More beauty in this life than the world could bear

I recently finished Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann. I had to say, it took me a long time to get into it. And, I almost gave up a few times. But the end of the book was really beautiful, and I ended up being really touched by it - and even crying on the bus. I just wanted to share a quote from one of the female characters in the book. She's near the end of her life, and trying to comfort her daughters as they prepare to lose her:

Gloria laughed at them and said that she'd overtaken grief a long time ago, that she was tired of everyone wanting to go to heaven, nobody wanting to die. The only thing worth grieving over, she said, was that sometimes there was more beauty in this life than the world could bear.

I was still thinking about this scene the next morning, when I heard Story Corps come on. And, could so clearly see the connection: Robert Patterson and his wife Karen. So beautiful and sad at the same time.


A Seven-Day Virus

Something just knocked me out for the count last Wednesday. Sore throat, fever, chills, body aches. I went to the doctor because I thought I had strep throat. No, not strep throat, she told me. Probably just the virus that's going around right now; it lasts seven days.

Oh, good, I don't have strep. Wait, WHAT!!?? SEVEN DAYS?? There's no way I'll be sick for that long, I'll just take it easy and feel better by the weekend.


I'm now on my seventh day - and while I'm still stuck at home, I'm no longer a prisoner to the couch. I can actually do some work, sit up and move around.

If you should happen to fall ill with one of the many bugs going around, here's what I recommend:

  • Catch up with your favorite shows online (for me: Top Chef, Project Runway, 30 Rock [Modern Family didn't come out until today])
  • Fresh flowers - They really lift the spirits when you still feel like absolute crap on Day 5 of the virus. (Thanks Pete!)
  • Fresh air - Even though I couldn't actually do anything, it felt good to sit outside or in front of an open window.
  • Antihistamines/Decongestants - They are your friend. They help you sleep. And, they also help prevent all the gross sludge congested in your head from coming out of your eye ducts . . . not that I'm saying that happened to me . . . . because that would be disgusting.
  • Stieg Larsson books - Seriously, it would have been a much more boring week without The Girl Who Played With Fire. I was so sad when it ended! At least I still have one more book to look forward to.
  • Liquids - Green & Lemon tea, Squirt & 7 Up, water and lots of soup (see below)
  • Whiskey - No, really. I don't like whiskey normally, but a tiny little amount in the evening felt really good on my sore throat.
  • Ice Cream - Pete and I found the perfect combination of coconut ice cream, mango sherbet and lychee sherbet (you can get them all at Uwajimaya)
  • And, of course, lots and lots of rest.
Simple Survival Soups

Lentil Soup
Saute 1 onion, 3-4 heads garlic, 2 carrots and 2 celery stalks in butter. Add about 1 1/2 cups diced potatoes, a bag of lentils, 2 boxes broth, salt, pepper, 2-3 bay leaves and any spices you like (parsley, oregano, etc.). Simmer for about 45 minutes. Add more broth or water if it looks like it needs it.

I basically doubled this recipe and have been eating it all week. Very filling and comforting. I usually add ham or a ham hock, but I couldn't find any at the market on the corner, and I wasn't up for going any farther to search for it.

Potato Leek Soup
Saute 4-6 chopped leeks, 2 cups diced potatoes in butter. Add salt and pepper, and 1 box of broth. Simmer for 20 minutes. (I added a little cream because had some in the fridge.)

Seriously, it's that easy. I had never made this kind of soup before, but it was delicious, and took almost zero time.

I recommend both of these soups with quick drop biscuits - I either use the recipe from Better Homes & Gardens or Joy of Cooking, or this time I just used Bisquick because we had some around.

Stay healthy everyone!


Trippy Music

Since I shared my Queen obsession a couple weeks ago, I thought I'd post about a totally awesome, amazing band I heard at Bumbershoot. I didn't know anything about Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros before the concert, except that they sang the very catchy, fun "Home" song:

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros "Home" from Edward Sharpe on Vimeo.

We had to wait for quite a while for the concert to start, so I learned about the band from the fans around me. For instance, the lead singer - Alex Ebert - is from LA, was addicted to drugs, went to rehab and then wrote a book about a modern-day messianic figure named Edward Sharpe. He fell in love with the female lead singer, and they went on to form The Magnetic Zeros. The group toured the country and lived together for a year in an old school bus.

The first thing you notice about this group in person is that there are A LOT of them! I think I counted 2 singers, 2 keyboardists, 1 piano player, 2 drummers and 4 guitar players. And the lead singer walks onto the stage looking like an honest-to-goodness modern Jesus. Barefoot, in a dirty, ripped suit and long brown hair. In short - this band is a trip! But, a really fun trip. I will definitely go see them again if they come back to Seattle and HIGHLY recommend them to anyone who has the chance to see them. Pete and I have been listening to their album for a couple weeks. Enjoy!

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros "Desert Song" from benjamin kutsko on Vimeo.



Pete and I moved this week. Hence the title of this post. I've been so distracted and tired that I wore two different colored shoes to work, and backed into a car in the liquor store parking lot. Geesh!

We combined households and are now living together (!) for the first time. It's been physically and mentally tiring, but so far the actual living-together thing is going well. We moved a lot of heavy things together, assembled furniture and made a trip to Ikea all without fighting or getting annoyed with each other. That's pretty good in my book!

During this period, I've developed two pretty serious obsessions:
Goodwill - I found an awesome solid wood sideboard from the 1960s and a set of wooden drawers at the Ballard Goodwill the other night. And, since then I've been doing a drive-by anytime I'm nearby to see if they have anything else good. You have to be fast, though! I had to stand with my hands on both pieces of furniture so that no one else would buy them! It was stressful - but also exciting! I'm now determined to check out the Goodwill Outlet near my office, although it's apparently very smelly and they recommend you wear gloves to sort through the bins. Also, bedbugs are back big-time, so we'll have to be careful about what we buy.

Queen - Have you listened to Queen lately? Well, you should. Because they are awesome. NPR did a story on them this week, and I've been listening to them non-stop at work since then. It's really been helping me to keep me energy up during a week when I'd much rather be taking a nap most afternoons.

I REALLY wish I could have gone to a queen concert!

Don't you wish men still wore white pants like these? I kind of love them.