How I’d love to have dormers in my attic studio

For whatever reasons, a writer’s workspace holds a fascination. Many readers envision a kind of magical chamber somewhere, and we writers often dream of the perfect setup, though Annie Dillard’s concrete block room with no outside distractions may be the better option. Mark Twain even had a billiard table in his, on the top floor, no less.

These days, mine’s under the slopping ceilings in the north end of our third floor. A single window, rattling in winter and letting bugs in through the edges of the screen through the summer, is the sole connection to the outside world, apart from rain or squirrels pounding on the roof above.

There are days, though, when I do wish it had dormers on each side, not just to open the headroom up, either, but to allow me to figure out what’s going on when I hear something. Did someone just pull up in the driveway, that sort of thing.

Not that I could justify the expense anytime soon.

What one touch would you like to add to your own living or work space?

 

When it’s time to downsize

Think of your “desert island list” applied to real life.

Gee, trying to cut it to even a thousand books or recordings seems impossible, at least in my case.

Would there even be sufficient room for all the survivors at the new destination?

And that’s before the clothing and kitchenware and …

What would be hardest for you to pare down?

 

Made my own sashimi!

We’ve once more subscribed to the community fishery’s summer season weekly catch selection, which we pick up every Friday at our natural foods grocery. Often, what’s offered is a sustainable variety not often even sold at the supermarket, but this time, it was tuna. A beautiful, fresh, one-pound sirloin, which indeed looked like a steak.

Yes, sirloin is the term I found used in the recipes.

So far, I’ve never attempted homemade sushi, but looking at our tuna and then the recipes, I took the leap into sashimi, which I first encountered in a four-table Japanese restaurant in San Francisco back in the ’70s and maybe two times since. And yes, that first time remains memorable, even the plum wine accompaniment.

In a restaurant, it appears so daunting. As one recipe said, though, nothing could be further from the truth. Sashimi is a staple dish in Japanese homes.

I had no idea this would be so simple. Using a very sharp chef’s knife, you firmly cut long strips across the grain – no sawing. One swipe! And, by definition, no cooking. Sashimi is raw fish from the ocean, not fresh water.

It just happened that we’re growing daikon radishes for the first time, as an experiment, so I went out to the garden and pulled one, which turned out to be larger than we were expecting. No problem. Came in, sliced it, put those rounds into a ramiken, and covered them in rice vinegar as my side dish.

The dipping sauce was a ramiken of soy sauce mixed with the juice from half a lemon.

That was it. Easier than making a salad, actually.

Accompanied by a cup of sake (which we also chanced to have in the cabinet), this made for one of the most heavenly meals ever, at least from my hand. And this wasn’t even sushi-grade fish, which gets flown immediately to Japan for a much higher price. I can only imagine.

Still, this was fresh, and that’s much of the secret.

Great cuisine is about respecting the ingredients.

Sorry I didn’t take pictures.

A glorious big sunburst  

Sometimes I think it’s worth growing squash plants simply for their lovely big blossoms. The fact they also fill our plates with all kinds of squashes, including zucchini, simply adds to the pleasure. The blossom is a common motif in Native American artwork, too, one that reminds me of living at the edge of the Yakama Reservation in Washington state many years ago.

The FM antenna as a victim of technological advances

When we moved into the house 20 years ago, one of the items left behind was an FM antenna for the roof, still unopened in its box.

As a radio geek, I expected to mount it inside the rafters of the barn to enhance my reception of Boston stations, but somehow that never happened.

Last summer, I finally decided to take to the town transfer station (i.e., dump), a victim of changing technology. I usually listen to on-air broadcasts when I’m in the car, not at home.

These days, when I’m home, I usually stream those stations and others via the Internet, hard as that is to admit. The reception’s definitely better.

Still, it means letting go of a self-image I’ve long carried of “making it” in life. The one that included a reel-to-reel tape deck and a wall of LPs in my living room with the big glass window overlooking a busy metropolis.