“To do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing, to contemplate the beautiful thing: that is enough for one man’s life.”
— T. S. Eliot





Casting Around for Ideas

September 30, 2015

Rocks in a bowl

Rocks in a bowl

“I had to learn that finding an idea is a job.  If you’re going to do creative work, you have to invent a system to find ideas to make the work about.  That is a job in itself.

And where do ideas come from?  They come from other ideas.  And you have to surround yourself with things that are interesting to you and notice what’s exciting to you . . .

You cannot tell where things will lead.”
— Ira Glass, from Way More Than Luck:  Commencement Speeches on Living with Bravery, Empathy, and Other Existential Skills

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am casting about for ideas for my next project.  I am looking for something meaty that I can delve into for a period of time, something a bit challenging, something engrossing, something that I might learn from.  I have several ideas floating around, and I’ve decided that I need to be a bit more rigorous in capturing them for more serious consideration.  So I’ve decided to keep a special idea notebook to write these fleeting ideas down.  Maybe that will help me feel less scattered.

In the meantime, I have not given up on my Armchair America travels through books, and I hope to resume the series in November as I prepare for a week’s vacation in New Orleans.  So I will soon be reading books by Louisiana writers or books that take place in Louisiana.  (Let me know if you have any recommendations.)



Moonset on Monday

September 29, 2015

Moon over Green Lake

Moon over Green Lake

Yesterday when I went for my morning run around Green Lake, the super moon was getting ready to set, and the sun was getting ready to rise.  My husband and I had gone out Sunday evening when the moon rose to see the final stages of it’s blood-red eclipse, so the moon was on my mind when I ran out the door — grabbing my camera — Monday morning.  It was a lovely, late summer morning.  Fall is in the air.








Making Paneer and Aloo Gobi

September 24, 2015

Vegetarian dinner: basmati rice with aloo gobi and paneer in sauce

Vegetarian dinner: basmati rice with aloo gobi and paneer in sauce

My friend Carol hosted another cooking lesson at her house.  Once again she invited our colleague, Jarnail, to demonstrate how he makes more of his Indian dishes.  This time he made paneer (homemade cheese)  and aloo gobi (potatoes and cauliflower).  Jarnail served the paneer in the same sauce he uses to make Butter Chicken, and he also whipped up some basmati rice.  (You can find the latter two recipes in an earlier blog post at this link.)

Straining the curdled milk in a cotton cloth

Straining the curdled milk in a cotton cloth


1 gallon whole milk
1/2 c white vinegar

Bring milk to a rolling boil (taking care not to let it boil over) and then add vinegar.  Let the milk sit on low heat for about 10 minutes.  It should look very curdled and separated into clumps. Then strain through a cotton dish towel, squeezing out as much liquid as possible.  Using your hands,  press the paneer — still inside the towel — into a ball.  Tie the towel off, and press the paneer under a heavy weight for about 2 hours.  (We set a plate on the ball of paneer and weighed it down with a large heavy pot of water.)



While the paneer is draining, prepare the sauce.

In a large pot, heat a bit less than 1/4 c oil and 1/2 Tbsp cumin seeds until sizzling.  Then add:
1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce
2/3 c water (from rinsing the can)
1 pint whipping cream (not heavy)
About 1 Tbsp salt (more or less to taste)
1 Tbsp garam masala
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp ground ginger

Heat to simmering.

Finished paneer

Finished paneer




When the paneer has finished draining (Jarnail did not have time to let it drain for two hours, so he pressed it  — really hard — to remove all liquid), cut it up and add the pieces to the sauce.  Cook another 10 minutes or so.  Serve over rice.

Aloo Gobi

4 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped (not too fine, chunks are okay)
1 medium cauliflower, cut into pieces
1/4 c oil
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
2 Tbsp turmeric
1 medium onion, diced
8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 Tbsp salt (more or less to taste)
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp garam masala

In a large pan, heat oil and add cumin seeds.  Heat to sizzling.  Drop in potatoes, onions, and 1 Tbsp turmeric, cover and continue to cook on medium for about 10 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.  Add tomato sauce.  Cover, and stirring occasionally, cook on medium high heat until the potatoes are about half done.

Add cauliflower, another Tbsp turmeric, the salt, garlic, ginger, and garam masala.  Add just enough water to steam (or add a tad more tomato sauce and water, mixed) and prevent sticking.  Cover and cook on medium heat until cauliflower is tender, about 7 – 10 minutes.




Carol's table

Carol’s table




What’s Next?

September 23, 2015



I have completed one year’s worth of Wordless Wednesdays, and I am ready to look around for another project.  The weekly exercise of making 12 photographic views of a subject was fun.  Sometimes I had to stretch myself to find enough interesting perspectives, but usually I had little difficulty with coming up with 12 photos that I liked and wanted to share.  Maybe I needed to set the bar higher  — 20 or 50 views — to begin to break any creative barriers.

Digital photography makes taking multiple photos of a single image or theme quite easy.  I think going forward I will remember not to settle for the first “easy” shots, but to keep on photographing from different angles and perspectives.

I’m not sure how much I’ve grown as a photographer this past year.  I wonder why I think growth has to come from discomfort or stretching past habitual ways of doing things.  I sometimes think that if I find photography easy or natural, then I must be settling for mediocre shots.  Can creativity actually be easy?














Dahlia at Volunteer Park

Dahlia at Volunteer Park

“For dahlias give a jewel-like glow to the heart of the autumn garden, they are, in a mass, so resplendent.”
— Susan Hill, The Magic Apple Tree: A Country Year




Volunteer Park Conservatory

Volunteer Park Conservatory

I spent a wonderful hour on Sunday wandering around Volunteer Park with my camera.  It was a beautiful, sunny fall day — resplendent — and people were out and about enjoying time with family and friends.  The dahlia garden was an outdoor showcase, but I enjoyed the various plants inside the conservatory, too.







The Gage Academy of Art was hosting a Drawing Jam in the park, and this time I just looked over the shoulders of the participants rather than taking up sketching myself.  A lost opportunity, really, but I was happy this time just photographing.




Sometimes you just can’t beat a Sunday in the park in Seattle.


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