.4 ft (2.0 m) tall, with an odd shape resembling a trombone. In January 2009, this burl was controversially removed from its original location, and relocated to a public school in the central New South Wales city of Dubbo. (Wikipedia)
Olympic National Park
Forks, Washington

We didn't have very far to travel, so we stopped for lunch at the Kalaloch Lodge, which has a stunning view, but the service was extremely slow. (What is it with these lodge restaurants? The service was slow at Lake Quinault Lodge, too.)

We arrived safe and sound at our new campsite in the Riverview RV Park just a short drive west of Forks. We reserved a pull-thru site, which wasn't anything special, especially since all of the park is gravel. Had we reserved a back-in site, we could have had some lawn and trees, but at the time of planning I wasn't very confident of my skills and chose the pull-thru option over the back-in. We also discovered that the dry camping areas down near the river are nestled in the woods and feel more like camping than like spending a few nights in a parking lot atmosphere. Live and learn. 

The sites at the park are level and easy to maneuver, but they're fairly close together and lack any trees or shrubs between neighbors. Each site comes with the standard picnic table and fire ring and there are restrooms with free showers, as well as a laundry facility and fish cleaning station. It's a clean, quiet rv park, conveniently located within driving distance of the Hoh Rain Forest, La Push and Rialto Beach, but there is no view of either the Quillayute, Sold Duc or Bogachiel Rivers.

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November 15, 2017

Wordless Wednesday

Depoe Bay, Oregon

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November 14, 2017


Fellside by M.R. Carey
Science Fiction
2016 Hachette Audio
Read by Finty Williams
Finished on December 31, 2016
Rating: 3/5 (So-so)

Publisher's Blurb:

The unmissable and highly anticipated new literary thriller from the author of the international phenomenon The Girl with All the Gifts. Fellside is a maximum security prison on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors. It's not the kind of place you'd want to end up. But it's where Jess Moulson could be spending the rest of her life. It's a place where even the walls whisper. And one voice belongs to a little boy with a message for Jess. Will she listen?

Meh. This wasn't nearly as good as The Girl With All the Gifts. It took me an entire month to listen to the audio (100 chapters!), which should tell you something. 15 1/2 hours. Zzzzzzz.

Speaking of The Girl With All the Gifts, I've got it in my Netflix queue, but haven't had a chance to watch it. I'm not sure what I'm waiting for. 

November 12, 2017

Easy Parmesan "Risotto"

I love risotto. If it's on the menu, I order it. If it's not included as a side, I ask for a substitution. For instance, one of our local restaurants serves a delicious halibut dish with capellini pasta. I love capellini, but I love risotto even more. Especially with seafood. Most restaurants are perfectly willing to make the substitution, so why not ask?

I first discovered my love for risotto at a friend's home many years ago. He stood over the pot, stirring and adding wine, while sipping on a glass himself. We all stood around chatting as the risotto cooked and once it was al dente, he added some beautiful mushrooms, another splash of wine and some Parmesan. It was love at first bite and I knew I had to make it for our next dinner party. 

Unfortunately, no matter how many times I've made it, it's never quite as good as Scott's or that which I can order in a restaurant. I follow the recipe and am patient, even cooking past the recommended amount of time, stirring, stirring, stirring. Somehow, the rice never feels quite done, at least not to my liking. So I was beyond thrilled to discover this recipe from Ina Garten's cookbook How Easy Is That? She says she found the process for the recipe from Donna Hay, a cookbook writer from Australia. Not only is it quick and easy, but now I can make one of my favorite appetizers (risotto cakes) without spending the entire day in the kitchen. Hallelujah!

Easy Parmesan "Risotto"
Ina Garten - How Easy Is That?

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
5 cups simmering chicken stock, preferably homemade, divided
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup frozen peas (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the rice and 4 cups of the chicken stock in a Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset. Cover and bake for 45 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente. Remove from the oven, add the remaining cup of chicken stock, the Parmesan, wine, butter, salt, and pepper, and stir vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes, until the rice is thick and creamy. Add the peas and stir until heated through. Serve hot.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Hooray for easy recipes! Thanks, Ina and Donna!

Please visit Beth Fish Reads for Weekend Cooking.
Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend.

November 10, 2017

Looking Back - Death Comes For the Archbishop

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.

Death Comes For the Archbishop by Willa Cather
1990 Vintage Classics (first published in 1927)
Finished in April 1997
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

There is something epic--and almost mythic--about this sparsely beautiful novel by Willa Cather, although the story it tells is that of a single human life, lived simply in the silence of the desert. In 1851 Father Jean Marie Latour comes as the Apostolic Vicar to New Mexico. What he finds is a vast territory of red hills and tortuous arroyos, American by law but Mexican and Indian in custom and belief. In the almost forty years that follow, Latour spreads his faith in the only way he knows--gently, although he must contend with an unforgiving landscape, derelict and sometimes openly rebellious priests, and his own loneliness. Out of these events Cather gives us an indelible vision of life unfolding in a place where time itself seems suspended.

My Original Notes (1997):

Another beautifully written novel by Cather! Very different from My Antonia, but just as good. Now I want to go to New Mexico and see the Cathedral in Santa Fe and the Mission at Acoma. The landscape Cather describes so well sounds lovely.

Wonderful characters. Eloquently described.

My Current Thoughts:

This is another novel of Cather's that I'd like to reread. Flipping through my copy I see lots of highlighted passages, most of which pertain to the landscape. It took me 16 years, but I eventually got to New Mexico and saw the Cathedral in Santa Fe. It was just as impressive as I had imagined.

I had no doubt that I would fall in love with the New Mexico landscape, but it was the sky that impressed me the most. I couldn't get enough of the clouds!

The ride back to Santa Fe was something under four hundred miles. The weather alternated between blinding sand-storms and brilliant sunlight. The sky was as full of motion and change as the desert beneath it was monotonous and still,--and there was so much sky, more than at sea, more than anywhere else in the world. The plain was there, under one's feet, but what one saw when one looked about was that brilliant blue world of stinging air and moving cloud. Even the mountains were mere ant-hills under it. Elsewhere the sky is the roof of the world; but here the earth was the floor of the sky. The landscape one longed for when one was far away, the thing all about one, the world one actually lived in, was the sky, the sky!

Now that we have our travel trailer, it might be time for another visit to New Mexico.

November 9, 2017

Olympic Peninsula - Day Four - Sitka Spruce and Merriman Falls

Wednesday, September 20, 2017 (Part Three)
Day Trips:  World's Largest Sitka Spruce and Merriman Falls

After two morning hikes, we headed back to camp for lunch before venturing out again. Now that we'd explored the North Shore, it was time to return to the south side of the lake. We had a couple of sights on our agenda -- the World's Largest Sitka Spruce and the Merriman Falls. It was beginning to rain, but we weren't discouraged. It is a rain forest, after all. 

The walk from the parking area is a mere 0.3 miles, so it's not much of a hike. The tree is very similar to the Giant Spruce of Cape Perpetua in the Siuslaw National Forest in Oregon (which we hiked to earlier this summer). That tree is nearly 600 years old and stands over 185 feet. The Sitka Spruce near Lake Quinault is said to be 1000 years old and stands at 191 feet. Both are quite impressive!

The view of the lake from the eastern shore is stunning, especially as the sun peeks in and out from behind the clouds. Just down the road is the Salmon House Restaurant. We already had dinner plans, but we hope to return and give it a try some day. It's supposed to be very good.

We continued on down the South Shore Road in search of the waterfalls. There are several in this area (Falls Creek Falls, Cascade Falls, Gatton Creek Falls, and Bunch Falls), but we were in search of Merriman Falls, which are right along the roadside. 

Honestly, how many pictures can I share to show the beauty of these falls? They are much larger (and higher) than they present in my photos and the pools of water in the basin are more expansive than they appear. I wish I had something to show the scale of this beautiful setting, but we were (surprisingly!) the only ones there and we were too busy taking our own photos to pose near the falls. Nonetheless, it absolutely breathtaking and the sound of the water was so soothing; I could have stayed there for hours. Unfortunately, the rain hadn't quit and it was time to start heading back to camp. As we got in the car  we agreed that the only way to top such a great day is if we could see a rainbow. 

And wouldn't you know it! We turned a corner and off in the distance, reaching from the mountains to a grove of trees in a meadow, was the most perfect rainbow! We quickly pulled off the road, grabbed our cameras and dashed across the street to capture the moment. I have never seen such vivid colors in a rainbow, nor have I seen the end of one touching the ground as with this one did! We must have shot dozens of photos when all of a sudden we saw a second rainbow beginning to show itself, ever so slightly. It never did come into full view, but it's there, just off to the right. Reluctantly, we got back in the car and headed back to camp.

After our return, we decided to head down to the river since it was  our final night at this particular camp. The golden hour was in full force and the trees were dripping in buttery light. I have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of beautiful sunsets over the ocean, but there is something about the evening sun reflecting on a tree-lined river that makes my heart sing. Throw in a dramatic cloud-filled sky and I'm in heaven. 

Yes, we will definitely return.

Click on the photos for a larger view of the image.