Autumn 2012 Quarterly Speed Bump Magazine

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Autumn 2012

Quarterly Speed Bump magazine Slow Down & Relax Slow Down & Relax Slow Down & Relax Slow Down & Relax Slow Down & Relax

Volume 2

QSB No. 3


QSB: Autumn 2012


Frontage: A letter from the Editor

Sebastian Nelson

Nicolas Pfeffer-Taggart

It's QSB's anniversary!

4 Red Light: Backyard Astronomy

In which we actually look forward to opposition.



On the Road to...Hot Air Ballooning Passion and whimsy mix and everything's up in the air.


12 Roundabout

It's spooky out there as our correspondent hits the road (should we go along?!).

16 Detour: Things We Like

Mysterious growths. Plants out of control. Is this normal?

20 Work Ahead

We get inked without needles but with plenty of gall.

16 1


24 On the Corner

It's misty and mellow. We have pictures!

28 The Fork

You'll want to lick your fingers after this meal.

24 34 Roadside Stand

Eveything's gone pear-shaped and we couldn't be happier.

38 Interchange

Feast on something beyond food for a while and get your imagination going.


40 At the Crossroads

The poor farmer. What did he do?

41 Undulations

Ouch. You'll feel sympathy pains.



Quarterly Speed Bump Magazine | Autumn 2012

Frontage Hello there Readers,

Happy Autumn to you and welcome to our first anniversary issue. Yes, we started this little magazine in October of last year and have all survived to tell the tale. I'm still learning about formatting and consistently missing self-set deadlines but that's okay. We're still upholding our mission to help folks slow down and relax.


From the Editor So, are you slowing down and relaxing? I don't know about you but I'm getting a little tired of all the bombardment of political ads, calls, and texts wherever I go. It was nice to hide myself away in my little pod of an office (aka QSB World Headquarters) as I worked on putting this issue together. With that idea of getting away from it all, I hope you'll find your own inspiration again with what we have for you in the following pages. Have a happy Halloween, a wonderful Thanksgiving, and a beautiful Autumn. Let us know what you're up to by sending a note to the email address (below). Or, there's always the blog at Cheers,

Rebecca L. Wendt Editor-in-Chief

Editor/Publisher: Rebecca L. Wendt Columnists: Jessica Herrick Sebastian Nelson Puzzler & More: Scott Wendt Interviewee: Greg Taggart Contributors: Debra Baer Marcia DiGrazia Barnaly Pande Erwin Pfeffer Nicolas Pfeffer-Taggart Joseph Vaughn 3

Red Light: Backyard Astron

By Jupiter! Autumn's Astronomical Events October 15 - New Moon 20 - Fall Astronomy Day 2012 (check for local events) 21 - Peak viewing for Orionid Meteor Shower 29 - Full Moon November 13 - New Moon 17 - Peak viewing for Leonid Meteor Shower 28 - Full Moon - Penumbral lunar eclipse December 3 - Jupiter at opposition 13 - New Moon 14 - Peak viewing for Geminid Meteor Shower 21 - Winter Solstice


Quarterly Speed Bump Magazine | Autumn 2012

nomy Beyond spurring you to do better,

there's not much opposition is good for unless you're talking about astronomy. In astronomical terms, when we say opposition we mean that an object appears to be directly opposite the sun (and Earth is almost directly between the two—so the object in opposition will be at its closest to us for the year) in the sky and earth-bound celestial observers have an optimal chance to see and study that object. This season Jupiter returns to opposition. To get you ready for this December 3 event, here are some things you should know. At the very least, you've probably heard that Jupiter is a "gas giant" and that it has a "Great Red Spot." Jupiter, named after the chief god of the Romans, has been clearly visible in the night sky for all of recorded history and probably an unfathomable length of time before that. Ancient astronomers knew it was different from the usual stars which hold the same course in relation to other objects in the sky (planets seem to change position about the sky, hence their name which is from the ancient Greek

word for "wandering"). The clouds surrounding the planet are made up mostly of hydrogen and helium and it's hard to say where the atmosphere ends and the planet begins since its not a dense world. The red spot is a storm that's been raging for hundreds of years. This is not a world conducive to life as we know it. Unlike our own tiny planet (tiny by comparison for sure...Jupiter has a diameter 11 times greater than our own planet's) with its one moon, Jupiter has 4 main moons (Callisto, Europa, Ganymede, and Io) and a cadre of smaller satellites. The four are about twice the size of our own familiar orbiter and you should be able to see them with a telescope. When I was a kid there were nine planets in our Solar System. Since 2006 one has been demoted to dwarf planet status so now we have eight (poor Pluto). Get outside this December and really observe Jupiter before someone decides that gas giants aren't planets either. Take binoculars or a telescope. If the weather cooperates, you won't be disappointed!

The background image (created with Stellarium) shows Jupiter's location in the East on December 3 from my house. Your view may vary slightly. 5

On the Road to...

Hot Air Ballooning With Greg Taggart

For the "On the Road to..." column a Quarterly Speed Bump writer sits down with a hobbyist and finds out about how to get into their particular hobby and what they find to be rewarding about it. In this issue we're on the road to hot air ballooning. We were pleased to sit down with Greg Taggart to learn more: QSB: Do you prefer the term balloonist, pilot, aeronaut, or other? Greg: All are good. I actually own a balloon and am a pilot but none of those terms are derogatory. We have a ceremony for first timers and I tell people after their first flight that they're aeronauts. QSB: What about hot air ballooning attracted you? Greg: I wasn't attracted; I had a purpose. I was in an upper level photography class in college-beyond the darkroom: color. I needed color to populate six slide projectors for a class project (I was shooting slide film at the time). Then there was a cover story in LIFE magazine about the Albuquerque balloon rally. That was color. QSB: How long have you been hot air ballooning? Greg: October 10th was the 32nd anniversary of my first balloon ride. I hitchhiked and rode freight cars to get to the Albuquerque rally (the rally starts the first Saturday in October and lasts for nine days). I built myself a treehouse and lived in a tree for a week. It was the Seventies. I got to Albuquerque in the afternoon and asked 6

Quarterly Speed Bump Magazine | Autumn 2012

Erwin Pfeffer

On the Road to... "Where are the balloons?" Back then things were more informal and it was one big party with the crew and spectators in the field (no balloonists were camping--as a pilot, of course, it's a totally different scenario). They made announcements over the loudspeaker that such and such a person was looking for crew members. So, I crewed on Monday for a gentleman from Kansas. Crewing is unloading the truck, getting the balloon laid out per the pilot's instructions, inflating it, putting ancillary equipment in the truck, and then tracking the balloon/pilot--back then with a two-way radio--on the chase. Then you fold it up, put it away, and prep for the next voyage. On Tuesday I took my first flight. I was over the moon for the whimsy of it (it's whimsical to begin with--just think about it) but I wasn't hooked.

QSB: Then how did you get started? Greg: Because I hitchhiked to Albuquerque, I went around and introduced myself to anyone with California plates trying to get a ride home. None of which worked. The next morning I was hitchhiking home. I was on the curb in Kingman on Monday, middle of the day and one of those people from California pulled over. He needed sleep and he picked me up so I could drive. He was headed to Carmichael. I began crewing for the locals here. He paid me 10 bucks to come out in the morning. His son was in high school and he was a flake. So I just rolled over to him and started crewing for him. Every second ride was turning into informal training. I could share with my friends. I still didn't have any money and couldn't buy a balloon but learning and earning a pilot's license began to have appeal. I think I got my license in 1982. The pilot's license if just for ballooning and you have to pass a written exam. When you have all the proper endorsements you then have an exam with an FAA-designated person. But I had to give up balloon photography when I became a pilot. It was just snapshots and I felt that I was a better photographer than that. QSB: Tell me about your balloon, What other equipment you use, and what would you recommend to a beginner? Greg: I'm on my fourth balloon. Her name is Jackie-OH! She was made by a company called Cameron Balloons. The size designation is known as an "8"--90,000 cubic feet in volume, 90 feet tall when stood up. She's got big hearts all the way around the envelope in multi-colors. The basket is wicker that absorbs shock when I have a bumpy landing (very rare!). And I use my SUV and pull a trailer for the balloon. To buy a balloon there are dealers and some have repair shops. I bought one new balloon out of the four. If I replaced everything it would run about $30,00-$35,000. I'm on a one-year mission to replace Jackie. She's becoming porous. She's sound and safe to fly but just 7

On the Road to... requires more fuel. That one new balloon I bought in 1988 and I'm still using the basket and burners. That should last for a long time. Rich people sell their envelopes and I'm in that market. I do everything I have to do to keep a safe system so I can keep flying.

do it feels as good as ever. "Comfort zone" is not the right term because I always want to be challenged. I had hoped that Jackie would be my last one but she's failing. I'm hoping for one more.

I wish I'd kept the third one. It was bomb-proof but it was getting a little dingy. The white became a color we affectionately called "California Gold." That was the best flyer ever. That balloon was called a screw jack--a spiraling color. QSB: What was your most memorable time aloft and why? Greg: One was so long ago that it was with my ballooning partner Glen. In 1982 we flew across the Grand Canyon. But my son and I flew from Truckee to Reno across the spine of the Sierra. We went up past 12,000 feet and could see all of Lake Tahoe. Having my son along, that was huge. If I got a new balloon, I'd do more of that long distance flight. Jackie is too porous. QSB: Is there somewhere you'd most like to take your balloon? Greg: I'd like to have a tighter balloon so I could do "long jumps," see how far south in the Valley I could go, maybe try for height. Some people we fly with in Reno and in Montague are a couple from Switzerland. My son's in-laws live two hours from them. I may not be able to ship my balloon but they might have one I could use. I'd love to fly in Europe. We may still crew for them in May. QSB: Did hot air ballooning match your expectations? What surprised you most? Greg: I never had any expectations and I'm surprised I'm still doing it 32 years later. It was just one big party. Passion-wise, for me, it's huge. My understanding of what I'm doing and how to 8

Quarterly Speed Bump Magazine | Autumn 2012

Nicolas Pfeffer-Taggart

On the Road to... QSB: What have you gotten out of hot air ballooning?

It's that interaction with people who look up and get a big smile and can't stop smiling. It's whimsy.

Greg: Personal joy. That's the passion. I love doing it; I love sharing it. The people we've met.

They say ballooning is art and science. The science is obvious. The art totally appeals to me.


On the Road to...

There's a party rally in Coalinga. There's Albuquerque. I went to Albuquerque for eighteen years and absolutely loved it because Albuquerque has great, subtle currents. But we fly until the fields get muddy and we can't get out in the trucks to retrieve the balloons. I like the cooler temperatures and the cooler mornings when they come. When it's too wet in the Valley I'll try to go to Truckee and fly in the snow. And, I've flown on New Year's Day.

Erwin Pfeffer

QSB: Are there any hot air balloonrelated books/websites that you think others would find particularly interesting or useful? Greg: There are great books and histories about the Montgolfier Brothers of France. Everything you can find I've probably read. There used to be a magazine called Balloon Life. There's a slight vestige of it online. I was the staff photographer. There's also Ballooning Journal.

When I find that layer of wind that's contrary to everything else (if I'm not paying attention, I fly right through it) I go in a direction nobody else can go. Others never even know they exist but I find them--that's good stuff. That's where I get off. That's the art. I like different. I didn't take up guitar like so many others back in the day. I play a banjo because it's different. You probably don't know too many balloonists...who play the banjo. QSB: What's happening in Autumn for the hot air balloon aficionado? Greg: The season is kind of winding down. 10

Quarterly Speed Bump Magazine | Autumn 2012

Debra Baer

And to do it and do it well I'm in the here and now. It has elements of Zen. I'm feeling the flight. I want to know when the balloon is rising, when there's an advantageous wind. From practicing archery and reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance I know about "be here now." Zen. I still dig that. But I have enough ego that, if people have a good time in my balloon, I like that I was the facilitator.

On the Road to... I don't belong to any forums. Balloon classifieds are where I shop and I think there are Blastvalve [] and Aerostatz []. QSB: Anything else you'd like to add? Greg: I fly strictly for fun. I sold rides for several years kind of as a sideline but it didn't suit my sensibilities. I've had students over the years and I have a young student now. I have more flying in me and kind of want to get him passed, bring some new blood into the sport. It peaked in the 1990s/turn of the 21st century. It's my mission to set it up for young people as I go out.

Scott Wendt

My first passion is my family but it's followed by ballooning. My wife has been my biggest supporter. She's right there with me. She gets me.

Greg Taggart appreciates whimsy. When not working at his day job he pilots a hot air balloon, plays the banjo seriously, and shoots 3D film (among other things). He's always looking to share the hot air balloon experience and is always looking for new crew. If you have an interest in crewing for Greg, drop us a line at and we'll pass the information on.

Marcia DiGrazia

________ 11


Paranormal Ro


Quarterly Speed Bump Magazine | Autumn 2012


Santa Cruz, California is probably best

oad Trip Text and Photos

by Sebastian Nelson

known for surfing, its world class university, and one awesome wooden roller coaster. Look a little deeper, however, and things begin to look darker. Legends of spirits, monsters and bizarre phenomenon emerge like shadows. And, like shadows, the legends grow longer as one travels deeper into the mountains surrounding Santa Cruz. The epicenter is roughly fifty square miles of heavily forested Santa Cruz county encompassing the communities of Felton and Ben Lomond, and bisected by California State Route 9. This area is home to the allegedly haunted Brookdale Lodge, the Bigfoot Discovery Museum, and the world famous Santa Cruz Mystery Spot. The Brookdale Lodge, our first stop along this paranormal road trip, was opened in the late nineteenth century by James Harvey Logan. Logan, a Santa Cruz attorney, judge, and amateur horticulturist (he invented the loganberry by crossing raspberries and blackberries) operated his lodge and campground on the site of an old logging camp. Unfortunately, the lodge was a place of personal tragedy for Logan. His wife died at the Brookdale in 1909, and his young niece Sarah would supposedly drown in a creek that runs through the property. In 1922 a new owner, Dr. Camp, built an addition to the lodge called the Brookroom dining room directly over this creek. His architect incorporated the creek into the dining room itself, allowing it to flow through the room and pass the dining room tables. The addition of ferns and trees gave the appearance of dining outdoors. The Brookdale Lodge was featured in Ripley's Believe It or Not, and it became a celebrated resort during the 1940s and 1950s, attracting celebrities and politicians including Mae West, President Herbert Hoover, and Marilyn Monroe, among others. The ghost of little Sarah also visits from time to time. She is said to haunt the Brookroom's creek where she drowned. Witnesses claim to see Sarah wearing a blue and white dress. Sometimes she is seen playing in the lounge at the Brookdale or along 13


the creek in the Brookroom. At times, it is said, she asks visitors to help her find her mother

The Bigfoot Discovery Museum in Felton explores another mysterious aspect of the Santa Cruz mountains: the legend of Sasquatch. Opened shortly after the millennium by Michael Rugg, a Stanford University educated graphic artist and musician, the museum pays homage to the elusive North American great ape. Although the last reported sighting of a bigfoot in the Santa Cruz mountains was over thirty years ago, the Bigfoot Discovery Museum keeps the legend alive with exhibits, plaster casts of giant footprints, a small library, and wooden sculptures of Bigfoot himself. While the Brookdale Lodge and Bigfoot Discovery Museum offer only the possibility of glimpsing a real ghost or Sasquatch, the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot offers up bizarre phenomenon on a daily basis. Opened to the public in 1940, the Mystery Spot is a patch of


before vanishing before their very eyes. Unfortunately, the Brookdale Lodge closed in 2011, two years after a devastating fire destroyed a good portion of the historic structure. Today the lodge and its beautiful dining room are boarded up and empty. The silence surrounding the Brookdale is broken only by the sound of rustling trees, running water, and the occasional passing car. A peek in the windows reveals weird reflections and dark rooms filled with dusty furniture.

redwood trees, trails, and small buildings roughly 1,600 square meters in size. The Mystery Spot is


Postcard from the Sebastian Nelson Collection.

wildly popular and guided tours frequently sell out days in advance. Visitors are eager to witness violations of the law of gravity, including balls rolling up hill and people walking on the sides of buildings. In one area a board is placed on the

coverage in magazines and television shows that have been off-the-air for decades.

Perhaps the most amazing aspect of the Mystery Spot is that faced with competition from 3-D movies, cable television, the Internet, and other entertainment options, thousands of people still flock there to watch a ball roll up a hill. Whether your interests are spiritual, cryptozoological, gravitational, or you just like beautiful scenery and historic communities, the Santa Cruz mountains offer up plenty to explore.

ground. If two people stand on either end and then switch places, their relative heights appear to change. In truth, the Mystery Spot isn't as mysterious as it may sound. It is actually an example of a gravity hill, which is a topographical phenomenon. Certain geographical features trick the eye into believing that downhill slopes are actually uphill slopes. Although not truly paranormal, the resulting optical illusions form the backbone of a great roadside attraction. Gravity hills aren't rare, but the Mystery Spot is arguably one of the most recognizable ones in the nation. Its iconic yellow and black bumper stickers and billboards have graced the highways and byways of California for generations. Some of the older signs proclaim the Mystery Spot's

Santa Cruz County

Sebastian is an archivist at the California State Archives and a native Californian. He enjoys sleeping, CivilWar reenacting, the gentle art of heraldry, and things that go bump in the night. 15

Detour: Things We Like

d o o G ! y l l a G

Galls of the California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus. The galls turn beige as they age. 16

Quarterly Speed Bump Magazine | Autumn 2012

Detour Maybe you've just noticed that there are some

weird tan-colored balls clinging to oak trees these days? Some people call those oak apples but they're just a variety of oak gall. Do you know about oak galls? Autumn is a great time to take a closer look the next time you walk by an oak tree; there may be "oak apples" or other, smaller galls on the tree's leaves or stems. Of course, there may be no infestation but galls and the insects who cause them are so weird and wonderful that you really should check just to be sure. Here's what you might see. Wig galls. The ubiquitous oak apples. Red cone galls (what I like to call red chocolate chip galls because that's exactly what they look like stuck all over the leaves). Anenome galls. And, at last scholarly count, well over a thousand others. In North America alone there are over 750 species of gall wasp. In California, over 150. Ron Russo,

scientist and author of the intriguing Field Guide to Plant Galls of California and OtherWestern States, calls the galls caused by these wasps "otherworldly growths." Scientists are still learning about them but here's what they are pretty sure about so far. How did they get there? The majority of oak galls are caused by tiny cynipid wasps that are well under a centimeter in length (other insects, mites, and fungus can also cause galls). The females use their ovipositor (a honeybee's stinger is a modified ovipostor–those things can be sharp) to insert their eggs into a leaf or stem or bud. The tree then grows the gall tissue but it's prompted to do so by the chemicals secreted by the insect larvae—essentially partitioning off the insect. The galls are sort of like cancerous tree growths but even a heavy infestation has not been found to harm the tree

Yellow Wig Galls caused by the Andricus fullawayi wasp. 17

Detour (California's live and tan oaks are much more likely to succumb to "sudden oak death" caused by the Phytophthora ramorum pathogen). In fact the galls may be a crucial part of thriving oak ecosystems. Oh, weirder yet? Many species of gall wasp display parthenogenetic reproduction every other generation. That means that in one generation (usually the autumn crop) females and males mate and produce fertilized eggs as most other creatures do. The next generation (usually spring) consists only of females who do not mate at all but still lay fertile eggs. It seems that the two generations frequently look different and that the galls they produce may look different as well. Scientists are still determining which wasps belong to the same species and which do not. Fascinating stuff! Initially, it was thought that each wasp species caused only one type of gall to be created. However, with the understanding that two generations of the same wasp species vary greatly in appearance, it is now thought that each generation might produce a strikingly different gall (for two total for the species). Each species of wasp uses only one or a few species of oaks for their egg-laying activities. Identify a gall and you've automatically narrowed down the oak species. And vice versa. In California, for example, we have the Valley Oak (Quercus lobata), the particular food and shelter source for the red gall wasp (Andricus kingi). Gall wasps need the galls for shelter and food as they develop. But you might notice a tiny hole in the side of a gall indicating that its resident insect has flown off. Many of the smaller galls drop to the ground and decompose. What are they good for then? I'm so glad you asked. Humans like them because they are high in tannic acid which can be used for tanning leather or making dye and ink. Turn the page for a recipe.


Quarterly Speed Bump Magazine | Autumn 2012

Red Cone Galls caused by the Andricus kingi wasp.


Possible Convoluted Galls caused by the Andricus confertus wasp. 19

Work Ahead

g n i k a M l l a G n Iro


Quarterly Speed Bump Magazine | Autumn 2012

Work Ahead I'm fascinated by the ingenuity people have.

Who was the first person who thought about grinding up oak galls for their tannin (specifically gallotannic acid and gallic acid...not that they would have know that then), mixing them with other ingredients like iron sulfate (perhaps from nails dissolved in some sort of acid), water, and gum arabic (hardened acacia tree sap that holds the ink solids in suspension rather than letting them sink to the bottom of the container), and producing iron gall ink? How did that come about? Who does that? There's strong evidence that the Dead Sea Scrolls were written with iron gall ink. The United States' very own Declaration of Independence? Iron gall ink. If you look at documents written in iron gall ink you'll notice it's a rich dark brown color that darkens as it is exposed to air and oxidizes. The ink was used for centuries—millenia really—and well into the 20th Century. It's indelible but, because it is acidic, it eats through the modern paper on which it is used and will corrode modern pens. Most iron gall ink is now made by enthusiasts rather than for the commercial market. If you can find some galls, you can make your own ink with a few easily found supplies. It's best to use the hard brown oak apples for this and you must realize that the best oak galls—the ones with the highest tannic acid content—actually originate in Asia Minor and are particular to Quercus infectoria (aka Quercus lusitanica), the Aleppo Oak. These galls, are frequently called (poetically, don't you think?), The Galls of Aleppo. But making this ink is just for fun anyway so go with the lower acid content of your local galls and let's have some fun.

Iron Gall Ink The basic recipe is this: 1 part gum arabic 2 parts iron sulfate 3 parts galls But, there's more to it than that.

You'll need: •White vinegar •Iron nails or screws •Glass jars of various sizes •4-5 large oak galls •Mortar and pestle •Water •Coffee filters •Rubber or latex gloves •Gum Arabic (use the liquid form found at all good art supply stores) •A stirring stick

At least three days before you'd like to use your ink, place a handful of the nails in a glass jar and cover them with a few inches of vinegar. Set aside. You will see tiny bubbles rise to the surface as your nails start to rust forming the iron sulfate. Then crush your galls in the mortar and pestle until they're powdery. Pour the powder into a large glass jar and fill the jar with boiling water. Set aside. Wait for three days. 21

Work Ahead

After three days have elapsed, put on your gloves and strain the solids from the liquids. To do this, place a coffee filter over a glass jar (you may need a rubber band to hold it in place) and then pour the nails and vinegar into it. Repeat the process with the galls using a separate jar. Now, pour 1 part gum arabic, 2 parts liquid iron sulfate, and 3 parts gall liquid into a clean glass jar. Make sure you're wearing gloves or you'll probably stain your hands. When the final liquid is added, the ink will turn a blue-black. Use a stir stick to ensure it is mixed thoroughly. Now write something. Note that this ink is highly acidic as well as indelible. If you use a fountain pen, you will most likely ruin it. If you spill the ink on the carpet, think about getting an area rug to cover the spot. Note also that you will have much more iron and gall liquid than you need for one normal sized bottle of ink. Discard or make more ink for all your friends—it's up to you.


Quarterly Speed Bump Magazine | Autumn 2012

Work Ahead 23

On the Corner

If you've seen the recent movie, Bright Star, you've seen a dramatic version of the last few years in the life of poet John Keats. You probably know some of his poems-or at least snippets from them--such as "Ode on a Grecian Urn" or "To Autumn" (the latter is reproduced here with illustrative photographs as we do at QSB). John Keats (1795-1821) was a powerful English Romantic poet who used natural images in his poetic metaphors. The amount of work he managed to create in his short lifetime is astonishing. "To Autumn" was published in 1820 and is his last work. He died a year later in Rome from tuberculosis. He was 25.


Quarterly Speed Bump Magazine | Autumn 2012

On the Corner

To Autumn

by John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; Conspiring with him how to load and bless With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run; To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees, And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core; To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells With a sweet kernel; to set budding more, And still more, later flowers for the bees, Until they think warm days will never cease, For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells. 25

On the Corner

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store? Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find Thee sitting careless on a granary floor, Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind; Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep, Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers: And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep Steady thy laden head across a brook; Or by a cyder-press, with patient look, Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours. 26

Quarterly Speed Bump Magazine | Autumn 2012

On the Corner

Where are the songs of spring? Ay,Where are they? Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,— While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day, And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue; Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn Among the river sallows, borne aloft Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies; And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft; And gathering swallows twitter in the skies. 27

The Fork

Autumn is the season when it's finally cool enough to have the oven or stove on for long periods but, if you're anything like me, you're not quite ready to shut the door to summer. This is a meal reminiscent of the barbeque cookouts of last season combined with the comfort of cooking in a nice warm house—a delicious compromise. It's perfect for eating out on the deck or patio on the weekend before bad weather and darkness chase you indoors or comforting when you're inside watching the rain pour down. There's not a lot of active cooking time though it's certainly much too time consuming for a weeknight meal if you like to eat before 10 p.m. All of the recipes can be doubled without changing cooking times if you're feeding a crowd (or if you want leftovers). The ribs recipe can easily be halved for a smaller gathering or couple as well. And, we haven't forgotten dessert. 28

Quarterly Speed Bump Magazine | Autumn 2012

The Fork 29

Barbequed Spareribs

Serves 4-6 hearty eaters, 8 regular ones This is my mom's recipe and I didn't ask her if I could use it in the magazine. It's just too good to resist so I hope she doesn't mind when she finds out! The sauce doesn't have any heat just a rich and spicy (and tangy) depth of flavor. 4 pounds country spareribs 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 large onion, chopped 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 8 teaspoons sugar 2 teaspoons dry mustard 8 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce 2 teaspoons paprika (smoked, if possible) 1 cup ketchup ½ cup apple cider vinegar ½ cup water Bake the ribs by themselves in a baking pan at 350º F for 45 minutes. While they are baking, make the sauce: Sauté the onion in the oil until soft and translucent. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Keep the sauce at a very low simmer until the ribs have baked. Then add them to the sauce and simmer, covered, until they are extremely tender--at least two hours. Serve with rice and slaw (recipes below). If you have leftovers, reheat them slowly for best texture and flavor.

Baked Brown & Wild Rice Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil 1 tablespoon unsalted butter ¾ cup long-grain brown rice (brown basmati is a good choice) 1/4 cup wild rice 2 garlic cloves, pressed 3 cups low sodium chicken stock, divided in half ½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper Add the oil and butter to a saucepan and let them heat and blend together then add the brown rice (don't add the wild rice yet!). Sauté until the rice is completely coated with the fat 30

and slightly translucent—about 4-5 minutes. Don't let it burn. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds then add half the chicken stock, the seasonings, and the wild rice and bring to a boil. Transfer the rice mixture to a casserole dish, cover, and bake at 375° F for 30 minutes. At the 30 minute mark add the remaining 1 ½ cup of chicken stock, stir, re-cover, and bake for 40 minutes more or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork and serve. The rice goes wonderfully well with the barbeque sauce from the ribs recipe.

The Fork

Fennel Slaw Serves 4

1 shallot, finely chopped Zest and juice of one large lemon Salt Freshly ground black pepper 2 large fennel bulbs, outer leaves removed, sliced thinly then chopped in smaller lengths Extra virgin olive oil (one that tastes great) parsley (fresh if you've got it but dried will work) Let the shallot, zest, juice, and Âź teaspoon salt and Âź teaspoon pepper sit in the bottom of a salad bowl for at least 15 minutes. Then add the fennel and toss together. Drizzle olive oil over to form a dressing (1 - 2 tablespoons) and toss again.

Add Âź cup chopped parsley or 2 teaspoons of dried. If there are fennel fronds, chop some of them up and add to the salad for more decoration. Toss and taste to check the seasoning, adding more salt and/or pepper if necessary. The longer this slaw sits in the refrigerator before serving, the better it tastes.

Spiced Apple Cookies Makes 3 dozen cookies

This is another recipe from my maternal grandmother, Edith Davis. I don't remember her ever making them, however; it was chocolate chip cookies every time when we baked together. If you make these, your house will smell 31

The Fork wonderfully spicy and everyone who comes over will start to drool even though the cookies themselves don't look very fancy. Fair warning! You can also pretend that these cookies are healthy because of the fruit inside. ½ cup unsalted butter, softened 1 1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar (light or dark) ¼ cup milk OR ¼ cup apple juice 1 egg 1 cup chopped apple (I like Granny Smith) 2 cups flour 1 teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon ground cloves


Quarterly Speed Bump Magazine | Autumn 2012

½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg Chopped nuts, optional (I leave them out but use 1 cup if you like them) This dough is very moist and bakes best if it has been chilled for at least a half hour before you form the cookies. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet. The cookies spread out a lot so more than a dozen to a sheet is inadvisable. Bake at 400º F for 11-14 minutes until set and just beginning to brown around the edges. Let cool and eat the cookies immediately by the handful or store in the freezer. They aren't as hard as a rock when frozen so they make ideal sandwich cookies with good quality vanilla ice cream—tastes like apple pie a la mode.

The Fork 33

Roadside Stand

A Pairing of

Pears & Quince


Quarterly Speed Bump Magazine | Autumn 2012

Roadside Stand In Autumn you'll find pears to be ubiquitous. There are so many varieties, though, that you might be able to try a new one every week. I like eating them out of hand and baked into cakes. But, when that gets old, I try something new. And then there's something very old (probably cultivated before apples and pears): quince. Do you eat quince? They're available in fall though you may have to hunt around to find a store that carries them. Try farmers markets and coops—or maybe a friend grows them? Most varieties are pear-shaped or look like apples though some of them have a bit of fuzz on the skin. They give off a floral, tropical fruit aroma. And, when you cut one in half, the interior looks similar to an apple. When you bite into a goldenripe one, however (tempted by the enticing scent), you'll either break your teeth or inadvertently pull a face because of the extreme astringency. Or both. You have to cook them and add sugar to make quince useful and when you do you'll watch the creamy white flesh turn from pink to darker pink or even pumpkin-colored. Amazing.

Pickled Pears Makes 1.5 liters

Too much sweetness can get old after a while. In that case, I turn to pickling pears. Yes, pickling. The sweetness of the pears and pickling liquid, the spices, and the kick from the vinegar combine to make these quite addictive. I find myself going to the refrigerator for a late evening snack of these (two quarters at a time is perfect) often. You must use a pear that is still crisp when ripe. I usually use Bosc or the asian Ya Li variety.

The Rest

2 ½ pounds ripe pears 1 teaspoon whole cloves 1 star anise 1 teaspoon allspice berries 2 cinnamon sticks zest of ½ orange (big pieces again) Bring the pickling liquid ingredients to a boil. Let boil for at least two minutes, making sure that all the sugar is dissolved. In the meantime, quarter and core the pears but do not peel. Neatly stuff them into a sterilized canning jar (a 1.5 liter canning jar with attached lid is perfect to store the amount made in this recipe), layering spices with them as you go. Make it pretty; the various russet tones of the Bosc pears deserve to have their skins visible through the glass walls of the jar. Fill the jar to within ¾ inch of the top. Once you have the jar filled with the fruit, spices, and zest, strain then pour the boiling-hot liquid in to just below the top. You may need to use a widemouth funnel. Make sure all the fruit is covered. If it isn't you'll have to remove a piece or two. Seal the lid and let the jar sit on the counter until completely cooled. Refrigerate when cool. Remember, these are refrigerator pickles because they are not processed to make them shelf stable. They will, however, keep in the 'fridge for weeks...if they last that long. A few days between sealing the jar and eating the pickles improves the flavor but I'll understand if you can't wait.

Pickling Liquid

1 teaspoon whole cloves 1 star anise 1 teaspoon cardamom pods, cracked 1 teaspoon allspice berries 2 cinnamon sticks 1 rosemary sprig zest of one ½ orange (you want big pieces--a veggie peeler works well) 1 cup white vinegar 1 ¾ cups water 2 cups sugar 35

Roadside Stand Quince-let Usually what we're talking about here is called "Quince Paste" which conjures up images of Kindergarten and paste-eating kids (why do they do that?!) and doesn't sound appetizing. Or there's the equally misleading "Quince Cheese." No cheese was harmed in the making of this recipe even though it does go great with salty cheese. Quince is very popular in Europe and similar recipes to this one are called Quittenwurst by the Germans who apparently think that it's yummy to put it in sausage casings (!). I came up with the Quince-let name because the texture is similar to Aplets and Cotlets--those old-fashioned, not-too-sweet gelatinous candies based on the even older "Turkish Delight." Or course, quince doesn't need gelatin added to it because it has so much of its own pectin that it gels without added help. Now that I've thoroughly grossed you out, I urge you to try this recipe--whatever you want to call it. Please note that you must have a kitchen scale for this one. 2 pounds quince (about 6) Juice of 1 orange Juice of 1 lemon 2 cinnamon sticks Water Sugar (you'll need a scale to determine the amount) Peel, core, and quarter the quince. As noted above, these suckers are hard so use a sharp knife and an abundance of caution. Place them in a saucepan with the citrus juices and cinnamon sticks. Add water until the fruit is covered 3/4 of the way. Bring to a boil and then cover the pan and keep boiling for 15 minutes or until the quince are tender. Remove the cinnamon sticks and puree the tender quince using a stick blender or a food processor. You must then weigh your quince puree. Add the same amount of sugar, by weight, as you have puree and stir the two together in a large saucepan. Then cook the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring frequently (I use a silicon spatula to really make sure nothing's sticking at the edge of the pan) 36

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until it is think and dark rose or pumpkin colored. Be careful! The quince/sugar mixture is very hot and prone to spitting as it cooks. Don't leave the stove for a moment, either, because it will stick and burn and all your work will be wasted (bummer!). Line the bottom of an 8x8" pan with parchment paper and then spray the pan liberally with cooking spray as insurance. Spread the hot quince paste in the pan and refrigerate. When cooled, dump it out onto a cutting board you've sprayed with cooking spray and cut into squares (I use a well-greased pizza wheel), slices, or shape of your choice. If you want to serve the quincelet like Aplets and Cotlets, roll squares in sugar. Thin slices are great on sandwiches with cheese. It's also useful (cut into very small pieces) in place of dried or candied fruit in baking. The quince-let saves for months if covered in the refrigerator.

Roadside Stand 37


Food for Thought

I don't know about you but I tend to want to eat too much during Autumn. All that Halloween candy, the Thanksgiving leftovers, and the run up to the December holidays with parties every week can be overwhelming to the stomach. Instead of eating too much, why not read too much? You can fill your mind with all these non-fiction titles about food. While the nonfiction part wasn't intentional it might not be a bad to skip reading fiction during NaNoWriMo. I wouldn't want to be unduly influenced by someone else's novelistic style. More books for NaNoWriMo (and and explanation) after the food titles. Read up. The Perfect Fruit: Good Breeding, Bad Seeds, and the Hunt for the Elusive Pluot by Chip Brantley (2009) is a juicy read (okay, I couldn't resist the pun). You've probably eaten a pluot—a tasty cross between a plum and an apricot. When Brantley had his first taste of one he was amazed by the sweetness and decided right then and there to find out everything he could about the fruit. He talks to breeders, growers, and marketers. That might sound dry but it isn't at all; the enthusiasm for a fruit comes right off the page. The only problem with reading this book in the fall is that it's no longer pluot season and summer is a long way off. 52 Loaves by William Alexander (2010) begins with the best loaf of bread that the author had ever tasted. He wants more and is inspired to make his own. Each week he bakes another loaf trying to regain the perfection he once tasted, contacting surprisingly helpful experts along the way for help. He makes his own starter, ruins his back, travels the world, and hangs out with French monks in a quest that is more than entertaining yet thoughtful and honest as well. But will he recreate that perfect loaf of bread? You'll have to read the book to find out. Twain's Feast: Searching for America's Lost Foods in the Footsteps of Samuel Clemens by Andrew Beahrs (2010) is a true culinary adventure. Not because there are recipes (there


Quarterly Speed Bump Magazine | Autumn 2012

are a few for historical flavor) but because of road trips. Beahrs is right: today you have to make a concerted effort to eat locally grown foods. When Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) was alive, most of the food to be had was local due to lack of proper shipping and storage techniques. Twain lived in many places in the U.S. and, of course, had favorite dishes from each. So, when he traveled abroad he missed some of his American favorites and made a list, later published in A Tramp Abroad. Beahrs, obsessive Twain fan, started to look for those menu items, many of which no longer exist. His travels, cooking attempts, and history lessons make for a fast and informative (if a little melancholy because of all that's been lost) read. The Taste of War:World War II and the Battle for Food by Lizzie Collingham (2012) is neither a quick nor a light read. You do feel better informed and satisfied after finishing. Collingham looks at the causes, war policies, and aftermath or World War II through the lens of food. It's a different perspective and her case for food and the lack thereof being a main cause for war is a strong one. You may not have thought of war in this way before. For the american reader unused to the metric system some of the measurements will cause mental recalculations before the scale of the issue takes shape. A very powerful read.


My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story (with Recipes) by Luisa Weiss (2012) is a memoir based around food. It even includes recipes which you may be inspired to try. Weiss, the blogger behind "The Wednesday Chef" writes about her life split between the U.S. and Germany where she seemed always to feel a little lost until she could make connections with food and cooking. It's the story of how she met the man who would become her husband and the years spent away from him before she discovered what and who she really wanted. __________________

November is National Novel Writing Month which is, at this point, a movement.

You can join the masses at and pledge that you'll write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. I've been trying every year since I heard about the idea but may be lacking in sticktoitiveness, talent, or time as I've yet to come anywhere year the 50,000 word mark in a month. I'll be trying again this year anyway. What's that old saw about doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? If you have the same ambition, may I suggest some brain fodder to keep you motivated (or another method of procrastinating on your word count above and beyond alphabetizing your sock drawer or color coding your spice rack)?

prompts included. Finally, if you just want to write a novel that will make you gazillions of dollars and stay on the bestsellers lists for ages, find some tips in Hit Lit: Cracking the Code of the Twentieth Century's Biggest Bestsellers by James W. Hall (2012). Hall analyzes twelve American novel, finds the recurring themes and commonalities, and suggests why they might be so popular. Note that he doesn't say this is all great literature--it's just been enormously popular. If you haven't read the twelve books, that's okay; you've undoubtedly heard of them, most have been made into films, and he summarizes them in the appendix.

Stephen King’s On Writing (2000 and later editions), Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, and Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within are classics. For blocks there are Pen on Fire by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, A Writer’s Book of Days by Judy Reeves, and Escaping Into the Open by Elizabeth Berg which all have writing 39

At the Crossroads Pile-Up: A Scrambled Letters Game by Scott Wendt


What did the pumpkin farmer put on his overalls after they ripped?





Quarterly Speed Bump Magazine | Autumn 2012

A backyard garden is a miniature ecosystem, one that requires constant tinkering. Gardeners are always assessing whether their plots of land could use more alfalfa meal, less water, another layer of manure or mulch. Even the insect population can be modified, managed. --Amy Stewart, The Earth Moved Pile-Up: GREAT WHITE WHALE NURSE PLANET



t i u o l a n ns U

Essays in Dance

by Jessica Herrick “You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.” ~Merce Cunningham For the past year, I have written about the wonders of ballroom dancing: the roller-coaster high of performances, triumph at competitions, the best dance ever in the history of the universe (Argentine tango, for those who need a gentle reminder). Now it's time to fess up. Ballroom dancing has a Dark Side.

Barnaly Pande

Every subculture has its issues, its internal dramas, its skeleton-filled closets. Ballroom dancing is no different. For me, the dark side of dance can be summed up in three words: politics, pain, and perfectionism. The political side of ballroom is most apparent in the competitive scene, now commonly called "dancesport." Studios and teachers constantly vie for students, creating tensions that are exacerbated

when the students are placed in direct opposition on the dance floor. The necessarily subjective elements of judging a sport such as dance add to this volatile mix, while petty rivalries between teachers, studios, and students churn up further problems. Sadly, competitions often become less about how well you dance, and more about who you know and who knows you. I have heard horror stories of deliberate kicks, jabs, crowding, blocking, and tripping on the competitive floor. Ever see the Australian movie Strictly Ballroom? It’s a parody of the competitive ballroom dance world…but not exaggerated by much. Djimi and I have experienced overtly biased judging ourselves. It ruined the competitive world for us; we have not competed in over a year, and do not plan to compete again anytime soon. Such disappointment spoils the dancing experience, and if you aren’t having fun dancing, why on earth would you do it? Particularly given the two other facets of dancing’s dark side. We can avoid competitions, and thereby insulate ourselves against the cut-throat politics that infect the competitive world. However, we cannot avoid the pain involved, or the misery of thwarted perfectionism. 41

Undulations Although Djimi and I do not compete, that has not stopped us from wanting to learn and employ competitive technique. This makes us better dancers, smoother, with a wider range of ability and expression. However, competitive ballroom technique HURTS. When the first words out of your competitive coach’s mouth are “Did you take your ibuprofen?” you know you are in for an uncomfortable, possibly agonizing, lesson. Picture Cinderella floating around the floor in the arms of Prince Charming, moving through the elegant steps of a Viennese Waltz. Their frame is graceful, her back arched, his shoulders wide and strong, both with brilliant smiles, apparently gliding about with no thought for anything but themselves and the music. Do you have that image in your head? Now, keep this in mind: in order to get that arch in her back, she is stretching various parts of her torso in three different dimensions as far as she possibly can. One section of the rib cage moves forward, one part goes around and to one side, while she tries to keep her shoulders down and back. His body is similarly stretching to provide a strong framework that assists her in achieving these internal contortions. They are both trying to maintain connection to the other, while he is determining which steps to take and she is trying to follow without interfering with his lead, without thinking, but while wearing two- or three-inch heels. If ballroom dancing looks graceful and effortless, then you are looking at dancers who have schooled their bodies to achieve the needed stretch and motion through hours upon hours of painful, sweaty, excruciating training. And none of this is ever perfect. There is always room for improvement, which brings us to the single most frustrating aspect of dancing’s dark side, for me. I am a perfectionist. It is ingrained in my being that I MUST do everything correctly, if not the first time then the second. There is no “try,” there is only “do.” Ironically, I have fallen in love with an activity that requires you to make mistakes, over and over and over, in order to teach your body to move in a specific fashion. There is no "right" way of dancing, there are just 42

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ways to make things easier, to move more smoothly with your partner, to better express the feel of the music and the dance itself. Technical perfection is completely unattainable with dance, and this drives me mad. I struggle with the concept at every lesson, every class that I take, each time I step on the floor for a performance. I put so much pressure on myself to get things RIGHT that I often wind up trying to hold back tears of pure frustration when I cannot get my body to do what I am trying to tell it. In yet another irony, I know, on an intellectual level, that if I could just relax, let go of this terrible need to be perfect, that I would actually improve my dancing immeasurably. But knowing is not the same as doing, and I expect that this struggle will be part of me for the rest of my life. All of this begs the question...if there are all of these negatives, why do I still dance? Why subject myself to such physical and mental pain? Because on those rare occasions when I can forget all of the pain and frustration, when Djimi and I are dancing without thinking about technique, or politics, or struggling with our bodies...we FLY. Without any tools beyond our own bodies, for the space of a song, we can break the bonds of gravity and soar, and I tell you...I never feel more alive. I've discovered a magical world within the arms of my soulmate, surrounded by sound and emotion, where I am able to experience life with no boundaries. That is why I dance, why I hurt, why I struggle. For those few moments when, in forgetting about perfection, I find it. Jessica Herrick is a regular columnist for QSB. Follow her continuing adventures in ballroom dance in our next issue. Learn more at

Don't forget to enjoy the journey.

Come back next season for the Winter 2012/2013 issue. Have a wonderful Autumn!

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