Tuesday, August 22, 2006

okay, you know the other thing I love to collect lately? that I just LOVE? Starbucks Coffee Cards. Told ya I had collection affliction. My friend Robbie came through mega*bigtime with Hawaii. It's awesome.

The 'Kan EWA

Monday, August 21, 2006

Richard Newman 'Borrowed Towns' 2005

My change: a nickel caked with finger grime;
two nicked quarters not long for this life, worth
more for keeping dead eyes shut than bus fare;
a dime, shining in sunshine like a new dime;
grubby pennies, one stamped the year of my birth,
no brighter than I from 40 years of wear.

What purses, piggy banks, and window sills
have these coins known, their presidential heads
pinched into what beggar's chalky palm--
they circulate like tarnished red blood cells,
all of us exhanging the merest film
of our lives, and the lives of those long dead.

And now my turn in the convenience store,
I hand over my fist of change, still warm,
to the bored, lip-pierced check-out girl, once more
to be spun down cigarette machines, hurled
in fountains, flipped for luck--these dirty charms
chiming in the dark pockets of the world.

~for Curt, whose karma awaits him

The 'Kan EWA


The small package arrived in the morning mail, lathered in brightly colored stamps and prepared with meticulous deliberation and foresight. The printing was neat and tidy, yet urgent: get me to the right person right away because there's justice to be served. A justice richly deserved I might add.

I opened the care package slowly and shining brightly like little stars, looking up at me with big dazzling smiles were, among others, Iowa, Illinois, Alabama, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. My friend Curt had come to the rescue. He sent a note, which said in part,

' I included a couple of bonus items. The two new nickles and a Bicentennial Quarter I had hangin about. The Indian Head Penny is for a good luck charm to ward off thieving neer do wells. Let's hope it works. If not, I will send off a lucky charm baseball bat.'

See? This is why he's my friend.

So ends the saga of the Quarters Heist of Summer 2006; I'll not be so generous with my art any time again soon. The Chows love those new nickels Curt sent and say they fully expect to see Chow Chows on the new 2007 nickels. The Chow Nation Nickel, of course. They say that their new best friend Curt is going to see that they get some of the first run. I wouldn't be a bit surprised.

The 'Kan EWA
Yes, what happened next was so horrible I am certain no one could have seen it coming. Surely not me. It was a deed dastardly by any measure. In an effort to provide appropriate touching experiences in an office chock full of visual and sensual pleasures, I took my glazed terra cotta dish full of the States Quarters collection and put it at the end of the reception counter, that patch of semi-precious real estate that denotes the portals of the Inner Sanctum. You can' t get to my office without passing through this hallowed spot; not many at all are invited. Fewer yet get to come in. But those that do would see the quarters and would be enticed, implicitly invited, to explore the quarters. Maybe not the most adventurous opportunity of any given day, but an opportunity nonetheless and certainly a tactile pleasure. And a generous gesture by the collector of the house, to be certain. And how is this generosity rewarded? ha.

A brute, a Cretan, a monster of a person surely with putrid breath, greasy hair, bleeding gums and cuticles stole my quarters! Unbelievable, is it not? I was out of the office on business for two days and came back to a whirlwind of faxes and mail and only casually glanced at my little treasure trove of engraving at end of business on the first day back. I staggered when I saw my little terra cotta dish only partially full, not brimming full as when I had positioned it so carefully, only 3 business days previous. Some rat bastard took my change!

I fumed. I frantically sorted and resorted, wanting to believe I wasn't seeing what I really was seeing: no Iowa, Illinois, Alabama, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania or New Jersey. Who took Iowa, Illinois, Alabama, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Jersey? I cursed my fate to the gods, damning them for giving me collection affliction, cursing them for giving me imbeciles for clients and employees, snarling at my vulnerability and exposure in this cruel world. How does bad shit happen to good people?

In the morning, my furor had turned to sober introspection. What would make a person steal another person's beloved art? Why would any person scoff at another person's generosity in providing an uncommon art experience for the touching afflicted? I know what it's like to be afflicted; I have been plagued with collection affliction for years. My suffering is real. This was a beautiful gesture of outreach--answered with humiliating scorn and degradation. Now I could only hope for victims' recompense. I was sadder but wiser as the remainder of my quarters came back to the Inner Sanctum. I had cast my pearls before swine and was feeling the stinging fist of rebuke.


The 'Kan EWA

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Zesty Chicken Soup
JL of Seattle

Doesn't this sound good?

1 T olive oil

3/4 c chopped onion

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 T curry powder

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs,
cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1/2 c chopped red bell pepper

1 tsp grated or minced ginger

1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes

2 14 oz cans chicken broth

1 14 oz can diced tomatoes, with their liquid

1 large Granny Smith apple, cored, peeled and coarsely chopped

1/2 cup orzo

3 T dried currants or cranberries or raisins

salt and freshly ground pepper
chopped cilantro
plain yogurt or sour creamn

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute until tender and aromatic, about 3 to 5 minutes, then add the garlic and saute 1 minutes longer. Stir in the curry and saute for 1 minute, then add the chicken, red pepper, ginger and red pepper flakes and stir for 2 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes and apple and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the orzo and currants to the soup and simmer until the orzo is tender, about 10 minutes. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper and ladle it into bowls. Garnish with cilantro and a dollop of yogurt or sour cream

The 'Kan EWA

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Chows are very busy today as there is much going on. First, they are anticipating a houseguest that they are quite excited about; this particular guest will be here for several weeks and the Chows are just tickled pink over the prospect. Silvie got out all the cookbooks and has already scratched out dozens of different menu possibilites, Do' is scurrying around collecting all the miscellaneous balls that lay everywhere in Bellemaison in an effort to tidy the place up and Cle is supervisign P33t in an over-all police up of the area. Oh those Chows are excited!

But something else: we are going rafting this weekend and will cook the dutch oven. yes, yes, yes. It's true. We are dutching up. We will have the world-renoun Dutch Oven Mac. We will have Jose's Lasagna. We will have the smacos. And the pineapple upside-down cake. Man, I hope these people we are going with have adequate crowd control measures in place because once people up and down the river get a whiff of our campsite....

But first, off to Costco. In The General! He came back too! How did he know we're having a houseguest?!

Bonus Round: what's the name of that sunny, yellow rose photoed only this morning in the gardens at Bellemaison?

The 'Kan EWA

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Salmon Corn Chowder
from the JL of Seattle

1 1/4 pounds salmon fillet, skin and pin bones removed, cut into 1 inch pieces

salt and freshly ground black pepper

5 ears tender sweet corn, husks and silk removed

2 T unsalted butter

1 C diced onion

3/4 C dry white wine

2 c fish stock or canned or bottled clam juice

2 tsp minced fresh savory or thyme
1/2 tsp dried savory or thyme

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

5 med red potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch dice

1 c whipping cream

2 c milk

1/4 c minced fresh chives, divided

Set the salmon pieces on a plate, season lightly with salt and pepper, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate while preparing the chowder base.

Cut the kernels off 4 of the ears of corn: hold a cob upright on the chopping board with the broader end down. Slide the knife blade vertically down the length of the cob, cutting away a strip fo kermels. turn the cob slightly and repeat around the ear to remove all the kernels. Turn the knife and rub the back of the blade down the cob, all the way around, to remove the milky tender flesh that remians. Grate the corn from the fifth ear on the large holes of a hand grater. Set the corn aside.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and aromatic, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the wine and boil over medium-high heat until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the fish stock, savory, and cayenne and bring to s a simmer. Add the potatoes, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer until the potatoes are nearly tender when pierced with a fork, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the corn and cream and cook until the corn is almost tender but still slightly crunchy, about 3 to 5 minutes longer.

Add the salmon and simmer until the fish is opaque throughout, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the milk with 2 tablespoons of the chives. Heat until warmed through, but do not boil. Season the chowder to taste with salt and pepper, ladle into individual bowls, and serve right away, with the remaining chives sprinkled on top.


Nuff said!

The 'Kan EWA

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Had a trauma recently that I'm only up to talking about just now. It all started with that guy who's in my office quite often and enjoys my art collection by...walking around and touching everything. True story. He loves to touch and touch he does, the assemblage, the acrylic, the paper, the ceramic, the water color, the textile, all of it. He touches.

As he is a valued source of revenue for this office, I maintain my composure no matter how I want to snap his grubby mitts as they probe, finger and caress my muses, my wellsprings of inspiration and devotion that aid me in communing with the numbers. I love this guy. I hate his hands.

So. I say to myself, JBelle, old girl, he's gotta touch. Since you're definitely out of bounds, put something else out. What can he touch that would give him pleasure and satisfy his need to tactilely explore and express himself? Cretan that he is.

Having had the collection affliction from a very young age, there is a wide variety of distraction possibilities around the office, a big assortment of things to touch that won't suffer wear and will provide diversion from the other touching possibilities. And dang, if the exact right touchable thing didn't present itself immediately: the quarter collection. Yes, the 50 State Quarters Collection, began in 1999.

I love the quarters. I love 'em! And clean and polished to a high sheen, they are quite satisfying to roll around in the palm of your hand and to chink and to clutch. I love the quarters. I have them on my back desk in a ceramic dish, an early work of one of our premier artists fashioned in his pre-school art class. This particular ceramic dish could create a nicely serious head injury if used acccordingly and because it's heavy, I keep it on my desk and play with the quarters when I talk on the phone. The Chows say they go online every morning to count and play with their money and to make sure someone hasn't stolen their identity. But I digress.

I digress. Maybe because what happened next is too horrible to contemplate.

The 'Kan EWA

The Chows just haven't felt like writing much about the garden this year; they have spent alot of time in the pool and didn't even both to put the cushions on their poolside chairs, it's been so hot. The nights are much cooler now and they are getting organized again. Stay tuned. Garden chat to come.
The 'Kan EWA

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Wish You Were Here

The Poet Laureate of Bellemaison sent a card, with a poem, and wrote a note, directing us to go here. You should go too. You'll know everyone.

Willie Metcalf

I was Willie Metcalf.
They used to call me "Doctor Meyers"
Because, they said, I looked like him.
And he was my father, according to Jack McGuire.
I lived in the livery stable,
Sleeping on the floor
Side by side with Roger Baughman's bulldog.
Or sometimes in a stall.
I could crawl between the legs of the wildest horses
Without getting kicked--we knew each other.
On spring days I tramped through the country
To get the feeling, which I sometimes lost,
That I was not a separate thing from the earth.
I used to lose myself, as if in sleep,
By lying with eyes half-open in the woods.
Sometime I talked with animals--even toads and snakes--
Anything that had an eye to look into.
Once I saw a stone in the sunshine
Trying to turn into jelly.
In April days in this cemetery
The dead people gathered all about me,
And grew still, like a congragation in silent prayer.
I never knew whether I was a part of the earth
With flowers growing in me, or whether Iwalked--
Now I know.

--Edgar Lee Masters
Spoon River Anthology

The 'Kan EWA

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The 'Kan EWA

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


What's not to love?

The 'Kan EWA

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Layers
Stanley Kunitz

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
"Live in the layers,
not on the litter."
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

The 'Kan EWA
My Cultural Heritage
Section II.
The 'Kan EWA

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


The 'Kan EWA