The Great Plotnik

Monday, March 31, 2014

Two Sleepy People

But worth every minute. This morning Desi woke up at 4:50, after last night we sat around sipping bourbon and talking with The Great Dance-nik. We'd hoped Des would sleep in this morning. But he's so merry in the early morning that I almost forget how heavy my eyelids feel. Now it's 11am and Des got picked up for a playdate so Ducknik and Plotnik will try to catch up for an hour or two's sleep before he comes home.

The Great Plotnik's Grandson loves to eat. If you eat something, he walks or crawls or kneewalks over and wants to try some. And he's insistent about it. His favorite foods are: all of them. Isabella is very good with him, until she just can't stand it anymore. Last night she sat on the toilet in the bathroom, reading her book, and when I called in to ask how she was doing she said "I'm constipated" and when I asked if she was sure she said "I've got five more pages."

Desi had his first run this morning, chasing after Isabella in the living room. We were trying to hurry her to get dressed so she wouldn't be late for school, but Desi wanted to play too. Walking to school the streets were very cold but the school is warm and cozy. I'll pick B-Bone up this afternoon and we'll walk over to Sushi-D to bring home sushi for dinner. Desi will probably send us back for seconds. Man I love these kids.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Rainy Days in The Apple

Belly reads her Aunt BZ's Baby Sitter Club Books in the morning sunlight.

Plot and Duck had a great night in Manhattan last night. First they had a delicious only-in-Manhattan Italian dinner, and then saw A Raisin in the Sun with Denzell Washington and Latanya Richardson, a gift from TGPD and TG5H. My God, what a performance. We've seen the movie many times but never has Larraine Hansberry's story, written in 1959, had this much power. It's what theater is all about, and what you probably have to get to New York to ever see quite like this.

You know, star power is star power. It's real. And the street packed with young people, everyone carrying umbrellas at lose-an-eye level, and a theater filled with people of color, even at Broadway prices, and being swept up in the theater crowd. Again, only in New York.

It's been raining, which means being inside with a one year old who is already acting two in all his physical capabilities. It's wonderful and trial by fire at the same time. But we wouldn't miss this chance for all the world. 

Naturally, we've now heard the soundtrack and watched the video of "Frozen" many times. The songs grow on you like toe fungus.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday in Brooklyn

Desi has been walking for seven days and it's all he wants to do.

Papa and Bobo are already exhausted, and PD and 5H haven't even left yet. It's easy to recall what Ducknik calls that "veil of exhaustion" that young parents all live through. Somehow, we've all done it. But lord, Plottie is tired. This is why you have your kids young. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

We'll Stay Inside 'til it Warms Up

Plot and Duck were fine until they had to wait for the A Train on the outdoor platform at Howard Beach. That's when Plottie remembered he had forgotten his winter coat and his muffler and that his gloves from Peru have holes in the fingers.


But not inside the house.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


So, the other day The Great Plotnik was advertising for a small drone to use to pollinate his avocado tree, NOT REALIZING that his efforts a year ago using the GUACAMOLUTOR (@ pat. pend.) had already borne fruit. Like, literally.

Look closely at the photo below (it has been placed sideways for proper display of THREE avocados), and you'll see the one in the middle, the one on the left, and the one on the very far right, practically out of the frame. Plotnik never even saw the third one until he stared at the photo, but empirical observation has borne out the existence of not only three, but the fourth (above) and possibly several more little guys. And, Hoo!  It's early in the season. Hoo! Hoo!


Last night, after discovering the avocados on his tree (imagine the size of the grin on Plotnik's face), he did some further research. It turns out his tree is probably of the Guatemalan variety (all avocados are either of Mexican, Guatemalan or West Indian ancestry), which means it takes twelve to sixteen months for a fertilized flower to turn into a fruit.

Plotnik didn't know that.

And all of the fruits that he has noticed, so far, are within the area he was able to reach, twelve months ago, with his GUACAMOLUTOR (@ pat. pend.)

This year there are more bees than ever before swarming around the Southern side of the tree, which is its sunniest side. In addition, there are several flowering shrubs in neighbors' gardens directly below the tree, on the sunny side, which would tend to attract more bees. Avocados are not known to be favorites of bees, but, hey. Flowers are flowers.

Usually, those shrubs do not flower when the avocado is flowering. Usually March is colder and foggier. Not that Global Warming is good. But.

Now how about this fascination: Avocado flowers are unique in the plant kingdom. The tree produces millions of them, but a flower lives only two days. When it first opens, in the morning of day one, it is female. It can receive pollen. After a few receptive hours it closes. It is likely the men are confused, but their time comes the following afternoon, when the flower opens again. This time it is male, with erect stamens covered with pollen, ready for bees or wind or someone with a GUACAMOLUTOR (@ pat. pend.) to spread that pollen to other avocado flowers that might happen to still be open.

So an avocado tree may fertilize itself, since so many different flowers are open or closed on the same tree at the same time during the flowering season, but it's better to have a pollinator from a different variety, because IT JUST SO HAPPENS that a TYPE A avocado (the bumpy, more purple-y Hass-hybrid) behaves in the above manner, but a TYPE B avocado (like a Fuerte -- the longer, smoother avocado) behaves just the opposite: Male first, and then female.

You can see how opposites would attract.

So, children, today's sermon ends with this admonition:

If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with, even if it turns out to be yourself.

Monday, March 24, 2014

REUAB: ruoF sratS with a ELGNAB!

We saw one of the best plays of the year on Saturday night, we in our regular seats and Mr. FishWrap from the Saint Plotniko Incomprehensibbul in his. This morning I opened the Bbul to read Mr. Wrap's review. Sometimes Mrs. LaDuque (my co-reviewer) and I wonder if we have been in the same theater on the same evening as others in the press. The play is superlative, the actors brilliant, the audience was enthused and the ovations long. And yet, the Little Man remains on his chair, half-sleeping, or, perhaps, drugged.

It is true that sometimes they grab ya and sometimes they don't. Mr. Plot and Mrs. LaDuque got grabbed. But although * The San Francisco Theater Blog *'s audience is spectacularly well-informed, its numbers trail  those of The Saint Plotniko Incomprehensibbul, and so the word that will be out there will be Mr. Wrap's, not Mr. Plotnik's.

All right, the word "trail," although accurate, can be said to be misleading. But let us never forget that " "Saint Plotniko Incomprehensibbul" has but three words while "* San Francisco Theater Blog *" contains four. This conveys a 25% advantage to SFTB, and does not even add in the two (2) *s.

We hope you go to see this show. Translate the title in the usual way and then head over to You Know Where to read a 'way more enthusiastic review than was written by Mr. FishWrap over his burnt bagel and cup of steaming hot pee.

Friday, March 21, 2014

First Day of Spring Planting

Up on the deck: Seven padrons, three shishitos, three tomatoes, Italian basil and some tomato transplants that volunteered in the padron pots. Down below we put in bush beans, thyme and more padron peppers. It might be early for those beans, usually the first planting all dies, but if we get some heat they'll do well. The padrons look a little spindly too, but at least they weren't rootbound. We'll see. This year I'll save padron seeds from a few peppers we allow to get red and ripe, only I won't plant them too soon like I did in November. Keep 'em in the fridge until January.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


We here at the Great Plotnik Agricultural Division believe that too much is being made of the dark side of the whole drone business. True, up to now drones have been used primarily for dropping bombs on innocent people while occasionally actually incinerating the person they went looking for in the first place, and citizens are justly nervous about Amazon using them to bring you your package of HDMI cables.

We think differently.


We never have bees when there are blossoms and when there are bees the blossoms are gone. Hence, the drone, with a little paint brush-y thing attached at the bottom, which flies from blossom to blossom, taking pollen from here and spreading it there.

The absolute BEST application would be that when it is finished pollinating, it crashes into the neighbor's yard and takes out that little yappy dog.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Can't Forget the Mint

Monday, March 17, 2014


First California Poppy

First Tulip

First Native Iris

First Freesias

First Day Lily

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Finally: Fabulous Home Made Pizza

When Plotnik got home from Sicily, where every street has one or two shops making very good pizza, he vowed he would figure out a way to make great pizza at home, once and for all.

He researched expensive pizza ovens (it's cheaper just to fly to Naples a few times a year), he tried using the bbq outside (nice topping on incinerated cardboard) and he tried this fancy recipe and that brilliant routine, you know, the bricks, and the organic yadda yadda yadda. The result, invariably, was pizza that was just about as good as your average West Coast pizza, or frozen pizza, which is to say a lot of effort for not much payback.

Until he found his Lodge Cast Iron Pizza Pan.

With this (very heavy) beauty, you just preheat it in a 450 oven for twenty minutes or so, roll out the pizza dough on the side, then pat the dough into place in the hot pan and add the sauce and toppings. Put it back in the oven and in six to eight minutes you get this:

The gardens at Great Plotnik World Headquarters are full of broccoli rabe right now, so Plot picked a huge bunch and sauteed it with some Italian sausage. A simple uncooked tomato sauce, and the pizza dough recipe modified only slightly from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook (a gift from The Great BZWZ), mozzarella cheese and that sausage/broccoli rabe, and you end up with the best pizza we've had outside of Brooklyn.

No, we can't get that charred crust of Pizza Napolitan' without having a 900 degree brick oven, but who cares! Mmmm, this is really good stuff.

(The pizza on top is Thai basil with green Castelveltrano olives.)

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Strawberries with Candied Citrus and Almonds

It feels like Spring sprung and then summer began. It feels so good to sweat on the Plotkicycle. Really, sweating is 'way better than shivering, unless we are talking about the humid sweat thing. But that's why we live here.

Made more candied lime and lemon peels today because of last night's discovery (forgot to take pictures) of this dessert:

Strawberries with Candied Citrus and Almonds

Strawberries, cut in half
Splash of half and half
Chopped almonds
A few candied citrus peels

That's all there is to it -- cut the berries into a cereal bowl, splash in some half and half, then chop up almonds and throw them on top, finishing with a few fingerfuls of candied citrus peel. It helps if you made the candied citrus peels the week before and put 'em in a box, wondering what you'd ever do with them.

What happens is the strawberries are a little tart this time of year. The half and half mellows them, the citrus peel is sweet and chewy and the almonds are crunchy. It's perfect.

So, TGP grabbed five more sweet limes from out back today, plus five lemons, and he added half the peel from an oro blanco grapefruit from the farmer's market. The peels are drying right now -- bring on more strawberries!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Yesterday TGP ran into a friend and neighbor at Costco. We'll call him Ed - Ed had walked all the way to Costco from 26th of October Street, a distance of maybe three miles, mildly downhill there and mildly uphill back, except for the end, which is more than mild.

Plottie rides his bike to Costco all the time but he does it for the exercise. As far as Plot can tell, Ed is walking to keep from crying. His beautiful wife, we'll call her Jan, died almost a year ago. Whenever Ed sees Plottie he wants to stop and talk. There is only one subject.

Guys don't talk. Guys don't have friends they call up when they feel sad. Guys have nowhere to turn when their hearts turn inside out, except maybe their wives. So when the one person you have who you can talk to is no longer there, what do you do?

You walk, I guess. And when you find someone to talk to, you talk. Ed is a big man, who always has a huge smile on his face, even now, when his eyes are tearing up as he and TGP lean against the checkstand in Costco.

We all do it, that smile. We don't know how not to do it.

Ed's having a memorial for Jan in a few months and we got our invitation yesterday, with Jan's photo on it, as a young woman. As you can see, she was heartbreakingly beautiful, and in all the years Plottie knew her she never changed. That's not just words -- even in pain with her hair gone she stayed gorgeous. Maybe part of that was because Jan was the kind of person who made you feel good inside everytime you saw her.

How do you do that? And how long can someone keep walking up and down these hills?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Hijacked to Cuba

You're flying over an ocean in the middle of the night. Of course, you can't sleep so you find yourself gripped with fear -- you're not a bird but you're stuck in the air, and if you go down you will find yourself in limitless ocean and you're not a fish. And it's dark. And you're helpless.

That hit Plotnik once, on a 747 on the way to Auckland. Of course, the thing that was scaring him most was probably exactly what happened to those poor suckers on the Malaysian Airliner that they can't seem to find anywhere.

Nothing like a good old plane crash to relive ancient fears of flying. We have legs, we don't have wings. We have lungs, we don't have gills. We have skin, not fur, and hair, not feathers. We are meant to walk upon this Earth, not fly over it or swim through thousands of miles of it.

OK. so what should we hope for? What would be the least awful?

Let's say they got hijacked to Cuba. That's my story until I hear otherwise.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

My Favorite Calvin and Hobbes

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Inside, Outside and Pizza

Normally, people come first on this blog, but Silent Bill would have been covered up by the GP Archive.

So dining room first, back yard second, and then Mr. and Mrs. TG Mushnik who were kind enough to take Plot and Duck to La Nebbia the other night. We're still not sure what the occasion was, which just makes it better.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Dad Went to Texas...

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Sunset in Dewey Harbor

Only 10 days ago...

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

The Thali... Udupi Palace.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Gumbo for Fat Tuesday Blueprint Tap Room on Eighth Street in the design district. Been a long time since we've been down there and everything has spiffified. The Giants changed the entire neighborhood and it's infinitely nicer now. This is a cool place, great tap beer and delicious food. Thank goodness for a Travelzoo coupon or we'd never have heard of it.

The guy got a $12 tip on an $11 bill. Of course, the bill was supposed to be a lot more before the coupon subtracted everything but one extra dessert and the Travelzoo $4 bucks.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Steel Cut Oat Bread

Oh man, what's better than fresh bread on a rainy day? We made Susan Spicer's Roast Chicken last night and if you're going to have a great chicken sandwich you need great bread.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Candied Lemon, Sweet Lime and Orange Peel


Turns into this...

Turns into this...

Turns into this!