Random Pretty Photos: New Mexico Rio Grande Gorge

This weekend we ventured out onto our apartment patio to plant flowers. Over the winter, the snow and ice had snuck its way into many of our clay pots, breaking them. Such is the power of water.

RioGrandeGorge

Anyway, this week I’m going to feature photos from Mom & Dad Victory, who have traveled extensively across the Land of Entrapment, er…Enchantment. New Mexico often gets a bad rap as a place of trailer parks, drug addicts and overpriced art galleries.

But it’s also a state of underrated natural beauty.

This one is the Rio Grande Gorge.

Trees Built for Texas

Texas Trees

On a trip to Texas last year, while driving through Austin, I said a rather dumb thing to Brendan and our friend Jason.

“I miss how wide the trees are in Texas.”

I had that thought again today when I came across this fabulous photo gallery of one of the world’s most terrific creations: live oak trees.

These puppies grow mostly along the Gulf Coast, but also in Central Texas, and they are great for tree climbing, or for holding a rope so you can swing out over a river and fall in, like this.

photo: a Rockport Texas backyard, courtesy of Mom and Dad Victory

Dolphins I’ve Known

Noah

Every so often, a dolphin or whale strands along the Texas Gulf Coast. Usually, the animal dies shortly after stranding, and the carcass is collected and necropsied, a critical way to collect data on the health of the Gulf. But sometimes the animals are still alive, and the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network is alerted.

Few people who claim to be animal lovers take the big step of volunteering. But I urge you to do so, if only because of the memories you’ll make.

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Random Recipe: Chargrilled Halloumi Sandwich

Since moving to Astoria this summer, I’ve been exposed to a whole new world of Mediterranean cuisine. My favorite discovery is halloumi cheese, which hails from the island of Cyprus. It’s made from sheep and goat milk, and it has a very high melting point, so you can grill it – directly on the grill – and it won’t fall apart.

It’s like steak, but made of cheese. And frankly, even if I weren’t a vegetarian, I’d prefer halloumi to steak.

So, taking inspiration from a recipe from the excellent Café Bar, we bought some halloumi from the grocery store and made our own version this weekend. We don’t have a BBQ grill right now, so we basically fried it on the stovetop, and it was still amazing and I’m still calling this “chargrilled,” even though it technically isn’t. 

Ingredients:

-One block halloumi cheese, cut into ¼ inch thick slices

-Good sliced sourdough bread, or Panini-style flatbread

-Fresh basil

-Ripe tomato, thinly sliced

-finely chopped garlic

-Olive oil

-Salt

In a skillet, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add half a teaspoon garlic, stir. Add 4-5 slices of halloumi, sprinkling some salt on cheese. Saute for a few minutes, then flip cheese slices.

Brush olive oil on two slices of bread. Place the sautéed cheese on one slice of bread, then add two slices of tomatoes and several sprigs of basil. Place other slice of bread on top. Place entire sandwich in skillet, pressing down on it with spatula. Flip after a couple of minutes. Serve hot.

Random Pretty Photos: King Charles

Charles

“Hi! I’m Charlie and I summer at a cabin in Wisconsin, where I chase chipmunks, squirrels and other assorted small mammalia. Also, squeaky footballs.”

Charles2

“It’s much more exciting than my life in Queens, NY, so, by the end of the day, I can barely stay awake.”
“What am I looking forward to this summer? More of this:”

Charles3

Virginia Tech: The Victims, from the NYT

As a cynical journalist, it’s hard to get me upset about most news events. On Sept. 11,  I worked until the wee hours of the night, laying out newspaper pages and editing news stories. And then I worked for many days straight,  having very little time to sit back and reflect on what happened.

And don’t even ask me about my days at ABC News. No matter what the news story was, my bosses made a joke about it. I nearly walked out many times.

So, now that I have a job that’s less about the news, and more about general information, I feel a bit more like a regular person — reacting to the news, rather than providing it. This is the first big news  event (I feel) that’s happened since I stopped being a reporter, and I find myself absorbing the information on a more emotional level. Namely, this: The Victims.

“How Many Stars Are in the Australian Flag?”

“Six!” Joy said while scribbling it onto the answer sheet.

How she knew this, she did not know. It’s how most trivia answers come to her: randomly.

Still, Joy and her 3-man trivia team, The Refried Beans, comprised of her (an expert in general knowledge and international brands of beer) Brendan (an expert in classic rock and current events) and Jason (a Berkeley grad and high school salutatorian)  took top earnings in last night’s Pub Quiz.

Will It Ever Stop Raining?

It’s a dirty little secret about life in New York City: It rains a lot here. A lot. And often, it’s not a happy, warm rain. It’s a frigid windy deluge, soaking your pants, your socks and your soul. Subways shut down, taxis stop running and suddenly, you find yourself watching more MTV than you ever could have imagined.

But when it’s all over, beauty does emerge. Tulips will open, trees will sprout young leaves, and I’ll finally get to wear a skirt again.
For now, a random pretty photo.

pinkflower