August 20, 2009


I came home the other night to a large-size surprise. My hubby said, "Oh, by the way, I bought you a tuna. It barely fits in the fridge." "A whole tuna?" "Yep." Oooookay. So, out of the work clothes and into a rubber suit, I'm thinking. I looked in the fridge. The thing was huge - 31 inches long - 20 lbs.

I'd never dressed out a tuna before, and I knew they were different from other fish. Their bones are arranged in a T, not in a long line like other fish. So, off to Youtube I went. There were various methods, but I found one with clear, short steps. The instructor called it "carking" a tuna. If you look up the work 'cark', it means: to annoy, worry or vex. Hmmm. We watched it together three times, to be sure we got it. Then, out to the picnic table we went, prepared to be vexed.

It turned out to be a fun process and I think I did a pretty good job for my first time. Ripping the tough skin off was particularly satisfying. I got some nice loins off of it, fairly cleanly, and there was plenty left for the cats to munch and tear at. I was surrounded by salivating felines, all amazed at my giant catch. I hate waste, so although others might throw away the trimmings, we grilled some of the bones with meat, saved some for tuna salad and gave the rest to the kitties. There had to be at least two pounds of meat left on the cutaway parts. Then, we grilled the head.

"Why does she keep calling me 'Chuck'?"

Charlie was well-used and delicious! I'm ready for my next fishy adventure.

August 16, 2009


This beautiful bottle of cloudy sake just begged me to buy it. This one is meant to be served cold, which was a new experience for me. I know little about sakes, I have only sampled a few. The taste was delicate, slightly sweet, but elusive. The card which came with it suggested a cocktail to be made with the sake, which is the glass next to the bottle in the photo. I floated the sake on top of tropical juice. It was good, but seemed a waste of lovely sake, as it totally masked the flavor.

I just wanted to post this photo, as I found the colors and milkiness so beautiful.

August 13, 2009


In the dark center of the night, coyote calls. Yipping, howling, barks of energetic communion with their pack ... the sound echoes back to me here. I stand under the summer sky, red-tinged Mars overhead, and listen. Tonight, I can hear the pups yipping, too. Imitating their elders in a higher pitch, shorter calls. The whole group is barking at once, like a bunch of Italians after dinner. I feel blessed to hear them, to know they are out there, living wild.


Not the red, five-spice type, but the brown, soy kind. Tender, deeply-flavored and ohhhh, that yummy cartilage part. Mmmmmmmm.
Though the ingredients list is long, the dish comes together quickly.


2 lbs. spareribs, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
3 T. mirin (sweet cooking seasoning - find it in the Asian section)
3 T. each light and dark soy sauce
1 t. black bean sauce
2 T. brown sugar
2 t. sesame oil
1/4 c. water
1/2 inch slice ginger, peeled and grated finely
1 t. red chile paste, or to taste
2 T. cornstarch
1/4 t. ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 green onions, sliced, white and green parts separated
Sesame seeds, to garnish


Put spareribs in a colander and pour 2 quarts boiling water over them, to seal in juices. In a saute pan, brown the ribs in vegetable oil. Be sure to brown them well. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine all remaining ingredients except sesame seeds and green part of onions. Mix very well with a whisk. Adjust as needed to suit your taste.
Add spareribs to the sauce and allow to marinate at least 2 hours. 6 hours is better.
Pour ribs and sauce into a baking dish, in one layer. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 325F for one hour fifteen minutes. Garnish with sesame seeds and green onions and serve with steamed white rice.

August 7, 2009


Once in a while somebody fights for breath.
He stops, getting in everyone's way.
The crowd flows around, muttering
about the flow of crowds,
but he just fights for breath.

Inside, there may be growing
a sea monster within a sea monster,
or a raven named
or a huge muteness of fairly tales,
the wood-block baby that gobbles up everything.
Inside, there may be growing
an abandoned room,
bare walls, pale squares where pictures hung,
a disconnected phone,
feathers settling on the floor
the Encyclopedists never moved out and
Dostoyevsky never found the place,

lost in the landscape
where only surgeons
write poems.

~ Miroslav Holub - Czech poet and physician
excerpt from the poem 'Vanishing Lung Syndrome'

What's this all about? It's about a rare syndrome - not enough understood to be a disease, but enough to kill. It's about radiographs, hospital gowns, timelines and statistics. It's about waking up one day and finding out that every day suddenly means more and that something you never think about ~ breathing ~ is now all you think about. It's about my friend.

He is practically my brother. We think & say the same things at the same time, share a wicked, sarcastic sense of humor, seek out the finer pleasures life has to offer (even when it isn't good for us), bring each other up when down. Besides my husband, he is the only person on the planet who knows EVERYthing about me. And loves me, anyway. That means a lot.

He is 39 years old, has hepatitis A & C, found out a year ago that he's HIV positive and has already survived a rare childhood cancer. How much is one being supposed to have to endure? There is no answer. This is one example of why I don't believe in the Christian version of God. And, please, refrain from telling me why he exists and why I should believe. I don't want to hear it.

The poem excerpt above was written by a Czech doctor who was diagnosed with vanishing lung syndrome. When his scalpel failed him, he turned to his pen. It seems to me that, when we are alone, words and the thoughts that produce them are all we have to navigate our journey. It's what I am doing here. How I try to explain the inexplicable to myself. It helps keep me afloat on the waves I know are ahead. I'll be in the boat with him.


Creative Commons License
Aspenglow / Buttered Lips by Gayle Nabrotzky is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at