Thursday, January 08, 2009

Goodbye Hibernation Hello Road

My family home, updated, in Arbor Heights, Seattle. Nana moved here in about 1945 before Mom was born. Mom grew up here, then I did. Here are Mom and her husband Allen standing on the porch to see us off (after Weston started post-stalling/flooding). If you look at the window to the left, you can see Nana's little head watching too.

Saying goodbye to Nana is a different type of leaving. I remember when we'd leave Karditsa, our dad's home in Greece. My grandparents, especially Yaya, would cry. I'd always wonder why they were crying, but realized later they assumed they'd never see us again. Also this sadness is the recognition of our mortality and inevitable end. Leavings are kind of a reminder of this loss. So I try to memorize things, and remember them as if for the last time.

Image courtesy of

A couple of weeks ago I was wondering if I'd die early because I'm not really settled and want to fit a lot in, travel and adventure-wise. This was sort of after the thought about how it would be awesome to travel by cargo ship to Greece. Or at least to Europe, then tour. I mean, come on, take a look and imagine yourselves here:

Image Copyright Maris USA Ltd.

It was then that I realized, if I had only a few months to live, this is exactly what I'd be doing, health permitting. Mixed in with this is missing the homestead, the steadiness of our porch, Durham. But the contrast is necessary.

To start from where we left off last blog, for Thanksgiving, we stopped in Ellensburg and were kindly invited to screen the film and share food with the Ellensburg Veg Society. This desert town was so cold that the organizers kindly let us stay in their guest dome. I completely forgot to take a picture of it, but just imagine the coolest guest dome ever.

Thanskgiving dinner was potluck-style. I made and brought some ch'n fried seitan and russian teacakes. Lemme tell you, there is nothing more heartwarming than seeing a foot-long Field Roast being carved on a wooden block, then passed around the table. These are my people.

After arriving in Seattle safely through the pass we played a show at the Sunset with our friends Arbitron, seen above. Picture an explosion. Except for instead of running, you hang out to see what will happen. You're glad you stayed, even though you sustained something.

Also sharing the bill were the awesome Le Shat Noir (whom I was unable to photograph during their set so they kindly posed here). But several photos would be required. The keyboardist has some sort of remote control unit, and is therefore able to wheel around his keys on a walker, moving around pinball-style while the singer Doug pitches himself into the audience. All this and great songs too. You can listen to them live on KEXP on 2/28.

Soon thereafter Seattle had the worst snowstorm, or the best, as your view may be, since forever or when I was a kid. When it started, we were like, oh, yeah, this is Seattle, it will be gone by noon. Syba immediately took advantage and shoved her face into it as if it were goat droppings (as seen above).

I took advantage by gathering clean snow for snow soup, which in my mind, is snow, vanilla, soy milk, and sugar. It was delicious. The picture above is pre-soup.

I also made a snowwoman complete with a full-sized head and anatomically correct chestage, however, there was an accident overnight, and I had to redo the head the following morning.

Needless to say, I was cold and not as ambitious as the night before.

Syba did her usually running in circles and snow-bathing.

We decided to put the plastic lid of a garbage can to use and sled down my old hill.

Rob wasn't as enthused as I, but eventually saw the benefits.

There is something about snow and cold that says to me, "Eleni, eat fat and sugar." To honor this request, I made a series of veggie pot pies (pictured below), cakes, cookies, and lasagne alfredos. To illustrate 'cause and effect,' my body stored some of these meals in the form of 13 additional pounds over my arrival-weight.

Next we went to Rainier, Washington to see Rob's family. Given my dedication to eating, we should have walked. Weston barely made it up the driveway and we all had to pile in to get him to the house.

I have never made a gingerbread house from scratch. Every year I announce, "I'm going to make a gingerbread house" (to rob). Then it does not happen, and of course, by 12/26, it's too late. Sure, when I was a kid I made the lame cop-out graham cracker house. But that's nothing. Luckily, Rob's ma not only knows how to make a gingerbread house, but she showed me the magic of the pie cutter thingy and one other trick I'm forgetting.

These are all her house pieces she made, baked.

She made an extra wall in case of accidents. Or because she knew we'd be "helping." Here is Rob with his sister, Melanie. For someone who had resisted the idea of making the house, Rob seemed kinda serious about it.

Here is Margaret (sister-in law), Sue (ma) me, and Melanie.

Below, house in progress. Tall glasses are inside so it will stand up. It was almost a vegan house, too...I think there was only one stray apple ring & marshmallow smoke that had gelatin.

And, o'course, the completed home.

Ever since this trip began, Rob has been craving pumpkin pie. Rob's ma kindly made a few vegan pies, including the apple one. I also made another veggie pot pie. She has this great stoneware that makes me never want to use the metallic crap again. She said it makes them bake evenly.

As part of our Seattle trip it is necessary to eat at certain vegan establishments. One of these was Hillside Quickie. To my horror, they were out of the Gyros that day. However, this forced me to actually try something different. I had this chipotle cilantro wonderment that was a New Taste.

After this, I was determined to make the cilantro sauce. I bought some cilantro, Veganaise, and chipotle sauce, and brought these to Rainier. Unfortunately, in my haste I had picked up Italian Parsley instead of cilantro, and was quite disburbed (culinarily). But, in making lemonade out of lemons, I made this casserole anyhow, and it was pretty filling and melty-good.

I can't recall exactly what I put in this, but it included torillas, beans, a veganaise/chipotle/garlic/nutritional yeast/salsa mixture, olives, corn, onions, and tomato sauce.

Did you know that goats eat evergreen trees? Me neither. But now it is documented, right on Rob's family farm.

Syba has some neurosis, including fear of bicycles, water bottles, Weston, and horses. We can now officially add goats and cows to the list. She was very suspicious of the goats and after a few days drummed up the courage to sniff them nose-to-nose style, albeit with a slight growl of confidence.

We met some calves as well. When another cow mooed, Syba ran for the house with her tail between her legs, looking back several times to ensure the cow was not following. It was a pretty intimidating moo.

Back in Seattle, we visited our friends Lynn and Tom, who share their home with urban chickens (Tom's lap).

Usually the chickens are kept outside, on the ground, but it was particularly cold this night.

Due to the snow, we had to postpone and cancel a lot of visits. We really did have a white x-mas this year. I made pancakes and hashbrowns. I seasoned the hashbrowns with these life-saving spices Chef Shirle sent us, Somach and Smoked Paprika.

I tried to google "Somach spice" because I'd never heard of it, and google asks me, "do you mean stomach spice?" and yields no useful results. Whatever it is, it's damned good and tangy. I also used this in my last veggie pot pie, which really brought the roux alive.

While in Seattle we worked on a few new songs. It's pretty hard to find opportunities to set up the whole kit and practice. One time we asked the club if we could play early. So it was nice to set up in the living room and have a most enthused audience member (Nana).

During one song she invented this sitting dance I'm going to call The Nana which involves a jerky opening of both arms while simultaneously rolling up eyes and opening mouth. It was awesome and I love her for it.

Speaking o' family, our show at Le Voyeur was surprisingly attended by some Shelton and Woodinville family well as Rob's family. As you may discern from the pictures, it was cooler than a tofu-locker back there.

Photo by Margaret Gilbirde.

Photo by Melanie Gilbride.

We played first, because, well, it would have been late for some of our family.

Following us solo-Young Mothers performed with and around the audience. We're playing with them (full-band-style) in Tucson. Great songwriting & performance + nice fella = we like.

We were excited to share the floor with Clawform, aka our little Durham eyeball Colin, who brought his black metal badness to the show. Ending the night was another of Ian's projects, which, when I asked him the name, he replied "I don't know." However, by the end of the night, he did in fact have a name, which I remember being catchy, but forgot it.

In any case, who needs a name when you have dueling/dueting metal (black metal?) droning violins?

The next night we played in Portland at The Know. It was an early show set to end at 10:30 pm. Pictured above are Paper Brain, who will be releasing an album soon, stay tuned.

We also played with Babies Got Rabies, a fun switch-a-roonie band short a member that night but still sounding full.

Luckily our good friend tofu-mama hooked us up with his friends in Portland and we stayed a few nights in a grand old house nearby everything with nice, nice folks.
So I'm in Portland, the land of Vegan shangri-la, and haven't even mentioned vegan cupcakes.

Here you see the result of a cupcake being so good that I forget to take a picture of it until half-way through. This was a pink-flavored cupcake. The frosting firm, but giving. Moist cupette.

Later that night, I screened my film at Sweet Pea Bakery where this cupcake lived its short life. Herbivore, who some of you might know as the coolest-coolest place to accesorize veg-style, was kind enough to get the word out about the screening, and, not evident from this photo, the room was full o' people and also cupcakes.

I forgot to take pictures of some of our visits, but this is it in a candy-coated nutshell. We're off to Forest Grove and then south from there, which will be good as the skies have been grey and misty every day.

Oh...and I forgot to mention that in December I also screened the documentary at Seattle Pacific University, the University of Puget Sound (Tacoma) and at my alma mater, the University of Washington (at which were mom, Nana, and Allen).

Blow Up Radio (NJ) voted Blender Theory as one of the top 50 releases of 2008, and I think we made some kind of WXDU top 66 and Ross list too. Thank you, list makers!

The Olympian also wrote a feature about our tour. We forgot to pick up a paper, so if anyone has a copy let us know.....


PS - an important PS to Durham and Triangle-ites.

There is a benefit show on Friday at BCHQ with some amazing bands for an amazing person, Alex. He has been wonderfully supportive of the music and arts community, and you might have heard of his company, Urban Footprint Films. Please show your is the post by Midtown Dickens:


Sequoya said...

I love your Nana and that awesome gingerbread house. Good luck on the next leg of the tour and I hope good weather follows you south.

Anonymous said...

YOu guys are AMAZING!!!
This is one of the best blog reports thus far! (although the talk about dying young freaks me out, something you shouldn't do btw!)

I agree with Bonnie, your Nana is cute!

I loved all the food pics and links to the veggie friendly sites. Thanks!

here's some info on SUMAC...I spelled it wrong...

Sumac is a decorative bush that grows wild throughout the Middle East and parts of Italy. The dark purple-red berries are sold dried or ground and have a fruity, astringent taste. The Sicilian sumac and those berries grown at the highest latitude are said to be the best flavored of the sumacs. The berries are picked just before they ripen and dried. Sumac is used in the cooking of Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and Iran. Ground sumac is rubbed into meats for grilling and is good with potatoes, beets, and in mixed bean salads. Whole, cracked or ground sumac berries are also used to make a fruity, sour culinary juice which can be added to marinades, salad dressings, sauces and yogurt. This is made by soaking the berries 15-20 minutes in warm water, squeezing the berries to get all the flavor, and then straining the liquid. The juice can be added to food at the end of cooking. Crushed dried sumac is called somagh.


Season: available year-round

How to select: Found in Middle Eastern markets ground or dried.

Substitutions: lemon zest plus salt OR (in salads) lemon juice OR (in salads) vinegar

Eleni said...

hi Bonnie! Thank you so much and we look forward to hanging out in the spring before we leave for the NE and cargos.

Ms. Shirle! Just finished off the last of the cookies. LOVE the spices and appreciate the reference to more about somac, clearing up the mystery! I don't think I've been to a Middle-Eastern market in Durham, but I'm sure one exists. Thank you thank you. Going to use the smoked paprika on my hummus today.

Aguavino said...

Hey BB! It was so great spending Xmas Eve Eve and New Year's Eve with you! I miss you again already.

And, yes.... ZenLy is back! (although in a different form--check out the NEW Grapevine when you have a chance)

and hugs and kisses to Syba from Noah, too!!

illicitizen said...

Hey, those fascists on myspace said this is a "naughty-bad" link. I feel cheated. Y'all are about as wholesome as it comes. :D

In other news -
"What happened to the jalapeno?"

Someone smoked it!

You guys are so brave going out and doing stuff. I am scared to drive our nameless transport to Richmond next month (but will anyway).
ok I am going back to my Schlitz and punishing the sequencer.