So what, then? Our beautiful back yard birch tree had been on my mind. It was our biggest tree and very near our home and our neighbor’s home. The super storm reminded me to pay attention. Last year our tree guy said we could let it go a year or so. During a check-up last week, I asked if it should come down and he agreed. I felt sick to hand down the sentence. They came the same day.
The picture above shows only a few of the top limbs they removed first. I couldn’t take pictures after that, but I did just pop outside to take a picture of the beautiful wood stump. Easy to see the two main trunks that made up the tree.
The stump is a yard across at the widest point. Very sad to report that all the limbs and trunk parts were, like this, super healthy looking. Not a sign of insects or rot. Maybe we guessed wrong this time, but it is done. Can’t glue it back together. I wonder if any tree experts use x-rays to inspect trees? Business opportunity? Onward.
Our Macbook Pro was acting up. The screen was going black at random times and it wouldn’t wake up (unless hard resets with funny button combos were performed). I learned from a service bulletin that the maker of the graphics processor had admitted to a higher than normal failure rate due to a packaging defect, and that Apple had instituted an extended warranty replacement program. They’d extended the warranty to replace the logic board (of which the graphics processor was a part) within four years of purchase. Swell? No (I had bought my laptop five years ago). There was a line in the service bulletin suggesting they might extend the program, so I made an appointment at the Genius Bar and hoped for the best.
While they were running diagnostics in the back room, I picked out a new laptop (I wasn’t hopeful that they’d fix my laptop). I picked a 13″ 2.9 mhz Macbook Pro without the Retina display (having just paid to take the birch down, I wasn’t in the market for any top of the line Mac anything). [Before I forget, let me mention something the tech mentioned to me. Batteries on the non-Retina display Powerbooks can be changed at Apple stores while you wait. Ten minutes or so. Compare that to the 24-48 hours required to swap batteries on Retina display Powerbooks. Makes the non-Retina display models look even better in my eyes.] The guy came out and told me he couldn’t recreate the problem. I knew it wouldn’t misbehave on cue–it hadn’t gone black in two days (since I made the appointment). He also said Apple had not extended the warranty, but that Apple offers a flat rate repair. For $310, they’d replace the logic board (to address my bad graphics processor) and fix anything else they found wrong. Since my DVD drive was also barely working and I didn’t want to buy a new laptop, I took him up on it. Very glad I did.
They shipped it to the repair facility and said it would be shipped back to my home in five business days. All for $310 (shipping included). This was on a Thursday. FedEx rang my bell yesterday. TWO DAYS LATER! I’m typing on the laptop now. They replaced the logic board, the DVD drive and the LCD screen (they found it was on its way out, too). They even replaced a missing rubber foot on the bottom of the thing. I am crazy pleased. I’ve used every Mac I’ve owned for a decade. With five years on this laptop, I was expecting to get five more. Now maybe I will.
What else? Lacey and I made it to the Charles F. Lucas Confectionery in Troy. Swank new wine bar (plus). Loved it to pieces. Great space. Very friendly and helpful people. Lacey and I both had a glass of Pacific Standard Zinfandel ($6 a glass). Really nice, but cold. Colder than I’d serve any white (and this was a red). Their tap system is all fancy and controllable and the proprietors are trying to do everything right (and generally seem to be nailing everything). The owner said the temp was intentional and recommended by the maker. Fair enough, but I enjoyed the wine more as it warmed to room temp. Or do I need to open my mind a bit?
The incredible hummus and olive tapenade helped me pass the time as my wine woke up. Incredible hummus? Really? Haven’t we all had enough hummus for a couple of lifetimes? Maybe not. This was a show I’d travel for. No trickery, either. Just perfect texture and the right balance of flavors. Probably the best I have had. Excited for the next bite all the way through the serving. Tapenade was spot on, too. Paired with the hummus, well, let’s just say we made it disappear faster than would be comfortable in front of anyone other than a spouse of twenty years.
There’s more–coffee made with Blue Bottle beans! My first experience with this respected roaster. We got two drip brewed cups. I didn’t note the beans. It was fun, though, to just order two cups of coffee, please. The bartender weighed the beans for each cup before grinding and brewing. We got two great cups of coffee. Big mugs really. For $3. Let’s just say if I lived in the neighborhood I’d be at the Confectionery, oh, every day. Maybe twice a day. Good show folks!
After the Confectionery, we headed toward Beirut. The Confectionery is grand and all, but vegans can’t really make a full meal out of what they offer so we were prowling for supplemental chow. [Update: Hogwash. Order three small plates for two people. If you are still hungry, order a couple more. Repeat until sated.] Falafels sounded perfect. As we walked in Beirut was closing but, as the nicest people on earth (very seriously), they resisted our efforts to leave and insisted we sit and wait five minutes while they made us delicious falafels. Even reintroduced us to family members and chatted excitedly about the upcoming Victorian stroll (tonight, I think), during which the father will wear traditional Lebanese dress to contribute to the festivities. Also brought us fried pita chips and garlic dip to help us through the short wait. Gosh I wish I lived closer to this place.
On the way to Beirut, we ran into an event which will probably be the closest I will ever come to attending a midnight garage sale (which I have dreamed of for six years since hearing this Tilly and the Wall lyric). It was a pop-up thrift store and it did not disappoint. We scored. First on the list, a cast iron Aebleskiver pan. At least that’s what I will call it even though it has heart-shaped cups instead of round ones.
I adapted a recipe from Edible Perspectives to come up with delicious chocolate donuts with chocolate bourbon icing. Ashley’s recipe was gluten free. I’m not a’gin that, but I didn’t have all the exotic flours so I had to make do. Before you rush to your kitchen to give it a try, let me tell you that baked donuts aren’t as exciting as they sound. Good, yes, but not donuts really. More like cupcakes without paper cup. I suppose a donut shape might help some, but it is really more of a texture thing. I should have known that frying is what makes donuts special. Oh well. The pan was only $5 and who doesn’t like cupcakes? Here goes.
1. Grease pan, put in oven and preheat to 350.
2. Dry: combine 2/3 C whole wheat pastry flour, 2/3 C all-purpose flour, 1/2 C sugar, 1/4 C coco powder, 2 T ground flax, 1 T baking powder, 1/2 T baking soda and 1/2 T salt.
3. Wet: mix 3/4 C milky whatever, 3 T banana, 3 T oil and 2 T vanilla.
4. Combine Dry and Wet, fill cups to just below top and bake for 20 minutes.
5. In a double boiler like set up (glass dish over pan of heated water), melt together 1 C chocolate chips, 2 T milky whatever, 1 T bourbon, 1 T vanilla and a pinch of salt.
The thrift store also pushed into my life a nice wooden tool box (tools not included). I have two metal boxes already and most of my tools are hung on a board, but I couldn’t resist this one. Simple plywood construction, but it was finished with brass corners and has aged beautifully. I overheard a kid say “I love boxes” so I tried to get him to buy it. He said he had seen it and liked it, but passed. Well then. I wasn’t going to let it remain homeless, so now it is here and filled with my duplicate bicycle repair tools. Ready for, well, sitting there. Even so, it was fun to straighten and reattach the crooked and lose brass latch, push back into place a hinge pin and pick tools to put in it. I guess the $12 was well spent. Oh, and Lacey got this.
She’ll be ready when wearing button covered suspenders is again happening.