Author Archives: deemallon

Denver eats, return

Watching Deadline Whitehouse, making chicken stock and dinner — I must be home. The sky is leaden, rain imminent — I must be home.

Trip to see younger son in Colorado was a little disorienting because we had no room to furnish or apartment to find or supplies to buy. Didn’t drop several hundred dollars at Target, so we went out to eat instead!

Best meal in Denver was not either of the three-dollar-sign dinners, but rather a reasonably priced lunch at Rotary Eats, one of the stalls in a place called Avanti. Avanti : like a food court, only good!

Exterior of Avanti, above, and interior, below.

My selections were roasted chicken thighs, roasted cauliflower with tahini sauce and golden raisins, and the best homemade potato chips I’ve ever had.

Our first special dinner was at The Black Cat in Boulder. The place gets great reviews and takes seriously the farm to table model of dining, but I didn’t like all the pickled vegetables or the flavor of the sauce served with my artisanal pork, so I was a little disappointed. I’m prepared to admit that the fault lay with my palette and not the food preparation. Salad was outstanding — greens picked that morning! — as was the service.

Brunch at “duo” in Denver proved disappointing, too, probably because I’ve had southern biscuits and the biscuits in my breakfast were grainy and muffin-like. K loved his meal, shown next to mine below.

(Biscuits and gravy with two eggs).

Sharing the meal with Denver friends we see about once a year, Marc and Kim, was great though. Marc and I went to law school together.

The other restaurant in the “duo” is located in Vermont.

We had another special dinner in Denver at a place called Vesta. I had braised lamb shank on a hot pepper infused polenta. Delicious! The meat fell off the bone, as it should! Those yellow chips are deep fried garlic slivers — insanely good.

The place is known for its sauces, so we started with a selection. The most popular was the hot pepper, horseradish a strong second.

I’ll leave you with “crack bacon.” I misread the menu at the breakfast joint “Syrup” and thought the dish was “cracked bacon” (as in crispy). Oh no. The strips were sautéed in brown sugar. Caramelized. They meant “crack” as in instantly addictive!

The phone is ringing and it’s not my sister. If you’re tired of her and my relationship, consider this post done!

My sister got very anxious whenever I left town — amped up worry informed mostly by abandonment issues and imagined travel mishaps. She never could keep straight the dates, so for weeks ahead of time, I would have to keep reiterating the plan. It got annoying. It didn’t help to write it on her calendar because usually her calendars went missing.

My sister magnanimously deemed my time away as vacation from her, partly because she knew I needed a little separation and partly because she kept forgetting about cell phones. Even so, to her utter amazement and gratitude, I’d generally check in at least once while away.

Obviously, this trip there was none of that. And no quick call immediately upon arrival home to quell her anxious misery. I missed that a little because her intense relief at my being back was a form of welcome.

On the other hand, there’s the relief: no need to scramble and rush up to the North Shore for a visit during the very same days when I need to settle back into being home. The car engine smelled like burning rubber or oil today while out for groceries. Instead of irritation I felt only gratitude — it wasn’t happening en route to Salem! I wasn’t gonna have to juggle car repair and a trip to Salem! I was headed home, where I would stay for the rest of the day!

It’s been two months and a week since she died — a fact I find amazing.

Choose color. Eat. Laugh.

It’s amazing what a dampening effect weather and disappointing news can have. Parts of Colorado got nine inches of snow! Don McGahn didn’t show up to testify and he’s not in jail!

It doesn’t help to be reading a book about a hapless, middle-aged failure whose failures would rank as astounding successes for me. K pshaws (he’s a champ), but still.

(Why continue reading it, you ask? Because it’s incredibly well-written and I want to know what happens).

A delicious homemade broth with ramen was a definite perk last night. We could walk there too, which was nice.

Another high point: a trip to a goodwill in a posh part of Denver where I scored some really good ‘cutters.’ The best one — a garment made out of African batik.

It’s a maxi skirt, so it’s a decent bit of yardage.

Also, I’m a sucker for stripes, so this beautiful cotton skirt grabbed my eye.

I photographed it on a quilt made for D (13 years ago?) to show the consistency of palette.

What colors draw you in, again and again? I’ve studiously tried to move toward a less saturated color wheel for years and not managed it. Tells you something.

This quilt represents probably as much success as I’ll get with choosing more subdued colors. It’s almost finished, PS.

This dress, while a 100% polyester, has just the kind of patterning that I love. Also, because it’s nearly sheer, it can easily be stitched on top of other fabrics. And check out the buttons!

So, what to do while Rome burns? Have a decent meal and indulge in colors that please you. Is that what I’m saying?

Maybe.

Guffawing over at twitter has its place, too.

Denver / York / historic bldgs/ art

York was an African American explorer born into slavery who was owned by William Clark, of Lewis and Clark fame. He bravely and competently facilitated the long and difficult expedition to the Pacific Coast. While Clark eventually manumitted York, he did not do so early enough in York’s life for him to be able to track down the wife he left behind to travel west.

I started my day with this well-made little YouTube video about him.

If you prefer to read, here’s a link to a narrative on the Denver Library site. I believe the statue above is located near the library.

Next up, an informal walking tour of one of the historic districts of Denver: the Highland District. It was a mix of well-maintained expansive homes, well-maintained cottages, and derelict structures. A lot of building going on.

We had time to kill before our brunch date, so stopped for coffee in a hopping place situated under (and named for) an iconic sign: Olinger Mortuaries.

The building originally housed a mortuary and was the first in Denver. Billy the Kidd’s body came through the place. Now, they dropped the “O” to call the restaurant, “Linger.” K and I were two of four people over the age of 35.

Smart toilets taken to a whole new level.

After brunch (food to be posted later), we toured around in the car, always taking care not to hit motorized scooters. They were EVERYWHERE.

A quick stop at the Museum of Contemporary Art was sufficient: a small-ish space and unimpressive works.

Is it crankiness or the entitlements of age (and are those two things different?) that I didn’t feel the slightest obligation to like the works on view or to accord them extra credit for being hung in a museum?

The first floor featured a tattoo artist who has innovated a “watercolor” style of applying ink. I thought her subjects looked like they rolled in a paint box, leading to the conclusion that just because something is original doesn’t mean it’s good.

Wachob’s use of tattoo inks on paper were also “meh” (below). While the application of tattoo inks on paper may be novel, the results were not.

Her works on lemons filled a small alcove and were fun, but art? Maybe not.

It is common, I learned, for tattoo artists to practice their trade on fruit.

By far the most interesting of Wachob’s works were large monoprints that she photographed, transferred to canvas, and then assembled in large patchwork-like pieces. But even with those, respect for the technique surpassed the appraisal of the result.

Upstairs, the curator’s organizing theme was a good one: artists’ creative responses to Georgia O’Keefe. Apart from some skillfully rendered abstractions on 10×10″ pieces of wood, though, I thought the work was uniformly awful. I didn’t photograph much of it.

I don’t know if the hall pictured below was part of that show, but as I said to K, “it’s hard to be enamored of a painted grid when you’ve seen it skillfully rendered with 1/4” strips of fabric.

(Hand positioned for scale. It is not actually touching the painting).

I DID like the building. A lot. The architect alternated compact nooks and wide views in a compelling geometry.

The top level featured a cafe with expansive views of the city and a rock garden.

Returning to the car I found a chalky design on the sidewalk. I liked it better than anything in the museum — by a sizable measure.

Something like normal

Forty five degrees but not raining — we’ll take it! Looks like the down vests might be staying out until Memorial Day this year.

House is settling down some. I’ve emptied four more boxes from the garage and also neatened our sitting room so that it’s slightly more liveable, even with piles and crates of my sister’s things.

It would be MORE back to normal today if we weren’t off to Colorado this weekend. Son #2 will be working most of the visit which is one of those bad things/good things but mostly good thing because it means he has a full time job. This visit, for the novelty of it, we’re staying in Denver instead of Boulder.

I’ll leave you with more pictures from the sister clip files, below. All these images were in a plastic pack together.

The handsome man in the tan suit might be Bryan Ferry (my sister and I saw Roxy Music together once), but I’m not sure.

What’s in YOUR clip file?

Editing cloth and prose

The base. Pieced. Bottom left sea green patch bugs me and presents itself as a problem to be solved.

What if I go back to my hybrid method of quilting? I used to combine piecing and appliqué in a somewhat slapdash way that embarrasses me a little now. It sent me into a purist phase — everything must be pieced! What if I now consider some of those “nice” purely pieced quilts as unfinished — or at least, as potential canvases?

How much fun to defy the lines of the seams and extend patterning in a spirit of play?

And, as always, how about adding more houses? The pinned one on the left, believe it or not, is a “discovered” house, fussy cut from a rayon blouse. The green house to the right was made by simply topping a vertical rectangle with a roof.

There are so many more pictures of Italy to share but they already feel like old news. But I will be sharing more, if you don’t mind… along with a half dozen mini book reviews. They’re piling up! Turning into homework (ugh!)

One Assisi insight (not profound at all but hear me out): when you’re not walking the dog, cleaning the house, watching two MSNBC news programs a day, cooking dinner most nights, and tending a demanding mentally and physically ill sibling, a charge whose hours of attention are preceded by dread and followed by a period of demoralized recovery — there are a lot of hours in the day! In Italy, I had soooo much time! Time to wander the streets. Time to drink Caffè machiatto at the bar with the old men. Time to light candles for my sister all over the city. Time to read and write and quilt.

(My street — San Rufino Ave).

I am watching how I vacuum and scrub and now garden (yes!) to avoid the page.

It’s a process. And I miss my sister more here than I did there, particularly (and ironically because it was a place of ongoing tension), whenever the phone rings. It rings and I think: it will never again be her.

But you’ll be happy to know that of the 200+ chapters in my manuscript (Blood and Indigo), all but a handful have received a hard edit. One of the best things I did in Italy at the advice of fellow-writing-resident– the supremely lovely, warm, insightful and generous Argentinian writer, Elena Bossi — was to chop a lot of dull descriptions of interior crap and replace them with dialogue. What a good piece of advice that was!

Maybe that was one of the reasons I was so taken with the statute of David at the Cathedral of San Rufino — the dynamism of his raised arm, about to strike! I deleted two entire chapters while I was at it. Highlight, click! Highlight, click!

And what a pleasure to come home to a world exploding with the extravagance of spring.

Ferns and studio

Up they come. Glorious. Mysterious. Reliable indicators of spring.

Been in the basement some. Piecing. Cleaning. Sorting. Installed two of my sister’s lamps down there and I love the way they look.

Basting and piecing and vacuuming. Only found two dead mice this time!